West Coast Report (Part 2)

[Wanna read Part 1 first? Click here.]

We were a motley crew as we chatted away in a dark back corner of the Chow Restaurant on San Francisco’s Market Street last Tuesday night. Gay cartoonists! Lesbian cartoonists! Bisexual cartoonists! Gay-friendly non-gay cartoonists! Gay spouses of gay cartoonists; non-gay spouses of bi cartoonists! Non-cartoonist gays! (Let’s see, have I overlooked anybody?)

Anyway, everyone there at our Chow chowdown on Tuesday had some connection or other to the Gay Comix underground comic book series that was launched nearly thirty years ago.

Below: The four issues of Gay Comix that I edited before passing the baton to Mr. Triptow.

I was the editor for the first four issues of the series; then Robert Triptow took the reins with the fifth issue in 1984 after I bailed out to concentrate on drawing Wendel. Then in 1991 Robert handed the series off to Andy Mangels, who steered the series (albeit with its name changed along the way to Gay Comics) from issue #13 through its reunion-blowout issue, #25.

Last Tuesday’s gathering was about breaking bread (or supping on salad) with old friends and enjoying memories of the part several of us played in getting Gay Comix‘s on its feet way back when. It would have been even nicer if some of those Ster Trek teleporters had been on hand to beam in other Gay Comix veterans from the distant cities where they currently reside. But ya can’t have everything.

Vaughn, happily, was coincidentally on hand, having had unrelated reasons last week to leave his Portland digs behind and join us for the San Francisco festivities.

Here are some snapshots to make you almost feel you were there with us.

Above: See our group slowly gathering at the restaurant’s threshold, starting with (from left to right above) my husband Eddie Sedarbaum, Robert Triptow, Vaughn Frick, Burton Clarke, Robert’s husband William Blakely, and Eddie’s and my graphic-designing friend Tim J Luddy, who is graciously providing us with free lodging during our stay in the Bay Area.

Above: Next come Lee Marrs, who’s been recently elevated to a tenured professorship in the Animation Department at Berkeley Community College, with her domestic partner and main squeeze Mike Friedrich in tow. Among Mike’s many accomplishments was his role as the publisher/editor back in 1978 of the "ground-level" comic book series Star*Reach. (Hey, Mike, what’s doin’ with that mischievous right hand of yours?)

Above: Cartoonist/writer/herstorian Trina Robbins gives a hello kiss to novelist/cartoonist/musician Mary Wings. That’s Trina’s longtime partner, comics great Steve Leialoha, on the right with his chin in his hand.

At left, top: Charter Gay Comix contributor Burton Clarke needs to whip up a web site for himself so I can provide a link on occasions like this to online samples of his beautiful comic book art.

At left, bottom: Tim Luddy is a longstanding pal of most of the Gay Comix crowd. Tim is also the award-winning creative director of Mother Jones magazine. If you can spare of minute or two, take a listen to the voice-over Tim contributes to this fascinating slideshow chronicling the evolution of one of MoJo‘s recent cover designs.

Above: See Vaughn being pensive while Eddie smiles. But wait! Was Eddie still my husband that evening? Inquiring readers want to know, to quote the old National Enquirer ads—among them being pur friend Martha Thomases, whose pop culture columns have now migrated along with several others from ComicMix to Michael Davis World. (See the mordant query Martha appended to my May 11 post to this blog.)

Above: A nice shot of Lee and Mike. Did I mention that Mike represented me during the 1991 contract negotiations that made Stuck Rubber Baby possible?

At right: An equally nice shot of Trina, who won my heart 33 years ago by being the first underground comix creator to make me feel welcome at the 1976 Berkeley Con, which was the first comics convention devoted entirely to undergrounds. Trina actually liked Barefootz, which at the time was being widely dismissed by most of the male core of San Francisco’s undergrounders.

Thanks, Trina. It meant a lot.

Above: To return from Berkeley to last Tuesday’s doings on Market Street, here’s Mike deep in conversation with Robert Triptow….

…while, Lee offers a thoughtful assessment of my contention that I’m looking a lot more suave now that I’m letting my hair grow out.

Solution to the Puzzle
in my May 24 Blog Entry

Question: What two things do the cartoonists who drew the characters in the montage below have in common?

Answer: (1) They all contributed to early issues of Gay Comix; and (2) they were all present and accounted for at the aforementioned Chow party on May 19.

The cartoon character seated in the foreground above is the work of Mary Wings. Those in back (from left to right) were drawn by Trina Robbins, Burton Clarke, Vaughn, Robert Triptow, and Lee Marrs. (Drawings are copyrighted © by their respective creators)

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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4 Responses to West Coast Report (Part 2)

  1. rob kirby says:

    What a great crop of photos, Howard! Those 4 issues of Gay Comix are among my favorite comic books ever. The work you and all the people in them did cemented my desire to be a cartoonist myself.

  2. Tim J Luddy says:

    I was ticked pink to be included in such august company! You guys all have such rich history together (ongoing history, I hasten to add!) that I spent most of my time trying to eavesdrop on the individual conversations. My only regret is that I didn’t change seats at one point to eavesdrop on conversations at the other end of the table, too.

    And Howie and Eddie, wherever you live or visit, and whatever marital rights you have there, you’ll always be Dirty Old Lovers to me!

  3. Howard says:

    Martha: Well, by now we all know how the California Supreme Court ruled. So you’ve got some legally married same-sex couples in California but it’s illegal to create more. Many who were married in California were from out-of-state, so presumably they’re still web. Eddie and I are examples of people who are legally married, though we were wed in Massachusetts, not California. That means we remain married in New York because of New York policy, even though no gay couples have ever been allowed to actuaslly get married in New York; that will require a legislative action and the New York Senate remains iffy on the issue because of conservative Democrats who’re shutting the process down. Meanwhile, I don’t know if any agency in California agency has ruled on the status of legally wed out-of-staters who whose ceremony didn’t actually take place in California.

    Yesterday’s decision was unjust and serves only to confuse, rather than clarify things. One can only hope that a better effort to reverse course can be mounted by referendum in 2010 than was mounted by our anti-Prop 8 campaigners in 2008. And the Democrats need to put some persuasive muscle behind repealing the benighted Defense of Marriage Act so that those of us who are married by some states’ standard will have real marriages federall;y instead of half-assed ones that evaporate wherever federal laws apply.

  4. And if you weren’t married when you were in SF, but the California Supreme Court rules today that the gay marriages performed before Prop 8 are legal, will you be retroactively married?