Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Artist Party, 1983

Starting in 1982, I drew a twice-monthly full-page comic book commentary strip for The Buyer's Guide for Comic Fandom as published by Alan Light. (TBG was mainly an adzine newspaper that consisted of approximately 10% editorial content surrounded by ads of comics for sale, and maybe you would call my pages commentoonies.) When the paper changed hands and became more journalistic with the new name The Comics Buyers Guide under editors Don and Maggie Thompson in 1983, I drew a commentary panel instead of a full page and continued on pretty much the same twice-monthly schedule into 1985. Click here for a reminder of what I drew for TBG and CBG.

One day in 1983, I received a phone call out of the blue (or was it a letter in the mail?) from a gentleman named Craig Yoe. Craig was also drawing for CBG at the time, producing a regular feature entitled Craig Yoe Yo Ho, but I had never met him or seen him or spoken to him. Craig was calling (or writing?) to invite me to a party for artists that he was having at his home. It was a courtesy invitation for a CBG-mate, and of course I said yes! (Click here to visit Craig's website where you can see the new Felix the Cat statue designed and produced by Yoe Studios, and click here to see an Amazon.com listing of quite a few books that Craig has written and/or drawn.)

Trepidatious, I didn't know what to expect at this Artist Party. (By the way, "trepidatious" is not a word, but I feel that there should be an adjectival form of the word "trepidation" and, also by the way, "adjectival" is a word.) I arrived at Craig's home, which I seem to recall as a stately mansion on a beautiful tree-lined boulevard. At least I'm pretty sure that I remember that there were beautiful trees, but no matter how hard I rack my brain I can't recall where in suburban Chicago this estate was located. My best guess at this time is that it was in the town of Elmhurst.

The party had already begun when I arrived, and it was quite a treat for me to see who was in attendance.

Right away I spotted Jim Engel, whom I recognized from his all-night cartoon-showing marathons with Chuck Fiala at the early Chicago Comicons. Click here to read the entry about Jim in the Who's Who in American Comic Books by Jerry Bails. To this day I can rember how hard I laughed in the 1970s when reading Jim's "Boris Tutiers" three-panel strips in which he repeatedly recycled the same three panels of artwork but each time with a different punchline. (Jim and I were both in attendance five years ago on the last day of the brick-and-mortar version of Joe Sarno's Comic Kingdom.)

Also present was Jay Lynch, one of the architects of the Underground Comics movement in the 1960s and who was at the time of the Artist Party writing Phoebe and the Pigeon People that was seeing print in the Chicago Reader. Everyone at the party was huddled around Jay like kids around their favorite uncle at a campfire as he told his fantastic stories. Or maybe they weren't, but that's at least how my memory has realigned the reality of the situation. Click here to read the entry about Jay in the Who's Who in American Comic Books. And click here to see an Amazon.com listing of some books that Jay was involved with, including one that is a collection of Phoebe and another that is interestingly miscredited to an author by the name of R. Jay Lynch Crumb.

Who else was at the party? You've got me! That's all I remember! I have a shadow of a memory that there were between six and twelve people comfortably lounging in Craig's cozy living room, but I have no recollection of who the others were. This was maybe one of the most memorable things in my 1983, yet I have only this hazy snapshot of the scene. I'm glad I've gotten this little bit into black and white (with a sea-green background) before the memory had a chance to evaporate entirely.


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