Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The great Gary Arlington

May 10, 1972 in an interview with the amazing Patrick Rosenkranz, Gary Arlington had this to say when asked "What's new?"

Artlington: "Justin Green is coming out with the world's first underground comic books that's going to sell for seven cents. It's going to be pocket-sized. It's goint to have eight pages in black and white. It's one single piece of 8 1/2" x 11" paper and it's folded and stapled. I said to myself, man, I could do this, too. Anybody can put out a little comic book for seven cents. Only costs you $20 to $25, plus your time of stapling and folding. That would be a real underground comic. I think Justin has started something that's going to really catch on. You get these young aspiring artists. First of all, son, if you want to put your own comic, we got to get a lot of money together and do a full color cover. Then you've got to compete with Crumb. You've got to be really good. It's going to cost you several hundred to go down to the printer and have the insides printed. That's discouraged a lot of people. Now there's a little seven-cent comic, everybody can come out with their own comic."

As Rosenkranz points out in a foot note: this is the birth of the mini comic. Pretty amazing. I've heard complaints about how easy it is for everybody to make comics for years. For me that cheap and easy production has always been the thing that kept me interested in comix as an art form. The idea that with 20 bucks anyone can put their art out to the world. And with the internet, obviously all you need is access to the write tools (sometimes that can cost more than 20 bucks).

Anyway, that interview is from one of the best issues of the Comics Journal ever, the Ivan Brunetti one (#264). Rosenkranz interviewed Denis Kitchen, Arlington, Jack Jackson, Don Schenker, Jay Lynch, Ron Turner and Fred Todd. Fantagraphics still has copies.


Austin English said...

I remember giving Gary my first mini comic to sell back when I was in high school and gary's shop was on my walk back home. I came back to check a week later to see if he had "sold out" of it. I'll always remember how he looked at my comic and then made a withering gesture towards the rack of marvel and dc comics and said "you are YOU competing against THE BEATLES." But then he sweetly told me to keep bringing my stuff in...

Years before that I came into the shop looking for EC comics...i didnt know anyhing about gary at the time, but the minute I mentioned EC he got so excited and found that "completley MAD" book that mentions his EC lending library and went to the index and pointed out where his name was.

What i remember most is gary bouncing around the store, full of energy. Last time I went in he was pretty quiet and still.

That store was literally one block away from my middle school. Everyone would rag on organization, comics literally piled everywhere so that you couldnt even stand in the store. Honestly, i remember all that unnerving me...but on some level i realized how cool it was too.

Patrick Rosenkranz said...

Gary is retired now and would love to hear from his former customers. He lives in an apartment at 225 Berry Street in SF.