My first cartoon for Paul Krassner's The Realist
was in issue #26 (May 1961), and I continued as a contributor over the next few years. In the fall of 1961, Ted White's wife, Sylvia, told me about how she had been amused by someone's routine about a comic strip, and she felt I should meet him. Not long after that, probably at Ted's office and mimeograph service on West 10th Street, I did encounter Ken Seagle, and after listening to him deliver a sort of rambling but entertaining monolog, I agreed to put it into pictures.
There were two problems, however. Ken would never put anything on paper, so I had to listen to him talk, prompt him, ask questions, take notes and do the script myself. That doesn't diminish his role as the true writer; it's my memory of the way we collaborated. It seemed he had never thought of it as a genuine comic strip; it was just a sort of premise he liked to rap about. I had hoped to get a stack of scripts so I could work well ahead, but that never happened. Since he was much more interested in the young woman who was living with me than sitting down to plan panels, he would soon become entranced by her and lose any focus on the scripts in progress.
Leaping these hurdles, I drew the first J.C.
in 1961. The title was a specific reference to Johnny Hart's B.C.
which began February 1958. (Curiously, around 1984-85, B.C.
introduced religious themes, including some controversial strips yanked by newspaper editors.) In The Realist
#30 (December 1961), J.C.
began running as a series. In that same issue, Sylvia had two contributions, both satirizing folk music, under her maiden name byline, Sylvia Dees.
In Texas the following year, Frank Stack circulated among his friends a 14-page Xerox, The Adventures of Jesus
(1962), which some call the first underground comic. For a unique slide show of Frank Stack talking about his paintings, Harvey Pekar and Robert Crumb, go here
. Also see The Realist Archive Project
The above J.C.
installment appeared in issue #47 (February 1964). The character with the black beard is Judas. Click with cross-hair cursor for full enlargement.
Labels: b.c., frank stack, j.c., johnny hart, krassner, memoir, seagle, sylvia dees white, ted white, the adventures of jesus, the realist