From BIUL #1 (2014).
Category Archives: Magazine Rack
Ralph Reese is a brilliant illustrator whose art I first discovered in Choose Your Own Adventure books; he was my personal favorite. His work leapt off the page more than the others, owing to his apprenticeship under the great Wally Wood. In my teens, I found reprints of Ralph’s collaboration with Byron Preiss for National Lampoon, “One Year Affair”. I dreamed of being able to draw like Ralph Reese.
When Ralph did a feature in CRAZY magazine, it was a cause for celebration. Because Ralph wasn’t just a master illustrator.
Ralph was also a master of making you crap your pants.
When retiring his comic strip Bloom County, Berke Breathed remarked “a good comic strip is as eternal as a ripe melon.” Personally, I think that’s bullshit, and reflects more on Breathed’s motivation, or lack thereof. A good comic strip lasts a lifetime. We still pass around clippings of The Far Side and Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, decades after they were printed. A cartoonist who can’t perpetuate over changing times has inked themselves into a corner. Or dried the well.
If a comic strip is still hilarious long past its sell-by date, it is a successful comic strip. That is the acid test.
If you don’t recognize the name in the title, it’s okay. I’m not gonna browbeat you this time. This guy takes a lot more effort to be aware of, so don’t feel bad if you’re unfamiliar. In fact, let me introduce you to one of the funniest underground cartoonists of the 20th century.
If you’ve read Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor, you’ll recognize Murphy’s distinctive style. Willy was as much a natural talent as Gilbert Shelton or Robert Crumb.
The May 2000 issue of The Last Laugh contained a do-it-yourself board game as its centerfold. It was called Not The Nineties!
I don’t know if anyone ever played it; I doubt it. The potshots are pretty brutal for a fun diversion. What can I say, the 1990s were actually pretty brutal themselves. The game provides a reasonably accurate simulation of trudging through ten unpleasant years.
(Printable game board included at the end of this article!)