Five Great Bay Area Cartoonists
By Kelly O’Grady
San Francisco has been fertile ground for cartoonists since the underground comix scene of the 1960’s. That’s why I moved to San Francisco in the first place. I wanted to relive perhaps the grooviest time of Comics history. I wanted to sit in an obscure coffee shop with R. Crumb (Who lives in France now) and listen to him rant about Modern Society as he doodles gratuitous drawings of large women.
So I moved from the lettuce capital of the world (Salinas) to what I considered the mecca of alternative comics, San Francisco. Did I become rich and famous? No! If you’re not drawing superhero comics or pornography nobody’s dumping garbage bags of cash on you. But what you should concentrate on is carving out a niche for yourself. Like writing and illustrating stories for Bay area culture sites.
Well, one thing about being a cartoonist is sitting in a room by yourself, hunched over a drafting table muttering to no one. So it’s always nice to break your solitude and actually meet other cartoonists ( Or talk to people in general) so when a cool comics event arrives it is mandatory that you go.
I heard through the grapevine that Last Gasp Publishing was having a warehouse sale/ party and every ink slinger in the 415 would be in attendance. It would be the shut-in/ cartoonist event of the year! The previous year’s event was when Dan Clowes did a book signing at Green Apple books and later got into a brawl outside over the merit of Archie comics.
Oh man, it was awesome. There was food and booze and comics and vintage sideshow art and a Bruce Lee statue and…… Last Gasps office is just the coolest place ever and I met a ton of other cartoonists. A few of which I wanted to tell you about.
Rita’s talent is as big as her hair. She has been featured in Resist!, New York Magazine, Vice and also has many lovely comics featured on Spiral Bound, a comics page powered by Medium. You can learn many things from her comics like if you tell someone they’re beautiful during sex it doesn’t count. Rita’s comics are very personal and very funny.
Leah’s comics make me feel very warm and fuzzy, she has a great feel for colors and light approaching the psychedelic. I would go so far to say her work is an immersive sensory experience, like her digital comic Mermaid Beach.
She has also blown everyone out of the water with her comic A Thumb On The Scales Of Justice about the teenage Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi which you can read at thenib.com
I’ve also discovered other great Bay Area cartoonists at the SF Zine Fest, boy oh boy is it an exciting place. There is always cool new comics and zine to see every year, I suggest packing a water bottle full of wine because it can be a little overwhelming.
**Applications for SF Zine Fest 2018 will go live in May.**
The festival will be held on Sunday, September 2.
Jumpin Jeepers, while I was waltzing around the Zinefest floor I saw a comic called Bat-man Is Lost In A woods by David Enos. My socks were knocked off. The comic itself is like a David Lynchian take on Batman. The story is fairly basic but operates in a kind of dream logic. Bat-man’s wife is missing, his search has brought him deep into the woods where he sleeps in a hole in the ground among the animals. Later he discovers the dead body of Captain America and even stranger things happen after that.
I got drunk one night and sent David Enos a facebook message that probably something like “Oh my god, your Batman Lost In A Woods is so great, blah, blah, blah.” I never got a response back possibly because the message was incomprehensible and was written at 3AM.
Janelle Hessig has been a roadie for punk rock legends Bratmobile and has been self publishing her comics since the late nineties. Her comics can range in topics from poop-dick all the way to fisting and everything in between. Some of my favorite pieces of her work are about girls with werewolf fetishes. She also has animated music videos for queer-punx superstar Hunx and his Punx. I think she works at PBS or something.
Mr. Forsley is a cartoonist and professional tattoo artist at Belmont Tattoo. You can see his tattoo style influencing his comics, they are aggressively underground and would make your grandfather literally shit himself if he saw them. He collaborated with his brother on their co-creation Dirty Clown and has been featured in Pork Magazine. I could imagine his comics tattooed on Danny Trejo’s back.
So I hope you enjoyed my feature on some Bay Area cartoonists and maybe you’ll even feel inspired to draw your own comics! Well fuck off! The Bay Area has enough cartoonists without some squirrely ametuer gettin in the mix! Do you realise how many cartoonist turf wars occur over coffee shop tables?!