The Comics Journal interviews Marc Bell

“The Truth About Archie Bunker’s Chair: An Interview with Marc Bell” / The Comics Journal / Dan Nadel / November 30, 2011

I first became aware of Marc Bell’s work in the mid-’90s, just as minicomics seemed to be booming in the medium’s own small way. Marc published prolifically (and, unbeknownst to me at the time, already had two “real” comic books to his credit) in minis and in newspapers and magazines. As the minicomics scene began to die off in the early ’00s he started appearing in anthologies (including my own) and then moved into galleries and books of his own. He’s published four volumes of his work: an art book, The Stacks (Drawn & Quarterly); Shrimpy and Paul and Friends (Highwater Books), a collection of strips starring the titular characters; the monograph Hot Potatoe (Drawn & Quarterly); and most recently the comic strip collection Pure Pajamas (also Drawn & Quarterly). Additionally, he’s edited books including Nog a Dod (Conundrum/PictureBox) and published scores of zines of his own. He currently lives in Guelph, Ontario with the artist Amy Lockhart.

It’s been an intriguing journey, as he’s developed a way to render his world across multiple platforms that communicates to viewers but remains completely his own language. His work zigzags back and forth between purely transparent, classic cartooning to much more interior image-making. In whatever mode you find him, however, when you’re engaging with Marc’s work you’re playing by his visual rules. He took the lessons of imagists like Karl Wirsum and word-play collagists including Ray Johnson and managed to apply them to comics, which makes for layered reading/viewing experiences. When he segues into making stand-alone artworks, Marc wisely drops the narrative and manages, in drawing, painting, and collage, to create carefully defined spaces in which to explore private languages of line, color, and form, unencumbered by narrative or two-dimensionality.

I’ve published and been friends with Marc for a while now and with the release of Pure Pajamas it seemed like a good time to talk. We conducted this interview in September of this year at my apartment in Brooklyn. It was transcribed by Conrad Groth, Janice Lee, Ben Horak, and Kara Krewer. Marc and I edited it for length, clarity, and to make ourselves seem much more articulate than we really are.

DAN NADEL: What I was thinking this morning about SPX was this: A lot of stuff, it seems to me, in this current generation lacks a certain amount of imagination, but actually I think what I mean is it lacks a unique interior vision. So when we talk about Ron Regé, or you, or Amy Lockhart, there’s a particular aesthetic that cannot be duplicated, it’s unmistakable, and it seems to come from a pretty deep place. There’s no appropriation involved, there’s no trying to be something else, and there’s not a sort of friendly “Hey, come on and shake my hand” quality to it. What are you now, like 39?

MARC BELL: 39, yeah, I’m turning 40 in November. Lordy Lordy.

Oh shit, you are fucked. [Laughter.]

What are you, 35?

35 now. I do think when you were coming up, and Ron, John Porcellino, whatever all the stuff was, was pretty outsiderish. What do you think? [Laughter.]

No, it’s true, I mean this stuff has a definitely folky kind of quality, and people like Ron, it’s unique…I mean, what are you asking me?

I’m asking you what’s changed. What do you think has changed over the last 10 years?

Ok. The era of Archie Bunker’s chair is ending. Dads are nicer now, the kids are more friendly, there’s not as much, maybe, anger, like I don’t think Ron’s work is angry, necessarily, and I don’t know if mine’s really that angry, but there’s…

But it’s confused.

But it’s confused. Yeah, now people want something very clear, it seems. We were talking earlier and you used the word “pop-y”…I don’t know what point I wanted to make with this.

I don’t know. I’ve never thought of the Archie Bunker’s chair thing, that’s good.

Archie Bunker’s chair is floating out to sea. It is obsolete. Do you understand what I’m saying?

I do, I do, I think…

I do think it’s kind of a generational thing or a “sign o’ the times”.

We were the new generation not so long ago, Marc. [Laughter.]

It’s over.

It’s over?

Thurber’s the new generation.

Thurber’s our age.

I know. [Laughter.] It’s funny, when you first contacted me, I saw you as part of the younger generation. I suppose when you are younger it seems like someone a little younger than you is. Ok, but let’s try to think of…

Michael DeForge.

Michael DeForge, but then his stuff is really straightforward.


Very straightforward, pop-y. I gotcha now. I thought you were asking me who the new version of “us” is. DeForge’s stuff is certainly not as confused and crusty, and Archie-Bunker’s-chair-ishy as my stuff. I mean, when I was 19 or 20 or so I designed this gig poster, and someone was saying to me, “Oh man, looking at your drawings I thought you were like some 50-year-old underground freak or something.” It was something I did when I was 20, and he thought I was 50 years old. I just did a signing in Pittsburgh, and these guys came up to me, and they were laughing, and they were like, “Oh my God, we thought you would be like, wearing a duster, like an overcoat and shades and…”

That’s so funny, because part of the appeal of your work is that in some weird way, once you key into it, it’s very matter-of-fact.


It may be crusty, but there’s an order to it: Your arrangements are solid and the information is all accessible, more or less. It’s graphically precise work and it’s not like you’re injecting a persona in there.

No, I don’t know exactly what that joke was, but I think they thought I would be more haggard or something. Because of all the drawings, artwork, and stuff. I think maybe they were surprised I still kept some kind of youthful-ish appearance. But anyway that’s beside the point. Yeah, because it’s true, my work isn’t really about a persona necessarily. I mean some of my autobiographical stuff is joking about that, I guess. But that stuff’s sort of long gone.

Yeah, it’s long gone. That was the ’90s. That was the heyday.

That was the mid-’90s, when we were the new thing.

Speaking of the ’90s, the first time I ever heard anything about you as a person was Ron Regé telling me, I think this was before you and I even corresponded, Ron Regé was telling me that you lived in a van outside his house.

No, no, no, I was visiting Ron with my friend Neil and my friend R. J. (this hilarious newfie pharmacist), and we drove down to Cambridge in a propane-powered van which Neil later sold to Elf Power.

Oh, really? The band.

Yeah, the band. And then the van traded hands and ended up with Olivia Tremor Control. Neil is buddies with those Elephant 6 guys, and the van ended up being passed around Georgia between those bands, because I think propane is really cheap in Georgia, right?


So a propane van is excellent for touring around there, I’m sure in certain states it’s really expensive. So anyway, we drove down from the east coast of Canada, we drove down to, well they were driving south, and I had never met Ron before, and we stopped in and visited Ron in Cambridge. At first we couldn’t get a hold of him or something, and it was really cold, and we were trying to sleep in the van, and I so cold I went and slept a little bit at the Kinko’s, until they threw me out of there. [Laughter] But we eventually met Ron, and hung out with him, which was great, because I had been corresponding with him. We had been sending mini-comics back and forth. And on that same trip, Ron was like, “Hey, Marc, you should come. I’m going to Providence, there are these crazy guys there that have this giant space, and they do shows and they make posters and it’s just nuts, you should check it out, you’d probably like it.” And I was like, “That sounds pretty interesting, but I’m going on this trip with these guys.” So, I didn’t get to go to Fort Thunder back in the day. But then I later I found out about all that stuff happening in Providence and met Ben Jones through the mail, and all that.

Marc and Ron Rege Jr. in Cambridge Mass, 1996. Photo by Neil Rough.

So how important was that community thing to you, coming up? Because you were exchanging minis with Ron, what starting in ’97, ’96?

Yeah, it was important to me, I was really taken by Ron’s stuff. Like you say, when you’re describing that old kind of cartooning that maybe isn’t as prevalent right now, or there’s not as much of it coming up now, he really embodied that. And then at the same, I was working with all these other Canadians, so it was just making a connection in the States. Ron was an American version of the stuff I responded to. It’s not just Ron; there were all sorts of other ones. But Ron was important, I think. And John Porcellino, who was really nice about promoting my stuff through his Spit and a Half distro.

Portrait of the artist as a young hockey player

Well, let’s go back to London. So, you were born in 1971 in London, Ontario.


And what did your parents do?

Well, my dad worked at Ford, and my mom worked at Woolco, which became Walmart. Walmart bought it out.

And how many brothers and sisters?

Twin sister and an older sister, a year older.

So what were your earliest visual memories?

Oh, I dunno, I can’t remember.


Yeah. I can’t, can you?


What were your first visual memories?

My first really vivid visual memories are like, oh wait, maybe I can’t remember either.

I don’t have a great memory. I talk to my friend Neil when I need some information about my past. He has a really good memory, he’ll remember exact dates that things happened on. But he probably wouldn’t remember my first visual memory. I used to have dreams of pretty detailed drawings.

Neil Rough decorated by Bell as part of his Altered Facebook Photo 10 Dollars project

When you were a little kid?

I’m pretty sure. I’m pretty sure, unless I’ve fabricated that. You know how sometimes people fabricate memories?


But I’m almost positive I had dreams of detailed images or drawn images.

When did drawing become a real concern?

I think pretty quickly, I was always into it. I mean, people say, “Aww man, it must take you a long time,” And I go, “Well, yeah, but not really. When I get rolling I can really draw really fast. Just because I’ve done it so much. That’s what everyone always asks me, “How long did that take?” It’s just like, “I dunno,” it’s kinda second nature.

And did your parents respond at all?

Yeah, they were fairly positive, they just probably got worried when I was older, like, “What are you going to do now, what are you going to do with that?” But I was encouraged, I guess.

By your mom or your dad or both?

Well both I think, initially. It was something I just did, and I wasn’t stopped.

When did you actually start getting schooling in it?

Well, I guess Beal Art, which was a two-year course at a high school level. I finished a whole high school diploma or whatever, and then I went to Beal Art. So I actually ended up with 52 high school credits when I only needed 30. [Laughter] Before Beal Art I had an art teacher in high school who actually confiscated stuff I was doing. I was drawing on 8 ½ x 11 papers folded over – just drawing these really stupid comics. And they were in pencil. My best friend and I had these joke characters, the Galaxy Gang, where we’d try to draw beneath us. Like, we weren’t that technically accomplished, but we were trying to draw like little kids.

Even worse?

Yeah, worse. I think we were inspired by the art in those Roger Ramjet cartoons, how basic and immediate it all was. We were making these in elementary school so these ones that were taken from me were a later version that I was drawing by myself. In this case, the main character “Jimmy” had grown up a bit and was into hardcore punk and drugs and that kind of thing. So, I was drawing these comics, I don’t even know what the content was, but maybe they were somewhat objectionable, like adolescent, stupid humor. Anyway, my teacher saw what I was doing and he took some of them and didn’t give them back. Also, I drew a strip for the school paper once featuring Jimmy as this terrible, violent machine shop teacher who would injure his students. I was actually in the school’s machine shop class when I drew this and my teacher, Mr. Hendry, thought it was about him, that I was somehow making fun of him and I think I was called down to the office and given a talking to. The sad thing was that I really liked Mr. Hendry, he was a super nice guy and I was doing well in the class but I don’t think they understood my satire. Or lack of satire. I was so mortified by it all, I don’t think I could explain my way out of it.

Did Jimmy make any other appearances?

A friend of mine, Charles, bought one of these swish barrels, a barrel that had been used to make whiskey in it. You put water in it and turn it every few days and later you bottle it and there you have it, some sub-grade booze. We decided to call it “Jimmy Juice” and so I made a label for it with Jimmy lying drunk in the mud or something like that. We did some promotion, made a short commercial. We somehow managed to get the high school Vice Principal to endorse it on videotape, saying something like “Jimmy Juice, the stuff that girders are made of”. That was the official slogan.

Why didn’t you just go to Beal Art instead of high school?

That’s a good question. Maybe I was too scared to start going to school downtown, or maybe I didn’t know you could do that. But maybe it was better in a way because I was done with high school, and then Beal Art became this two-year art course. So I’m getting credits for it, but it’s almost like going to art school. And having finished that program, they let me into university in second year.

Ah, so you got out and into university.

Yeah, but they actually asked me to leave Beal.


They really wanted me to be an animator. I took the film/animation course in my second year but I didn’t want to do any animation. I had a video camera, and I was always videotaping stuff, and just goofing around with the video camera. I was constantly recording stuff off the television when I was a kid, recording movies, doing stuff like that. I made a very rudimentary documentary about Peter Thompson after I met him there at Beal. So anyway, I wanted to take film and maybe learn how to edit and stuff like that, and that’s why I took film/animation. But the teacher clearly saw I was interested in cartooning, and he was really pushing me to go to this school, Sheridan College, which is an animation school. And he would say stuff like, he’d say, “If you don’t do this, you’re just going to end up working at IGA and you’re going to be a failure…” [Laughs] Like that kind of stuff, you know what I mean?

So he was taking the ironic stab of pushing you into a lucrative career in animation, which is not lucrative at all. [Laughs]

Yeah, that’s right. Maybe back in that day it seemed like it would be, I dunno. But Sheridan was like a farm school for Disney, right? I think even Americans, some of them, would go out to Sheridan. It’s pretty well known. But anyway, they wanted to kick me out at one point.

Because you wouldn’t do animation?

I don’t think I saw myself as a rebellious student, but they saw me as someone who was really single-minded and knew what he wanted to do, and they didn’t see that I was taking anything they were offering, in a way.

That’s it.

And in a way I kind of take it as a compliment, in retrospect, but at the time, I was kind of hurt by it. I was like, “What? You want me to leave? What have I done wrong?” So I asked them if I could stay. And there was one other thing that was kind of funny. I was walking by the teacher’s lounge one day, and I noticed there was a Life in Hell cartoon and it was one where—I might not be explaining it exactly the way it was—but the general idea, I recall, was that there was a view of a classroom, and all the students were standing beside their desks, and then Binky is turned around, and he’s facing a corner and they labeled him “Marc Bell”. So they really saw me as going against the grain.

So what were you doing? I mean, what were you drawing? What was the work?

At Beal Art I was doing lithography, which wasn’t working out great because I would often mess up the stone. And I was taking that film/animation course, and again, the teacher really didn’t think that was working out, because he wanted me to do animation, so I actually switched to ceramics weirdly enough. I started making these really stupid ceramics sculptures. At one point I think the teacher came aside and said, “You know Marc, when you cast something in clay, it lasts for a long time, especially if you glaze it and stuff, this is going to last for a long time, so you should be aware of that.” [Laughs] You know what I mean?

Ceramic sculpture made while attending Bealart

So basically he’s saying, “Your stuff looks like shit, maybe you should think twice about it.”

[Laughs] Yeah, or like, “What do you think you’re doing?” I was making some of my cartoon characters in three dimensions. I had created lithographs of some of these characters also. And so I was making these creatures, they would have a clay body, and then it would have eight legs made out of doweling, with clay kneecaps. I didn’t really have a clear vision of what I wanted to do, but I was drawing comics, and I was a little all over the place, but that’s what school’s for, I guess, right?


I don’t feel like I really figured everything out till I was thirty, really, in reality, you know? Like technically. And then when I went to Mount Allison, I took printmaking, I was doing etching, and then…

Mount Allison, that’s Sackville?

That’s Sackville, yeah. I took printmaking, and I was drawing.

So, London though, seems like it is, or was, a pretty interesting place.

It was, it was.

In the ’60s and ’70s there was a pretty vibrant scene there.

Yes, in the ’60s and ’70s definitely. The whole Greg Curnoe/Murray Favro/Nihilist Spasm Band regional scene was going on and as an art student it was always sort of there in the background. In the ’80s it didn’t feel like much to me at the time growing up there but in retrospect it was actually pretty interesting and thriving in it’s own way. We had some interesting teachers at Beal, like Joseph Hubbard, who was doing really funny and interesting stuff and still is. London took a real hit in the late eighties and early ’90s and the downtown really went down the tubes like in a lot of mid-sized cities.

One of the big themes of your work is working with friends, and so in London you met Pete Thompson…

Yeah, and Jason.

Jason McLean. Is it fair to say that that was the core crew, initially?

Initially it started with myself and Peter and our friend Scott McIntyre working on collaborative drawings and Jason was making sculptures but he would have us over at his apartment and we’d listen to the Nihilist Spasm Band and Peter would read from The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy or something like that. And we formed the All Star Schnauzer Band. And then Jason went out west, and then I went out east, but we all still kind of kept the thread alive, one way or another. The thread actually became more involved later on. I guess the height of it would have been the late ’90s and early 2000s.

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The Truth About Archie Bunker’s Chair: An Interview with Marc Bell
BY Dan Nadel Nov 30, 2011

Was collaboration natural to you? Because that’s such a huge part of your work. It’s unusual.

Yeah, I guess it is. It started in the early nineties when I just started drawing with Pete and Scott and later started drawing with Jason. It seemed like a pretty natural thing to do. I can’t remember if this was an influence but I went on a class trip to New York while at Beal and I went to see a giant Exquisite Corpse show at the Drawing Center. There was two parts to it, a more informal half that wasn’t curated (nobody was turned away) and a curated part where you would have these old surrealist Exquisite Corpses mixed in with ones by contemporary artists and even contemporary cartoonists, which really knocked me out at the time. I know Panter was in the mix and I am sure Beyer was in there. In the informal part it was a totally mixed bag, “Oh, there’s Captain Beefheart” next to some other people you hadn’t heard of. And on the collaboration front, it was interesting to me to see the Royal Art Lodge come up in Winnipeg later on, because it was kind of a similar…

Are they a little younger than you, or the same age?

I think they were generally around the same age except for Hollie Dzama who was younger. All I mean to say is that they were probably doing a similar thing independently as was Fort Thunder/Paper Rad. So you know, it was kind of interesting at that time it just seemed like there was a few pockets. I mean using those three as an example, but I think they’re pretty good ones.

Yeah absolutely.

So I think that for some reason it was something that was in the air. Right?

Yeah. Which is interesting in itself. It really begins with drawing in your work. Whether it’s comics or gallery-based work, image based work, it seems always drawing-based. Did you ever encounter resistance from people because of that?

Well yeah, when I was doing it it wasn’t in vogue, right?

No way.

But you could look at what was going on, I could look at what was going on in comics.


And sort of appreciate it on that level that, or wait what am I trying to say?

Well in comics drawing was flourishing, in a sense.

‘Twas a great time I mean with Chester Brown and Julie Doucet and Clowes and Peter Bagge. I mean that was really… something was happening there.


Right? I think Jason, for example he saw I was looking at that stuff. He was out West in Vancouver and he was near Seattle so he could see this thing sort of happening, right?

Right, right.

Cause it was in the water or something.

Yeah yeah.

So he sort of was like “Whoa”; actually I don’t want to put words in his mouth but maybe he was like, “Whoa Marc’s on to something here. People are actually starting to pay attention to this stuff.”


Canada can be really academic as far as art school goes and it just felt like that crazy drawing was not what was happening in art school at the time.

So did you publish in high school?

When I was in high school there was a pretty interesting punk rock scene in London in the eighties. And a bit of zine activity, there was this magazine called What Wave, which was a garage rock magazine. I’m maybe more interested in garage rock now, or more aware of it, but at the time I wasn’t that aware of that stuff, but anyway, Mike Niederman, who did comic/zine reviews in What Wave, and he would hand letter them, was the first guy to review my stuff. I was putting out these mini-comics, but they were magazine sized and offset. The first ones I did with a classmate of mine and later I was doing them on my own. I would do 200 copies, offset. Mike Niederman worked at this print place, M & T Publishing and they somehow had this low offset price point where you could actually do it. And I saw him recently and he’s kept all that stuff he used to review. He’s got all the old Yummy Fur minis and other zines Chester had been submitting to, he was reviewing and collecting all that stuff, he’s got all these old Richard Kern zines and all that ’80s stuff. He brought a stack of things to show me at this recent London zine fair, and he keeps all this stuff in great shape, he’s a bit of an archivist of that era.

That’s great.

Yeah, but I asked him, I said, “I don’t want to see my old publications, please do not bring them.” [Laughs]

And did he bring them?

I think maybe he did, actually, but I did not want to see them. But come to think of it, the very first comic I did on my very own, before I did the offset at M & T, was one I had printed at the high school I was going to because I found out there was a printing course there. So it was printed offset and it looked terrible—some students did it—and it just looked awful.

And this was Beal Art?

This was when I was going to Beal Art.

And while you’re in Beal Art somehow you get your first comic book published by Calber – Boof.

Yes. Or I guess it was a little after Beal Art. I think I drew in the basement at my mom’s place. You know? I drew the cover in blue line pencil first and then colored it. And, whoops, well you can still see the blue lines cause it’s in color. [Laughter]

You thought you were being pro.

Well yeah I thought I was being pro. I was being stupid. [Laughter] He put that out and it was a flop, right?

Yeah. Of course.

Caliber had this line of comics called Iconographix. Remember that? I think it would have been around ’91. And then I moved to Sackville and I think I received the copies there. And then he didn’t even want to do another one. I had to beg him to do Hep and I said, “look if it loses money I’ll pay for it.” And I paid to have an ad in The Comics Journal for Hep. I put a little ad in there.

So you were really going for it?

Kind of, yeah. I was trying…

And how did he even find your stuff in the first place?

Well I think I found him probably.

You submitted something.

I don’t even know. To tell you the truth I don’t even remember. I probably had some of those books he was doing and by that time I was ordering stuff from Fantagraphics and I probably submitted to them as well around that time.

And maybe because, what was the thing that he put out that was popular, Skin Graft?

Well he put out Dead World, which was popular at the time, by this guy Vincent Locke who was also pretty popular. It was a zombie comic. But that was maybe in his regular line.

Yeah yeah.

But then he had his Iconografix line and he put out Dave Cooper. I think he was publishing people like Jason Lutes a little bit. And Lowlife by Ed Brubaker I think?

Sounds right.

And he was publishing Brian Sendelbach and Dame Darcy.

Where was he?

Gary Reed was in Michigan and he would print at this printing place in Windsor: Preney Print and Litho. I think I must have talked to him on the phone a couple times but I don’t remember. And he was busy. He was putting out a lot of stuff. He just started this blog where he goes through a bit of the history. I didn’t know what was going on cause it was pre-internet and you didn’t know what’s going on anywhere. It was all guesswork.

I remember thinking that it was a cool company.

It was kind of cool. I was over the moon to get a comic book published.

So at some point, whether you knew it or not, you were like, “I’m gonna be a cartoonist guy.”

Yeah. For sure, definitely. I just loved Peter Bagge and Chester Brown, and I was like, “I’m just gonna try and do that.”

The funny thing is, at the time, it was not an unreasonable goal. There are these guys, they live in some place, they put out their comic books, there are letters in the back, you see an ad for it somewhere. That’s what it is.

I was working on Hep and I was working for the school paper, and I printed a few pages from Hep as the centerspread for the paper.

Yeah, that’s good. Good advertising.

What I did another time was I did this little comics primer for people in the paper. I put a little Julie Dirty Plotte panel, and I’d write a little blurb on Julie, and I’d do Lloyd Dangle, and Peter Bagge, and plugged a bunch of stuff.

In the school paper?

In the school paper, as part of the comics pages. So I just got free rein, I could do whatever I wanted with it. So I begged Gary to do another one, and he did it, and then I think that was it. He was just like, “No, no.”

[Laughs.] No more Marc Bell.

And then I was kind of discouraged a little bit after that.

And then twenty years later, Pure Pajamas. [Laughter]


End of the line, my friend. So Hep flops.

Someone just sent me an email recently saying, “Man, Hep is fucking awesome.” [Laugher.]

Somebody finally things you’re a hot, young cartoonist.

Exactly. [Laughs.] I tore up a lot of that stuff.

I don’t like when any artist tells me that kind of story.

I kept examples, though.

Yeah, yeah. [Laughs.] So what happens after Hep? Then in the ’90s it seems like you’re doing a weekly strip off and on, or…

You know, what I did then was I went back to self-publishing and thought, “Okay, I guess I’m going to start self-publishing.” A friend of mine was partners in this printing business, it was Charles, the same guy I went in on the swish barrel with, and he printed The Mojo Action Companion Unit #1 mini. Around that time I visited the press. It was not a super slick operation. It was a bit scattered around there. Anyway, I put a cigarette butt down this grate. I was sure I asked first, but I could be creating that as an excuse to feel better. So this huge mushroom cloud of smoke came up out of the grate…it turns out my friend’s sister had been sweeping up and swept all this sawdust down there or something, I don’t know. But it was a mess and it wrecked their mid ’90s computers. I was so mortified about it all that my friend and I lost touch after that. I think I was too freaked out to even go get the originals back.

An auspicious beginning. So that became a mini-comic series?

It did, yeah. I kind of modeled the cover colors for the first one after Zap #1 as a joke — yellow and blue. It was a bit of an anthology. It had Jay Stephens in it. So I just started putting it out, and the second one was photocopied. I don’t know how many of those I did over the years. But I think it maybe went up to number seven. And then Exclaim! at some point did a comic book style “collection” of some of that stuff.…

Exclaim! was a Canadian music magazine.

Yeah, I ended up drawing a strip for them. I think my strip started in ’95 or so. They asked me, and at first I was kind of resistant to it, and I can’t even remember why. For some reason I didn’t think it was a good idea but then when I started doing it and I was like, “No, this is a good idea. This stuff gets printed thousands of times.” It went all over Canada and it was free. So it was kind of perfect in a way.

Right. So if this is ’95 that you hook up with Exclaim!, that’s also the perfect time for indie rock going mainstream. So that magazine was probably a pretty big deal.

Yeah, I guess you could say it was, people would pick it up. Mark Connery was in there before I was in there, I think. Fiona Smyth, Joe Ollman, Alan Hunt. And it started off kind of almost zine-like, and then it got slowly slicker and slicker, and now its very slick. There’s no comics in there anymore; it’s pretty straight.

So your stuff was in there. Is it weekly or monthly?


So it’s being seen nationally. It’s a big deal.

Yeah, because people saw it. And people would respond to it.

So at some point, when did they decide to put out a comic book of Mojo Action Companion Unit?

They had this other strip in there called He is Just a Rat by Tony Walsh. I don’t know whose idea it was, but Exclaim! started publishing this He is Just a Rat comic, so I think at one point I just asked them, “Would you print just a little flimsy comic book of my stuff?” So I just loaded it with a bunch of stuff that was in the minis. There was just one, and it was tough for them to sell comic books, you know, if they weren’t concentrating on it. So that’s how that happened.

So it was another false start in terms of publishing.

Kind of, yeah. Pretty much.

When did the weekly strip start up?

The weekly strip started when I moved to Halifax. This is like ’97. Probably just after I went down to see Ron. So I ended up in Halifax, and I started doing a weekly for The Coast, the Halifax Coast. This was a time when I was just so broke. I was DJ-ing once a week, and I think the day I received my first welfare check, I was evicted. I finally got my rent together…you know what I mean? [Laughter.]


I was living in this place for free for a while, and we were supposed to do some work around there, but we didn’t really get around to it. The landlord would come over and yell “four sills!”, meaning he wanted us to put sills in the doorways. I was really broke, and I was doing this weekly strip, and it was really scattered. Like a lot of the stuff in Pure Pajamas, where it’s really like me going, “Uhhhh.” I think that some of the earlier stuff in Pure Pajamas is that stuff.

There were some what I would call classics from that time.

And I was probably doing stuff for Vice at this time, too. I was doing a monthly Vice strip, and the Exclaim! strip, and the weekly.

And you were still broke?

Yeah, I was still broke. Totally, completely broke. For Vice—I wasn’t using a computer at this time, I didn’t know how to—I would photocopy the strip and then hand-color it with marker and mail it in. And when I asked for them back later I’d only get part of them, and one of them would have a footprint on it. And I’d get, like, fifteen bucks a strip or so. When I first started at Exclaim!, they were paying me fifteen dollars, and it ended (years later) at forty.

Pay rates probably aren’t much better now.

I know, probably not. Though, at the end of my run with Vice they were paying me a decent page rate, 200 bucks. What was my point here…I quit the weekly but then I started the weekly up again later in 2000 with the idea that—because the Montreal Mirror said they would take it, and then the Halifax paper said they would take it. So that meant…I think I was making maybe 700 bucks a month from the weekly and the monthlies. And with that I could pay a cheap rent with that and have some leftover. So that’s when I decided, “I’m gonna do my graphic novel.” And that’s when I started doing that Wilder Hobson’s Theatre Abusurd-o stuff, was around 2000. And then I moved to Vancouver and I was pretty steady in Vancouver, working, doing that, and that transitioned into doing the artwork. But it was a pretty steady situation. I didn’t finish that graphic novel. I have all that material but I just haven’t been able to get back to it.

Part of it was in Worn Tuff Elbow.

That’s right. I ran through a lot of info there.
Now, where did Shrimpy and Paul first show up?

Shrimpy and Paul was in Exclaim!. At first it was just random things, I think, and then it turned into mainly Shrimpy and Paul. I really started to take Shrimpy seriously at a certain point because Tom Devlin had invited me to put together a book for Highwater Books. So I simply wanted to get a book of Shrimpy stuff out and this was a way to accomplish that.

So tell me about Shrimpy and Paul. Where do they come from?

I was living in Montreal around ’95, ’96 and I drew a one off strip for a French anthology called Guillotine. Valium and Siris and Suicide and Trembles would be in it, all those guys. And ladies like Helene Brosseau. Anyway, that was the first Shrimpy and Paul strip. And then I started using Shrimpy more, and putting them into the Exclaim! strip.

¼ page “Shrimpy and Paul” Exclaim! Strip (note to Frankie: these nine panel grids were later broken down into six panel grids for the Shrimpy and Paul book).

Because of everything you’ve done, they’re the two kind of totemic characters. They’re like your Jimbo.

I feel like I almost like the idea of being like a one-hit wonder or something.

Did they show up in your sketchbook first?

I think I wanted to create this character…well, you use the word totemic, and I wanted to make Shrimpy primitive – weirdly primitive looking. I think I was trying to make simple characters, and I wanted to make Shrimpy simple. And I think Paul’s from looking at Betty Boop and then maybe looking at Woodring. I wanted to use some of the old-timey bits—I liked looking at Woodring, and I was like, “There’s a power in this kind of iconography” – the gloves – people recognize it. So I wanted to make characters that were recognizable, but had their own identities – the nipples thing is kind of funny. When I came up with that, I was like, “Okay, that’s funny.” And Shrimpy is just sort of trying to make a straight, simple character, which seemed to go against my usual. I was putting in effort.

You were putting in effort to construct a comic strip.

Yeah. Of course.

And did that feel like the first time you had done that?

Kind of. I kind of did, really. Well, I’m trying to think when the first strip is.

Shrimpy and Paul represents the sort of first earnest attempt at not just turning out comics about whatever, but about trying to tell stories about these two characters. Who are these characters to you? Was it just sort of a way to funnel your ideas? Were you ambitious? Were you feeling ambitious with them?

I guess I felt ambitious once I got rolling. I thought, “I want to try and make some longer stories.” For example, “The Ball, The Goose, The Power!” was me trying to sustain a narrative. So they were kind of a device to create a sustained narrative by setting them up in a situation and things unfolding from there.

That’s a lot of what your comics are: Situations in which things happen. And those situations are uniquely yours.

Yeah, and in Shrimpy and Paul, there’s always this three-quarter view of this room. I don’t know if you’ve noticed that. It’s always these things going on in these boxes, so there’s kind of a system there. Though it might seem kind of chaotic, it’s always on the same angle. You know what I’m saying?

Yeah, I do. It’s a classic comic strip device.

I like that classic thing: You always draw the door with the molding, and you draw the wood floor. Maybe that just goes back to old vaudeville-kinda comic strips; vaudeville style as opposed to cinematic style comics. I like the way Popeye looks: It’s always got that same angle, and it’s consistent that way, but maybe mine’s on kind of a three-quarter angle. I’m just trying to keep that kind of consistent look.

That makes sense also in the context of things like Kevin comics and Tofu Cube Guy. Those comic strip romps.

Yeah, it comes from looking at Crumb and old comics, or Betty Boop, and just trying to use the cartoon language. And a romp is a good term for those.

At a certain point with your comics, and it’s evident in Pure Pajamas, you seem to get restless with form and move away from anything too comic-like. So we get International Doodle Week as a strip, the strips in Kramers, the strips in The Ganzfeld, where you’re getting restless with the romps and the panels. What was happening there?

With the “Gustun” strip, that was maybe one of the more extreme examples, where I was trying to—and I think you were encouraging me a little bit, for me to break out of comics a little bit. And with the “Duhy Science Network” I was trying to do something a little different, and I think I was getting restless with it, and also, it’s just sort of been there, the aspect of the diagram. I’ve always kind of done cross-sections; I really like that three-quarter angle view I was talking about with Shrimpy.

But it’s also getting more internal. That’s the funny thing that starts happening. One of the reasons why I think people responded so strongly to Shrimpy and Paul was that you made characters to lead you through the world. But at a certain point you abandon characters and you’re just left with the world.

No, it’s true. I think you’re right. Those really early comics we were talking about, like Boof, they were really weird, like really kind of internal. And I think when I started doing those newspaper strips, maybe I was conscious that more people would be looking at them, that they were supposed to be entertainment. With Shrimpy and Paul, I was also conscious, at a certain point, that they were going to end up in a book. Then, later, I was getting restless and kind of going back, going back into some internalized world or something with some of the later comics. Does that make sense?

It does. And it brings us around a bit to drawing as an end in itself.

Then there was an opportunity to do an art show, and I had been doing that kind of stuff all along, really, and so I went right headlong into that area and started to spend all my time doing that. And that was a bit of a relief because I didn’t have to repeat things anymore the way you do in comics. It was wide open.

Well, the first art show is at Adam Baumgold Gallery in 2004?

It was my first real solo show. I had done two person shows with Pete and Jason, but I hadn’t really created a whole solo show. I created a small one in Vancouver at the Blinding Light!! Cinema, but Baumgold was my first real solo art show.

But all the while, long before ’04, you were making, for lack of a better term, artists’ books or drawing zines.

Yeah, I was making one-off drawings for drawing zines or “artist books” and making collaborative drawing books and mail art. Those collages I started making for the art shows evolved out of all this correspondence art that I was making. I was decorating envelopes and sending them to Jason and vice versa, and we have sent each other tons of that stuff, I was cutting out little pieces of paper and gluing them in grid-like collages on envelopes, and filling it with information. And that sort of informed those later collages. And when you put on that Ganzfeld show, instead of sending comics I decided to send that first slew of those construction things that I had made, and I think I made some new ones for that show. The whole idea of doing a show hit me at the right time, because I think I was really interested in doing that stuff some more at that time.

And these collaborations and constructions and things like that, it seems like there was a whole scene of that stuff that you were very plugged into that really was localized, and by localized, I mean just Canadian, which is a big locale.

It’s just wide. It’s wide. But it’s a small world up here.

There’s a poster you reproduced in Hot Potatoe for a drawing show, with Tommy Lacroix, Carrie Walker, Peter Thompson, Marc Bell, Amy Lockhart, Jason McLean, Owen and Terry Plummer, Holly Ward, Shayne Ehman, Dominique Pétrin, Dirty Debby, Alex Morrison. Now a bunch of those people have had significant careers on their own. So what was it about…there were comparable things going on in Providence, and the Royal Art Lodge, and probably god knows where else, San Francisco, if we think of Chris Johanson and those guys. So what was the dialogue like in this group, and what brought everyone together? Was it just that you guys were the only ones doing it, or was it a certain shared aesthetic?

I think there was a shared aesthetic. Pete and I influenced each other a lot, and our drawing sort of became seamless when we worked together because we drew together so much and influenced each other. And there was sort of a competitive quality, a healthy competitive quality, because we kind of allowed each other to rip each other off. It was encouraged. Like Pete would redraw something of mine, and Pete is a really skilled draftsman, so he draws something of mine, and it would be better or clearer, and I’d try and steal that back and redraw it again, and we’d have all these cross-references and repetitive words repeated in each other’s work and ideas. We’d joke around and come up with ideas or just jokes, and they would get into the work, and then, Pete also started redrawing some of Jason’s books. Jason would put out a book, and then Pete would redraw it and give it a different name. We also had this joke band called The All Star Schnauzer Band that we would promote. Jason really actively promoted the whole book scene in Vancouver and liked to get everybody involved. So somehow it became this little scene that either attracted people or people were yanked into whether they liked it or not, because of a shared or admired aesthetic.

Even among the artists that we talk about, the Hairy Who and Saul and Crumb and whoever, that’s a very unusual practice.

No one really did that. Jason put together a show in Vancouver called Nog A Dod, and that’s kind of where the name came from for that book I put together of all this stuff. “Nog A Dod” were just random words that had been written down in one of the zines we had made together. The poster you mentioned was for a big launch we organized. We encouraged people to make new books for it, so Tommy made a new book called Beauty of Life, I think. And everyone brought their books down and some of our friends played music. It was at Ms T’s, this tranny bar that has since burnt down. It was almost kind of folk-like. It was a localized activity, we wouldn’t make very many of these books. We’d make like forty copies. It wasn’t necessarily about selling them, it was about sending Owen Plummer your new book or trading. It sounds all so quaint. It’s kind of interesting. It was kind of an unusual thing, I guess.

Yeah. The mail art thing makes a certain amount of sense, but the copying and the obsessive trading back and forth is kind of unusual. And that’s also all drawing based, with a few exceptions, like Tommy doing the collages. What I wonder is if there an ambition behind it? Was anybody thinking, “I’m gonna do this for a little while, and then I’m going to parlay this…I want to do a gallery show, or take this somewhere it’s not.” Or was it a thing you guys did and didn’t talk about?

It’s hard to say, because there were so many different people involved. Jason and myself probably had other ambitions. Like with my comics, I was fairly ambitious, because you have to be to get them out there. I’ve never been really a reluctant artist as far as being a cartoonist, but those little minis, the drawing books, I like them as a counterpoint to that. That they’re kind of scarce. I enjoy that fact. But I still have a certain amount of ambition, and when I was asked to do a show in New York, then of course there’s some ambition there. And it’s sort of outside of that, of what was going on in that little community, because I sort of stopped collaborating. I still collaborate, but not to the degree that I did.

Well, when there’s a certain demand for your work you have to produce and can’t spend too much time collaborating, but then you lose the “do whatever I want” vibe, I guess.

And in some ways there’s a comfort to that, not worrying about having to produce, and you produce just to produce. But at the end of the day, you have to eat and stuff like that. So if you don’t want to have a job…It’s almost like I had different threads going on.

Was that confusing, having the different threads?

In some ways it was or is. I’d be working on my art in these different mediums, and I’d see what Peter’s doing, making these little black and white sixteen-paged zines, and very consistently and very prolifically, I’d be like, “Wow.” There was something to that that I felt like I was kind of missing out on. A simpler way of doing things. By doing my own solo art shows in galleries, I felt like I was missing out on this smaller scene that’s going on.

What were you getting from the smaller scene? Were you learning?

I think I learned a lot by collaborating with people. I am such a small blip in the art world, it is so hard to tell how I function in those parameters. I guess I have been learning about the business in the art world and how business is bad. Recently, I feel like I’ve just been compiling stuff and almost taking a bit of a breather rather than moving ahead. I’ve still been working, but I feel like I’m in a bit of a different phase right now. I don’t know. Collaborating could, or it probably did help me with opening the whole thing up a bit, and you’re not as precious. And the whole idea of stealing from other people can be pretty inspiring.

Oh, really?

Yeah. We would encourage it, right? It was encouraged to steal from each other’s stuff. It was kind of interesting because it would get all muddied. Pete would steal something from me and use it, and then it’s not mine anymore, which is kind of great in a way. And then I could steal it back, or I could steal something from him, and Jason’s doing the same thing, and we are sharing our iconographies a bit. In some ways it was like how jazz musicians might operate. Playing with each other, different combinations, because those guys—I don’t know much about jazz—but those guys would do that, riff on each other.

That makes sense.

We would share terminology and characters. The strip There is No Escape! uses characters Pete and I created, those blob things. There is No Escape! in particular was a bit of an homage to the whole drawing scene, there are tons of references in there to these small drawing books by different people. And that’s Pete in there as the main character.

Actually looks like Pete a little bit.

At the time Pete’s characters would have often have a “mighty sword” and so I gave Petey one in the story.

But what gave you permission to start doing this? Because this is really starting to abandon the cartoon rules you’d stuck to with Shrimpy and Paul. It’s moving out of it. Like scenes on this third panel on page 128, so we remember for later, this is not a normal cartoon panel. You’re drawing a drawing world. You’re drawing a drawing about drawing, and then having a character run through it. What was going on there?

I don’t know. I think I like the idea of cross-referencing or something and I’d been doing these collaborative things all along. I guess I was giving myself permission to bring the “art” stuff into the comics. I felt like it was getting maybe a little out of control, because I’m cross-referencing with a bit of, I don’t want to say sarcastically, but it’s a little cheeky. I like the idea of giving things a little more importance than they might have, and then I’m bringing in the Schnauzer Band. And I am bringing The Stacks into the comics.

And you’re building up these imaginary objects. One on top of the other, on top of the other.

It’s kind of like piling stuff up. And then in the background here (in There Is No Escape!), there’s Brosse the Goose from Shrimpy and Paul. I think I told this story somewhere already about the origin of Brosse—but this crazy woman was talking to us in Oppenheimer Park in Vancouver, and saying, “Do you know who Brosse is? He’s the goose. Do you know what that means? That means he’s greedy.” And I thought, Brosse the Goose…that’s interesting. I had this really crusty blue wood board that I liked, and with Liquid Paper I just drew this goose, or a bird on it, and I decided that was Brosse the Greedy Goose and I just took that and brought that into the Shrimpy narrative.

Did you worry when you were doing these sort of comics, though, that you weren’t telling stories anymore?

Oh, yeah. For sure.

[Laughs.] But it didn’t stop you.

Didn’t stop me.

In a sense, you were taking all these pieces and, in a sense, drawing what you might otherwise collage.

I’m drawing collages. But when you first glance at them, they do look like regular comics sort of, but then you get into, and it’s just all stacked up.

Were they satisfying to make?

Umm…I’m proud of the drawing in this one.

I think the drawing’s fantastic.

I really like the drawing in this one; I like the coloring. That was when I trying to figure out how to color on the computer, and maybe I read something Jordan Crane wrote—I’m not sure if it was Jordan Crane—and they said to use the brush tool. Maybe I read it wrong, I don’t know, but I was literally coloring these pages with just the brush tool and not the magic wand where you just select areas. And it was crazy. One of these pages would take me sixteen hours or eighteen hours. It was so stupid. I could have done it in probably two hours the way I work now. So I gave myself carpal tunnel.

Doing the strip?

Yeah. Coloring it. At the time I had a deadline for one of my song comics. I think it was Mick Jagger’s “Let’s Work” For Vice. That awful song. And Tom Devlin colored it for me. I couldn’t because my hand was fucked up.

Do you feel like your comics became about this world that you built up? It’s interesting. You clearly, over time, have built up this visual and linguistic world, but then you’re exploring it.

But some ways, in the back of my mind, I would think, “I’m not making it concrete enough.” I would think, “Maybe I’d like to do something that really makes it more permanent.” Like, should I make a map of this place? I was thinking about going further with it and really trying to stabilize it or something. I’d introduced so much that I thought I should just double back and go through the stuff and really try to expand upon it. Rather than just making more stuff, rather than just making more components, which is unfortunately what I was doing, I think.

That’s your tendency.

That’s my tendency. I don’t know, I guess I just do what I do. I probably have to make a real serious, conscious effort to control it more or something, to pare it down. Does that make sense?

It makes perfect sense. And so, Pure Pajamas… It’s an interesting book, because it does present a real cross-section of everything. We get a little bit of Shrimpy and Paul…

In some ways, it was kind of too bad that I’d put those comics in Hot Potatoe, because those could be in Pure Pajamas. But the reason I put those in Hot Potatoe is because they kind of referenced the art a little more. So these are more of the supposed entertaining comics, maybe. The “romp” comics, as you say.

And what was the reaction to these comics? We’re in 2000, 2001, 2003, and you’ve got the weekly strips and Exclaim. What was the response to the sort of entertaining comics of the early 2000s?

The response to the so-called entertaining comics…It’s funny you call them entertaining, because some people are just like, “What, I do not…” And the other thing is, when I was putting stuff in weeklies and monthlies, often I was trying to get work done, so I could put it in a book later. For example, when Shrimpy was appearing, and I knew Tom Devlin was gonna put out the book, I was trying to get as much done as possible, and I was cramming, like, nine panels in this tiny space, and people could barely read them, I think. So probably some of the response would be just annoyance, I think. But I was just trying to get the work done. My space in the paper had gone from half a page to one quarter of a page and I still was determined to get the same amount of work done. And in a way, it paid off, because I got the book done, I got the Shrimpy and Paul book done. But sometimes I’m not thinking enough of the audience. I just have something else on my mind.

What do you have on your mind?

I was just thinking that I wanted to get the book done. But people were fairly positive about Shrimpy, and people did respond to the Vice song comics, and people responded to a lot of these ones. These ones were in Vice.

Tell me about Vice.

About Vice?

That’s something that people really don’t know that much about. You were there in the very beginning of this multinational empire.

Yeah, I was there. If I am remembering this correctly, Gavin first showed me Ron’s comics.

I didn’t know that. So take it from the beginning. Where did you first meet Gavin McInnes?

He saw my comics somewhere, and I can’t even remember where, but he started writing to me when I was in Sackville. Maybe he saw Hep.

Oh, an early Hep fan, eh?

I don’t know what he saw first, but he started writing to me these funny, wise-ass letters, like insulting me and stuff. He’s a funny guy. I was in New Brunswick going to school, so to get home to London, Ontario, I would travel through Montreal. I started stopping in at Montreal and that was pretty interesting because there is a lot of cartooning going on in that town. I’d be meeting up with Gavin. This may be ’94, or something, probably. I met Gavin, and he was doing mini-comics; he was doing this mini-comic called Pervert. He drew a comic about me called “Marc Bell Dish King,” because I had a dishwashing job. There were all these mini-comic networks at that time. It was all through the mail. So I met Gavin, and I got in touch with the whole Montreal scene there. But what was the bigger question here?


Okay, Vice. And then I moved to Montreal in ’95 or ’96 or something, and that’s when Vice started up. At first it was Voice of Montreal, and Gavin and Suroosh were the editors, and later this guy Shane came in. And so Gavin dropped mini-comics. He still did comics for Voice, and I was submitting comics, and at one point I interviewed Dan Clowes.

You did?

In Voice, yeah. He was very patient with me, you know. And eventually Voice turned into Vice, and it was distributed nationally, kind of following that Exclaim! model, it was still free. And then I don’t know if it moved to New York, and then it became a magazine, or vice versa. But it turned into a magazine. So I was giving him comics every month. I think at one point we had some falling out or something, and I stopped giving him comics for a while. But then when I was living in Halifax, he called me up and said, “Hey, my new girlfriend really likes your comics. Can you do some more comics?” [Laughter] It was pretty funny, so I was like, “All right.” So I started doing them again, and this is kind of like an off-and-on thing, and then that led to the last thing I did with them, a year of—or over a year of—doing those song comics. And by that time they were paying me okay, and I was still doing my monthly in Exclaim!, and I was doing my weekly, and so when I started doing all that art, I was like, “Something’s gotta give.” So I quit Vice. Exclaim got rid of all their comics at one point. I forget what year. So Exclaim! got rid of all their comics, and I think I was still doing the Vice one, and I quit Vice, and then I forget…maybe it was the weekly I quit last.

That makes sense.

And so I quit the weekly. I gotta say, the weekly deadline was driving me crazy. I was being silly. I’d leave it till Sunday night, and then I’d have to have it in by Monday night. So that’s why “International Doodle Week” was happening every other week. And then I was just like, “Look, I have to quit. I am not offering anything here.” So I had to do it. So in a way, creating that “There Is No Escape!” thing seems fine for a weird anthology like Kramers, but putting that stuff into a weekly is so crazy.

Right. Where it’s really meant to be a different kind of forum.

Where’s the entertainment value there?

So, Vice. What was the atmosphere? Were you hanging out with them?

Oh, yeah. I was hanging out with them. Like I say, when I was first coming from school in New Brunswick to Montreal to hang out with Gavin and check out the Montreal comics scene I’d see Gavin. He was already hanging around Derrick Beckles around that time. This was before Voice had started and Gavin was still drawing mini-comics. Gavin and Derrick were very sharp, and they were a really funny comedy duo, one upping each other. Anyway, I just felt like a hayseed or something. But Gavin got a kick out of me for whatever reason. And he liked my comics, and we were trying to break into the mini-comics scene.

And then they broke into the international media scene.

And then Gavin sort of changed popular culture with his humor. He kind of did, really. Right time, right place, and it kind of just worked that way. Or maybe he was just part of something that would have happened anyway.

At a certain point at Vice, around the late ‘90s, 2000, the whole reputation around Vice was cocaine and misogyny and fuck everything.

Wear heels. No sandals. [Laughter.]

And the less benign kind of stuff. Did that ever give you misgivings?

Being in there? No, no. Because I’m on the comics page. Gavin would always say, “I’m just running this page as a favor, like this running a D&D club, you guys are fucking lucky you’re in here.” He had that attitude. [Laughs.] Because he had moved on, right, he’d clearly moved on. But that whole thing, I thought it was interesting, because it was getting all over the place. To be in a magazine, and it being distributed all over the States for free. It was a great business model in a way; it was crazy.

So tell me about the Vancouver years, because that’s when I first met you.

Yeah, you sent me, what was it? Ganzfeld number…


Number one, yeah.

I don’t even know how I…well, I’d been ordering your stuff from Spit and A Half.

Oh, yeah. That’s right.

I think. Or Wow Cool. Somehow I had your mini-comics.

That was an interesting time, because The Ganzfeld was happening. I was talking with someone about this the other day. When I saw The Ganzfeld #2, I was like, “Whoa. This is going to be very popular.” Which is funny in retrospect.

Shows what you know. [Laughter.]

Exactly! I was being completely naïve. But the format appealed to me. I was like “Whoa. It’s really design-y, and it’s got things to read, and it has comics. This is the publication for me.” But now I know in retrospect—

—nobody likes that stuff. [Laughter.] As it turns out.

But it was an interesting time for me, because the Shrimpy [book] came out, and The Ganzfeld was starting, and Kramers 4 was being assembled.

That’s 2003.

That was a pretty interesting time.

Well, it’s an interesting time, too—I guess this is something I wanted to talk to you about—Right around that time there were a lot of things happening. There’s Kramers, there’s Ganzfeld, there’s the Giant Robot stores having all these shows, there was The Drama, The Broken Wrist Project. There were all these things, all these little things were popping up…it coincided with the vinyl toy boom, I guess.

And a surge in the housing market. Like when housing was good. I always link it to when things were going kind of crazy.

That’s interesting.

And the art market was starting to go crazy. People were buying stuff, that’s what I mean to say. And there was this kind of surge of…people had money.

I never thought of that.

You know what I mean, though? People had money.

People had money, and so they were both producing

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