Where Cartoonists Lurk

As usual I’m playing catch-up. Real bloggers tell you what’s going on in their lives or minds with a reasonable degree of currency, but not me! I run my blog on a time-delayed basis. Something happens in my life and then two weeks (or more) later I may get around to telling you about it.

Case in point: two weeks ago Eddie and I drove down Route 116 under a gorgeous, clear sky to join a bunch of Pioneer Valley cartoonists who were converging at ABC, an hospitable tavern in Amherst whose name is an an acronym for Amherst Brewing Company. Did I tell you about it the morning after? Nope. I was too busy getting Episode 13 of Mark the Art Guy ready for Adobe.

But better late than never. Here’s a montage I cobbled together from snapshots that Eddie took.

Who are these people? Let’s travel clockwise through the three-snapshot montage above! Seen facing Eddie’s camera in the top photograph are: Sean Wang; Brian L. Bixby; E.J. Barnes; me; and Mark Martin. Seen from a better angle in the bottom right photo: Anne Thalheimer; Bryant Paul Johnson; John Lind and Denis Kitchen. Bottom right photo: Colin Tedford, co-founder of the Trees and Hills Comics Group, who filled in some details about mini-comicdom in the more northern reaches of New England. (My apologies to some other cartoonists present who weren’t in camera range while Eddie was snapping away.)

Yes, it turns out that south Berkshire County and its environs are crawling with cartoonists. And what do cartoonists talk about when they converge and converse?

Mostly things that for the most part are of no interest at all to non-cartoonists, which is why I won’t burden all of you blog readers with details of the evening’s repartee.

I had fun though, and it was great to spend time once again with my underground comix pal and publisher Denis Kitchen, who has begun introducing himself as "Alexa Kitchen‘s dad" now that his 9-year-old author-daughter has begun getting more inches in the national press than he or I do.

Another highlight for me was finally getting to meet Mark Martin, a talented cartooning colleague with whose name the alert comics fans among you will already be familiar. I’ve long admired Mark’s hyper-kinetic drawings from afar and you’d think that we would have met face-to-face before now, given that we both hail from Birmingham, Alabama. In fact, Mark was a contributor to Southern Style, a Birimingham arts magazine that published an article about my first issue of Barefootz Funnies when it came out in 1975. (More on that in a separate blog entry to come.)

But despite running in similar circles back then and even though both of us have been making ourselves conspicuous in the alternative comics field ever since, it’s taken us forty years to lay eyes on each other.

Naturally, once under the same tavern roof we did what Birmingham expatriates must always do before moving on to substantive topics: we snickered about that bare butt on the statue of Vulcan that has been mooning the suburb of Homewood from its Red Mountain pedestal for as long as anyone in Mark’s and my age range can remember.

Mark gave me signed copies of the first two issues of his comic book series Runaway, published by Fantagraphics. And I see from his web site that a third issue is well along in the pipeline.

About Howard

I'm a cartoonist and writer, best known for my graphic novel, Stuck Rubber Baby, and my comic strip from the 1980s, Wendel.
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7 Responses to Where Cartoonists Lurk

  1. Pingback: G’Bye, E. J. « Loose Cruse: The Blog

  2. Pat VanDecar says:

    I went to college with you when central Alabama was overrun with dinosaurs and giant ferns. The professor Dianne Seymour comes to mind. I believe you suggested a below-the-radar interpretation of Chateaubriande that was too much sociology for our instructor. Easily the most delightful day of that quarter. In general, your talent and intellect made you one of the most memorable of acquaintances. On a hunch that those attributes would make you memorable to many more people, I did the logical, Googlish thing. Pay dirt! It’s good to learn that you’ve prospered, found love, and are surrounded by friends. It’s even better to learn that your art has prospered. I still have a quick little cartoon you dashed off during a rehearsal of This Property is Condemned. You were the guy with the kite. I believe Lynn Bailey was the overly sophisticated urchin. And I was the cipher holding book. I got the cartoon, so my team won. I also saved your graphic for Endgame. Those weren’t exactly heady days, but in the midst of it, you were an astonishing original.

  3. Pingback: Loose Cruse: The Blog » Blog Archive » Underground Ad Man

  4. Howard, wish I’da been there! Glad you and Mark met at last — two of my fave cartoonists on Earth, both from Birmingham. It must be the water — or maybe that Vulcan ass? It explains a LOT about Mark and his “Yeah Butt” artifacts.

    Email to follow!

  5. Ben Burford says:

    I hate to have missed THAT yukfest!

    And by the way, Howie, since Vulcan has been renovated, they have stripped off the heinous 70s veneer from the pedestal and exposed the original, AND repositioned Vulcan so that his ass is no longer over expensive Homewood. It is now over INDUSTRIAL Homewood. Ostensibly, it was because that particular orientation is the exact one he had when he was at the World’s Fair. Go figure.

    Your pal.

  6. People from Birmingham talk about naked butts on statues when they get together? That’s funny. People from Youngstown, Ohio, talk about how you can buy houses there for $20K and we still don’t want to go back.

  7. Mark Martin says:

    Hey look! Everybody’s laughing at me! see that top picture? Look who they’re all looking at – Mr Funny Man! I wonder which one of my entertaining stories I was telling? I GOT A MILYUN OF UM!

    But seriously folks – we owe it all to EJ! Organizer Extraordinaire!