Comics Article

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Comics Article

Postby Bwis53 » Thu Jun 19, 2008 8:15 am

Thanks for the article! Mention of the Electric Eye and Connections brought back a lotta memories. I used to read the Chicago Seed also. I think I've still got a few clippings in my memorabilia, and some R.Crumb. One of the fun things I got to do, raising boys, was make the rounds through comic shops!

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Postby jjoyce » Thu Jun 19, 2008 9:27 am

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Postby snoqueen » Thu Jun 19, 2008 9:48 am

I actually had a few things to say about that article, which I liked, and you gave me an opening.

I was part of the team that did the early Badger issues, Nexus, and a few others along with Rude and Baron. I was the humble (and not so good, at the time) letterer. I did everything at home and never actually met Mike Baron; I think I met Steve Rude one time. So I was hardly an insider, but I enjoyed the little part I did while the project was in Madison.

It was all done the old fashioned way, and I was handed big boards on which Steve had sketched the art for each page. The word balloons went on first, pencil and then ink. Next someone else inked Steve's sketches. Cels were made, and a colorist put the color on those and they went to the printer. I hope someone still has those beautiful cels.

One thing I remember about the project was in the years immediately following, a lot of what Baron wrote in the script came TRUE in a weird, prescient way. If I still had my copies (and regrettably I don't -- I gave most of them as gifts and sold the rest long ago) I could pick out half a dozen examples, but here's the one that stands out. Remember we were in the very early 80s at the time the stories were written.

This was in the Badger, though I don't recall exactly which issue. Mike had a character called Ham who was a Druid wizard, as mentioned in the Isthmus article. (His real Welsh name was like 40 letters long so he used Ham.) Ham had some dispute going with somebody, so he brewed up a great big storm. In fact, it was a huge, huge tornado. On the last page, as a lead to the issue to follow, we had a picture of the tornado and Ham, who was doing an incantation and saying, "Behold Ham's new broom!" since the tornado was intended to sweep his enemies right off the planet.

In the story, the town he was sweeping away was Barneveld (everything was set in and around Madison, with real place names).

And a year later (in 1984), guess what blew the whole real town of Barneveld right off the map: one of the most powerful tornadoes in recorded history.

If that was the only instance of stuff coming true, it would just have been an oddity based on Barneveld's funky name. But it was the fourth or fifth in a whole string of stuff that happened after it was drawn, and by then I was catching on a little. I still wonder if Mike Baron watched the same stuff happen and had anything to say later.

The other part of the Isthmus article I wanted to comment on was about Take Over, Madison's "underground" newspaper in the early/mid 70's. I was there too. I was one of the artists who did the page layouts. Take Over's offices moved around a lot, but one of our favorite locations was on the third floor of the triangular building on South Hancock where it meets the square. We were up in the point of the triangle and had a view of the whole Capitol and everyone who came and went -- hardly underground. You wouldn't believe how much smaller Madison was back then. We'd sit up in those windows and watch our news box on the corner by the Park Motor Inn, and we knew by name almost everybody who bought one of our papers (which were 25 cents).

My comment on the Isthmus article is fact-checking. As a staff artist, I was preceded by a woman named Stephanie and followed by a woman named Mary. I could do pretty much anything I wanted with the look of the paper, which was generally anarchist. Nobody had a title like art director (I may still have a few issues around here somewhere and if I can find them I'll look at the masthead, such as it was). I was at Take Over a lot, day and night during publication week, and I don't remember meeting Sharon Rudahl at all, though I heard her name a few times and, of course, I recognize her work. If she wants "art director of Take Over, 1972-1975" on her resume, she can have it, but it doesn't fit my recollection of either the organization of the paper nor the people who were actually there during that period.

No hard feelings on that one -- resumes are slippery things and people can put down whatever they want for "what I did in 1973." Go Sharon, wherever (and whoever) you are.

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