Return to White River Junction

Above: A snapshot, taken by cartoonist and CCS Programming Assistant Robyn Chapman, documenting my recent excursion to deepest Vermont with slideshow images, comic art pages, and obscure cartoon artifacts from my misspent youth in tow.

On Valentine’s Day I made a return visit to White River Junction, VT, at the invitation of that city’s new creative crown jewel, the Center for Cartoon Studies.

CCS, which was conceived, founded, and is now overseen by graphic novelist James Sturm, offers a two-year course of study for aspiring comics creators ready to settle in Vermont and get serious about honing their craft under the tutelage of cartooning professionals like Jason Lutes, James Kochalka, Stephen R. Bissette, and others.

This was my second time to swap thoughts about comics with a batch of Steve Bissette’s students. Steve and I go back a ways, of course, having swapped war stories about the comics industry in various settings over the decades. Like hosts of comics fans, I had admired his talents from afar well before we found ourselves conversing face-to-face at assorted events where cartoonists congregate. Steve helped raise my profile beyond underground and gay circles by interviewing me, along with his co-author Stanley Wiater, for their 1992 book Comic Book Rebels, and when Eddie and I first moved to the Berkshires Steve was quick to invite me up to White River Junction to speak to the students in the CCS class he was teaching at that time. I enjoyed myself back then and had a similarly entertaining time this year.

Steve amazes me. In his alternate identity as a blogger, he puts me totally to shame. Where does he get the energy? Where does he find the time? It’s been two weeks since I visited CCS and only now am I managing to get my act together to compose a few paragraphs marking my trip. It’s a good thing it’s not up to me to funnel "breaking news" to CNN!

The title of Steve’s blog, Myrant, is a droll bit of wordplay referencing his presently interrupted but hopefully not permanently extinct 1990s comic series Tyrant. Tyrant‘s its cast of dinosaurs was rendered with the same rich textures (as applied to big, scary beings that you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark bog) that had made me sit up and take notice when I first happened upon the Moore/Bissette/Totleben version of Swamp Thing during the ’80s!
Tyrant art ©1995 by Stephen R. Bissette

I learned recently that Steve and I both spent time during the 1980s collaborating with one "Jovial Bob Stine," the man who edited and largely wrote Scholastic’s Bananas magazine before mutating into R. L. Stine, the fabulously (and deservedly) successful author of the Goosebumps juvenile horror novels.

Were my life and my comics archives not in a bit of disarray right now I would go rummaging through my files to remind myself what Steve and Bob were concocting for Bananas while, thanks to Stine and myself, a succession of unfortunate patients were being abused by a lunatic physician named Doctor Duck on nearby pages.
Doctor Duck muses on the miracles of pharmacology. Or is it gumdrops?

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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