When you’re polishing the brass railings of the HMS Titanic, it’s important to remember one thing; do it with style. Otherwise, why bother? The more you polish, the better you get. So what if the ship hits the iceberg and sinks?
Since 1998, largely to keep myself out of a rut, I’ve changed the heading of the Bands I Useta Like strip every few years. In the very beginning (when it was self-published), it looked like this:
Set the Wayback Machine for 1998. I was at Kinko’s, in the middle of the night, running off copies of Mike The Pod Comix #4 (the blue one).
Those aren’t fonts. I didn’t have a computer. They’re typefaces copied from a book of antique alphabets, then literally cut and pasted. The rest is my own lettering.
The fourth issue was a transitional one. Drop Dead, my “90’s comic book“, concluded in its pages, in lieu of a seventh issue. I reprinted the Liquid Paper Pirates and Squeeky Wheel Gets The Grease strips from FINK, as well as For Whom The Beef Jerks.
Oh, and for the first time ever, I did full frontal, stark raving nudity. (NSFW!!!)
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.
Before you ask, the “flip book” of Dan Quayle eating a Twinkie actually works. Quite well.