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Back in the 90’s, I got to know the lead singer for The Nymphs. She was a comics fan and was inspired by my work. She rented a limo and visited me in my Jersey City tenement apartment and asked me to draw the album cover for The Nymphs first album. She described what she wanted: artwork that would work as a frame from a photo of the band. I was happy to do it and sent her the work. Instead of using it as an album cover she gave the art to a local L.A. rock newspaper that used it as a frame for an interview with her, or maybe it was an article. All I have left of it is this shitty Xerox. When the album finally came out it had a drawing on the cover by her. A drawing that looked a lot like my art at the time. That’s rock and roll!
Here’s a book jacket I designed for Mark Leyner’s 1990 book: My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist. It’s a collection of super short, postmodern absurd fiction. And very funny! We were introduced to each other when we both lived in Hoboken, New Jersey and took a quick liking to each other’s work. I love his writing. But the publisher rejected this surreal design of mine and so I had to start all over again. They gave me some guidelines of what they really wanted and I complied. But I always wanted to do something with this gas-powered hot-rodding gastrointestinal tract. That’s publishing!
This summer will see the debut of the first SpongeBob spin-off show, Kamp Koral. We aged-down SpongeBob to 10 years old and sent him to the summer camp that he flashes back on in the upcoming movie Sponge On The Run. Other than the fact that this show will be animated in CG, we kept the same wacky, squash and stretch animation and gag-filled humor. I wrote the script for the pilot that has a crazy monster that runs amok through camp as SpongeBob tries to stop it. Since I’m a cartoonist as well as a writer, I’m sometimes asked to draw some new characters from my script. This was my first stab at the monster. We decided to change him to look more like an undersea creature so this design will not be used. But I thought it would be interesting to see. That’s cartoons!
Of course, I love Fantagraphics. They were the only publishers, besides Raw Books, that thought enough of my work to publish me. And they carried the torch for non-superhero art comics for many years that they actually created the genre of graphic novel in America. I have no idea why I designed this cover the way I did except they told me I could do anything. So here we see the kind of cartoony surreal abstractions that have obsessed me for years. I honestly would love to do this kind of work as paintings.
Order “The Underworld: From Hoboken to Hollywood” the omnibus collection of the very best of the strip’s 23-year run, with annotations, photos, and other surprises from the author (along with a foreword by Mutts creator Patrick McDonnell).