comic book creator - #5

$ 8.95 in the USA Cover art by Denis Kitchen A TwoMorrows Publication No. 5, Spring 2014 THE COMIX BOOK LIFE OF DENIS KITCHEN ADULTS ONLY! 1 8 2 6 5 8 9 7 0 7 3 4 0 2

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This is a free sample of Comic Book Creator issue "#5" Download full version from: Apple App Store: Google Play Store: Magazine Description: Comic Book Creator magazine is the new voice of the comics medium, devoted to the work and careers of the men and women who draw, write, edit, and publish comic books—focusing always on the artists and not the artifacts. Each issue spotlights top creators through feature interviews, heavily illustrated with rare and unseen art, as they discuss everything from their current work and legacy in comics, to creator's rights and business dealings throughout their careers. CBC is edited by Jon B. Coo... You can build your own iPad and Android app at


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$8.95 in the USA Cover art by Denis Kitchen

A Tw o M o r r o w s P u b l i c a t i o n N o . 5 , S p r i n g 2 0 1 4











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Comic Book Creator ™ is published quarterly by TwoMorrows Publishing, 10407 Bedfordtown Dr., Raleigh, NC 27614 USA. Phone: (919) 449-0344. Jon B. Cooke, editor. John Morrow, publisher. Comic Book Creator editorial offices: P.O. Box 204, West Kingston, RI 02892 USA. E-mail: [email protected]. Send subscription funds to TwoMorrows, NOT to the editorial offices. Four-issue subscriptions: $36 US, $50 Canada, $65 elsewhere. All characters are © their respective copyright owners. All material © their creators unless otherwise noted. All editorial matter ©2014 Jon B. Cooke/TwoMorrows. Comic Book Creator is a TM of Jon B. Cooke/TwoMorrows. Printed in China. FIRST PRINTING.

Denis Kitchen included three in-jokes on our cover that his observant close friends might recognize, but Ye Ed has no prob-lem revealing. First, while many hats may be an apt metaphor for his career, in fact Denis never, ever actually wears a real hat. Never. Second, his demure as-sistant Conrad makes reference to a lunch break, but Denis is notorious for virtually never tak-ing lunch breaks. The man works non-stop! He skips breakfast too. True! Finally, he drew himself as a left-handed artist. His politics may be lefty, but the man is most definitely right-handed. — Y.e.

Spring 2014 • The New Voice of the Comics Medium • Number 5

hiPPie W©©DY CBC mascot by J.D. King©2014 J.D. King.



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About Our Cover

Art by Denis KitchenColor by BrYant Paul


t a b l e o f c o n t e n t s

Ye ed’s rant: Talking up Kitchen, Wild Bill, Cruse, and upcoming CBC changes ............ 2

CoMiCS ChaTTer

Bob Fingerman: The cartoonist is slaving for his monthly Minimum Wage .................. 3incoming: Neal Adams and CBC’s editor take a sound thrashing from readers ............. 8the good stuff: Jorge Khoury on artist Frank Espinosa’s latest triumph ..................... 12hembeck’s Dateline: Our Man Fred recalls his Kitchen Sink contributions ................ 14coming soon in CBC: howard cruse, Vanguard cartoonist

Announcement that Ye Ed’s comprehensive talk with the 2014 MOCCA guest of honor and award-winning author of Stuck Rubber Baby will be coming this fall...... 15

reMeMberiNg Wild bill eVereTT

the last splash: Blake Bell traces the final, glorious years of Bill Everett and the man’s exquisite final run on Sub-Mariner in a poignant, sober crescendo of life ..... 16

Fish stories: Separating the facts from myth regarding William Blake Everett ........... 23

cowan considered: Part two of Michael Aushenker’s interview with Denys Cowan on the man’s years in cartoon animation and a triumphant return to comics ............ 24

Dr. Wertham’s sloppy Seduction: Prof. Carol L. Tilley discusses her findings of shoddy research and falsified evidence in Seduction of the Innocent, the notorious book that almost took down the entire comic book industry ..................................... 28

SPeCial deNiS KiTCheN SeCTioN

the comix Book life of Denis Kitchen: An exhaustive interview with underground comix pioneer Denis Kitchen on the many hats he sports besides publisher — cartoonist, art agent, author, historian, free-speech crusader, postcard collector — plus his Nancy obsession, friendships with Eisner, Crumb, and Kurtzman, new life with Kitchen Sink Books, and much more .............34

Creator’s creators: Colorist Supreme Tom Ziuko illuminates his hue-drenched life ... 79coming attractions: Finally, out of the muck ’n’ mire, rises Swampmen! .................... 79a Picture is Worth a thousand Words: Pérez’s Man of Tomorrow gets flopped! ... 80right: Detail from Denis Kitchen’s surreal strip about working for Marvel Comics gracing the back cover of Kitchen Sink’s Mondo Snarfo #1 [1978]. ©2014 Denis Kitchen.

Download the Free CBC Bonus PDF containing goodies we couldn’t squeeze into this print edition!

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arvel Characters, Inc.TM

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2014 Marvel Characters, Inc.

by BlaKe Bell

The greatest enemy of the creator, one of the earliest and most talented auteurs of the nascent days of the American comic book, wasn’t the dreaded deadline doom he perpetually stared down, or the comic book editors screaming over the phone for the late work, or even the competing freelancers enviously vying for the assignments he was chronically tardy in delivering. No, unlike his most famous creation, there wasn’t any nemesis of the stature of a flaming android or rival prince or super-powered quartet that threatened the legendary artist/writ-er. The man’s supreme foe wasn’t external; it was an inside job, as he, himself, proved the root of all of his problems.

His name was Bill E., and he was an alcoholic.

Thus after decades of wreckage wrought by his

drinking and spiritual suffering that damaged

family and friends — any and all who loved him — Bill

Everett found a new, revitalized life by embracing a fellowship, surrendering

the illusion he had power over his addiction and thus facing his affliction — and shambles he

inflicted — head-on. And along the way, the man just happened to produce the best material of a long, storied career. His 1972 run on Sub-Mariner, appearing only two years after putting down the drink, proved to be the finest — and final — work of his life, fittingly on his most beloved and well-remembered character, Prince Namor, Scourge of the Seven Seas.

Upon proving his sobriety and reliability to editors and peers long skeptical of false starts and broken promises, the artist/writer was given the helm of his enduring creation with the landmark “extra-special” Sub-Mariner #50 [June ’72], and Everett embarked on a sublime series of comic stories that were, in a word, wonderful. Filled with pathos, whimsy, and charm, it’s difficult not to look at those books, lasting only until #59 [Mar. ’73], as an overarching act of redemption. It would come just in the nick of time, as a bad heart, wound-ed by drink and tobacco, would take him from the surface world, in February 1973, at the all-too-young age of 55.

One of mainstream comic books’ abiding features is its brief “pockets” in time when, thanks to the talents of a few individuals, what’s on the page endures beyond its intended destination in the dustbin of low-brow publishing history.

Everett’s last run on Sub-Mariner is one of those moments, heightened by the intriguing promise of what might have been, but also because the drama leading up to and

surrounding it tells more about the man’s character than it does about the fictional character on

the page.To fully understand the man at this

late stage in his career, you have to journey back to the beginning. And

the “Peter Pan” of comics was lit-erally there at the beginning. Bill

Everett’s professional odyssey spans the medium’s birth to its early stages of maturation as an art form, alongside a personal journey from deep in the miry clay of self-de-struction to the lofty heights of salvation and redemption. This was a man who loved life, loved cigarettes and alcohol, hated authority and

structure, and hated deadlines even more. Only his God-given

talent kept him above sea-level, dragging the artist out of numerous

valleys of failure, to leave a legacy of unforgettable creative peaks.

First, the facts: Bill Everett started in the major leagues. Right from the get-go, in

1938, he was one of the first “five-tool players” in comic-book history: a creator who wrote, penciled,

inked, lettered, and colored his own work. He didn’t need to be developed in the minors. Creating the “Sub-Mariner” strip in 1939, featured in the very first comic published by (what we know today as) Marvel Comics, is like pitching a no-hitter in your first big-league game — you stand out. The Sub-Mariner was the first “mutant” in comics, and the first four-colored anti-hero. His lineage can since be traced down through Wolverine and innumerable “against the grain” characters.

Everett’s other famed creation is Daredevil, the Man Without Fear (devised in partnership with Stan Lee), who first appeared in early 1964. And the last of Everett’s career trinity is the horror material he drew for Marvel in the 1950s. Had Everett worked for E.C., the creative apex of horror comics, and not been such a “Marvel Man” (mostly because Stan Lee loved the talent enough to tolerate the “deadline smashing” work habits), his stature as one of the top artists in comic-book history would be unquestioned.

But, as for creations that flowed from his pen, the aforementioned is but the tip of an iceberg. He began drawing adventure strips for Centaur Publications in early 1938, pre-dating even Superman’s debut in Action Comics. Back then the term “super-hero” wasn’t a part of cultural language. Everett spent the better part of the Golden Age of comics pumping out “action/adventure heroes” like lead from a Thompson submachine gun.

The Last SplashThose Final, Glorious Years of ‘Wild Bill’ Everett

Clean and sober after years of struggle, the Sub-Mariner creator goes out in style

amazing man

inset right: Bill Everett producing cover color guides for X-Men #80

and 81, and Special Marvel Edition #8 [all early 1973]. Below: Everett

cover for Sub-Mariner #55 [Nov. ’72] and panel detail from same.


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Comic Book creator • Spring 2014 • #5 17

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Amazing-Man, Hydroman, Skyrocket Steele, Dirk the Demon, the Chameleon, Bulls-Eye Bill, Sub-Zero Man, the Conqueror, Music Master, and Red Reed (undergrad adventurer) all sprang from Everett’s imagination in the years of 1938–42 before he entered the armed forces during World War II; all in addition to his peerless and prolific work on the Sub-Mariner.

As for Everett himself, he was a “fiery young man” not unlike the personality of tempestuous Prince Namor and as wildly flamboyant as his own stellar and idiosyncratic artwork. He was a child prodigy, but life took a sideways turn early on that led to troubling — and ultimately deadly — addictions to liquor and cigarettes.

Everett’s status as a marvel is supported by some famous genes. He is a descendant of 18th century poet, painter, and printmaker William Blake. In fact, Bill is short for Everett’s full name: William Blake Everett. He was born on May 18, 1917, into a 300-year-old New England family who had a town — Everett, Massachusetts — named for his great-grandfather, a president at Harvard University, governor of a commonwealth, as well as a U.S. Secretary of State.

His father, Robert Maxwell, ran a successful trucking business, and the family lived an upper-middle class existence in Watertown, 15 miles west of Boston. Bill’s mother, Grace, proved a direct influence on his artistic nature. Fancying herself a poet, she was known in the community as a painter into her late 70s.

Art adorning the family home was mostly from her brush, usually seascapes inspired by living in the compound of summer homes on the Massachusetts shore. Bill’s love of all things aquatic can be directly traced back to these surroundings.

The wunderkind’s artistic acumen developed early. He was writing elaborate poetry and drawing detailed pencil work by the age of eight. A defining moment in his life arrived when 11-year-old Everett won top prize in the first talent contest he entered.

But it was the year following when his life was truly defined. He contracted tuberculosis and, as was the therapy back in the ’20s to retreat to a warm, dry climate, Bill’s mother and sister pulled the boy from the sixth grade and took him to recuperate in Arizona.

His fascination with the lives of real Western cowboys was immediate, and he spent a great deal of time with older companions. Unfortunately, already afflicted with an addictive personality, Bill not only wiled away time drawing, but also with drinking. Drunk for the first time at the age of 12, he became an alcoholic when but a teenager.

He returned home after his 16th birthday and promptly dropped out of high school. He then quit Boston’s renowned Vesper George School of Art, leaving after a year-and-a-half. His father dies suddenly and Bill is immediately thrust into an art career, though one far from comics.

Young Bill was hired onto the retail advertising art staff of the Boston Herald-Traveler (now the Boston Herald) and later landed a similar job at New York City sister newspaper, the Herald-Tribune.

He soon arrived at Teck Publications as art editor for their popular magazine, Radio News, a job that changed his life. A clash with his boss (one of many throwdowns over the course of his life) found him back on the unemployment line, but a contact made during his short stint at the company was soon to pay dividends. Walter Holze had left the magazine to work at a small publisher and recommended Everett to boss Joe Hardie, who was about to begin a new venture publishing comic books as part of the Centaur Publications company. There Everett met editor Lloyd Jacquet, who eventu-ally staged a coup and walked most of the staff out the door in early 1939 to start up his own shop, Funnies, Inc. The outfit produced comics for Man-hattan publishers dipping their toes into the comics field after the stunning success of “Superman.”

this page: Top is detail from Bill Everett’s Sub-Mariner #52 [Aug. 1972] featuring Sunfire, whose adversarial appearance echoes the great Namor versus Human Torch battles of the 1940s. Middle is original art page from Everett’s debut ish of the run, #50 [June ’72]. At right are three examples of Everett’s other Marvel work from the period, as an inker. Flanking a superb job rendering Barry Smith’s pencils on Astonishing Tales #6 [June ’71] are a pair of Gil Kane-penciled covers (right, Amazing Adventures #11 [Mar. ’72] and Rawhide Kid #96 [Feb. ’72]. Also memorable are Wild Bill’s inks on Jack Kirby’s Thor and over Ross Andru’s pencils on “The Defenders” in Marvel Feature #1 [Dec. ’71].

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by michael aushenKer CBC Associate Editor

[If you’re anything like this writer, a fan of Denys Cowan’s work since the artist’s early days penciling a glorified Road To… comedy starring Luke Cage and Daniel Rand and scripted with mirth by Mary Jo Duffy, and you’ve always wondered how Cowan detoured into animation, where he became a big-wig on the hit Emmy-lauded animated series Static Shock and The Boondocks…well, wonder no more, kindred spirit. Here’s where the details of Cowan’s second career in animation come into sharp relief.

In part one of our interview, Cowan discussed his rise as one of a handful of few African-American artists working for the majors in the early 1980s — from his teen apprenticeship with Deathlok the Demolisher creator Rich Buckler to the young man’s breakthrough Power Man and Iron-Fist by his early 20s. Cowan also discussed his long runs on such series as DC’s The Question and the ’90s Deathlok revival at Marvel, as well as his formation with partners Michael Davis, Derek T. Dingle, and the late Dwayne McDuffie of Milestone Media, a subset universe of characters of color within the DC universe with the intent to level the racial playing field in super-hero comics.

Here, picking up the thread where we left off in the early 1990s, Cowan is on the verge of relocating to California to pursue animation full-throttle, doing freelance work for a Wu-Tang Clan member’s solo project. — m.a.]

Of Cartoons & ComicsPart two of our Denys Cowan interview: his animated life and return to comics

#5 • Spring 2014 • CoMiC booK CreaTor

cowan consideredTM

& ©

DC Comics.

©2014 the respective copyright holder.


inset right: Photo of Denys Cowan at the Dec. 2013 opening of the Geppi’s Entertainment Museum

exhibit “Milestones: African-Amer-icans in Comics, Pop Culture, and Beyond,” courtesy of Andy Hersh-berger, associate curator/registrar of the museum. The artist suffered a brief but significant scare in early

December when a package of original art he had sent to the

museum was missing items. The art was subsequently returned.

Below: Roughs and tight pencils of Cowan’s art in Vertigo’s Django

Unchained #3 [June 2013], both courtesy of the artist. Inset is his cover for #3, inks by John Floyd.

Django Unchained TM &

© 2014 Visiona Rom

antica, Inc..

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interview conducted by Jon B. cooKe CBC Editor

[Just after Valentine’s Day last year, The New York Times reported a story that sent tremors through the world of com-ics. Its article by Dave Itzkoff, “Scholar Finds Flaws in Work by Archenemy of Comics,” shocked many (though surprised few) in addressing University of Illinois Assistant Professor Carol L. Tilley’s findings that Seduction of the Innocent, Dr. Fredric Wertham’s notorious book that nearly destroyed the comics business and will have its 60th anniversary in April, was riddled with fabrications, distortions, and misrepre-sentations of his own research. Having gained access to Wertham’s papers, Carol verified what many of us have long suspected: that the good doctor had played fast and loose with the truth. Ye Editor contacted the academic after her article, “Seducing the Innocent: Fredric Wertham and the

Falsifications that Helped Condemn Comics,” was published in Information and Culture: A Journal of History [Vol. 47, #4, 2012] and, after meeting at last year’s New York Comic Con, we finally had a chance to speak on Feb. 3, via the Internet. The interview was transcribed by Steven Thompson and copy-edited by Carol for clarification and correction. — Y.e.]

Comic Book Creator: What would you call your inves-tigation, Carol? It’s a published paper, right?Carol Tilley: “Paper” is fine for now. Someday it will be something more than that.CBC: So, you are pursuing a book on this?Carol: Yes, but not just about Dr. Fredric Wertham. I’d really like to focus more on what it meant to be a kid reading comics in the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s. Wertham is part of that story, but I absolutely want it to be more than just about him. I think he’s probably gotten enough mileage, enough of our attention over the last half-century, and it’s time to hear some other stories from along the way.CBC: Up front, you said within the paper that you had some sympathies for Wertham’s motives, correct?Carol: I do. I have some sympathies for him in general. And part of that is spending the time that I have looking through his papers. There’s something about doing historical research where you get really acquainted with your subject

by reading their papers, by seeing and experiencing things through their perspec-tive, and that certainly happened with me. Wertham was a very charismatic individual, very intelligent. He could be wickedly funny, so it’s hard not to kind of like that person. On top of that, the things that he did seem mostly, genuinely motivated by a desire to make the world a better place. CBC: What’s the background of your inves-tigation into Wertham’s material?Carol: I am a professor of library and information science: I teach people who are becoming librarians. I started out a long time ago as a high school librarian and, before that, as a comics reader. So, in my own re-search over the last eight or nine years, I’ve been thinking a lot about how librarians un-derstand comics and how that has changed

over time. I’m especially interested in how librarians have served as gatekeepers to some respect, for kids’ reading and especially kids’ comic reading in the mid-century, and even before that with newspaper comics.

Wertham has always been part of that interest because he, in many ways, encapsulates a lot of what it means to be a gatekeeper. He captured a lot of the objections people in the 1940s and ’50s — and to some extent today — have with comics. So I had been paying occasional attention to his papers and to when they might be open to the public for research. There had been some hemming and hawing at the Library of Congress as a result, I believe, of concerns raised by Wertham’s executor. The papers were going to be open and then they weren’t and then they were and then they weren’t… and finally they were!

I decided to go as soon as I could, not because I had a

Sloppy SeductionProf. Carol Tilley uncovers Dr. Fredric Wertham’s fabrications and distortions in SOTI

fast & loose facts

Below: Asst. Prof. Carol L. Tilley has previously written papers for

academic journals, but nothing she’s scribed has garnered the

amount of attention as her article on Seduction of the Innocent, pub-lished in Information and Culture: A Journal of History [Vol. 47, #4,

2012] (inset). Photo by L. Brian Stauffer, courtesy of the University

of Illinois Board of Trustees.

Carol Tilley portrait ©2014 University of Illinois Board of Trustees.

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There are few folks in American comic books as eclectic as Denis Lee Kitchen. After honing his chops as a cartoonist while at college in the late 1960s, the man became a pioneer

underground comix publisher with his Kitchen Sink Press, headquartered not in hippie-central San Francisco or radical enclave New York City but in, of all places, white bread Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The quality of his debut effort, Mom’s Homemade Comics, impressed Jay Lynch

and Robert Crumb, among other comix luminaries, and soon Kitchen was publishing Bijou Funnies for Lynch [1970] and Crumb’s Home Grown Funnies (which included the seminal

“Whiteman Meets Big Foot,” 1971). KSP expanded and Kitchen released Bizarre Sex, Snarf, and Death Rattle, along the way establishing lifelong friendships with Will Eisner and Harvey

Kurtzman. Briefly editor of the Marvel-published Comix Book, Kitchen survived the ’70s by selling pot paraphernalia via Krupp Mail Order, working on regional alternative tabloids, and

going mainstream publishing The Spirit, as well as Dope Comix and Weird Trips.

In the ’80s, Kitchen skillfully adapted to the direct sales marketplace, notably publishing Eisner, Kurtzman, Milton Caniff, and Al Capp, as well as Megaton Man, Gay Comix, Omaha

the Cat Dancer, and Xenozoic Tales. The following decade brought the collapse of KSP after a disastrous merger with Kevin Eastman’s Tundra imprint, but not before releasing Bushmiller’s Nancy, Welz’s Cherry, and O’Barr’s The Crow, among many other top-shelf comics and books.

Much of Kitchen’s efforts during the first decade of the new millennium were devoted to his art and literary agency clients, which included Will Eisner, and the respective estates

of Al Capp and Harvey Kurtzman, as well as devoting considerable time to his creation, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, which fights for freedom of speech in the realm of comics.

Today the man is as busy as ever, co-authoring books on Capp, Kurtzman, and underground comix, and returning as publisher with the Dark Horse imprint Kitchen Sink Books. This

interview took place at Kitchen’s home in central Massachusetts, which he shares with wife Stacey and teenage daughter Alexa, being conducted on Aug. 24–25, 2013. — JBc.

#5 • Spring 2014 • CoMiC booK CreaTor

the life of

cart0onist publisher art & literary agent author historian collector

conducted by jon b. cooke transcribed by brian k. morris photography by seth kushner

aBoVe: Denis Kitchen, artisté, in a photo taken in his Wisconsin digs in the mid-1970s. At his right is friend and KSP chum Peter Poplaski’s

unfinished portrait of Denis. Courtesy of Denis & Stacey Kitchen. neXt Page: CBC’s expert

shutterbug extraordinaire Seth Kushner snapped D.K. at the 2013 Baltimore Comic-Con.


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35Comic Book creator • Spring 2014 • #5

first amendment champion nancy & jukebox freakComic Book Creator: Let’s jump right in. You’re from Irish-German stock, Denis?Denis Kitchen: Yeah, “Kitchen” is Irish, with some Scotch-Irish on my father’s side. My mother’s parents were Donauschwaben, German-speaking citizens of Hungary, who emigrated at the turn of the century. My maternal grandparents continued to speak German in Milwaukee where they lived. There were so many Germans there that my grandmother, Margaretha, lived to nearly 90 and never really had to learn to speak English. She spoke a little halting English, but all the conversations were in German. And so when she came to live with us, that was just the way it was. CBC: Did you speak German?Denis: I certainly understood my grandmother. I could comprehend her, but I wasn’t fluent speaking it. But even now, when I go to Germany, or when we had German guests last week, I retain a surprising amount of it.CBC: Did you have any relatives — parents, grandparents, or family, out of family — who were creative?Denis: My maternal grandfather, Franz, was an ornamental ironworker and a terrific artist. My mother remembers watching him draw designs for projects and said he was a remarkable drafts-man. He suffered from neuralgia, causing chronic severe pain and, probably because of depression from that, he’d throw things away. None of his drawn art survives — he destroyed it all. The things that do survive are literally made of metal, and they’re beautiful. Some ornamental work survives in the Wisconsin state capitol building. He also made things like lamps, jewelry boxes, and ornate fireplace screens. My mother could also draw very well, too. She’s another one, the opposite of me, who wasn’t a saver. When I was young, I clearly remember she showed me drawings she did of Pinocchio. I remember it being very well done, but she didn’t save those things. She later went on to paint still lives: flowers and that sort of thing, but there’s definitely a creative streak on that side of the family. My brother, James, is now a professional sculptor, and pretty amazing. My sister can also draw very well, but she never pursued it.CBC: What’s your sister’s name?Denis: Gayle. James is a late bloomer. He worked for me for a good many years at Kitchen Sink Press and then, after the company went under, he reinvented himself as a metal sculptor and he’s actually achieved quite a bit of success, certainly regionally. If you go into the city of Springfield, Massachusetts, his sculptures all over that city and some are huge. He recently erected a bird-shaped structure that’s 35 feet high.CBC: Wow.Denis: So there’s definitely something in the genes if such a thing is, in fact, inheritable. CBC: What were your parents’ names?Denis: My father’s name was Benjamin, after his father and my mother was Margaret — actually, Margaretha, after her mother.Po


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CBC: And was there an appreciation for art at home when you were growing up?Denis: I wouldn’t say in a noticeable way. My dad was a blue-collar worker and we had very little in terms of things to hang on the wall [laughs]. We were quite poor, so I can’t say that art was something that surrounded us or was discussed.CBC: You were born in ’46?Denis: Right.CBC: And where were you in the lineup of siblings?Denis: I’m the oldest of three Kitchens. My dad died when I

was only 13. My mother remarried another Irishman, George Riley, when I was 18. I in-herited three younger siblings on the Riley side who I quickly became very close to. CBC: Were they creative at all?Denis: My late stepsister Doreen was an excellent photographer. But, growing up, the formative years, there was nev-er any real steering of me toward the creative side. They didn’t discourage it, but as a practical matter the oppo-site occurred. My whole extended family was on the poor side of the fence and so, when I showed some scholastic ability and was getting strong grades, I was encouraged to be like my cousin Georgie who was an electrical engineer. He was the only college graduate in our entire family. There was no other professional role model, so I was constantly prodded by my mother and my aunts to “be like Georgie.” CBC: Practical and…Denis: Exactly. One of my favorite stories is that as sophomores in high

school, we were assigned to research and write a paper on the profession we’d likely pursue. We were told to pick three options and for the primary one we had to interview a professional in that field. Of course, my number one choice, really, was to be a cartoonist. But at 14 or 15 I didn’t have a clue where the nearest cartoonist was. [chuckles] I was in a small rural town called Caledonia, and literally couldn’t fulfill the assignment with a cartoonist. So my fall back, of course, was, “Okay, I’ll interview my cousin.” I still have the report. On the cover are self-portraits: one drawing cartoons and the other half thinking of abstract numbers. I made an appointment visit Georgie in a suburb of Milwaukee. He had a really nice, well-kept backyard with a big garden. It was beautifully laid out, in symmetrical rows with lots of decorative flowers. I literally went into the garden with my notepad to interview him because he was weeding. I started asking him what must have been pretty uninspired questions. I knew next to nothing what he did and he picked up on that pretty quickly. He said, “You don’t really want to be an elec-trical engineer, do you, Denis?” And I said, kind of softly, “No, not really, Georgie.” I remember there a long pause. Then he put down his trowel and looked at me somberly. He said, “Listen, if I had it to do it all over again, I would be a garden-er.” Then he said, “Follow your heart.” That was an amazing and liberating moment for me. After all the family pressure to be like my successful cousin, I realized he didn’t enjoy his day job and didn’t want to send me down that same road. He basically said, “Be what you want to be.” From the moment I walked away from his garden, I never looked back. CBC: Mmm. Where did you interest in cartooning start? Can you pinpoint it?Denis: It’s hard to pinpoint, Jon, other than I was a vora-cious reader of comics in both the daily newspaper and in comic books. And from a very early age I drew, but even more in the earliest years I “sculpted.” I had a lot of model-ing clay. I used to get an allowance of fifty cents a week and in those days, at the dime store — when many things literally cost a dime — a box of modeling clay was 10¢ and a comic book was 10¢. So I would either buy five comics or five boxes of clay or some combination and that was my weekly obses-sion: those two things.

At some point I was drawing cartoons. And was en-couraged. The earliest specific memory I have is being at a bar with my Aunt Alma when I was quite young, and she used to take whatever I was drawing and pass it around the bar and say, “Look what my nephew can do.” And this particular time, I was drawing a woman. She picked up and she said, “Look at the boobs on this one!” I remember being mortified that she focused on these breasts that I drew, that I wasn’t, I don’t think, even conscious of being sexual. I was just drawing what a woman looked like. But to her, it was a lot earthier than I’m sure I intended and I remember having mixed feelings. I remember being embarrassed that people were laughing at my drawing, but at the same time feeling somehow rewarded, that what I created was being appreci-ated. They might have been laughing at me, or thinking it was precocious. Whatever it was, that’s a memory that’s vivid and had some meaning.

Another recollection — when I was also quite young — the Milwaukee Journal was our daily newspaper, with an excellent comic section called “The Green Sheet.” They

36 #5 • Spring 2014 • CoMiC booK CreaTor

©2014 Denis Kitchen.

©2014 Denis Kitchen.

aBoVe: A photo of Ben Kitchen, Denis’s father, in the service

during the Second World War. Ben is second from right. Cour-tesy of Denis & Stacey Kitchen.

BeloW: Even in high school, Denis Kitchen was publishing, this his monthly gossip sheet/

humor mimeograph ’zine, Klepto.

Page 10: Comic Book Creator - #5

hilarious because nobody could be as square as Welk, the hokey TV band leader. So here was Ernie proudly proclaim-ing his square-ness while, in that same article, he said when he was starting out and trying to be inventive with strip gags on Fritzi Ritz, the syndicate told him, “Dumb it down, Ernie. Dumb it down.” And so he did. That was an early inkling to me, that the syndicate would instruct a cartoonist to make a strip dumber. It was like, “Oh, I understand. They think the audience is dumb. Why else would you tell a guy to dumb down his strip?” Well, Nancy became highly popular, so I guess the syndicate guys knew what they were doing. It

still bothered me that a cartoonist was discouraged from doing the smartest humor he could.CBC: It’s Miss X’s gossip column. [chuckles]Denis: That’s funny. Anyhow, early on, I didn’t

hold Bushmiller’s gags in high regard on any intellec-tual level, but I was intrigued with his art style. There was a geometric perfection to his strip. I studied it carefully. Nancy’s head and the relationship of the top oval of her head to the bottom oval and the nose to the eyes and the mouth, they were perfectly proportional, and just the essential slits and dots as facial features. It appeared simple but it was deceptively simple. Every little stipple on Nancy’s hair was equidistant and a clone of the others. The junk piled in Slug-

go’s yard. Everything in the strip could be simultaneously

complex and yet reduced to the essence, the fewest number of lines. And the lines were precisely and steadily rendered. I was fascinated by that duality of simplicity and sharpness of detail. I think in some way it influenced my own style, con-sciously or not. There was also a real pride of craftsmanship. For example, Bushmiller could easily have used Photostats, or later Xeroxes, for many repetitive character heads, to save labor, but he drew everything as an original. Yet each geometrically perfect Nancy head has the same hundred or so hand-drawn stipples around the perimeter. Every day, day after day, like a Zen exercise. No ’stats for Ernie. CBC: You sneaked Nancy into your cover [for this issue of CBC], I noticed. Clearly there’s some significance.Denis: Yeah, there’s definitely a soft spot for that girl. I tried to track him down, you know. I tried to interview Bushmiller. I wanted him to do a self-portrait for my Famous Cartoonists Buttons series too, back in 1974 or ’75, but I could never get through. I talked to his wife on the phone, but couldn’t get past her. She kept telling me to talk to the syndicate. I said, “I don’t care about the syndicate, I want to talk to your husband.” But no dice, she was a tough gatekeeper. He never answered letters either, so his reclusiveness, or I should say elusiveness, probably added to the intrigue. To this day, have a fascination with Bushmiller and other people in the industry share it. Either they share it, or they look at me and start to move further away… because some people just think he’s — CBC: We’re worried, we’re worried. [chuckles]Denis: Yeah, yeah, worried.CBC: Then we’ll call it an obsession, perhaps.Denis: I prefer that term “fascination.” CBC: [Laughs] And were there other strips that intrigued you?Denis: Sure, to the degree I saw them. One paper was all our family could afford. My father was a staunch Democrat and the Chicago Tribune was a Republican paper, so I rarely got to read its comics, but they were unavoidable where I lived. Dick Tracy was so popular that the Tribune wrapped its Sunday comics featuring Tracy over the main section’s head-lines on newsstands. Kind of hard to believe, huh? There’d be colorful stacks of these on Sundays and sometimes I got to read the Trib’s comics. Peanuts I would have liked daily, and Gasoline Alley.

I appreciated years later when Harvey Kurtzman told me his parents subscribed to The Daily Worker. They were Communists and they didn’t want a capitalist apologist newspaper in their house and they didn’t have a high regard for the comic strips Harvey adored. So Harvey had to find the Hearst newspapers and other New York papers from, like, a neighbor who got the good comics papers and that’s where he fell in love with Flash Gordon and the other classic Hearst strips. I wished I had a neighbor, you know, who, like, got the Tribune or Sun-Times so I could see the ones I missed. It took me a while to understand the business reasons why — when you’re a kid, you don’t have a clue.CBC: You want what you want.Denis: Yeah. CBC: [Chuckles] Comics, did comic books come in at a young age? How young were you?Denis: My earliest memories are of reading comic books. I can’t say exactly what age — CBC: What were you reading?Denis: Anything and everything. I was omnivorous. It didn’t matter to me if it was a superhero or a humorous comic. On the funny side, I especially loved Little Lulu and Uncle Scrooge, but I wasn’t impressed with other Disney comics. Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse always seemed bland, but I loved Uncle Scrooge. I never liked the Archie line. Too cloying I think. But other than that, I was not terribly discrim-inatory. I think I mentioned earlier to you an adult babysitter where I would be dropped off. She had stacks and stacks of comics and I would just go through the piles when there. I was easy to sit. [laughs] I don’t think I favored science-fic-

©2014 Denis Kitchen.

#5 • Spring 2014 • CoMiC booK CreaTor

©2014 Denis Kitchen.

aBoVe: Inside front cover of Mom’s Homemade Comics #3 [Feb. ’71]. Match the straights

with the hippies, kids! BeloW: Kitchen depicts a sinister cap-italist shilling for the company. From early ’70s KSP house ad.


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tion or horror or super-hero or humor, I just took them off the top as they came and read-read-read-read-read, go on to the next. I appreci-ated all genres, but I was es-pecially entranced by horror comics, mostly the pre-Code titles. So many were gen-uinely creepy. The parents who were concerned that these comics were psy-chologically damaging may have had a point [chuckles] because they could be pretty grim. The covers mesmerized me. I would just stare at some horror covers. I had thousands of comics from my youth that I recently sold but sentimentally saved some of the horror titles. One example from memory is an Atlas title, Spellbound, from the ’50s. Some kind of ray is melting the flesh off this guy and you’re seeing his skeleton emerge from the part of his body transfixed in this beam. Things like that, I would just stare at it and go, “Oh, my God. This is so weird.” The stories inside, you know, I certainly would read, too, but it was the covers that I never forgot. CBC: Were they compelling and disturbing at the same time?Denis: Yeah, absolutely. It was, “Oh, my God, that was creepy. I’ve gotta read another one. Oh, Jesus. I’m going to have a nightmare. I gotta read another one.” It was addicting… CBC: When did television come into play?Denis: In the mid-’50s I discov-ered TV and the first thing that really caught my imagination was Davy Crockett, serialized on Walt Disney’s show, the Fess Park-er-Davy Crockett. There were maybe five, six, or so episodes and man, I was caught up in that. Of course, I also had to have the Dell Comics version of the series, which I’d read over and over. CBC: Was your mother and your father, were they encour-aging with your creative — ? What did your father think of your little clay scenarios?Denis: I’m having a tough time recalling. He must have tol-erated it, but I don’t think he exactly encouraged it. He died when I was 13 and my childhood ended pretty abruptly.

CBC: How did he die?Denis: He suffered a cerebral hemorrhage at work, in a factory. Basically, it was a stroke. CBC: How old was he?

Denis: He was 45.CBC: Wow, good Lord. That must have

been quite impacting. Was it?Denis: Oh, God, yes. It hap-

pened in the summer of 1960, so it happened during school

vacation. My mother had a third-shift job so she would sleep mornings and I would be responsible for my younger brother and sister. They were about five and seven. The morning he died, two guys in suits came

to the door and they said, “Is your mother here?” I said,

“She’s sleeping.” And they said, “Well, wake her up. It’s important.”

One handed me some coins and said, “Why don’t you take your brother and sister for

a walk and get some candy?” And when we came back, our mother was sobbing uncontrollably.CBC: Wow. Were you close with your father?Denis: I think so, sure. But he was not a big talker, not comfortable being emotional. He took me to ball-games when the Braves were in Milwaukee. He loved

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this Page: Don Dohler gifted the world his Wild fanzine creation ProJunior, who became a public domain character. Top right is Denis’s back cover art for KSP’s Projunior #1 [’71], courtesy of Heritage. Above is Jay Lynch’s cover art to same. Left inset is D.K.’s rendition of Juan Cristobel Valdez de ProJunior from same. Top left is R. Crumb’s version (with Honeybunch), from Bijou Funnies #4 [’70].

Page 12: Comic Book Creator - #5

I’d read and re-read one copy but then stash the other four away and never touch them. So years later I had pristine mint copies of these early Marvels. I just instinctively knew they were worth saving. They would be “good trade bait,” that was the way I put it. And I was always looking for missing issues like Hulk #1 or Fan-tastic Four #1. So I would have trade bait…CBC: Deals.Denis: So I ended sitting on those for a good number of years, eventually selling them when I

thought they had peaked. And of course, they had far from peaked. If I had those same comics today, you’d be talking to me on my private island off Tahiti. But I sold them when Kitchen Sink needed working capital and I could get $100, $200 for a pristine, early Marvel at Chicago Comicon. I was thinking, “I paid 10¢ for this and someone’s paying me $100 — a thousand times what I paid for it.” It was too obscene a profit to turn down. And it was really handy for growing my company. After all, it wasn’t easy for a longhaired under-ground comix magnate to walk into a small Wisconsin bank and get a line of credit. After a couple Chicago conventions, I pretty much wiped out my best old Marvel inventory. Today, I look back and some these titles, you know, in a high CGC grade can sell for $10,000 or $15,000 each and more. Amaz-ing Spider-Man #1 sold for over $100,000 at Heritage a while back — and I had five of them at one point! Where are my tranquilizers, Jon?CBC: You still did good.Denis: I did all right at the time. Just sold way too early [laughs] in retrospect. But the fact that I originally bought five of each seems pretty prescient. I can’t put myself today in the brain of that 18-year old. I had some pocket money, but nothing to really speak of. And I was investing a significant portion in something I somehow knew was a smart invest-

ment, but virtually anyone else in the early ’60s would have thought was a total waste of money.

CBC: What was the plan?Denis: I just knew in-stinctively. That’s all I can

tell you.CBC: Was any of it maybe

to share, that this is so cool that “maybe I’ll share with

somebody someday?”Denis: Well, I’d find kindred

spirits. It’s how Dave Sch-reiner and I hooked up. Dave

eventually became an amazing editor-in-chief for Kitchen Sink,

but I met him in college when we were, I think, sophomores in

journalism class. We were both journalism majors and I must have

sat next to him. We found we had a mutual interest in Marvel Comics

and Uncle Scrooge. He was a big Carl Barks aficionado and so we would find

ourselves talking about favorites stories, artists, just comics in general. We’d hang

out after class. One of our professors a bit later was George Lockwood, who I

mentioned earlier. Lockwood was the first

#5 • Spring 2014 • CoMiC booK CreaTor48

All artwork, The Spirit and the distinctive W

ill Eisner signature TM &

©2014 W

ill Eisner Studios, Inc. Snarf ©2014 Denis Kitchen.

aBoVe: One of the most import-ant — and enduring — personal

and professional relationships in the life of Denis Kitchen had

been his alliance with comic book giant Will Eisner, father

of the graphic novel (above photo from 1990). The pair met

at an early ’70s comic book convention, and soon the master

was contributing to the young publisher’s outfit. inset right:

The Spirit and Commissioner Dolan grace the cover of Snarf

#3 [Nov. ’72]. BeloW: Denis also published two issues of The

Spirit [Jan. ’73 & Nov. ’73] featur-ing new Eisner covers, the early

(and abortive) KSP revival.

Page 13: Comic Book Creator - #5

academic I met who talked about comics with passion. And both Dave and I were just like — our eyes just got wide — CBC: Now this is comic strips, right?Denis: Yeah, comic strips. But still, to have a professor in the ’60s who took any comics seriously? He was teaching “The History of Journalism” and he talked about the Yellow Kid and how comics became something big publishers like Hearst and Pulitzer would battle over because comics were really driving newspaper sales — they had such powerful mass appeal. He would describe these tugs of war and legal battles over Outcault or The Katzenjammer Kids, and Dave and I were entranced because there was so little out there at that time about the history of comics. It was a true eyeopener for us. Sometimes we’d hang out afterwards and talk to him His name was George Lockwood. He was also thrilled to have a couple of students who shared his passion.

Eventually, when I graduated from college and was starting to freelance, George, wearing his newspaperman hat, was one of the first to give me paying assignments of any substance. Those first gigs made me feel like I could actually make a living as a cartoonist. So those connections proved really important on my ultimate path. Early on, it was a real struggle, just trying to pay the rent on my East Side flat and have food in the fridge and to do it through cartooning, whether with freelancing or from undergrounds. It was a terrible struggle, but I loved the medium so much that I was willing to almost literally starve. In fact, when Dave Schrein-er and I got our degrees in journalism in 1968, he actually became a journalist, working for the Sheboygan Press and making Guild wages, which I think were $400 a week in the late ’60s. It seemed like a fortune to me. And he would visit me in Milwaukee when I don’t think I ever made $400 dollars a month. My rent was, I think, $75 total, which I shared with a couple roommates and I was struggling just to pay my third. Dave used to poke fun at me be-cause I’d be boiling cauliflower or a can of hominy. One time he said to me, “You know, the white vege-table group is the least nutritious.” [laughs] And I said, “Well, hominy is 10¢ a can.” And he’d take pity on me. There were times when he left that he’d slip me a $20 and I’d be like, “Wow, thanks, Dave. I can really use it.” And when I couldn’t afford my own weed and he would lay a nickel- or dime-bag on me and I’d say, “Thanks, Dave. You know I’ll make up for it next time.” It literally took a couple of years before I could reciprocate.

The first time he came to visit and I rolled a joint of my own pot and said, “Here, this is mine,” I remember him responding, “It’s about f*cking time!” I really had been kind of a charity case. The irony of course is that some years later, Dave came to work for me. It came full circle. But in my earliest professional years, I mean, there’s a reason I almost

got out of the Army for being too skinny. I was starving. CBC: [Chuckles] But you were — people thought you were worth investing in, right?Denis: I guess you could conclude that in retrospect. To return to Dave Schreiner, he was a critical one. Looking back — con-necting the dots — in high school, I was doing something pretty cool I thought. But at the university, suddenly I’m in a place drowning in smart and creative students and I didn’t feel very special. When I met Dave and he saw me drawing in notebooks he was encouraging me to do something with it. Dave became the sports editor for the UWM Post — I think our soph-

omore year — and he needed a logo for a column and he asked me. I said okay, did a cartoon panther I think, and it ap-

Comic Book creator • Spring 2014 • #5 49

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aBoVe: Kitchen and Eisner jam page, “Eisner Vault,” from The Spirit #22 [Dec. ’79]. BeloW: Eis-ner self-portrait for his 1995 Will Eisner Sketchbook bookplate. Courtesy of Heritage. inset leFt: Cover for the KSP book, The Art of Will Eisner [’82].

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notes.” And he’s, “Taking notes on what, man?” CBC: “Let me see the color of your socks.” [laughs]Denis: So I said, “No, man, I’m a cartoonist. I heard something funny. It might go in a strip.” And he said, “You’re writing down our names.” So I handed him my notebook. He flipped through and it didn’t look like narc notes, so he handed it back. He said, “You’re making me — you’re making me nervous, man.”CBC: “You’re harshing my buzz, dude.” [laughs]Denis: Basically. So I learned there’s a certain unspoken

etiquette with … CBC: Mixed company.

Denis: Yeah, you learn what makes people uncomfortable in certain situations and you adapt.

Once I was tripping with friends and one of the guys, though he was young, had false teeth. He must have been in an accident when he was young. We’re all

in this candlelit room grooving to music and he suddenly pulls out his upper plate. It was about the grossest, worst thing anybody could

possibly do in that situation. And I remember going, “Jesus Christ, Bill, put your teeth back. You’re killing me!” Nobody wrote an etiquette book for

trippy hippies.CBC: “Don’t take out teeth,” check!Denis: Right. “And don’t drive on freeways.”CBC: Snide, you created that?Denis: I co-founded it with Jeff Win-

ters, a New York transfer student, which was very rare. The UW–Madison campus had students from all over the world but UWM was not a destination for many New Yorkers. He stood out from the crowd and I immediately gravitated to him. Jeff was very clever, an aspiring writer, really acerbic and audacious. He was a good magazine partner because he could make cold calls and sell advertising. I hated that part. I focused on editorial and design. He was another person instrumental in my growing wings, helping prepare me for what was to come. Jeff graduated a year ahead of me and the second issue of Snide was supposed to be the “all comics issue.” But the budget, the magazine’s revenue from sales and ads in the first issue, that budget left with Jeff.

So that second Snide evolved into Mom’s Homemade Comics #1, my first self-published underground. And then that quickly turned into Krupp and Kitchen Sink and the Bu-gle. The humor magazine, the Post strips, the publicity stunts, they all led in a way to the businesses I ended up starting. I found kindred spirits in Milwaukee, another four or five good cartoonists who before long began contributing to the Bugle and the Kitchen Sink comics. A couple became partners for a while. I was trying initially to make the comics company kind of communal. I was a pretty serious socialist around that period. When that didn’t work, it was just trying to re-cruit talent, develop young, raw talent. Once the comics got out there, all over the country, submissions started pouring in and we’d get letters and sample art from all over the place.

I’m compressing things here, but I knew Kitchen Sink was finally making it when the established San Francisco underground artists started sending things to me, because there were three publishers in the Bay Area where they could physically walk in the door. The fact that they were sending me stuff in the Midwest made me feel like I’d finally made it — was part of the inner circle. I also became aware there were a lot of politics in the San Francisco/Berkeley comix community that I was blissfully not part of. As you can imagine, it got a little incestuous, both literally and politically out there: cartoonists sleeping with each other, getting in spats with publishers and each other, and distinct cliques forming. So I was kind of neutral. Nobody out west knew me well enough to hate me. I think I developed a reputation as a reliable guy who they’d get a check from on a timely basis, an honest accounting, trying to do things conscientiously. CBC: Did you write letters of encouragement back or develop a rapport?Denis: Absolutely. I was an inveterate letter writer.CBC: Had you always been?Denis: It probably started in college when I had close friends in faraway schools. We wrote each other, got in the habit. When time permitted I used to send original color illustrated letters to friends. I suppose I could have just been on the phone, but — CBC: But that costs money, right?Denis: Back then, oh yeah. Long distance calls were ex-pensive. But remember, I majored in journalism for a reason. I liked writing, I had confidence in my writing and honed those communication skills at every opportunity, and I think I got pretty good with it. I’ll never forget a conversation I had once with [publisher] Ron Turner at Last Gasp. I had written a number of letters to him, mostly for business reasons, because we were distributing each other’s books. He was

52 #5 • Spring 2014 • CoMiC booK CreaTor

Photo ©2014 Denis Kitchen. Com

ix Book TM &

©2014 M

arvel Entertainment, Inc.

All comics TM

& ©

2014 their respective copyright holders.

aBoVe: The Marvel team-up you never expected the Hippie

and the Man unite for Comix Book, Stan Lee and Kitchen’s

1974 attempt to mainstream the underground. Photo of the pair in the Bullpen in 1974. BeloW: Peter Poplaski’s unforgettable

cover art for Comix Book #1 [Oct. ’74], edited by

Denis Kitchen.

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never responding and it drove me crazy. I finally confronted him at a show. I said, “Jeez, Ron, I sent you a half-dozen letters, and you never answered a single one. What the hell’s wrong?” And he said, “I’m intimidated by your letters. They come in, they’re perfectly typed, and there are no mistakes.” He said, “I can’t reciprocate.” CBC: [Laughs] Wow, he was intimidated?Denis: Yeah. It had never even occurred to me that someone might interpret letters that way. I didn’t care if he sent a scribbled note back — I just wanted a response. But he felt he had to respond in kind I guess. But that wasn’t a typical response. Most of the artists back then were happy to correspond, and sometimes, we’d illustrate the letters — literally draw on the letter or envelope — or include roughs or concept drawings. That was just part of the communi-cation, because in those days, before fax machines, before scanners, before computers, way before email, that’s how we communicated. And nothing was instant. I’d send a letter to California, it would take a few days. They’d send one back and it would take a few days. Things were by no means instantaneous. I mean, sure, you could pick up the phone and make a quick decision, and that happened, but in our business, the show-&-tell and the exchanges were most effective by letters.

I’m so grateful in retrospect because there’s now a written history of all that. I saved everything. There’s this voluminous correspondence and a lot of it with people who ended up being very important to the movement or the genre, and even some that are peripheral are still fascinating. That’s why I’m talking seriously to Columbia University about all this stuff. They’re probably going to get all the papers soon. And what’s really amazing to me as I look at — I don’t even know — 15 or 20 file cabinets full of letters — every one of them, I typed with one finger because — life’s little ironies — I never took a typing class. I never thought I’d need it. CBC: Well, two fingers.Denis: Well, yeah, two fingers to be technically correct — but the right index finger does the heavy lifting. The left index is just kind of an assistant. But I learned early on, of necessity, to type relatively quickly. CBC: You were a journalism student and you didn’t take a typing class? Denis: A very astute observation, Jon. That’s the thing. I didn’t plan ahead. In high school, I had a crappy guidance counselor and very unsatisfactory guidance. To be fair, I wasn’t even sure I could afford to go to college and if I did, what to major in. She’d say, “What do you want to do?” I’d say, “I want to be a cartoonist,” she’d say, “There are no schools for that.” Then repeat again next time. That was the conundrum. There was no Plan B. No engineering school option anymore. And meanwhile, I never took typing. No one ever advised me that it might be a very smart elective. I finally figured that since half of cartooning is writing — and I was sure I could self-teach myself to draw — it would be helpful to have some formal training in writing, either English or journalism. I picked journalism because that was the practical, communication aspect of writing. If I chose English, I feared it would be too classical, too scholarly and dry. Journalism is also about storytelling. But when I started at UWM and enrolled in Journalism 101, I didn’t read the fine print, which said typing was a prerequisite. So I got to my first class, a 50-minute class, and the professor said, “The first 15 minutes, I’m going to give all of you the bare bones of a news story with some facts and maybe some red herrings.

You’re going to ask me questions for 15 minutes and take notes, And then you’re going to take the last 20 minutes, organize your notes, hand write the story outline, then type it and hand it in by the end of class.” And I froze. “Oh, my God. I’ve got to type. Jesus Christ! Why didn’t I see type coming?” CBC: [Laughs] In journalism class.Denis: Crazy naïve, huh? So what it forced me to do — one of those things borne of necessity — I didn’t have the luxury of writing or outlining my story first in longhand and then typing it. I had to write the story as I was hunt-&-peck

typing it on a manual typewriter. That was the only possible strategy. It forced me to think quickly, to come up with that “inverted pyramid” structure, a snappy headline, a concise opening paragraph, and so on, all pretty spontaneously. I did it well enough, and survived,

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aBoVe: Original art for editor Kitchen’s intro page to that same issue. Courtesy of Denis & Stacey Kitchen. leFt inset: Last December brought us The Best of Comix Book, a hardcover compilation that includes an informative introductory essay about the underground hybrid by KSP contributor James Vance. BeloW: Mondo Snarfo [Sept. ’78] included a surreal back cover strip by Kitchen, a thinly-veiled reminiscence of his brief — and bizarre — experi-ence working with “MCG,” Stan Lee’s Marvel Comics Group.


Page 16: Comic Book Creator - #5

Snarfe reading t. But he sent a sketch of UncleNo, I didn’

and many artists at bigger conventions and trade shows. If atact me. I even like the free cards given away by publishers

, which was a nice littleff, t. But he sent a sketch of Uncle

and many artists at bigger conventions and trade shows. If atact me. I even like the free cards given away by publishers

and many artists at bigger conventions and trade shows. If atact me. I even like the free cards given away by publishers


of Harvey Kurtzman? Is that the officialof the Estate of Will Eisner and of the Estate

Prize-winning laughh, yeah? [

y named Art Spiegelman.. So the seventh one ended up by being ndow

y original plan, to alternate them, that was out, who Will Elder r, who did an amazing one later on.

r guest cover from an older cartoonist, ys in the underground.” There was never

I’m just going to give up and just focus on ow what? I just struck out three times here.

And then after that, I just kind of went, “W g

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of Harvey Kurtzman? Is that the officialof the Estate of Will Eisner and of the Estate

Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist. Are you the agent Just someboom!] Badda-laughs

some guy named Art Spiegelman.. So the seventh one ended up by being

But my original plan, to alternate them, that was out, who did an amazing one later on.

another guest cover from an older cartoonist,the guys in the underground.” There was neverI think I’m just going to give up and just focus on

you know what? I just struck out three times here.ell,bonus. And then after that, I just kind of went, “W

provided a really nice introduction.forward for it, James V

s being collected for the first time in 40 years. I wrote aIt’imental magazine I assembled for Stan Lee back in 1974.imprint is doing is Denis: CBC:

online Steve Krupp’

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ell, the first book the new Kitchen Sink BooksWDenis: s up with Kitchen Sink Books?What’’s up with Kitchen Sink Books?CBC:

s Curio Shoppe. For really good stashesonline Steve Krupp’], I exchange credit in ourd.

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, five, maybe six projects a year

, and Stanance wrote a longer essays being collected for the first time in 40 years. I wrote a

imental magazine I assembled for Stan Lee back in 1974.-, about the exper Book k,

ell, the first book the new Kitchen Sink Bookss up with Kitchen Sink Books?

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ABOVPeter Poplaski rendered this

The aforementionedE:

s again bifurcated. The Denis KitchenWith Kurtzman, it’.Carl Gropper .

Will left a corporation which is administered by his nephewy material, the intellectual property rsonal property so I represent Ann. With the wo very distinct entities. The art is [Will’

art is with the Denis Kitchen Art Agencyd by the Kitchen and Hansen Agency

s two parts. The literary estate is estate, it’, that’Okaynis:

tively seeking work for a living artist?function? Is that a different function fromof Harvey Kurtzman? Is that the official

Peter Poplaski rendered thisThe aforementioned

s again bifurcated. The Denis Kitchen

,Will left a corporation which is administered by his nephew,literary material, the intellectual property

s personal property so I represent Ann. With thes wife]They’re two very distinct entities. The art is [Will’.original art is with the Denis Kitchen Art Agency

s. Will’handled by the Kitchen and Hansen Agencys two parts. The literary estate is

. Withs a multi-part answer . , that’actively seeking work for a living artist?

function? Is that a different function fromof Harvey Kurtzman? Is that the official

cance, and are fun to assemble. John Lind wants exactly thegood books, ones I’m proud of, ones that have some signifirelationship. At this point in my careersome money and both sides are happyeditorial autonomydeserve to be done. Mike Richardson has guaranteed ushave a passion forthere’ll be other books, not likely best sellers, but ones webroad set of collectors and be commercially popularparticular artists or subjects, ones that should appeal to aa varietyThere won’

cance, and are fun to assemble. John Lind wants exactly thegood books, ones I’m proud of, ones that have some signifirelationship. At this point in my careersome money and both sides are happy

, and as long as the line as a whole makeseditorial autonomydeserve to be done. Mike Richardson has guaranteed us

, ones that [partner] John [Lind] and I thinkave a passion for r, ones that [partner] John [Lind] and I thinkthere’ll be other books, not likely best sellers, but ones webroad set of collectors and be commercially popularparticular artists or subjects, ones that should appeal to a

. Some will be in a coffee table book format, ona varietyt be something every month, but there’ll be quiteThere won’

, five, maybe Our goal is to do four r, five, maybe six projects a year

cance, and are fun to assemble. John Lind wants exactly the-good books, ones I’m proud of, ones that have some signifi

, I just want to make r r, I just want to make, we’ll continue thesome money and both sides are happy

, and as long as the line as a whole makesdeserve to be done. Mike Richardson has guaranteed us

, ones that [partner] John [Lind] and I thinkthere’ll be other books, not likely best sellers, but ones we

. Thenbroad set of collectors and be commercially popularparticular artists or subjects, ones that should appeal to a

. Some will be in a coffee table book format, ont be something every month, but there’ll be quite

. six projects a year r.


and with partner John association with Dark Horse,

Kitchen Sink brand, only nowalso (sorta) rebooted thean book author and he’

multi-faceted career to becomebegan yet another aspect of his

the last few years, D.K. hasrecent portrait of Denis. OverPeter Poplaski rendered this


The Oddly Compelling Art ofof his long-awaited bio/art book,

2010 saw the release:

[Pointing out the artwork for CBC: rights, and so on. I happen to cross overtypically for publishing but it can involve merchandise,granting or licensing rights, and negotiating contracts,property is abstract. In the literary arena, you’re typically

. Art is t Cruse, and Frank Miller . handful of other artists: Pete Poplaski, Frank Stack, Howarda specialty area I happen to do for just these estates and a

. Literary agencies don’lectual property, Kitchen, Lind & Associates, handles Harvey’agencyy, Kitchen, Lind & Associates, handles Harvey’

Art Agency also handles the art sales there. But my others again bifurcated. The Denis KitchenWith Kurtzman, it’

and with partner John association with Dark Horse,

Kitchen Sink brand, only nowalso (sorta) rebooted the

s e’ smulti-faceted career to becomebegan yet another aspect of his

the last few years, D.K. hasrecent portrait of Denis. Over

The Oddly Compelling Art ofof his long-awaited bio/art book,

2010 saw the release

#5 cover] What isCBC[Pointing out the artwork for

s not, but that’ to cross over r, but that’typically for publishing but it can involve merchandise,granting or licensing rights, and negotiating contracts,property is abstract. In the literary arena, you’re typically

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st handle art. That’. Literary agencies don’-s intel, Kitchen, Lind & Associates, handles Harvey’

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been out-of-print since the previous Kitchen Sink collectionduction. That 1959 solo work is an absolute classic, but it’Denis: CBC: and it’

aches again. By having a joint venture with Dark Horse, Johnmoney and all that. I don’printers and distributors and warehousing and collectingall over with a few dozen employees and to have to deal with

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been out-of-print since the previous Kitchen Sink collectionduction. That 1959 solo work is an absolute classic, but it’

s A new edition of Kurtzman’Denis: Comix Book s after your What’’s after your CBC:

s a perfect kind of partnership.and it’

aches again. By having a joint venture with Dark Horse, Johnt want those hassles and headmoney and all that. I don’

printers and distributors and warehousing and collectingall over with a few dozen employees and to have to deal with

t want to start a Kitchen Sink Press, I don’But, to be clear r, I don’same thing.cance, and are fun to assemble. John Lind wants exactly the

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- is in proJungle Book k collection?

aches again. By having a joint venture with Dark Horse, John-t want those hassles and head

printers and distributors and warehousing and collectingall over with a few dozen employees and to have to deal with

t want to start a Kitchen Sink Press

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25 years in the making!, a tome actuallyDenis Kitchen

s an in-joke. I collect a lot ofGood eye, Jon. That’Denis: this postcard reference?

[Pointing out the artwork for

thin 25 years in the making!

, a tome actually



s an in-joke. I collect a lot of

#5 cover] What is

predominant focus right nowCBC: probably get in trouble if I tell you anything after those.paperbacks. Steve Heller’hundred skull-related covers from old comic books andbook called

can appreciate Kurtzman’ed about that one. Hopefully a new generation of comic fansPlus we’ll recycle Art Spiegelman’by me, new design, and Crumb has promised a new intro.25 years ago. This one will feature new design, a new essay

ho has shoeboxes of c, or knows an Aunt

w has old postcards in anyone reading this

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hundred skull-related covers from old comic books and, which showcases a couplePopular Skullturebook called

e’re also working with Monte Beauchamp on a terrificWs genius.can appreciate Kurtzman’

ed about that one. Hopefully a new generation of comic fanss earlier intro. WPlus we’ll recycle Art Spiegelman’

by me, new design, and Crumb has promised a new intro.25 years ago. This one will feature new design, a new essaybeen out-of-print since the previous Kitchen Sink collection

, what you’re doing?Mm-hmm. And what else are you doing? Is that your

probably get in trouble if I tell you anything after those.s doing the intro for that. I will

hundred skull-related covers from old comic books and, which showcases a couple

e’re also working with Monte Beauchamp on a terrific

ed about that one. Hopefully a new generation of comic fans-e’re excits earlier intro. W

by me, new design, and Crumb has promised a new intro.25 years ago. This one will feature new design, a new essay

All books ©2014 the respective copyright holders.

- Denis: ds, they should con

ell, I think your cover says it all. There are a fewWDenis:

ell, I think your cover says it all. There are a few

All books ©2014 the respective copyright holders.



COMIC BOOK CREATOR #5DENIS KITCHEN close-up—from cartoonist, publisher, author,and art agent, to his friendships with HARVEY KURTZMAN, R.CRUMB, WILL EISNER, and many others! Plus we examine thesupreme artistry of JOHN ROMITA, JR., BILL EVERETT’s finalsplash, the nefarious backroom dealings of STOLEN COMICBOOK ART, and ascend THE GODS OF MT. OLYMPUS (a ‘70sgem by ACHZIGER, STATON and WORKMAN)!

(84-page FULL-COLOR magazine) $8.95 (Digital Edition) $3.95