One of the Kirby 100

I’m truly honored to be included in the book KIRBY 100: One Hundred Top Creators Celebrate Jack Kiby’s Work. The release of the book coincides with the centennial of Jack Kirby’s birth one hundred years ago this week.

Most of the Marvel superheroes were either created or co-created by Kirby. But for a time, he jumped ship to rival DC Comics to create The New Gods, Mister Miracle, OMAC, Kamandi, and many other characters. Here, I muse about a two-page spread I found to be an example of raw energy and imagination far beyond what anyone else was doing (or has done since) in comics. Years before anyone ever built the first monster truck, Kirby brought us “The Mountain of Judgement.”

There are some serious heavyweights of the comic art world, corraled into this magnificent tome by Jon B. Cooke and the fine folks at TwoMorrows Publishing. 

Happy Birthday to you, Mr. Kirby and thank you for all your wonderful creations.

See the story at 13thDimension.com 

ME MAKE BANNER! BANNER GOOD!

Found this pic of a series of banners I designed to promote my horror/sci-fi con Monsters and Robots. I banged out eight of these in one afternoon with the help of the mighty David Smith cleaning up my concepts and color choices.

What was originally a news site about all things monsters and robots and their respective genres, morphed into a convention in 2016. For a new show, it had its marketing challenges, but the fans loved it and the vendors did well. But my Lyme disease came back around that time, so I shelved Monsters and Robots until 2018. More news about that soon.

“The Play’s The Thing”

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Judie and I went to see Peter Sarsgaard in Hamlet at the intimate Classic Stage Company on 13th Street in NYC. Just as we were about to take our seats we were surprised by Saturday night live TV Funhouse animation director J.J. Sedelmaier. Suddenly, J.J. and I realized Patti Smith had just taken her seat in the next row and we were like little kids seeing the punk icon. Turns out she was with director Darren Aronofsky.  Later I noticed a guy in a black suit and white shoes, which I couldn’t help complimenting him on. I told him they were pretty badass shoes, and Joe Jackson would be jealous. I’m pretty sure he was Butch Vig, legendary producer and leader of the band Garbage. Oh, and the play? Well, “the play’s the thing,” and it was brilliant. Scarsgaard, with shaved head looked much like a manic Michael Stipe. I watched him deliver cliched lines like “to be or not to be” in a fashion that made them sound as if I’d never heard them before. I was also pleasantly surprised to see character actor Harris Yulin playing Claudius.

Director Darren Aronofsky (in the blue T-shirt) and punk rock star Patti Smith (far right) speak to some young fans after the play Hamlet in NYC.
Director Darren Aronofsky (in the blue T-shirt) and punk rock star Patti Smith (far right) speak to some young fans after the play Hamlet in NYC.

Can A Comic Creator Run A Comic Convention?

Okay — some time has passed since   I launched the Asbury Park Comicon. And at some point I’ll write more about what went into making it a reality. I could say it was a lot of work or it was hard, but there’s no way to measure that, and hard compared to what? We’d just come off of Hurricane Sandy — I think what the victims of the storm were going through was hard, what we went through was a challenge.

But with everything that life, nature, and city politics put in our way, we did reach May 30th, 2013 and the fans showed up. As did the talent. It was a glorious, if not frantic day. Friends from as far back as high school visited to wish me well (brought together through the magic of social media), as well as family, neighbors, old employees from my screen printing days, and the comics community.

We invited some great guests, some who’ve turned into friends. I especially had a great time with Ren & Stimpy co-creator Bob Camp and punk artist John Holmstom.
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At one point at dinner with them, I laughed so hard I though shrimp would shoot out of my nostrils.

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Other than that, the day was a blur with interviews, autographs, a costume contest judged by my neighborhood celebs Bryan Johnson, Mike Zapcic and Ming Chen of AMC-TV’s Comic Book Men, and Brian O’Halloran of the film Clerk’s.
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Oh, yeah — and here’s MAD Magazine’s Al Jaffee a week after turning 95 with me on the Asbury Park boardwalk. When I originally invited him 6 months earlier, he said, “Cliff, I’ll be there if I’m still alive.” To which I replied, “Me too, Al.” And a month later I was hit by a car. So never kid about that shit.

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And it was Judie’s birthday and someone made her a special gluten free cake!

I have a lot more to say about this event, with Allen Bellman, Danny Fingeroth, Herb Trimpe, Evan Dorkin Sarah Dyer, Jim Salicrup, and will ad to this soon.

Happy Birthday John van Hamersveld

Happy Birthday to my friend and mentor John van Hamersveld. While I have no great love for my years in Los Angeles (2000 to 2004), my time spent with John was something I will always be grateful for. In a town full of social climbers and fame addicted narcissistic idiots, John was a man of great wisdom and talent, a man who exuded a love of art and creativity.
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There are few I can credit with actually changing my thinking, but John did that, though not through argument or constant rants, but by posing questions, almost as if talking to himself, sometimes just loud enough for me to hear. His subtle engagement about the politics of the time, the war, whole horrible state of the country chipped away at my A-political stance. I hadn’t voted in over a decade, but ever since I’ve moved back to New Jersey, I never missed an election.
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I worked closely with John to restore images from his incredible career to print posters from a large format giclee printer I had in my studio in North Hollywood. He’d created some of the most iconic images of the 60’s and 70’s; album covers such as The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour, Rolling Stones “Exile On Main Street”, Kiss “Hotter Than Hell”, Beach Boys “Wild Honey”, Blondie “Eat To The Beat”, posters for The Velvet Underground, Hendrix, Cream, and possibly the greatest poster of all time: The Endless Summer.
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We spent long hours together in my studio, and he told me stories about meeting the Beatles, photographing the Stones, hanging out with Dylan, and the death of Rick Griffin. But the best stories were about art, about creating images. I’d always felt schizophrenic in my desire to explore a variety of styles. But when I looked at John’s body of work, I realized it was quite healthy to go off in different directions and not repeat one’s self. I also learned to be okay with my dyslexia, John said it was our advantage to see things differently.
screen-shot-2013-09-01-at-93055-amSo thank you John, for the time we spent, for your profound influence on my thinking. And a very happy birthday.
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Here Comes The Boom! After The Storm

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A lot of people are still doing a lot of good for the people at the Jersey shore after Hurricane Sandy. The band P.O.D came to the rescue and I was asked to do this poster for the benefit. This is my first post since running Asbury Park Comicon — I’ve had a lot on my plate since that glorious day at Convention Hall back on March 29th, 2013. I’ll have a few thoughts and some photos, but first, I had to deliver this art and a whole bunch of other things needed to be dealt with to get Asbury Park Comicon 2014 rolling.

Agent 88 For Heavy Metal Magazine Book

agent88xSome friends of mine out in L.A. are making a wild  webisode show called Agent 88. It’s been described as “Quentin Tarentino meets Mr. Magoo.”  They’ve asked me and other artists such as Jim Mahfood, Simon Bisley, Kevin Eastman,  David Mack, and many other talented humans to each contribute a page for a book that will be printed by the folks at Heavy Metal Magine. Looks like a groundbreaking show for the Web. Check it out at www.agent88films.com.

What I’ve Been Reading

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You may have heard David McCullough as the narrator on many of Ken Burns’ documentaries on PBS such as The Civil War,  The Brooklyn Bridge, and many episodes of the American Experience. McCullough speaks like the voice of history, probably because he’s not just reading a script, but because he’s steeped in the material.

His latest endeavor, weighing in at 752 pages is titled  The Greater Journey. It’s a collection of accounts of some the 19th Century’s greatest American artists, medical students, writers, thinkers, diplomats and scientist, who all were drawn to Paris for enlightenment. Such names as Mary Cassatt, Oliver WendelL Holmes, John Singer Sargent appear in their their formative years and go on to greatness. But my favorite was the story of the painter Samuel Morse, who invents the telegraph on a steamship voyage home from France.

Other great accounts are the horrors and stupidity of the Franco Prussian War and the surgery school that fed human remains to a cage full of dogs. Those were the good old days!