Color version of a black and white comic I’m in the planning stages on about substitute teaching. It’s of course a parody of the iconic 2PAC photo showing his tats. I’ve replaced his THUG LIFE tat with a SUB LIFE tat, his machine gun with an 8mm projector (which only us older people will get but I think everyone will understand that a lot of films get shown by subs regardless of the medium), his 2PAC with a 2FAT, and his other tat with a picture of famous math teacher Pythagoras. I’m obviously not in as good of shape as 2PAC…..
I drew a nice little picture of Dick Miller as Walter Paisley in the 1959 American International Pictures movie Bucket of Blood to help better illustrate this little essay on why I call my comic book publishing Dead Cat Comics. Let’s start with the movie shall we?
The movie was directed by the king of the B-movies Roger Corman for $50,000 which, even in 1959 money, was a low budget for a movie. They used leftover sets from a movie called Diary of a High School Bride (which they also used after shooting Bucket of Blood for Little Shop of Horrors) and a leftover plot from Mystery of the Wax Museum. The film was shot in five days. It is now in the public domain and has been put out by many different low budget DVD distributors.
The plot concerns the aforementioned Walter Paisley as a put upon waiter at a hip beatnik coffee bar called the Yellow Door Cafe. He longs to belong to this hip set of artists and tries desperately at home to form a bust from clay. Frustrated at his failed attempts and being driven crazy by the meows of his landlady Mrs. Surchart’s cat Frankie who has somehow become trapped inside the walls of his apartment he grabs a kitchen knife and stabs angrily at the wall trying to free the beast. Purely accidentally he stabs the poor feline and is properly saddened by it’s demise but then he gets an idea. He slathers the dead cat in clay and plays it off as an original statue the next day at the Yellow Door. He of course gives it the cleverly original title Dead Cat. Once Walter has tasted success with Dead Cat he progresses to other murders at first accidental like the cat but they become progressively aggressive until his statues are found to be dead bodies covered in cheap clay and being pursued (SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!) he hangs himself in his apartment. It is opined snarkily at the end that he would have called this piece Hanged Man.
The film was billed as a comedy/horror hybrid and it obviously did well as Corman and API put out two more movies of this type right after Bucket of Blood, Little Shop of Horrors and Creature From the Haunted Sea. The movie plays heavily on the then burgeoning beatnik scene. Well burgeoning in the pop culture mainstream due to the release of On The Road, Howl, and other seminal works but the beats had been around since the forties. These are cartoon beatniks, the way the media portrayed them and, for the most part, the way I treat them in my Beat Generation comics. I love and respect the beats but the beatniks and the medias stereotypes of them are just more fun to play with. They are the original hipsters and do come across as a little ridiculous at times.
So what does this have to do with me calling my comic book publishing Dead Cat? Well I related all of that back story to tell you this story. Many years ago my older brother Mike and I were up late on a Saturday night watching the late night horror movies shown by our local ghoul Sammy Terry on good old Channel Four in Indianapolis. On this particular night he showed Bucket of Blood. As always he showed a few more bad horror movies but I don’t recall what they were. I remember Bucket of Blood very well though. I knew about beatniks before I viewed this movie but something about their portrayal here intrigued me. I think it was the cartoony aspect but it may also have been that they were part of an art collective and that’s something that I always sought as a teenager, a group of fellow artists to talk shop with and compare best practices. This small exposure peeked my interest and I started to do some research on beatniks and ended up discovering the beats.
To say I read a ton of books about beatniks and their forefathers the beats may be a gross underestimate of the actual weight of books I pored through. I read whatever I could get my hands on and still can’t resist picking up beat related stuff whenever I find it. The more I read the more fascinated I became with the beats and their cartoon children the beatniks (soon to become hippies as their culture became further bastardized by younger generations who made their way to San Francisco after reading On the Road). This fascination lead me to start drawing comics based on beatniks.
In the early to mid nineties during the ‘zine explosion (before the internet killed them) I started a punk/pop culture ‘zine called Aunt Ida (named after Edith Massey’s character in John Waters’ Female Trouble). I both wrote for and acted as art director for the ‘zine. I also contributed comics or comix according to how hip you’re trying to be. The comics at first were a half assed attempt at doing sixties style underground comics as I was heavily under the influence of Robert Crumb at the time (which wasn’t an entirely bad thing as it allowed me to be less critical of my drawing style). The material was the issue. I was trying to be outrageous and shocking as I tried to create John Waters films on paper. While I do like a good crass joke here and there it’s not really my forte when it comes to comics. I handle it a little too heavy handedly. This may come from being raised on Richie Rich and Archie comics but I typically try not to be too lurid when I make comics for better or for worse.
Eventually I settled in on a writing and drawing style I liked and started to make comics that reflected my personality more. One of these comics was a little ode to a beatnik named Bongo. I drew the first ever comic on notebook paper with a Bic biro. I’m actually planning to redraw this comic in a more refined way but it was good enough for the ‘zine. I drew so many comics for Aunt Ida that I had enough to put out my own mini comic (also very popular during the ‘zine scene explosion) and decided to call it Little Doodles which fit the drawing style and had been a nickname my grandfather gave me when I was a kid because I drew so much. I subtitle the book The Aunt Ida Collection as it contained many of the comics I did for the ‘zine. It did not contain that original Bongo appearance which is another reason why I want to redraw it. It did okay so I decided to put out another one.
By this time the Aunt Ida had folded and the second issue contained some new stuff including an extended Beat Generation comic (which is what I decided to call the series as other characters began to come forward). The folding of our ‘zine also found me out on my own for the first time and I wanted to create a distinct identity for my comics so I created a logo for my new “publishing” concern which I decided would be called Dead Cat.
The reasons for this decision are numerous but the mains reasons are that I loved Bucket of Blood and Bongo so I wanted something that would reflect the direction I saw myself headed in which was more beatnik based comics. It was truly an obsession for a while there. It also represented to me a more abstract meaning in that it’s all relative as to what one finds to be art. Is a dead cat covered in clay art? Are my comics art? I guess it’s all in the eye of the beholder and all that jazz. Plus it’s a cool name I think. The only problem with it is that I get people thinking I’m an animal hater or at least a cat hater because of it. People who are quick to tell me that cruelty to animals is not funny and that I should be ashamed of myself for using that logo and name for my comics.
In response to those people I present this tale of how the logo and name came to be. Not as a defense but as a here it is take it or leave it stance. I don’t apologize for it and freely admit that I’m completely enamored of it and will continue to use it. I know and my four cats and Boston Terrier Malcolm know that I am an animal lover and am greatly saddened by any harm that comes to them but I do not find the Dead Cat logo or name to glorify or promote animal cruelty.
It’s way too late to make this long story short (sorry) but the logo has stuck around even after twenty years of it’s first appearance. I took a long time off from drawing comics as I battled depression and was too bullheaded to seek treatment (“I’m a man!” is a poor excuse for not asking for help.). It also didn’t help that one of my idols, Matt Groening, threatened to sue my for using the name Bongo as it’s the name of one of his characters in his Life In Hell comic strip which I have never read or care to. You can really see the depression taking shape in the last comics that I did before quitting for a while. The drawing was on auto and the characters had become distorted and strange looking. They became increasingly bell shaped and I didn’t even notice. Strange indeed. Anyway, before you become depressed, that’s the whole long boring story about the Dead Cat logo and name. I hope it helps you appreciate it as much as I do.
Sheesh, write a book why don’t ya’…..
Comic stuff update:
I ordered a small amount of Fruit Bat comics to sell at the Indypendent Show I’m doing at the end of March. If there are extras left after the show I’ll try to sell them at my local comic book shop. Once they’ve shipped they will be available on IndyPlanet for digital download. I’m still waiting for Comixology to review it so it may be a minute on that. I am also going to look into getting my comics on Kindle. Finally, I am registered to attend Cincy Comic Con as an artist so hopefully I start selling some comics so I can finance that.
I’ve posted this before and it’s a few years old but @sketch_dailies asked for Velma art so I thought I would post it again. I did a bunch of these little strips based on various pop culture characters from video games, comics, cartoons, etc. using this same pared down stick figure like style.
I started to draw a picture of Beetlejuice from the cartoon series for @sketch_dailies and noticed a resemblance to the Joker (must be the crooked smile) and then realized that he and Lydia would make a great Harley Quinn and Joker. There are a lot of connections between the two characters. For one, Michael Keaton was in Batman and Beetlejuice and Tim Burton directed both of them. Anyway, enjoy….
Doodling in class again! This time Craig and DeShawn (in gerbil form) from Wastes of Space. Speaking of Wastes of Space you can still get digital copies of issue one at http://cmxl.gy/LrNVAW or http://www.indyplanet.com/front/?product=wastes-of-space-1 Physical copies may also be obtained at the second link
Sketching in class. Working on reintroducing this cat in a comic soon. I’ve been drawing so much on the computer that it almost feels strange drawing with a pencil, cross hatching and shading and whatnot.
The second drawing I did for hamishmash for the God-Zine-La! project. With the 50th anniversary of Dr. Who and the 60th anniversary of Godzilla I thought I would mix the two for fun. Hopefully one of these two submissions, or both (!!!), will be included in the project. I’m sure they face stiff competition but I can still hope.
Comic I drew for a zine hamishmash is putting out to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Godzilla called God-Zine-La! Of course this is just a submission and not a guarantee of inclusion but a guy can hope can’t he? It stars my characters Harry and Haruo who are obviously stand-ins for King Kong and Godzilla respectively. These big monster movies played a big part in my childhood as my siblings and I spent many hours watching Godzilla and his ilk on Saturday afternoons and at the drive-in theater. My younger brother especially is obsessed with this genre of film even more than I am. I hope it gets accepted if not I have another one in the works to try.
Had to attend a lecture/program/whatchamacallit the other day for school given by first year teachers meant to dispense advice and best practices to current students. What it turned out to be was eight twenty something’s on a panel dressed almost entirely the same (big neckerchiefs, hair buns, fur line boots), talking exactly the same (uh, like, ending statements in a question mark), and all saying the same thing which was nothing useful. I did however get to make some networking contacts so it was okay for that at least. I said all of that to say that I sketched this of the panel while I was there. Lol