R. Crumb’s Weirdo Years
The Weirdo Years – 1981 – ’93 is comprised of all of Robert Crumb’s work from the highly influential Weirdo comics anthology. Sandwiched between the early days of underground comics notoriety and just before his relocation to France, this book encapsulates a dynamic period in R. Crumb’s life, clearly evident in the masterful work found in these pages.
More About Weirdo
In addition to providing a vehicle for some of the most innovative art of Crumb’s career, Weirdo served as a launching pad for many of the best underground comic artists of all-time, showcasing them at their most free and tender beginnings. Though there was a diverse range of artistic style, all of the Weirdo artists shared a brand of unpretentious humor and pathos that differentiated it from other comic anthologies of the time.
There were about 85 contributors over the course of Weirdo’s 28-issue run. Some of these artists went on to have life-long comics careers (Dan Clowes, Gary Panter, Peter Bagge, etc) while others have faded into the shadows, their work in Weirdo being all the more precious as a result. Although I may prove not to have the fortitude (read: masochism) to track down all 85 Weirdo contributors, I’d like to start by checking in to see what some of my favorite Weirdo artists are doing now…
Weirdo: Where Are They Now?
Although he created various one-shot comics (like Freaks Having Sex and Suburban Teens on Acid) and appeared in numerous fanzines throughout the 80s, Dennis Worden is probably best known for his existential post-Weirdo comic, Stickboy, about a stick figure who struggles to discern the meaning of life, all while being peed on by martians or tormented by a disembodied brain.
Dennis has recently written the subversive self-help book, The Way of the Good Hedonist and continues to work on paintings (although once in a blue moon he still draws comics). You can buy art and various other merchandise from Dennis’ website.
For a more in-depth look at Dennis Worden, check out this interview from 2011.
Lynne Von Schlichting
Lynne Von has performed in a myriad of bands over the years, including Trick Babys, Da Willys, and her current musical endeavor, Boxtopus. Although Lynne hasn’t published any comics since appearing in issues of Peter Bagge’s HATE, Last Gasp Comix & Stories, and a WFMU comic in the 1990s, fans eager to see more of her work might be lucky enough to get a taste on Boxtopus‘ Facebook page.
I still pine for Harvey the Hillbilly Bastard, star of Roy Tompkin’s irreverent, thick black lined, ’90s comic, Trailer Trash. Clearly ahead of his time, the pimple-and-feces school of young cartoonists making arty garbage pail kid art nowadays would worship at Roy’s feet. Will someone publish a collection already?
He currently owns the successful antique shop, Modern Salvage, in Austin, but still finds time for art, including a weekly illustration in the Austin Chronicle.
Dori Seda died of respiratory failure in 1988. Although she’d only been a published cartoonist for 7 years, she managed to leave behind a legacy of funny and twisted autobiographical comics about sex, being broke, and absolutely NOT about fucking her dog, that has established her as a cult hero for a new generation of comic artists.
After a struggle with Dori’s mother about the merit of publishing her daughter’s comics, Don Donahue (Dori’s former boyfriend & affable character in many of her stories) managed to attain the rights to her work and compiled a comprehensive collection entitled Dori Stories, published by Last Gasp in 1999.
J.D. King is such a fine, upstanding gentleman these days, you would hardly suspect he’s the same man who created the goofy & irresponsible bad boy characters that appeared in Weirdo and in John Holmstrom’s post-Punk rags, Stop! and Comical Funnies. Much like an NYC punk version of Tom & Jerry, King’s characters could often be found taunting the less fortunate or committing acts of heinous cartoon violence.
Nowadays, J.D. King writes poetry, listens to jazz, and has a successful illustration career. His diverse client list includes everyone from The New York Times to the US Postal Service to Nickelodeon.
I first came across Krystine Kryttre’s work in 1991′s seminal women’s comic anthology, Twisted Sisters. Her frenetic style lends itself perfectly to telling the story of her sweet and wild friendship with Dori Seda (see Bimbos From Hell) and made me an instant fan.
Phoebe Gloeckner’s crucially honest storytelling, matched with her incredible technical skill, have earned her legions of devoted fans. This continued adoration was clearly evident at a recent RADAR Literary Arts fundraiser, where an original piece from Gloeckner’s Diary of a Teenage Girl caused a heated bidding war.
Gloeckner is currently working on both a printed and multimedia version of a project about the family of a teenager murdered in the border town of Cuidad Juárez, Mexico, and the evolution of the colonia she lived in.
Check out this fantastic interview with Phoebe Gloeckner from Litreactor earlier this year:
Kaz moved away from NYC about ten years ago, leaving behind the stubbled junkies and belching factory pipes which doubtless inspired the backdrop for his Underworld comic series, in order to work for various animation studios in Hollywood. He’s been a writer or storyboard artist on numerous series including Spongebob Squarepants, Camp Lazlo (which garnered him an Emmy), and Phineas & Ferb.
Unlike lesser men who made a widow out of comics upon turning to animation, Kaz is still drawing (funny!) weekly Underworld strips. Far from reducing him to a pampered socialite or bitter recluse, Hollywood has only provided him with further joke fodder.