A Lousy Week for Woods (Remembering Roger Brand)

Roger Brand by Patrick Rosenkranz

It was coming up on Thanksgiving 1981, and two Woods had died in the same week. First there was the movie star Natalie Wood, who fell off a yacht and drowned. The other one hit a little closer to home. Comics great Wallace Wood blew his brains out. He hadn’t been in the greatest health (bum eyes and kidney problems) and he seemed old for his age, which was 54. He was also prone to big depressions. I got to know Wood a little when I was still living in New York City. It was the late 1960s and I was just getting started drawing comics. I met Roger Brand for the first time at a big New York City comics convention in 1968, the same day I also met Wallace Wood and Art Spiegelman; by my reckoning that was a pretty good day.

I knew who Art was and I sure knew who Wallace Wood was, but I had never heard of Roger Brand. I think he was about 26 at this time, a few years older than me. He had a long flowing mustache, not exactly a handlebar, longish hair and squinty eyes, but he came off as fairly good-looking. He was nattily dressed and very peppy. I soon learned that much of the pep came from speed, which was already Roger’s longstanding main drug of choice.

My brother Simon was with me and, frankly, we were both a bit put off by Roger’s gushy demeanor. At some point Spiegelman, I guess picking up on this, pulled me aside and said, “You know, Roger is really very knowledgeable about comics.” I soon learned that Roger had worked as an assistant to Wood, and even more significantly, we would later find out, to Gil Kane. He’d also recently done some jobs in his own right for Witzend, a fanzine that Wood had recently started with the idea of broadening the horizons of the comics medium. Witzend is also where I first saw Art Spiegelman’s work. Ultimately Witzend promised more than it ever delivered, but it was a sign post that interesting things were in the air where comics were concerned.

Hell, I was living proof. In 1968 I had a paying job working at an underground newspaper drawing comics. I was earning while learning and boy oh boy I sure had a lot to learn! Well, where not only myself but other crazed fools like me learned a heap about comics was from Roger Brand. We saw Roger again at a party that same day. Armed with Spiegelman’s tip about Roger’s bounty of comics knowledge, we paid more attention to him this time. Joints were going around the room and Simon, I, Roger, and others were taking hits in a desultory kind of way, when someone came in from a beer run. Can tops popped. Roger took a long pull on his and said, “You know, this marijuana is all well and good but when all is said and done, there’s nothing like good old beer.”

Simon and I agreed. We looked at each other and silently nodded. It was the beginning of our friendship with Roger. Why was Roger so knowledgeable about comics? Well, he was a bright guy who drew them and loved the medium. But what set Roger into a more rarefied realm of comics knowledge was his long association with Gil Kane.

Gil Kane. What a man! Okay, maybe Gil Kane wasn’t the world’s greatest comics creator. But he could draw, you bet. His comics credentials went back to the Golden Age 1940s. He was a sharp articulate guy with an encyclopedic knowledge about comics. And it wasn’t just a geeky tunnel vision kind of knowledge, all comics and nothing else. He was a cultivated individual, distinguished in appearance: a silver haired, nattily dressed guy. In retrospect, I think Kane’s natty appearance may have also influenced Roger’s initial tidy appearance and demeanor. It’s not that Roger seemed to imitate Kane in that way, but he also had a sophisticated manner and look at the time that would have made him seem at home even in much more discriminating company. I don’t think the same thing could have been said about Simon and me in those days.

So there was Roger, working side by side with Gil Kane for quite a while. Gil Kane must have been one of the greatest raconteurs that comics ever saw. He knew the great stories, rivalries, successes, and failures in the world of comics, and was cultured enough to tie it all intelligently to the rest of culture, popular and otherwise.

Roger Brand art for Web of Horror #2, 1970

On a more picayune level he could, for instance, tell you who penciled for Will Eisner in most of 1946 (John Spranger). He had files and could whip out classic Jack Cole jobs and tell you exactly why they were so revered by the old pros. All of this and more came pouring out of Kane and into the mind of Roger for years, and Roger seemed more that willing to pass it all on to us!

Roger and Michelle Brand by Patrick Rosenkranz

We used to go and drink beer with Roger for hours on end while he kept us and others spellbound with tales of comics and their creators, both lurid and technical. It was fantastic. On top of all that, Roger really did seem to have it all together. He had a great and pretty girlfriend named Michelle whom he later married. He seemed to be pulling down decent money working for Kane and others. And he was making embryonic underground comics of his own on the side.

And Roger really could draw. He knew something about anatomy and perspective. Some of it just came naturally and also, I suppose, from assisting comics greats like Wood and Kane. But this would be a good place to bring up an idiosyncrasy about Roger’s work. He could really pencil and drew solid figures. He had a good hold of the entire comics drawing discipline (he was so-so as a writer, but not uninteresting). But execution was where he shined, or at least it was when it came to penciling. Inking was another matter. When inking, Roger tended to go right through it until a page was over inked into muddiness. He did it just about every time! Why? Well, one of the things we are talking about here is the pros and cons of amphetamines (speed). Speed has been an insidious lure for artists for as long as it has been around. It can give you some great moments for sure. Many great pieces of art have emerged under its dubious auspices. But it’s not so good for the long haul. I’m not going to list all of its shortcomings here, but they are legion.

Original art for the cover of Real Pulp Comics #2, 1971

Essentially a common speed arc, particularly if you are really habituated to it, means that you really need something to come down from it, and all too commonly that something ends up being alcohol. It's hell on your nerves. So, speed freaks very often turn into drunks. And I never saw such a relentless living example of that arc as Roger Brand. Roger had some bad problems lurking inside of him, but his smooth manner masked them to a certain extent. At least at first.

Around 1969 the big general news among guys trying to grab onto the underground comics boom was this: If you were really serious about pursuing it, the immediate future seemed to be in San Francisco. That is where most of the publishers worth talking about were setting up. So just about everyone I knew doing comics on the East Coast was relocating out there. Roger grew up in Point Richmond, which was on the fringe of the San Francisco Bay Area and he made the move back there between three and six months before I got my butt out to San Francisco. But I ran into him almost immediately one day in Gary Arlington’s legendary San Francisco Comic Book Company store.

Roger wasn’t quite so natty anymore, but he didn’t really look bad. His hair was longer. Maybe he wasn’t shaving all that regularly, but all that really came down to just then was that he looked more like a hippy, like the rest of us. He had a steady job doing a strip for one of the sex newspapers, a hundred and fifty plunks a week, and that was more than any of the rest of us was making just then. And he and Michelle seemed to be getting along.

Was he drinking more? Maybe. But here’s one thing that was masking the situation further: Another comics artist that Roger grew up with in Point Richmond was Joel Beck. Beck had made some serious noise in the early and mid '60s in comics, even before the underground thing occurred. In fact a legitimate case could be made that Joel Beck was a pioneering founder of underground comics.

The only trouble was that now that the boom was on, Joel was pretty well burnt out. He’d had most of his big moments on speed and was now a flamboyant and rather tiresome drunk. I didn’t really like Joel at first. He’d never go out unless some Point Richmond crony was driving him, and he always traveled with a big gallon jug of red wine. He was a sloppy falling down drunk, and the first few times I met him Roger seemed to be functioning as his keeper, guiding him about in their travels. Little did I know then that eight to ten years down the road, when Joel had perfected his drinking into a respectable tipple, and Roger’s had gotten worse, I would frequently see the same situation reversed, with Joel guiding Roger around. But that was later.

Roger Brand art for Insect Fear #3, 1971

Still, Roger was already slowly going down hill. Something like six months later, his steady job ended. He was still doing jobs and covers for underground comics, but he got markedly less prolific over time. He was still a marvelous fount of comics lore and information though and I’d like to recount an incident to illustrate that. At some point in the '70s, Art Spiegelman got a job in a school teaching a course about comics. It had been going on a while when one day Art invited me to come over and talk to the class. When I got there, there was Roger! It seemed that some weeks earlier Art had invited Roger to the class. Roger made such a hit and seemed to enjoy it so much that Art had ensconced him as a kind of comics authority in residence. In other words, once Roger had visited Art’s class, he never really left, which was just fine with Art. He knew the value of Roger Brand even in decline. I was glad to see Roger at the class, too. It had been a while since I’d seen him, so I drifted out of the class with him and he took me over to meet his new girlfriend. Well, I’d heard that Roger and Michelle had broken up and was sorry for it, but these things happen. But it gave me pause when Roger introduced me to the bimbo he was now traveling with -- make that Bimbo with a capital B!

Worse yet, they didn’t even last all that long.  It was getting clearer all the time that something was seriously wrong with Roger.  Around this same time, Gary Arlington had latched onto a nice money lecture gig which the comics historian Bill Blackbeard was somehow connected with. Roger and my brother Simon were getting a hundred each to sit on some stage one evening and pontificate a little about comics. Long story short, they both showed up stinko drunk and made a shambles of the event. Roger in Art’s afternoon class was one thing, but Roger after the sun went down was a whole other kettle of fish.

And it got even worse. At some point Roger seemed to be more or less homeless. He’d tried to make some money dealing dope, but ended up selling some acid to an undercover cop the very first time out. Roger had spent some nights in various drunk tanks already. This time he pulled a three-month prison sentence. When Roger was released Gary Arlington took him in. Gary had control of an apartment underneath his where Roger set up camp. I remember visiting Roger there one night. It was kind of dim because the electricity was not on. Instead, a long extension cord attached to a single lamp in the apartment Roger was in went out the window and up into Gary’s pad, where it was plugged in. Well, I have to say this about Gary Arlington: He is a fine man. When Roger was still going strong he looked down on Gary. In fact I can remember a near brawl one time when Roger suddenly physically attacked Gary. Don Donahue had to pull him off Gary. It was an ugly moment. But now Gary was taking an active hand in helping Roger. Besides giving Roger shelter, he gave him a daily five dollars (enough for a six pack and smokes in those days). In return, Gary required Roger to make one inked picture every day. In this way, Gary kept Roger drawing when he was beyond the point when he otherwise might have been doing so. This impressed me.

And there was the strange Joel Beck factor. One day Joel came by under his own steam and without a gallon of red wine in tow.  He wanted to know if I would throw in with Roger and him on a three-way comic book. I guess we could have called it All Drunk Comics, but somehow the title Banzai was arrived at. I didn’t really feel like doing it, but I felt even less like turning them down. Joel pretty much straw-bossed it and Denis Kitchen published it in 1978. In the months that followed, I still saw Roger at parties and things, always looking increasingly scuzzier and generally rowdier, but we were still friends.

One day in Berkeley I saw Roger bounce out of a drugstore on the corner of Shattuck and University hugging two precious six packs of beer to his chest. I’d heard he’d been working shifts behind the counter of a local comic book store in town. He was walking fast, like every second counted, so I did not call out to him. But I stopped and watched as he continued chugging furiously down the street. For some reason that image of him is burned indelibly into my brain.

Getting back to Thanksgiving of 1981 and the week that Natalie Wood and Wallace Wood came to their untimely ends. Wood’s death shook me up! I was never big pals with him, but through Roger I had gotten to know him better and he was very kind and indulgent. I liked him. By this time it seemed clear that Roger’s days were probably numbered. Anyone who knew him could see he was digging his own grave just as sure as the sun came up and went down every day. It hit me that this priceless resource of comics lore would soon be gone. And so little of it had been in any way recorded. I knew another guy around this time named Bruce N. Duncan who put out a rather inimitable zine chronicling the bohemian doings of Berkeley’s Telegraph Avenue. Bruce was an acquired taste but kind of brilliant in his own crack brained way. I’d been interviewed for the Tele Times, Bruce’s zine. Hell, he’d even interviewed the great R. Crumb.

The wheels of my brain were turning. Wood was gone. And at the rate Roger was going, could he be far behind? It occurred to me that perhaps I could arrange to have Roger interviewed for the Tele Times and preserve a bit of Roger for the ages. Of course I knew in my heart, it was probably a bit too late. Roger was definitely becoming more mentally fractured by this time. Even so, I decided to give it a shot. My girlfriend was going out of town for Thanksgiving. So I decided to invite both Roger and Bruce over for Thanksgiving dinner, with the idea of making a Roger Brand interview happen. Bruce was for it and I got a hold of Roger somehow and he said he was down for it. However, come Thanksgiving, no Roger! I got on the phone and somehow got a hold of him. He’d spaced on it and was just getting ready to go get a Thanksgiving dinner at some soup kitchen.

Roger Brand by Bruce Simon, c. 1980

I started talking fast. I told Roger I had a turkey cooking and if he’d just get over, my girlfriend was out of town and I’d keep him in beer for the weekend. That finally managed to do the trick and he showed up at my place in the early evening. The first thing he said to me when I shook hands with him was, “Gee, wasn’t this a lousy week for Woods?” It took me a few seconds to process that, but then, "Oh right, Natalie and Wallace." So the interview went down and it really wasn’t vintage Brand, I’m sorry to say, but this was one of those take-what-you-can-get situations.

We talked a lot over the weekend and drank beer and talked some more. We even talked about Roger’s own rather obvious impending doom. He said some people from AA had visited him. He said they were okay, but clearly they weren’t really reaching him. And one thing I noticed about Roger that seemed to bode ill was that he wasn’t really eating much. He picked a little (very little) at the turkey I’d cooked, but that was about it. Well, come Sunday it was all getting old and I knew I had to get rid of Roger before my girlfriend returned. She knew he was there, but I knew it wouldn’t be good for her to walk in on me and Roger still knocking them back. I told him up front that I had to get him out of there and clean up a little. So I walked him to the bus stop, gave him the fare, and wished him luck.  The last thing he said to me was the same thing he said when he first arrived: “Gee, wasn’t this a lousy week for Woods?”

Roger Brand art for Banzai, 1977

One side effect of this was that I’d shown Roger a good enough time so that he started popping in more often. But things weren’t going all that great with me by this time either: My 11-year run with my girlfriend came to an end and I drifted out of town and lost track of Roger. Then one day in 1985, when I was living in Los Angeles, I got a phone call from a friend in Berkeley telling me that Roger had died. He was 42 years old.

A short time after that, when they were still located in suburban L.A., Fantagraphics threw quite a party. Even Jack Kirby was there, and so was Gil Kane. I knew Kane, but had never really had an actual conversation with him. But this night he buttonholed me, wanting to know what had happened to Roger. I asked him if he’d ever read Theodore Dreiser’s novel Sister Carrie. Knowing his erudite reputation I figured he probably had. I was right. The reason I asked was that there’s a character in that book whose spectacular downfall from dandy to falling-down drunk always reminded me of Roger's fate. Anyway, after drawing the analogy, I told him how Roger died, just as it was told to me.

It went like this: Somebody, probably one of his Point Richmond homeboys, had taken Roger in. One Saturday night they were both sitting around watching Saturday Night Live. Roger was in good spirits and laughing. During a commercial he went to the bathroom to take a leak. His friend heard the toilet flush but didn’t hear Roger jiggle the handle after to make the water in the toilet settle. He went to see what was up and there was Roger, slumped on the floor, his dead eyes still open. That was it! Not a pretty story, but Gil Kane asked and I told him. Thus ended the first and last conversation I ever had with him. For a while, I had it in my head to do a drawing of the death of Roger Brand, but finally decided it was a cheesy and bad idea. Of course I’ll never forget it and I suppose it serves as a good object lesson. It certainly was a good one for me.

I will always remember Roger. He was deeply flawed, but he was also a good guy, a great teacher and even a better friend. Sometimes conversations I had with him years ago suddenly spring into my head. So I guess you could say a bit of Roger lives on in me and others who were lucky enough to know and appreciate him.

UPDATE: Nov. 5, 2011: Courtesy of John Benson, here is his interview with Roger Brand, in manuscript, with Brand's corrections. It was published in final form in Graphic Story World, v. 2, no. 1, Feb. 1972. Click here to view and/or download the pdf.


264 Responses to A Lousy Week for Woods (Remembering Roger Brand)

  1. patrick ford says:

    Kim, I think I’ve got most of Bruce Duncan’s comic book work, but had no knowledge of the Tele Times zine you mentioned.

    Aside from the interviews with you, Crumb and Brand, I’d imagine there was plenty of other interesting content which would be nice to see somewhere.

  2. Eric Reynolds says:

    What a great piece. Thank you, Kim!

  3. kim deitch says:

    You are right on the money on that one Patrick. Duncan was under appreciated and there were all kinds of golden moments it Tele Times. I would personally rate it as his finest achievement. Duncan! there’s the man who put the E in edgy. I mean it wasn’t all gold, but a great anthology could be culled from them.

  4. kim deitch says:

    Thanks Eric. That one has been a long time coming, I think, chiefly because some of those memories are still kind of painful. I’m a little too close to this one to feel entirely comfortable talking about him even at this late date.

  5. patrick ford says:

    Kim, do you by chance have a collection of Tele Times, or know where it might be found. It sounds like a very important artifact which should be preserved.

    And when I say I have all Duncan’s comics, what I mean is the letter press printed ones, which apparently represent a small fragment of his work.

  6. patrick ford says:

    Doing the obvious all I could find quickly was this:
    Duncan’s cartoons being described as sexist reminds me of the typical reaction to Crumb’s work.

    In my own view Crumb’s work is closer to feminist. The people Crumb makes look really bad are himself and other men. The fact that some of his work cartoons women as well should be taken in context. He’s dealing with human nature filtered through a cartoonists eye.

    It seems to me that not only did TV gouge out a huge chunk from the market for comic books starting in the late 50’s, but that it has had a tremendous effect on both comics and creators as well as readers. This is true of the mainstream in particular where creative goal and readers expectation is that the “best comics” are ones which most closely resemble the current network TV model. I’m convinced many readers of mainstream comics hold the opinion dialogue which doesn’t sound like contemporary TV dialogue, and drawings which are “cartoony” looking are the result of a failure on the part of any artist who doesn’t match the model.

  7. kim deitch says:

    Yeah Tele Times. talk about your rare items. I might have a dozen or so copies in storage somewhere. Try Ace Backwards. If you can’t find him any other way he should be in my facebook friends list.

  8. Eric Reynolds says:

    You’re doing the world a service by sharing, Kim.

    I still have a several-year run of Duncan’s TeleTimes calendars from the 1980s. They are AMAZING.

  9. Bruce Simon says:

    Roger is still a painful subject. That color photo of him in my Dwight Way apartment is Roger as I’ll always remember him. He was a great and interesting guy and he slept on the couch more times than I can count until the place was so littered with empty cans of Ranier Ale and overflowing ashtrays from his endless chain of Philip Morris Commanders, we’d have to give him the heave-ho. It is painful to have such a good friend with so much talent and such a big monkey on his back.

    We’d have a lot of fun hanging out and he’d pitch in inking or doing some pencilling on things I was working on for fun. You probably remember that Siegel wrote a few stories for him near the end of his drawing days for Gary’s SAN FRANCISCO COMICS AND STORIES and I would do tight layouts, almost full pencils for them to follow, which was ridiculous because he was always a thousand times more knowledgeble than I, but he followed them faithfully on the first story we did, but by the second story his drawing ability had totally broken down and it was a sad mess.

    We both worked at Beerbohm’s comic shop on Telegraph and one day in probably 1978 or 79, I walked up to Telegraph on a day off and found a crowd of people around the comic store. I pushed my way in to find that Roger had passed out behind the counter and people were in there helping themselves to anything they wanted. With the help of waving around the trusty hockey stick I kept behind the counter, I cleared the store, locked the door and called an ambulance which carted Roger away to Herrick to dry out and be observed. That was the end of that job.

    I should mention that Roger, being the complete and faithful comic historian he was, had a prodigious collection of comics drawn by all his favorites going back to the dawn of comic books. He never wanted to be tempted to sell the comics so he cut them into individual stories and put them into files according to artist. It was amazing to see the comics he evicerated this way and I still have the collection of Kurtzman’s HEY LOOK! pages I xeroxed from his file. The files were eventually thrown out by a landlord of an apartment that Roger had been evicted from for falling behind in paying rent.

    After Roger died, there was a memorial serice for him at a friend’s house in Alameda and amongst the people there, were his elderly parents, who had long ago moved to Arizona and came back to hear his friends says nice things about their son, who was loved by many and remembered by more.

  10. Frank Santoro says:

    “Dwight Way” – same street in Berkeley that Dylan Williams and Aaron Cometbus lived on. Just sayin’.

  11. Kim, tell us you’re going to write more of these. This story blew me away with its authenticity and brutal honesty and revelations. It says a lot about both you and your subject. This is a great account from a unique perspective. Bravo! Encore!

  12. patrick ford says:

    The Tele-Times sounds like an important publication. Fantagraphics, Feral House, or some other publisher should make an effort to reprint it at least in part. It seems like something Bill Blackbeard would have saved.

  13. Bruce Simon says:

    Tele-Times wasn’t as important as Duncan’s cartoon collections. Tele-Times for the most part was Duncan on his hobby horse on his various obsessions; Al Capp, Sado-Masochism, saving the whales, Dick Briefer and street people and interviewing various subjects about how they felt about Al Capp, Sado-Masochism, saving the whales, Dick Briefer and street people. There are some interviews of note, like with Crumb. Kim, hell, even ME! It’s not a deathless cultural artifact, though. Truth is, Duncan was an interesting and sometimes hilarious primitive cartoonist, but personal interactions with him lasting more than a few minutes, due to his obsessive compulsive personality, were trying.

  14. Leslie Sternbergh says:

    What a reminiscence – many thanks, Kim – & FWIW, one box of Roger’s referenced-by-artist comics that fits Bruce’s description above is stored among Don Donahue’s memorabilia – not all of it was discarded.

  15. Jeet Heer says:

    “Tele-Times for the most part was Duncan on his hobby horse on his various obsessions; Al Capp, Sado-Masochism, saving the whales, Dick Briefer and street people and interviewing various subjects about how they felt about Al Capp, Sado-Masochism, saving the whales, Dick Briefer and street people.” I don’t know about other people, but to me this sounds unbelievable great.

  16. Very moving piece

    I have those Insect Fear issues, and those always felt like the secret doorway to a hidden lore of comic books I had little access here in France.

  17. Rob Clough says:

    I imagine everyone remembers Duncan’s letters to Hate?

  18. Bruce Simon says:

    Jeet, that’s funny. Yes, it might seem so by my description, but it ultimately breaks every interview down to a Monty Python routine.

  19. patrick ford says:

    If Tele-Times is the idiosyncratic pamphleteering of Duncan that would make it all the more interesting to me.

  20. kim deitch says:

    God! B. N. Duncan would have been so pleased to see all the attention he is getting here!

  21. kim deitch says:

    I really like the comments Bruce Simon made here about Roger. He got more down and dirty than I chose to go, but the thing is, it really enhances this piece which, among other things, HAS to be seen as a cautionary tale. I’d forgotten that story about Roger passing out in the comic book store and Bruce’s account of it is well told, vivid and heart breaking. It is also a caustic observation on the general wretchedness of humanity at large.

  22. Leonard Rifas says:

    Thanks for this remembering. I’m glad to learn more about Roger, even though his story was a sad one. I carry only a few memories of him. I remember that at an organizing meeting of the United Cartoon Workers of America held at the Rip Off Press, he interrupted a discussion about the possibility of forming a co-op to buy drawing paper with a long and passionate and seemingly unprovoked rant about individual artistic freedom and no one telling him what to draw. Jay Kinney was not at that meeting, but he turned my story of this into a panel in his comics-format short history of that union. I don’t have it in front of me, but I remember that he drew Roger with arms folded, which they absolutely weren’t.

    I also remember talking with (or, more accurately, listening to) Roger outside of Gary Arlington’s shop as the last time I saw him, though I can’t even remotely pin down when it was. We had not crossed paths for a while, and he was not holding things together as well as he used to. My eyes, ears and nose told me that I had never met a person who was that intoxicated and still standing upright on two feet.

    I must remember more than that, though, because I also remember that I liked him better than I liked his comix, which seemed full of sexual images that did not attract me and violent images that did not disturb me.

  23. kim deitch says:

    Thanks Pat. After I get my current book done, I hope to do a few more in this vein and perhaps some more different sorts of things for this site.

  24. Jeet Heer says:

    I was going to write Kim a note along the lines of what Patrick just wrote. Kim: after you finish you current book you really should think seriously about writing your autobiography, with this portrait of Brand as one of the chapters. It could be an illustrated book, like some of the chapters in the Deitch Pictorama book. Or it could just be straight prose. Doesn’t matter. Just write down these stories!

  25. Excellent piece. Touching. Thanks so much Kim.

  26. Bruce Simon says:

    Lesie, I’m thrilled that Don was able to salvage a box of Roger’s files. It would be fascinating to see them again. They were both great people and I was glad to call them both my friend.

  27. Tom Conroy says:

    Hello Kim….My friend Paul Kirchner just mailed me a print out of your article about Roger. For many years Roger was one of my best friends. I was the one that brought Roger and Michelle to New York City at the end of the Summer in 1966. They stayed at my place on East 6th Street. This was about a year before I knew you and Trina. When Roger and me left Berkeley/San Francisco the plan was for him to help me buy and sell old Comic Books out of the apartment on 6th street. We were back a few weeks when my friend Bill Pearson asked me if I wanted (or knew anybody that wanted) to work for Woody. I turned it down, but Roger JUMPED AT THE CHANCE saying something like “Oh my God….work for Wally Wood….who wouldn’t want to do that”. To me it was a JOB…..I don’t like having a “job”. I just turned 69 and have not had a “job” in 49 years. I was a little upset, but understood it from Roger’s point of veiw. I first met Roger when I was 17 and living in Tucson, Arizona. He had come down there with his parents and was staying at his Grandmothers place. We became instant friends after meeting in a local used book store. It was good knowing someone else that liked comics. When he went home we stayed in touch by writing letters and trading comics through the mail. On my 18th birthday I hitchhiked to New York to pursue my dreams of being a boy cartoonist. Try to get work in 1960/61 sucked. Even the pros were not working. I would hitchhike out to see Roger in Pinole, California and stayed with his parents. We then spent our time scrounging through old book stores looking for comics. Roger was still in High School at the time. This is when I met Joel Beck. Over the years I had some really good times with Roger. I was living with him and Joel when Joel did the first under ground comic “Lenny of Laredo”. It was followed by another comic I think called “The Prophet”. At this time my “wife/girlfriend” left me because I turned down a high paying job on Madison Avenue drawing story boards for TV commercials. I remember in New York when you and Spain and Roger all headed out for San Francisco. I didn’t see Roger much after that. My girlfriend Carole also moved to Frisco and opened a store where she sold old movie posters. She became friends with Trina. When I would go visit Carole I would always look up Roger. Yes….I met the BIMBO. She seemed like a “big fat ass biker chick”. As time went on each time I saw Roger he seemed to be going more downhill. The last time I saw him he was homeless and living in Point Richmond. Joel was also there. I met this girl that would rent him a room in her apartment if he could pay her. I gave her the money and sent her a check every month from New York until I heard she threw him out. The last I heard he was working for somebody that owned a laundry. He was folding clothes. Roger was truly a great guy a good friend. One of the best. We had some really good times.

  28. kim deitch says:

    Tom. amazing to hear from you after all these years. I am glad, very glad, to hear you are still among the living, [and sounding as bright and articulate as ever at that.] Thank you for these insightful comments.. They give further dimension to Roger’s story. I thought about you while writing this and was on the verge of including a scene in this with you in it, but decided in favor of discretion. It is all too easy to start treating human beings in a too cavalier manner in situations like this. And I am pleased to have you here in this manner, speaking for yourself instead; and very well at that.

  29. Kim, thank you for this terrific retrospective on Roger Brand. The insights you provided about Roger’s day-to-day (and year-to-year) life are invaluable for underground comix enthusiasts like myself, who believe the personas of the era are even more interesting than the extraordinary comics they produced. The additional perspectives from Bruce, Leonard and Tom in the commentaries add even greater depth to the brilliant yet tragic arc of Roger’s life.

    Your recollection of the comic Banzai was particularly intriguing for me, as that book includes one of my favorite comics from Roger; “In More Innocent Times.” It also features one of my favorite vintage works of yours, “Anthropomorphism.” The image of the original cover artwork is so cool with all the handwritten notes (were those yours, Beck’s or Brand’s?). Especially amusing was the note about the inclusion of “Adults Only” on the cover, which was ultimately added for the printed book.

    I agree with Patrick’s plea for more stories like this from you. I know you are a “forward-looking” guy and that’s the same way I would be in your shoes, but you are also one of the last remaining pioneers of the underground movement that still has the capacity to reflect so beautifully as you did in this article.

  30. kim deitch says:

    Well thanks Steven. I don’t want to turn into the go to guy for nostalgic articles about Underground comics or anything else. I’m not very nostalgic about my own past, However, I’m willing to keep it in the mix and contribute something like this from time to time. I agree that Bruce simon’s and Tom Conroy’s comments greatly enhance this piece. that impresses me; quite a bit actually. The Banzai cover was originall done by Roger alone, but that cover and title was rejected by Denis Kitchen. I forget what the original title was. I don’t know whose handwriting is on the Banzai cover except to say that its not mine. The neatness of it points to the possibility that it might be Roger’s.

  31. Bruce Simon says:

    It’s Roger’s handwriting on the cover notes.

  32. Jeet Heer says:

    Kim: it’s fair enough that you don’t want to be Mr. Nostalgia (doesn’t Crumb have that title?). On the other hand, I think the 1960s and 1970s are far enough in the past that they tie in with the central theme of your work (memory and history). You’ve already done some great comics about the period — I’m thinking here of “Two Jews From Yonkers” and “The Cop on the Beat.” “Also alot of the old underground guys like Brand are dead so it would be good to some first hand record of what they were like as flesh-and-blood people. And you’re one of the most honest writers I know, so a memoir from you would pack a punch (as this Brand essay did). Of course you should follow your Muse where she takes you but think some more about this….

  33. Tom Conroy says:

    Kim. Hello again. Yes, I am still alive. I’m living in a small town in Northwest Nebraska (Harrison-pop. 250). I would like to tell another Roger Brand story. Summer of 1961 I took my second hitchhike trip to visit Roger at his parents house in California. I talked him into hitching back with me to New York City. First we would hitch to Pasadena and visit his friend Joel Beck. Joel was drawing for “Box” greeting card company. Roger wanted to hang with Joel for a while, so I hitched to Tucson to visit my Mother. When I returned to L. A. Roger informed me he had found where one of our idols Warren Tufts (Casey Ruggles and Lance cartoonist) was living. We called on the phone and he invited us over. We were thrilled to be in his house. Tufts talked to us for hours and said something that stayed in my head for years. “I spent ten years of my life chained to a drawing board. Trapped. No breaks. Constant deadlines. Nothing but bullshit from all the asshole newspaper editors. When they wanted me to do Lance as a 1/3 page strip, I quite.” Tufts dropped us off at “Dell Comics” and introduced us to a guy in the art department. We left there with about a dozen pages of original art by Alex Toth. This was one of the best days in our lives. Not only had we met one of our GODS, but we had also received MANNA FROM HEAVEN. Later Roger changed his mind about going to New York and at the end of summer he drove back up north with Joel. They dropped me off on old highway 66 and I thumbed my way back east. I spent 5 years trying to talk Roger into going to New York. A year later he drove to N. Y. with two friends of his. The trunk of the car was crammed with old comics and newspaper strips from the 40’s and 50’s. We spent a week selling comics to everybody I knew so they could get gas money home. I think that was when Roger first met Al Williamson. I tried again to talk him into staying. No go. He went back to California. Roger lived another 2 or 3 years with his parents. When they moved to Nevada he moved in with Joel Beck. This was all back in the early 60’s before we became drug addicts. I didn’t start using speed until 63/64. I guess Roger and Joel started about a year later. Remember, Joel did the first underground comic stoned on speed and booze. Roger was not as adventures as I was. He liked living at home with his parents. I asked him once how he could live like that. His reply was “Hey. This ain’t bad, they feed me, they pay the bills, I got a free place to stay”. I was just the opposite. I was doing the OUT ON YOUR OWN, NO DIRECTION HOME, LIKE A ROLLING STONE way before Bob Dylan ever sang about it. I liked hitchhiking, jumping freight trains and sleeping under bridges. In the late Winter of 65 my world fell apart. Meth had done in most of my friends. I crawled out of San Francisco with my girlfriend and daughter to Berkley. I stayed with Roger on Grove street. He saved my life. He provided SHELTER FROM THE STORM and gave me a place to stay. It was wonderful. Later my friend Paul MacKlaren moved in. Roger and Joel liked having us there. We were their “beatnik buddies” from San Francisco. Paul later became Flo Steinberg’s boyfriend. He met Flo later in N. Y. through Roger and Michelle. A couple months later my girlfriend and kid left. I was in misery. But being with Roger was a great help. Roger was very funny and we would laugh so much our ribs would hurt. I don’t think Roger ever knew how much of a BLESSING it was having him in my life at that time. I stored all my comics and art with Roger and hitched back to New York at the end of the Summer. I came back a year later and was finally able to talk Roger in going back with me to N. Y. This time I had a car. We packed all our comic books, strips and original art and shipped it by truck. Jumped in the car and headed out for the next big adventure in the big city. Roger was by far one of THE BEST FRIENDS I HAVE EVER HAD. I am getting a little teary eyed writing this. Later I would like to post one more story. It is a nice story about Roger and Gil Kane….

  34. R. Fiore says:

    One might balk at being Mr. Nostalgia, but there is such a thing as being Mr. History and Mr. Memory as well. I know you love your flights of fancy but I’ve always thought you were absolutely fascinating in your work when you’re dealing with actualities.

    I always thought getting the gatefold for “Anthropomorphism” in Beyond the Pale was my great triumph in my time at Fantagraphics. That and convincing Gary to separate the comics and sketchbook material in The Complete Crumb.

  35. kim deitch says:

    I will answer all of these interesting comments this week end, but, there is one that I think will not wait. Tom, your comments are TOTALLY amazing. I am confident that I am speaking not only for myself but also for Journal editors, Dan Nadel and Tim Hodler, when I say, please, make all the additional comments on this that you feel like making. As far as I am concerned they are nothing less than priceless. And I would not say it if I didn’t mean it.

  36. Dan Nadel says:

    Yes, we heartily agree with Kim. Tom, please do post more when you can. These are truly remarkable accounts.

  37. Bruce Simon says:

    Just wow, Tom! Thank you for all the great stories of Roger’s life before I knew him, just amazing. I laughed very hard with Roger too, no one laughed harder than Roger when he got going. Did you know Roger and Joel’s friend Paul Rodgers as well? They were like the Three Musketeers and Paul could draw in a style reminiscent of Walt Kelly and quite well too, but never for publication. He was a scholar and appreciator like Roger was, but without the drive to do comics himself.

  38. Tom Conroy says:

    Bruce…..Yes I also knew Paul Rodgers….he was another great guy and also a very good artist. I think it was Paul that called me when Roger died. I was in N.Y. running my photo agency (Movie Still Archives….do a web search). The last I saw Paul was about 1980. I went to Frisco to visit my girlfriend Carole. We went over to Berkeley so I could met my daughter who I had not seen in 15 years. We spent days hanging out with Paul, Roger and Joel. We also hung out with Joel’s old girlfriend Carol Verlinden {(I hope I spelled the name right). I took a lot of photos of us all together. It was great reunion with all our old friends. If you see Paul tell him I said “Hello” and I am doing fine…….Tom.

  39. Tom Conroy says:

    Hello Again. I would like to thank you guys for the nice words. I do not know what year this was, but I think my days as a comic book dealer were coming to an end. Roger came to my place on 6th street and said his friend Gil Kane was looking for old “Cisco Kid” newspaper strips by Jose Salinas. After scrounging through a stack of wooden milk crates I found some. It was a nice little stack about 2 or 3 inches high. When I asked how he knew Gil Kane he said he was working for him. He was his assistant. I thought that was really cool, so when Roger asked what I wanted for the strips I just said “Nothing…just tell Kane they are a gift”. I hadn’t seen Roger in a while and thought that if a great artist like Gil Kane had hired Roger, that Kane must be a really good guy. This is the rest of the story as told by Roger when he came back the next day……..Roger told Kane there was no charge for the strips, they were a gift. Kane asked who my favorite artist were and Roger told him Russ Heath and John Severin. Kane started digging through a closet and came out with a pile of original comic pages. “Here, tell your friend Tom that these are also a gift”. When Roger

    came in with the stack of art I was just blown away. It included a complete “American Eagle” story and cover by Severin and Bill Elder. 4 or 5 other “Eagle” pages by Severin. About a dozen D. C. war pages by Russ Heath and John Severin. A fantastic

    Joe Kubert D. C. war page and a couple covers by Neal Adams. Man, that was a great day. The reason I am telling this is to show how honest Roger was. I spent about 5 years dealing comics and at least 50 to 60 percent of collectors are a bunch of goddamn scum bags, con artist and thieves who would steal you blind the first chance they get. Roger could have kept the pages and I would have never been the wiser.

    When Roger was working for Woody he called one day and asked if it was okay for Woody to publish one of my drawings. Roger had shown Woody some of my artwork. The drawing appeared on the inside front cover of Witzend #4. It was the only art I ever had printed and I thought it was an honor that Woody used it in his Magazine……….Tom

  40. Tom Conroy says:

    Okay, it’s late at night and I can’t go to sleep so here’s another Roger story. This is one Roger told me. This is the early years….63/64. Through some strange chain of events Roger and Joel ended up living in a garage. You know, like where you keep your car in the suburbs. Of course there was no toilet. They had this huge vase that they used as a urinal. It was about 4 or 5 feet tall. Thin at the top and round at the bottom like a turnip. When they needed to take a leak they would climb up on a foot stool and pee into the vase. Knowing how much drinking they were doing they probably were doing a lot of pissing. Somebody ratted them out so after a while the city served them with an eviction notice. Be out by so and so day. So they call some friends to help them move. On moving day a cop car is there and their friends show up with a pick-up truck and another car. The street is lined with all the neighbors watching the event. You know, these are all straight clean cut citizen types. One of their buddies who is this big strong joke football type guy pikes up the piss vase and carries it out to the street. Roger and Joel start saying to the guy “Easy. Easy. Careful. Watch out. Take it easy”. The guy sets it down on the street and the bottom breaks out. Now this is on an incline and the piss starts flowing down the street. All the citizens start gagging and wretching……end of story.

  41. kim deitch says:

    Tom. Yes. Major point. Roger was a good person. and an honorable guy. It kills me when I hear people who have no first hand knowledge of him making light of him. I remember when Roger did that jolt for selling LSD, a magazine devoted to underground comics called Cascade ran a very disrespectful bit on it with a carnival tone. “Roger Brand’s in jail! Yes old Roger’s in the cooler” and so on in this flip manner. I have seen similar things more recently among comics fans on facebook. One guy, whose name I will not mention, busted in on a conversation I was having with Bob Beerbohm on facebook about Roger with the most callous and disrespectful remarks about Roger. This guy didn’t know Roger. He was just taking a flip cheap shot, I guess, just for the fun of it. You’re right. all comics fans are not created equal.

  42. Kristine says:

    I believe that Roger gave most, if not all, of his artist files to Don Donahue. I saw 2 big boxes myself (I bought the Joe Maneely file from Don, and I’m so grateful that Roger made it). The Kirby files were enormous, and I know Don kept those, as well as many others. When Don died, I contacted his best friends/executors, Ana and Natasha, and let them know that the files existed and are priceless (while appearing like worthless garbage to most people). I’m sure they’re keeping them safe.

    Double earthquakes in Berkeley yesterday – centered under the Dwight/Derby campus. Rock and roll!

  43. kim deitch says:

    The cornerstone of my Bill Everett file is stuff Roger gave me years ago. He also gave me a lot of Eisner stuff at a time when I was out the window for him.

    Double earthquake! I’m sorry to hear it. Good luck and I mean that too.

  44. Bruce Simon says:

    I’m thrilled to hear that so many of Roger’s files survived! Y’know there’s is a book here somewhere, these collective memories are very powerful.

    Tom, it was Paul Rodgers that called me about Roger’s passing as well, the last time I saw him around town was in the early 90’s. I should try scaring him up, he was a very nice guy.

    Kim, regarding the people who were making light of Roger, if they had known him they never would’ve talked of him like that. Say, what you will about Beerbohm, and you didn’t, he did do a good deed to employ Roger as long as he did. In a story like Roger’s, there’s always a bit of residual guilt about maybe not having done more for Roger, but the truth is that once he was on that downhill slide. he made no effort, that I could discern at least, to change course.

    RE: the quakes. Yeah two shakers yesterday. They weren’t so big as shakes go, but they got a lot of attention as they were centered right in town under the UC Berkeley campus on the Hayward fault, so they packed a jolt. Also, they fell between the 22nd anniversary of the Loma Prieta quake and the 20th anniversary (today) of the big Berkeley/Oakland Hills fire of 1991. I had a bunch of little stuff fall over, but no biggie.

  45. peter kaprelian says:

    Great Wowee stuff—The underground of The Underground. It was good to see B.N. Duncan’s name mentioned (repeatedly), I liked his stuff in Weirdo, the little of it that I saw was enough to infect my drawing for a while, so thanks to the person who put his art up!

  46. kim deitch says:

    Bruce You be careful out there! What I said was not meant as a criticism of Bob, but of someone else who horned in on our conversation. I think Bob is a good guy. Where is Paul Rogers? I have been wondering about that the last few days myself. As to turning this into a book, I have been getting this weird feeling that it IS turning a book right before my eyes. I’m starting to remember more and more things including a few that I’m not so proud of; must be some of that residual guilt you are talking about. I knew there was something else I wanted to mention. It was Barry Siegel who called me and told me of Roger’s death which may have been the last time I ever spoke to Barry.

  47. patrick ford says:

    Reading this stuff I imagine Crumb sneaking peaks at Aline’s laptop when she’s outside doing Yoga on the terrace. Crumb is such an incredible letter writer it’s a pity he doesn’t comment in that way anymore. All his letters to TCJ should have been in the Library volume.

  48. Bruce Simon says:

    Kim, I wasn’t referring to Bob Beerbohm, I thought I made that clear. He did a good deed by employing Roger. Yeah, there were times that, in retrospect, I’m not the proudest of either, but again, if you let Roger stay and stay and keep doing his thing, that would’ve been the end of getting any work done or getting anything else done. Sad, but so.

  49. Tom Conroy says:

    If you “do a book” I can send you any old photos I can find. I still have a pile of his pencil drawings and lay outs. Mostly work he did for East Village Other. My girlfriend Carole moved into his old apartment on 4th street after he and Michelle went to Frisco. I salvaged all the stuff he left behind. My other best friend is Paul Kirchner, who also worked for Woody. It is kind of strange that Paul and Roger never met. I guess Paul came to N. Y. after Roger moved. By the way….Paul just built a web sight for all the old DOPE RIDER strips he did for “High Times”. Is a great sight. Check it out. Just punch in DOPE RIDER.

  50. kim deitch says:

    Leslie. I’m glad you liked the piece. I hope all is well with you and Adam. I’ve been walking around for years with this story kicking around in my head right down to the title; just couldn’t bring myself to actually write it up till now.

  51. kim deitch says:

    Duncan wrote great letters to all kinds of comics. And they must have just about almost always printed too. I forged one in one of the Stuff of Dreams comics, with his permission.

  52. kim deitch says:

    I think Duncan was pretty damned interesting. What’s more, I liked him. He’s another person who I wouldn’t mind eventually writing a whole piece about. Curiously, when I knew him in Berkeley in the late 70’s and early 80’s, I was still a drinker but he really wasn’t. it was only in later years that it hit him. And it caught me by surprise. Seemed symptomatic of his just kind of giving up. It definitely killed him before his time. I exchanged a lot of letters with him right up to the end. I even used him as a hero in an unpublished story I co-wrote with a guy named Fred Dortort called Evil Avenue; kind of a Telegraph Avenue murder mystery. In it, among other things, he gets to fuck this really foxy Jewish chick. I thought it was pretty good too, but somehow it never got beyond the story point and a few experimental drawings. In the introduction of Hollywoodland you can see one I jammed out for it with Spain

  53. kim deitch says:

    Thanks Matthias. I hope you’re doing well, Man.

  54. kim deitch says:

    I agree. His powers of expression are immense and dead on.

  55. kim deitch says:

    Jeet. there is something in what you say below. and I fully intend to do more stuff like this in good time. One of the things about comics has been the way they have tended to hold onto that great elusive thing in popular culture longer than in other places. Golden age comics, in spite of their witlessness , certainly held that gaudy lurid sense of fun that old movie posters and movies themselves had longer than movies did. And then in the 60’s Crumb almost single handedly brought that sense of the classic back to comics, [and to the world at large,] in a way so spectacular that it is almost beyond measuring. I think I was trying to do that myself in my own feeble way. But Crumb proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that it could be done AND HE DID IT. He made the whole proposition seem worthwhile and I have been following in those giant steps of his ever since.

  56. kim deitch says:

    Bob I owe you a debt of gratitude about including the gatefold in Beyond the Pale. Also for the way you helped me the stay focused in the written introduction of that book, And , as I said to Jeet, there will be more of this stuff eventually. The wheels are turning and considering future, s subjects. I basically wrote this one as payback to Dan Nadel for indulging me in my long, off topic music series, but I don’t regret writing it and I’m so delighted by the way it seems to be continuing in the added comments of Roger’s friends. My friend Bruce Simon is, right now, trying to track down Roger’s friend, Paul Rodgers to see if he’d be willing to weigh in here with some more observations.

  57. Tom Conroy says:

    On another one of my visits to see Roger was when I found out he was a musician. He was still with his parents and going to some Junior College near Richmond. He had a couple friends that he played jazz with. They would come to his house and practice. Roger played trumpet. He and his friends would go into Frisco and listen to Miles Davis and other Jazz men when they were in town. At this point in my life I had just discovered Lighting Hopkins and John Lee Hooker so I liked the Blues more than Jazz. Most people never knew about his other talent. Roger was a VERY VERY GOOD TRUMPET PLAYER.

  58. kim deitch says:

    Tom. I do remember Roger mentioning that he played trumpet, though I hadn’t thought of it for years until your mentioning it just now; also his interest in modern jazz. That he was actually good is interesting. To hear Roger tell it in his usual self depreciating way that, one way or the other, was not apparent.

  59. kim deitch says:

    Does anyone have contact info for Michelle Wrightson?

  60. Tom Conroy says:

    When I was a comic dealer in 61 and 62 Roger was one of my main sources for comics. Roger knew about every store in the bay area that sold comics. Times were different then. In the Oakland book stores an old comic from the 1940’s sold for a nickel. Some times we would really luck out and pick up a nice run of Planet Comics or All Flash for a nickel each.. Roger knew all these collectors in Oakland. Three of these guys had a closet filled with comics. I would offer them something like 10 or 20 cents per comic and then spend hours cherry picking through the stash. I would pay them a deposit and then box up the comics. After hitching back to New York I would send them a Money Order and they would mail me the comics. I would then sell the comics for three, four or five bucks each. There was no grading of comics in those days. Most collectors were so thrilled to get the comic they didn’t give a shit if it had a 1/2 inch tear on the cover. Roger couldn’t believe how much I was selling comics for in N. Y. In those days old E. C. comics were selling for two or three bucks each and that was like pulling teeth. In Oakland they sold for a nickel. Now Roger was a very smart guy and he starting stashing up comics. That was how he got the car load of comics he brought to New York. Also in the Oakland area were all these bound volumes of the “Oakland Tribune”. After the paper had micro-filmed the old papers they sold the bound volumes to the public. Each volume had one month of papers. Roger had an uncanny way of finding these. These were a treasure trove of newspaper strips., the best being full page Sundays of Buck Rogers and Tarzan by Hal Foster. Our big buyer for the strips was Al Williamson. Roger was ecstatic. He was a big fan of Al’s and now he was selling him comic strips. Scrounging for comics was a big adventure for me and Roger. I loved every minute of it. Those early years with Rog were some of the best years of my life and I look back on them with great fondness. That Summer in L. A. in 61 Roger bought a complete run of Superman comics from issue number 4 to number 25 or 26. He paid fifty cents each. Another thing we did was hitch into Frisco and visit the library. We would check out bound volumes of the “Tribune” and “Examiner” and hack out comics strips with razor blades. I loved Roy Cranes work and got the first few months of Buz Sawyer. We both loved Caniff, so we went after the Terry and the Pirate strips. We got the first run of Tarzan dailies by Foster and also the first 30 full page Sundays. I lost them on one of my hitchhike trips to N. Y. We shared the Caniff collection. One day in N. Y. I went over to HELP magazine and met Harvey Kurtzman and Bill Elder. While there I noticed some art work lying in the garbage can. I pulled it out. It was an entire detailed layout for a GOODMAN BEAVER story. I asked Kurtzman if I could have it. He said sure. When I left Kurtzman said I could come back and go through his garbage can anytime I wanted. I hitchhiked across country with that artwork and traded it to Roger for the Caniff strips and a stack of comics with JOE MANEELY art. The strips burned up in the fire Bill Pearson had in Arizona. Roger had those Kurtzman layouts for years. They were one of his prized possessions. Remember, they came from a garbage can. This thing with Roger, the collectors and the comics went on for a few years. When I would be selling some comics to some body in N. Y. and they would try to whittle me down on the price my attitude was “Up yours….I just hitchhiked 6,000 miles to get this comic…go screw yourself”. Roger became buddies with Kurtzman later in N. Y. One night around 81 or 82 Paul Kirchner took me with him to a party with a bunch of cartoonist. They had just done a book about Cats. I saw Kurtzman there and he asked about Roger. All I could say was “Chug-a-lug….To much booze” Harvey bent his head down and in a sad tone of voice said “I understand”

  61. She’s on Facebook. So is Isabella Fiske.

  62. kim deitch says:

    Pat Good point. And I talk to Ladybelle all the time. I’ll follow both of those up.

  63. kim deitch says:

    Tom. Another fantastic post. I remember Roger showing me some of those Kurtzman layouts. and it’s true. He really did treasure them.

    I remember first meeting you all the way back in 1966. You were working out of somebody’s store. You had shoulder length hair, still somewhat unusual in ’66 and all these metal clips with notes clipped to your shirt and pants. I was looking for Spirit sections which you never seemed to have and occasionally bought Captain Marvel comics from you. That was at least two years before I met Roger.

  64. Tom Conroy says:

    I’m with Roger at a New York comic convention. We’re trolling through the dealers tables. Roger buys a Roy Rogers comic and right in front of the guy he tears out a 4 page Alex Toth story. Takes out a pen and writes on the top left corner the comic title, number and date. Then hands the comic back to the guy and says “Thank You” At another table he buys a comic with a nice Reed Crandall cover. Tears off the cover and hands the comic back to the guy. I loved seeing the look on their faces when he did this and I know Roger got off on it also. He buys an Atlas western comic and tears out the Al Williamson story. He tears off the Joe Maneely cover and hands it to me. The guy is standing there with his eyes bulging out and his mouth hanging open. The dealer is going “Duh…Duh..Duh” Roger says to the guy in a real cool way “We don’t collect comics….we collect artwork” I loved it.

  65. Tom Conroy says:

    I sold comics to Simon first and later met you. That must have been the pad I had on 6th street. Do you remember the day I was yakking with you and Spain up at the East Village Other office. One of you guys said ” That asshole Timothy Leary is in the front office” So I walked in to check him out” He was strutting around like his shit didn’t stink. I came back and said “You guys are right….he’s an asshole”. I was no TIM-O-THY-LEARY fan and I also hated that scumbag Abbie Hoffman. I almost punched him out one day when he went to grab my camera.

  66. kim deitch says:

    Yeah I remember meeting Abbe Hoffman and Timothy Leary at the East village other office; Jerry Rubin too. It must have been Spain who called Leary an asshole because I will plead guilty to still being under his spell when I was introduced to him. Abbie Hoffman, not so much. He tied to get me to do some work on a propaganda comic called Conspiracy Capers for no money. And I knew he was raking off plenty from all of his various enterprises. On the other hand Jerry Rubin’s wife talked me into doing some illos for a book by Jerry. I was no fan of Jerry Rubin, but that gig paid and paid and paid for years. I got the impression from talking to Jerry’s wife that she was the real brains in that enterprise. she came off as well spoken and charming. As for the way Roger collected comics, I don’t think anyone EVER forgot Roger’s story tearing routine who saw him do i. Another cartoonist Jim Osborne picked up the same habit from him. I remember trading Jim a couple of nice Smash comics. He tore the Lou Fine jobs out with all of Roger’s aplomb. I guess Jim handn’t got into Jack Cole yet because two perfectly fine Cole jobs were still in the books when he handed them back to me. I have them yet.

  67. Tom Conroy says:

    I also used to tear the stories out of the comics. I don’t know who started doing it first, me or Roger. The reason I did it was to save room. When I was doing my “dharma bum/beatnik” thing I didn’t stay in one place to long. This way it was less stuff to move. I also did it with covers. I had my Joe Maneely and John Severin covers glued in scrapbooks. I still collect old Atlas western and war comics with Heath, Maneely and Severin art, but I don’t cut them up anymore.

  68. Tom Conroy says:

    This is another story Roger told me. It is the early 60’s and him and Joel Beck are at a beer bash in Berkeley. It gets loud so someone calls the cops. The police give Roger and Joel a quick pat down and put them in the back of a police car. Now at this time Joel had this huge “Jerry Lee Lewis” pompadour hair- do. It was really big. They had some Dexadrine pills on them and didn’t know what to do with them. Joel takes the pills and starts sticking them in his hair. When the cops get them and the other party goers to the police station they strip search everybody and throw them all into this big jail cell. Joel sits down and starts shaking out his hair. The pills all land on the floor. They pass out the pills to their friends and everyone sits there all night stoned on speed. The cops let them go the next day.

  69. Bruce Simon says:

    My head is spinning with these amazing tales, Tom! The comic collecting scene back in the 60’s was as wild and wooly as can be imagined. I’m sure you were familiar with the Cherokee Book Store on Hollywood Blvd, with its comic attic overseen by the owner’s son, Burt Blum. At the top of a long staircase were towering stacks of thousands of old comics, all a dime each, which lined the entryway to the Inner Sanctum, Burt’s lair, with the oldest of the oldest and rarest of the rarest, along with Big Little Books and any other comics collectable that you’d care to have. I first went there in the latter days of 1964 and even then ECs were two bucks a throw and MAD #1 was five bucks. I still have the set of MADs I put together there now almost 50 years ago, those comics were barely a decade old when I bought them.

    I’ll keep reading these stories as long as you care to tell them, Tom! I’m on the trail of Paul Rodgers, I have a list of almost a dozen people by that name in the area from Berkeley north to Crockett, some of them deceased unfortunatly, and I think with a bit of phone work, I’ll find him. He was a great and funny guy, I was sad to lose touch with him. If I find him, I know he’ll be thrilled by your memories and all the attention paid to Roger and Joel here and hopefully he’ll have some tales to contribute as well. I don’t think I’ll ever get the picture of Joel Beck with a pompedour out of my head.

  70. Bill Pearson says:

    Tom Conroy insists I make a comment, so here goes, even if it might contradict him a little bit. I had some contact with Roger Brand through Conroy and science fiction fanzines but had never met him in person until I was stationed near Monterey California, in basic traing for the army, and took a weekend pass to visit Roger in San Francisco. That was in 1961. Roger was still a teenager, living at home.with his parents. A bright, ambitious young man.
    Years later he showed up unexpectedly at my apartment in Manhattan. He had some artwork he’d done, including a few comic book pages, which showed potential. I asked him what his plans were. He said he guessed he’d be looking for a job. I picked up the phone. Without saying hello, I said ‘I’ve got a young cartoonist here who’s looking for a job.’ After a short conversation, I wrote an address on a slip of paper. ‘Go see Wally Wood tomorrow, after noon.’ I told him.
    Now if Conroy had mentioned Wood to Roger before this meeting, he was sure a good actor, because he appeared stunned with just the chance to MEET Wood, much less be applying for a job with someone who was already a living legend, and one of his major idols.
    I haven’t had many opportunities to change anyone’s life so directly, but it was a turning point in Roger’s life, and worked out for Wood too.
    Tom’s anecdotes about he and Roger scoring old comics for bargain prices early in the 60’s reminds me of an occasion about 1966 or ’67 when I heard about someone miles away from New York City who had a lot of old comics for sale. Dealing in comics was a sideline business for me in those days. I asked Roger if he wanted to go along for the ride, and we made the trip.
    The grouchy old guy we met had the equivalent of about five or six long comic book boxes, but the books were in regular closed cardboard boxes, and he didn’t act too eager to have us spend a lot of time examining them.
    I opened one box and flipped through about 20 comics, Roger looking over my shoulder. There were several ECs, some nice early DCs, and I realized this was a major find. I was wondering how much I should offer. A thousand dollars? Two thousand? ‘There was a guy here yesterday,’ he said ‘ who offered me a hundred dollars.’
    ‘I’ll give you a hundred and fifty right now,’ I said. Out of earshot, as Roger and I were carrying the boxes to my car, he whispered ‘I saw some ECs in there’.
    ‘I saw them too,’ I said. Comics were fast becoming hot collectibles, but I managed to score a few myself before the prices reached astronomical heights.
    Roger was a good friend, but I never saw him again after he moved back to California. Such talent dissipated in gradual suicide. What a tragedy.

  71. Bruce Simon says:

    John, thanks for posting this witzend story by Roger. This probably the first work I ever saw by Roger, long before I met him, when I ordered witzend by mail order from Wally, like so any others. I couldn’t help but notice the Toth and Sy Berry influence even at my tender age, but Roger always had a joker in there to make sure we didn’t take the stories too seriously, like the mustachioed villain.

  72. Tom Conroy says:

    In 1972 Carole and I hitched to the first “rainbow people…gathering of the tribes” thing in Colorado. We camped in the woods for a week with the hippies and then hitched into Frisco. We stayed with Roger and Michelle when we got there. It was nice to sleep indoors again and use a toilet that flushed. ROGER WAS DOING GREAT. HE WAS IN HIS PRIME. He was drawing a comic strip that was an advertisement for a porno theater. It appeared weekly in a sex paper. And as I recall, Michelle worked at the theater in the ticket booth. What stands out the most about this visit is that Robert Crumb had loaned Roger his old sketch books from when Crumb was a kid. This was work he had done when he was 10 or 12 years old. There was about five books and most of them were four panel comic strips that looked alike like the Peanuts strips by Charles Schultz. Roger told me that only a small number of people had seen these and I felt like some kind of archaeologist who was reading an ancient manuscript found in a pyramid. They were funny. Crumb was as crazy at 12 as he was at 25. Roger made us feel at home and we stayed there until Carole rented an apartment. I had not had any speed since I left New York and Roger was pretty straight then too. We had a great time. Anytime with Roger was always fun. After awhile I hitched back to New York.

  73. Chance Fiveash says:

    Kim, thanks for posting this. I’ve been a fan of Rogers work since I discovered undergrounds about 20 years ago. I knew that he assisted Wood and Kane, but other than that he was just one of the mysterious early underground figures that people rarely wrote about or mentioned. I certainly hope you find time to share more memories when your schedule allows.

  74. Art Spiegleman was the first UG who kind of “looked after me” in terms of an UG Career (an oxymoron for most of us). He got me in the door of Tops Bubblegum. He insisted I meet Wally Wood, which I did. Wood at the time was inking Gig Kane’s stuff, to tie him into the Brand saga. Or was it the other way around? I think it worked both ways. Had a framed, signed Walt Kelly on the wall of his small mid-town hotel room. Yes, he’d seen my work in Rat News. “If I had it all to do over gain,” Wood advised me without a trace of humor, “I’d cut off my hands.” So much for a young boy’s idol giving advice. I was one of the many “underground cartoonists” who flocked to San Francisco in 1970 or so. Where I met practically everybody, including Roger and Michelle, who could’ve been the poster-couple for the movement, except they were way too clean-cut, happy, and friendly. Especially Roger, whose enthusiasm I remember…for my work, for his, for life. Years later, when Shary Flenniken and I were breaking up, she wished I “didn’t wind up like Roger.” “Huh?” I asked. “Whay’d’ya mean.” He’s like an animal, a drunk, a mess.” The pics here, which I thank you for, remind me of the Roger I met in the early 70s, who looked me in the eye with a twinkle in his, and was so full of life and interest in me and, I’m sure, people in general. Didn’t know he played trumpet, but no surprise. Most UG cartoonists I know seem to be musicians on the side, amateur and o/w, and the trumpet has such soul. Not much more to add, except knowing Roger only briefly and superficially, it is nice NOT to know all the baggage, interesting as it is. But to have a memory of a young man so wholesome, interesting and interested, I’ll never forget that upbeat tune he played. Ironically, in light of much I’ve read, he seemed by comparison to me almost straight (!) in the “not so hip” direction the meaning had back then–not complex, not miserable or depressed, like a frat brother welcoming me to a party of underground mad men. And maybe that was it…he was a pro, amongst people trying to tear apart the rules.

  75. Grant Joon says:

    A couple years back I was looking for information online on Lowell Pickett, one of the pioneers of the SF porno film/theater scene, along with Alex DeRenzy and the Mitchell Brothers. Pickett and his Sutter Theater and company Leo Productions was considered the artiest of the bunch and unlike the others, few of his films have survived and there’s little info available on them. While trying to find out more about one such lost film called STRAIGHT BANANA (a “Bonnie and Clyde” send-up, I guess), I stumbled across an ebay listing for an eight-pager style tie-in comic drawn by one Roger Brand. It cost too much to buy and I’ve never seen much reference to it online, but I wonder if it was Pickett’s theater for which Roger Brand was drawing the weekly strip and at his wife worked at? Tom, you don’t happen to remember the name of the strip or what it was about, do you? (Incidentally, I remember reading that Justin Green was renting an apartment at the time from Pickett’s partner Arlene Elster).
    It should also be mentioned that the two anthologies Brand edited, TALES OF SEX AND DEATH and REAL PULP COMICS, are both very good and very underrated—and that’s no small praise considering the mediocre quality of many UG anthologies once you got past the big guns (ZAP, BIJOU, ARCADE etc).

  76. kim deitch says:

    I remember Arlene; knew her slightly so she must have been involved with The Sutter Street Cinema where Michele worked as the ticket taker for a spell. She used to let us in for free[ us underground comics hounds,] so I was over there a fair amount. It was kind of fascinating those early days of the porno film. In a way in was like the Nickelodeon era all over again. First it was just shorts. Then at a certain point features began to be introduced with a certain amount of fanfare. I think I remember that tie in comic you are talking about too that Roger did. He did other ad art for those early Pornos that occasionally appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle; probably the Examiner too. AIso, I am floored, amazed and thunderstruck by all the great posts that have appeared here in the last few days I’ll get back over here and do some responding to them on the weekend.

  77. Hi Tom
    Lots to commemorate about Roger, and much of interest about comics and the psychedelid era. It’s interesting the way these areas overlap. The comics fans who did or didn’t become flower children. The flower children who did or didn’t stay into comics.
    To illustrate, I recall your name from when I was a comics dealer as a kid in the mid-sixties. Then… I was at that first Rainbow Gathering too. Bruce Simon and I were kids together — we were in PE together in Junior High … became comics fans at the same time, did fanzines … and then whatever happened with the undergrounds, too. Kim, I remember meeting before the Berkeley underground con and maybe at a party at Gary Arlington’s. Best wishes to all.

  78. Kim, thanks for asking me to read this. I’m so glad you did! It brings many memories back, though I knew Roger not nearly as well as you and many others. I thought he and Michelle were a gorgeous couple and very kind, and I was rather in awe of his drawing ability (didn’t really know about the speed, or if I did, I didn’t argue about it). I love that kind of detailed, shaded, intricate drawing. In any case… those who know me at all will perhaps remember me as the
    “old lady” of Art Spiegelman during the late Sixties. I was with him when his mother died, and also with him during his breakdown a month or so before (I’m the “Isabella” mentioned in the Prisoner on the Hell Planet part of MAUS and one of the “friends in Vermont” who later makes an appearance in another part of MAUS.)
    So… where all this goes re Roger, is this: when Art and I needed help– desperately– we were broke and needed a place to stay after having lived for several months together and forcibly apart in a very ugly situation, Roger and Michelle took us in and let us sleep on the floor of their lower east side apartment. Thank you, Michelle. And Roger, too.
    I actually did not know that Wally Wood had shot himself, which is something the rest of you all have known a long time. I’m so sorry. A great artist. I knew he was dead, just not how.
    I think Roger was a great artist too, he just didn’t give himself the chance to develop in every way he could. I’m very impressed by these drawings of his. May he be long remembered! Excellently written article, too, Kim. Did Art see it?

  79. Tom Conroy says:

    I just found a bunch of old photos I took of Roger, Joel and their good buddy Paul Rogers.

  80. Inkstuds says:

    I love that. I have done the exact same things for comics with Toth stuff in it. Only i would just get them bound in a big book together.

  81. Tom Conroy says:

    I have a bunch of Roger’s drawings sealed up in a plastic bag. It has not been opened for 40 years. I opened it tonight. I scrounged through piles of stuff to find them. I live in a warehouse filled with photos , movie posters, comics and toys. I would like to explain how Roger worked. He did not do his pencils on the comic page like other guys. His pencils were first done on tracing paper. Then he would fill the back of the tracing paper with pencil lead and from that he would trace the drawing onto the comic page for inking. My guess is that if he screwed up the drawing he wouldn’t have to do any erasing, just start fresh with a new one. A lot of the drawings are of just one figure, while other drawings include the whole panel. There are a lot of drawings and it will take me some time to go through them. I am also finding some that are just done in ink with no pencil lead on the back. I am just guessing again, but it looks like he sometimes would ink on the tracing paper before he inked the page, just to see how it looked. A lot of the drawings have dialog balloons done in real light pencil. These were left behind at the apartment on 4th street. As I recall, they were laying all over the floor.

  82. Bruce Simon says:

    Amazing, Tom! What a wonder that these still exist. I would like to see your warehouse someday!

  83. kim deitch says:

    Joe. I liked your comments. In fact I found them to be extremely compelling. You allude to your own personal demons, but here your are, alive and articulate. So you must have turned things around at some point. What was that like for you? What would be your , [up from Wallace Wood,] message be to young aspiring cartoonists? I ask as this is an area of ongoing interest to me.

  84. Rob Clough says:

    Patrick, do you read Mineshaft? There are long letters by Crumb (including stuff from his dream journal) in every issue! Plus lots of drawings. Anyone on this thread interested in the undergrounds and early 80s alt-scene needs to start buying it now, and then get back issues. You’ll eat it up.

  85. Tom Stein says:

    Kim, thanks so much for this post! I’ve been a fan and collector of Roger’s art ever since I first laid eyes on it in the fanzine, Voice of Comicdom. I’m glad to see all of Roger’s friends and acquaintances weighing in here. Does anyone know of a checklist of Roger’s published work? Also, I’d like to know what was the first and last of his material to see print. Thanks again for this long overdue tribute!

  86. John Farwell says:

    you’re welcome, Bruce.

    this post has exposed me to a lot of Roger’s work, and his lettering stands out for me amongst the other facets of his work. i’m a sucker for notable and personable lettering styles like Toth’s and Wood’s, but Jeff Jones is one of my top top faves when it comes to lettering, and Roger’s reminds me of his. a lot.

    …i just read further down below, in Tom Conroy’s note of his unsealing of his cache of Roger’s originals. (i have always wanted a warehouse home…) -Tom, please seriously consider getting that pile scanned. i understand it’s a fairly good-sized pile -which is all the better. considering this post’s journey up to here, i would guess there are resources available one way or another to help get it accomplished.

  87. patrick ford says:

    Rob, Absolutely.

  88. Michele Wrightson says:

    YOW!! What a post to get on this fine autumn morning in upstate NY, on my 70th birthday. I’m glad some people remember him, and us, in a good way. I must say I don’t have such positive memories. And it was so long ago. Since then, I worked at Marvel, married, and had, and mostly raised as a single mom, two sons now grown up. It feels as though I’ve been around for about 100 yrs.

  89. Where did I “allude to [my] own personal demons? Okay, never mind…

    Upon further reflecting, I don’t think Roger and Michelle Brand were poster children for anything outside of being a cute couple that began to crumble. She was always quiet and cool, he seemed always intense and enthusiastic. Maybe I wasn’t so hip after all. Odd to think Roger may have been the misfit…he had actually worked the comics assembly line with the likes of Gil Kane, inking buddies with none other than Wally “If I Had It All to Do Over Again, I’d Chop Off My Hands” Wood.

    Roger hadn’t learned, like we had, how to make it up as you go along, while smoking copious amounts of herb. Did he feel he was somehow cheating? At the time I described Wood, he was drawing Agent Thunder and even some of Marvel’s romance comics (though these last, of course, he didn’t sign).

    About “cutting off his hands”–Wood said that for effect, but the affect on me was confusing and scary. At the time, there was probably only one cartoonist in the world I held in higher regard, if that was even possible, and that would’ve been Jack Davis.

    Despite the fact he made millions of dollars, my oldest brother (the youngest member to get into the Boston Symphony) was a cheap drunk. Alcohol killed him. Fortunately, my metabolism is different. I couldn’t drink a fifth in front of him and pretend to be sober (he could). I was a lightweight. But it’s in our blood. I quit for four or five years. Felt it was “safe” after that recess to have one or two beers during family dinner. I had a third one day and found myself still rummaging through cabinets for any fix. The scary part was the sun was coming up. I decided I didn’t want to “be there” again. I did read some of the amazing AA book—“The Book”—a few years ago, and while it’s not Sunday reading you feel “compelled” to finish, I really liked how they compared those who had problems with alcohol to be no different than people who were allergic to, say, moldy comics.

    So if it’s like an allergy, then there is no moral judgment attached, no gutter-crawling shame, no need to even preach. It sure ain’t the Temperance League. “Drink all you can stand,” I say. “I’m fine with that seltzer.” In fact, many in AA seem to enjoy going to bars and hanging out. They’ve conquered their demons. They know they’re allergic, not like (most of) the other barflies.

    “What would be my message to young aspiring cartoonists?” Depends on how young, so I’m gonna go with real young. Say, middle-school. I didn’t exactly make a go at what S. Clay Wilson called “Art with a little a.” I am more involved in music. There seems to be a similarity to rock and UG Comix and maybe (who knows?….not me, I haven’t read many) graphic novels. I know I’m gonna get my chops busted here, but I don’t think either demands a high skill level in therms of “chops.” Because if you had what Roger Brand had, and was drawn to the likes of us, he must have felt in some way that something fun and meaningful was happening that wasn’t happening at D.C. Comics. As, obviously, did Wood. With comix, especially that S.F. scene, lack of ability could be charming—innocent. It could turn a Rory Hayes of the UGC Movement to what Rousseau was to the Renaissance.

    How to evaluate a youth’s art? My message would be to evaluate it on its own terms in the here and now with honesty, confident that even if it could even possibly be “bad,” just its happening was “happening.” If they seem overly sensitive, I’d just settle for pulling my hair out than cutting off my hands! Seriously, if it had even the slightest spark to it, I’d bless it and let them know they “done good.” I’d find a “glass half full story to pull out of it.”

    This wouldn’t be hard for me because I am, and have always been, a huge fan of children’s art. Children, like schizophrenics, have no censorship in that brain-to-hand response….its like a directly conduit to god or something. Their hands are moved by being moved. They nail it in one take. This should be encouraged. The whole UGC movement, as I talked to Art later (early 80s, I think) about a class he was giving at the School of Visual Arts in NYC, had morphed into this “new wave” of cartoonists, who, like Sneeches, where proud of their lack of assembly line training, or back-of-the-buss “chops.”

    I’ll end on a musical note (Roger played trumpet, and Taps was discovered 150 years ago during the Civil War). With classical music, with bluegrass, even playing heavy-metal, one has to have chops. But … was Lead Belly really the King of the 12-String guitar? Were John Lee Hooker, Lightnin’ Hopkins, or Charlie Patton the greatest guitarists? No, cuz they’re in a medium where style is favored over chops. Like Keith Richards, you can recognize any of them within 2 or 3 notes. There’s no doubt. And this style belongs to them.

    I love children’s art. I always have. Better than magic, cuz there are no secret tricks. Their brain and thier hand by focusing on the piece(s) of art we are looking at. What is it I’m looking at? Why is this so? I would try to understand, but not judge or suggest it be otherwise. I side with Jung here—it ain’t me who’s writing the story, and I can even pollute it! Unless they asked a technical or craft-orientated question. Then I would probably “answer” it by drawing my explanation, quickly and roughly, so they saw, but not so it diminished their’s.

    Just becasue children’s art is “out there,” doesn’t mean it isn’t fragile. As are they. In another year or so, they’ll look around them and see guys like Joe Schenkman and Roger Brand who can “really draw.” Shit! It’s all they do!

  90. kim deitch says:

    Roger must have had some 6th sense about Bernie Wrightson. I remember one time Bernie’s name came up in conversation. this was when he was still with Michelle. Roger said, “You know I just don’t like him.” When pressed he said, “I couldn’t say why, but I don’t.” It struck me odd at the time as Roger generally had a good reason, that he was willing to share, for most things he said. So when I heard later that Bernie and Michelle had gotten married, I was not exactly stunned with amazement.

  91. Larry Hama says:

    Happy birthday, Michele! Yes, it is a bizarre string of anecdotes to fall from the sky all at once! Missives from people I hadn’t heard from in years. Stories that dredge up other memories… I think I met you and Roger at Larry Ivie’s apartment in 66 or 67? It also came back to me in a flash that I first met Tom Conroy at one of Calvin Becks screenings of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis at the old McBurney YMCA on 23rd St maybe in 66. It was Bill Pearson’s mention of the vest with paper clips that was the Proustian Madeleine.

  92. Paul Kirchner says:

    “If I had it all to do over again,” Wood advised me without a trace of humor, “I’d cut off my hands.”

    That is so Woody. I recall him returning from the Phil Seuling July fourth Comic Con where a fan told him that his work had inspired him to try to become a comic book artist himself. “Great,” Woody responded, “another thing for me to feel guilty about.”

    Woody used to say that being a comic book artist was like serving a life sentence at hard labor in solitary confinement. Whew–cheerful guy. Nevertheless, there were times he really found joy in his work, like when he was doing the first volume of The Wizard King, during the time I was assisting him.

    Good to see my friend Tom Conroy posting some of his memories here. I always felt Tom could write the definitive history of the Sixties scene, if he set about to do it. There is no end to the great stories he has to tell.

  93. Tom Conroy says:

    I flew to Frisco sometime in the mid 1970’s to visit Carole. After a couple days of searching I found Roger living in a cheap hotel in the tenderloin. We went down to the store on the corner and bought two cans of beer. The clerk says to us “Would you boys like a bag for those” and he puts each can into a small brown paper bag. We get outside and Roger says “Gee…that guy talked to us like we were a couple bums”. I pointed at our reflection in the plate glass window and said ” I wonder how he got that impression”. We both started laughing. Yea…we looked pretty mangy. When we got upstairs Roger told me how he had lost a bunch of his comic art files. I guess he had been moving around a lot from place to place. He was upset and I told him how I understood because I also had lost a lot. It was my own personal art that I had drawn back in the early 60’s. Comic pages, illustrations, etc.

    “Hey….I got a bunch of your old stuff” he says.

    “You do”.

    “Yea….you want it back. I’ll give them to you”.

    He bends down and pulls out a folder from a box of his comic art files and hands it to me. I couldn’t believe it. There was at least twenty drawings and some zerox copies of my art going back to 1962.

    “This was stuff of yours you stored with me for safe keeping back in Berkeley”

    I was thrilled. So was my girlfriend Carole. This was work she had never seen because I had not met her until 1965. I was very happy. Today I still have those drawings.

    I saw him a few years later and he was not doing so well. He was living in a dingy pad in the Mission district with our old friend Paul McKlaren. Paul told me how there was no more good speed around. What you could get was crap and not worth taking. By now Roger said he had lost more of his comic files. Some of them had gotten stolen. He was drawing a single panel cartoon for a neighborhood Mexican newspaper that came out once a week. He was getting paid five bucks for each drawing. By now I had quit speed and was only smoking reefer when I could get it. It was sad seeing him like this. No matter how bad he got he still had that great sense of humor and it was always good seeing him. The next time I saw him was in 1981.

  94. Tom Conroy says:

    Hello Larry…..I think I first met you through Paul Kirchner when I was living at the movie poster store down on Cooper Square, not through Calvin Beck, but I might be wrong. I tried to stay away from Calvin. He used to call me on the phone and do his “heavy breathing” thing. He did the same thing to Bhob Stewart. This is when Bhob was doing “Castle of Frankenstein” magazine for Calvin. I hope you are doing well. Is Gil Kane still alive? If he is maybe somebody should send him this post. I also knew Larry Ivie.

  95. Bruce Simon says:

    By 1981, things were bad, bad, bad for Roger. That was the year Roger drew his last strip with Siegel’s script and my layouts and it was a mess, his drawing ability was shot. The story was RICKY & DOOF in SAN FRANCISCO COMICS #7, luckily he had an old unpublished story to contribute as well that was ok, so it wasn’t a total debacle. In 1982, my partner in comics, Barry Siegel, was going out with a gal who worked for a framing shop/art gallery in Berkeley and she offered us the space for a comic art show if we’d put it together and would mat and frame stuff gratis, to boot. Sounded like a party, Kim had already left town for LA, but Roger and Joel were on board for a show and we framed and matted lots of pages by them, by me (as Siegel & Simon) and perhaps more artists I can’t recall. We had a wild opening with cheap wine, beer, a film show of cartoons and films in 16mm which became less an art opening than a all night drunken bacchanal. By that time, Joel was starting to show up at my apartment at all hours to hang out, drink and what-not, but my dear Jackie put an end to that, toot sweet. Ai yi yi.

  96. Tom Conroy says:

    Hello Paul….Glad to see you come on board. I am very glad I never became a cartoonist, even tho I was pretty good artist. I am glad I went into the photo business. Had I become a cartoonist I would probably be living in New York and scrounging for my next meal. Now I am living with rednecks and cowboys and scrounging for my next meal.

  97. patrick ford says:

    There are a lot of bad things which could be said of the internet, but this post and the comments are amazing.

    There is real humanity on display here. Nacked honesty and naked love.

  98. Bhob Stewart says:

    Kim’s haunting memoir and this flow of comments prompted me to post the story Roger drew from my script back in 1968. Here’s “The Witch Doctor of Borges Island”.

  99. kim deitch says:

    Bhob. That is new to me and fascinating to see. I think it also points out part of WHY Roger’s story has generated so much interest. It lives in more than one world of comics and shows where the mainstream comics world and the newer underground aspects of comics met and overlapped.

  100. Tom Conroy says:

    Roger’s father brewed his own beer in their garage in Pinole. He showed me the whole operation on one of my visits from New York. He said it was legal to make beer, but not to sell it. Roger told me how their dad would take them to this park and he and his younger brothers would run around and pick up beer bottles. His dad would sterilize the bottles and refill them with his own home brew. He had a machine that recapped the bottles when they were full. His dad was a kind of quiet guy and I did not ever see him drunk. I mentioned to Roger one time how nice I thought his Mother was and how nice she treated me. He said she was a big phoney and HATED MY GUTS. It was his dad that liked me. When Roger and Joel were in high school they were “teenage drunks”. Joel had a car and and they did a lot of driving and drinking. I can’t even remember some of the stories he told me. Where did they get the booze? Was it from their dad. It seems even as a kid the booze was always a part of his life.

    Joel Beck got kicked out of school when he was about 10 or 11 years old. Being a artist he was using the walls of the boys bathroom as his canvas. He was doing drawings of Mickey and Minnie and Donald and Daisy fucking. They let him back into school when he promised to not do any more artwork on school property.

    Roger’s younger brothers (Terrel and Evan) stayed with him in Berkeley in 1965. Terrel had some kind of strange decease. Part of his face was paralyzed and that meant he would not live long. When I returned in 1965 Terrel had passed away. When he was dying in the hospital he gave Roger his life savings of $400.00 and made Roger promise that the money was only to be spent parting. With great pride Roger told me that is just what they did. “We didn’t even buy food. Just booze and stayed drunk until the money was gone”. Hey….how can you not like a guy like that.

  101. kim deitch says:

    Tom. that last post is something I will never forget. Roger and Joel. It’s a lot to take in.

  102. Tom Conroy says:

    Kim….It was on the trip to Frisco when Roger was with the “fat ass Bimbo biker chick” that I could see which way he was going. I was at their pad one night. Me and Ms. Bimbette were doing a joint and Roger didn’t smoke any. I asked why and he said that “Weed and booze don’t mix……I’m not smoking anymore….I’m just drinking”.

  103. kim deitch says:

    Reading all this stuff I’m starting to feel, did I really know this man? Or was I just hanging out with him? I still like him but I don’t approve of the way he lived and died. I always thought weed and booze mixed pretty good, although it is NOT my current point of view. I’m with Joe Schenkman on the booze issue. If you like it fine. I sure don’t object to people I like drinking it around me. But for me, my answer has always always GOT to be,[and has been since 1983], no thanks. It’s not for the likes of me. I’ve got too many Irish genes rolling around in my worthless hide. And I’m mighty grateful to the greater powers of this strange wonderful universe that I am now able clearly understand that. It took me a while to get to that point.

  104. Steve Stiles says:

    Not to detract from Kim’s article on Roger Brand and the early daze of ug comicdom, but are you the same Tom Conroy who was friends of Bob Krolak, back in N.Y. in the 1960s. I met you once; think one of us sold the other some comics.

  105. Tom Conroy says:

    Steve…..Yes, I knew Bob Krolak……the last time I saw him was in San Francisco back in the mid-1970’s.

  106. kim deitch says:

    A couple of Wallace Wood yarns that Roger told me. This first one came in response to me telling Roger about how Bill Griffith lost a portfolio containing his just finished six page story for Thrilling Murder Comics. [he had to do the whole thing over.] “That’s nothing,” said Roger. “One time Woody had just finished a story of comparable length. He leaned back in his chair and stretched when a gust of wind blew in from an open window and swept the whole job up and out the window and it was never seen again.” The second had to do with Wood’s ability to bring worn out brushes back up to snuff. If a brush had developed wild hairs from overly rambunctious use, Wood had the nerve and ability to pull a brush through the flame of a cigarette lighter at just the exact right speed to singe away the wild hairs but not damage the rest of the brush. [Don’t try this at home on your precious Winsor Newtons kids.] Personally I swear by the advice Will Eisner gave me about brushes. Wash them frequently with soap and warm, not hot, water. I always think of Eisner as I frequently wash my brushes in warm water. They don’t get wild hairs. They just get thinner and thinner as they descend into respectable old age. A slightly worn out brush is often the best brush in that twilight stage just before it’s no good anymore; but I digress.

  107. Ed Gauthier says:

    Kim, the stuff above is easily interesting enough to form a long magazine article, if not an actual book of sorts. I’d love to see from you an Eisner style “Shop Talk” kind of thing printed someday, with different sections on various creators you’ve crossed paths with. As one of the majority of comics collectors of the big two “legit” companies over the years, I used to tend to write off undergrounds as a brief comet that flashed by between 1970 and 1980, so all this early ’60s to late ’60s background being filled in is nothing less than sensational. It would be great if you could devote more time out of your busy schedule on this fascinating stuff. Much as you felt with Roger, we’d likewise like to see a big chunk of Kim preserved for posterity!

  108. kim deitch says:

    Believe it or not, when I was 16, I met the great Harrison Cady and a fascinating old gent he was too.

  109. “Wood had the nerve and ability to pull a brush through the flame of a cigarette lighter at just the exact right speed to singe away the wild hairs but not damage the rest of the brush.”

    After a brush was too far gone for inking, you could still use it to fill in blacks, a job assigned to assistants like me.

    It might even have an afterlife as a Snopake brush. Snopake came in a bottle with a cheap applicator brush set into the cap. You could pull that brush out and replace it with a sawed-off Windsor Newton, which worked much better.

    Snopake was the white-out that Wood preferred, and it really was great stuff to ink over, though no doubt horribly toxic. A lot of Wood’s originals have a noticeable amount of Snopake on them where he worked over areas. When I learned it was going off the market, I scoured the art and stationery stories of Manhattan to buy up whatever I could find. You could keep it going indefinitely if you had the solvent, but when I went to a chemical supply house to try to procure some I think they assumed I was setting up a meth lab.

  110. kim deitch says:

    I’ve learned so much doing this and no mistake! And I want to thank everyone, especially Bruce Simon, Tom Conroy and Joe Schenkman for their terrific, thought provoking contributions. But at the end of the day, it’s a bad story. Fascinating for a certainty, but all about what’s to be avoided as much as anything else. If you want to sashay around in the world, trying to cut a cool figure, and your general world view is pretty much saying everything is just a futile and empty exercise, well, that becomes your boxed in reality soon enough and you have nowhere to go. You have to believe in something bigger than yourself even if you don’t quite know WHAT that something is. Roger was a good guy. And in his own perverted, weird way he was an honorable person. But where is he now?

  111. Ted Jalbert says:

    Great article! Roger Brand also drew for Warren comics. He drew stories for Creepy (issue 31 and others). This article really brings a new dimension to this name. I remember seeing the Banzai comic when it was first published, I must have been 13 years old, and I was fascinated by the cover of that book.

  112. John Farwell says:

    hi Tom,

    wanting to recollect that frontispiece to Witzend #4 that you did, i hunted it down and finally found a scan of it. now i remember! i loved that drawing. it was simply a lovely unpretentious and nicely done sketch by someone named Conroy. in the midst of all the big guns in Witzend, that caught my attention like a whisper. and now, a zillion years later, there’s a human behind the piece.



  113. Peter Kaprelian says:

    “Art with a small ‘a’ ,” thanks to Joe Schenkman for this great S. Clay quote. It’s gold, a real dust-kicker in the attic that is my brain.

  114. sammy says:


  115. Aaron Caplan says:

    Tom, that story was hilarious! I also just looked at your Witzend #4 illo. Nice!

  116. Tom Conroy says:

    I would like to tell one of my favorite stories from when I was selling comics. I had just traded Roy Krenkel some old WEIRD TALES pulp magazines for a nice run of MAD comics from issue number 3 and up. They were in great condition. On the very top of the cover was written “trading copy”. To me these were instant cash. I sold from my apartment and it was by appointment only. Next day a guy calls for Mad comics and I told him to come over. This sharp dressed guy with slicked back hair comes bouncing through my door. He whips out his wallet and flashes a wad of money and says “Hey man, I’m for real and I got the money to spend”. I knew that second he was going to try and screw me. I told him this is how it works “If you buy more than a couple comics I’ll give you a deal. This will be a take it or leave price. Anything you try to whittle me down on will be added on to the total. Understand”. He says “Yea”. I repeat it again to him real slow just to make it perfectly clear. He says “Yea, I got it” and we shack on it.

    He picks out about 8 or 9 comics and I tell him the best price I can do is $40.00. He says “Forty bucks….no way man…I’ll give you thirty”

    I put the comics back on the shelf and walk him towards the door. He says “Okay man I’ll give you forty bucks”

    I pick up the comics again and tell him they are his for the new price of fifty bucks.

    He says “FIFTY BUCKS”. I say yes and reminded him of our price agreement. By lowering my price to 30 he brought the price up to 50. I said do you want them for the new price of 50. Take it or leave it. Do you want them or not.

    “No man… I’ll give you forty”. The comics go back on the shelf and I walk him again towards the door and he says “Alright…I’ll give you fifty”

    I pick up the comics again and announce to the guy the comics are his for the new price of sixty bucks. He says SIXTY BUCKS. I said yes, the last time we talked the price was 50 and you offered me 40, so that brought the price up to sixty.

    I said “Hey man, your not paying attention. we agreed on this thing about lowering the price of the comics. I just got these yesterday and if I make two phone calls they will be gone by tonight. Do you want them or not

    for sixty….going once…going twice…hey man it’s now or never”.

    He paid me sixty bucks and left. This was near the end of my comic dealing days and it was guys like him that gave me the reason to quick. I never told this story to Roy Krenkel, but I’m sure he would have been proud of me.

  117. kim deitch says:

    It’s a good story and I believe every word it too. I think you should write the story of your life. I’d get it in a minute. I got your book today and the nice art of yours. I have vivid memories of looking at some of those pictures moons ago. I will send you some comics next week.

  118. Tom Conroy says:

    Sorry folks….I can’t help myself. I have another comic story to tell. I can’t remember the year. After spending time with Roger and scrounging for comics I am on another hitchhike trip back to New York. I am lugging two suitcases filled with comics from the 40’s, a small overnight bag and a bedroll slung over my back. This is in the Summer and I just hitched across the Mohave Desert. I get to Gallup New Mexico and I am fried. I’m walking through town and I see a Greyhound Bus station. I put the two suitcases on a bus and send them to myself GENERAL DELIVERY IN NEW YORK CITY. I ship them collect for something like twenty bucks. If I don’t show up at the bus station in N. Y. with 20 bucks….no comics. When I get to N. Y. I call one of my best buyers. His name was Manny Sternshein and he worked at a big ad agency on Park Avenue. I told him I had a stash of old comics, but I had to put up 20 bucks to get them from the bus station. He says to meet him in front of the building at five o:clock. Remember, I just came off the road and have not had a bath in a week, long hair and a thin beard and I’m hanging out on Park Avenue. This the early 60’s. A big Irish cop comes up and tells me to move along……”You can’t hang around here. Keep moving”. I tell him the whole story I just told here and he says “Your friend works in this building and he collects comics” I say yes. He says “Hey kid…. that is the best damn story I have ever heard” and he grabs my shoulder and says “Just move along…it is time for you to go”. Now this is a big new fancy office building with a water fountain in front and a glass elevator going down on the outside of the building. I look up and see Manny waving at me from inside the elevator. I say to the cop “There’s my friend now” Manny comes running across the plaza saying to the cop “Officer, officer….it’s okay….. he’s a friend of mine”

    The cop ask “Are you Manny Sternshein”

    “Yes sir I am”

    The cop gives him a strange look and asked “Do you collect comic books”

    “Yes sir I do”

    “And you guys are going to the bus station” the cop asks.

    “Yes…we have to get some comics that Tom put on the bus in New Mexico”

    At this point another cop walks up to see what’s going on and the first cop says “Hey….you are not going to believe this one”

    We are trying to hail a cab and the second cop comes up to Manny and ask “Hey Mister….do you collect comics”

    “Yes I do”

    We get to the bus station, get the comics and we are doing a comic book deal in the middle of rush hour. I’ve got comics laying on the floor and Manny is picking out what he wants and putting them in his brief case. He hands me something like $140.00 and tells me to hold another 20 to 30 comics which he will buy from me next week. Now a big heavy set black lady is sitting next to me and watching all of this and when we get up to go she points at me and says “I know right off that you is crazy….but the crazy one here is that man that gives you all that money for them comic books”

  119. Aaron Caplan says:

    Hi Kim,

    This has been a fantastic exploration. It’s quite coincidental, but I just received about 22 pages of Brand original art from Rudi Franke, the editor/publisher of 60’s comic book fanzines Voice of Comicdom and Heroes’ Hangout. I opened up the package on Thursday and literally clicked on a facebook link to your blog page less than 24 hours later – incredible timing. To give you a flavor of Roger’s early fanzine art, I have posted some of it on a web page:


    The first pages of Brand original art are quite a blast from my past. They were published in Dennis Cunningham’s horror-oriented comic fanzine Weirdom #11 from 1967. It was a 6 page story called The Castle (dated by Roger as being drawn in 1963). I have to tell you, this particular Brand story had a lot of meaning for me. It was the first time I had ever seen a Roger Brand strip. I had ordered Weirdom #11 sometime in 1968, well after it had been published, from someone selling it out of the RBCC. When I received it, I was entranced by the Brand story – a bit naughty to a 14 year who could rarely even sneak a peek at a Playboy. The nude figures that Brand drew, especially the page 1 and 6 illustrations, left a pretty deep impression on my young (and lecherous) mind! I have enjoyed his work ever since.

    What I find interesting that even as early as 1963, you can see the influence that Gil Kane had on him. For example, the head and hair of Prince Arka look like they could have been taken directly from an early Green Lantern tale.

    Just in case anyone is interested, I am attending OAFCON 2011 in Oklahoma City on Nov 12th and 13th, and will be bringing some examples of these early Roger Brand fanzine pages. Go to oafcon2011.blogspot.com for more info.

  120. John Farwell says:

    OKC?? hey, i live in OKC! been here 11 years now, an emigre’ from south Florida. -where i’d spent a lot at G.B.’s place, hanging out opening mail for him. (one day a package arrived out of the blue from some guy named Rich Corben. inside was a print of a couple crawling over the crest of a dune, both bald and nekkid…) i was always entranced by Fantucchio’s sig. -and now to learn what his dayjob was is a mindblower; imagine an illustrator making a career out of drawing for the CIA!

    i did some covers for G.B. back then, with inks by Andy Warner. wish i’d done more, and inked ’em myself. truthfully i feared they wouldn’t get published lest Andy inked ’em so i didn’t argue.


    Andy’s passed on now but i believe he perhaps had some Fantucchio originals, even if only just one. if you can reach his heirs, they may still have it and might scan it for you… i have no idea who currently are G.B.’s heirs, and can only imagine whatever became of all that he had.

    i’ll try to make it to OAFCON. i’ll look you up if i do.

  121. Aaron Caplan says:

    Hi John, I definitely remember your work – you contributed to GB’s “The Golden Age” fanzine, right? I just received a 70’s zine called Fulcrum from your RBCC co-worker, John Ellis, that has some of your art too.

    Try to make it to OAFCON if you can. It looks like there are going to be a ton of 60’s and 70’s fandom types. You’ll have no problem finding me there as I will have a booth set up displaying (not selling) John G. Fantucchio original art, so it will be hard to miss!

    If you make it to OAFCON, just ask me about the Roger Brand art and I’ll whip it out … the Brand art that is!

  122. John Farwell says:


    i was in touch with John Ellis earlier this year, and found he was very involved with Milt Caniff’s estate in bringing the early 60’s Steve Canyon TV show episodes back to the light of day. John was kind enough to send me a couple of DVD’s worth of the episodes. looking now for his contact info, i believe it’s all on my old computer now in storage. (John, if you’re out there, please write me again.) anybody interested in the Caniff estate’s current doings should make note. -myself, i’d love to see that old show replace some of our local TV broadcast offerings such as ‘Hazel’…

  123. kim deitch says:

    Fascinating to see Tom’s one appearance in print. We should get some more up here. The fact is he was no slouch himself in the drawing department.

  124. Bruce Simon says:

    Tom! These stories get better and better and Aaron, thank you for posting these early pages by Roger, he really did have a Gil Kane influence from the get-go. Roger really did touch so many lives as he walked between the worlds of fandom, overground comics and the undergrounds.

  125. Tom Conroy says:

    In 1966 I left Frisco with Roger and Michelle for New York. I was with a tall blonde chick named “Huck”. The car belonged to my friend Marc Ricci who owned the Memory Shop in NYC. Roger and me did not drive so Huck and Michelle did all the driving. We are in Oklahoma cruising along old highway 66. We pull into this small town to get food and gas. As we are leaving we see two second hand stores, one on each side of the street. One of us came up with idea of looking in the stores for old comics. I go in one store and am looking around. Huck starts trying on a pair of motorcycle boots. They don’t fit so we leave. When I get across the street Roger and me go into the other store. I look behind me and the guy from the first store is out in front locking the door. He runs down the street like a madman. We ask the guy in the next store if he has any old comics and magazine and he points to the back corner. We poke around a little bit and leave. We’re outside getting in the car when a cop car come screeching to a stop in front of us. The cop throws us in the back seat of the car. The other store owner comes running up. While the cop is talking to the store owners a farmer comes up to the cop car and ask me and Roger “Hey…are you guys Hells Angels” We say “No…why” He tells us he just heard the Hells Angels were in town. The cop takes us all to the police station. Now this guy is your worst nightmare. A typical redneck southern cop right out of a bad movie. “Boy….anybody that looks as bad as you, we just tho’ em in jail an forget where we put the key” We show him are I. D. cards. I had lost my draft card, but on another card I had written my selective service number and my social security number. When I show it to him he says “Boy….we got you now. It’s against the law to have a phoney draft card….this is federal” So the cops call this guy that was like some kind of retired F. B. I. agent. He asked me all these questions about NYC telling me that he lived there when he went to FBI school. He calls Mark Ricci about me having his car. Gets that all straight and then tells me that by having my selective service number on me THAT I DID THE RIGHT THING. “You don’t need the card, just the number”. Because of this really nice FBI guy we get cut loose. I guess the guy in the second hand store thought we were a scouting party for the Angels and we were going to ravage the town, rape their daughters and eat their children. We didn’t stop at any more second hand stores on the way to New york.

  126. Michele Wrightson says:

    Larry, I think you met Roger at Larry Ivie’s or working at Woody’s. He told me he’d met a good and interesting person, and you came by a few days later. I remember first seeing you through the peephole at that rathole, I mean apartment, on E 6th st between A and B. Tub in kitchen, mattress on floor, bedbugs and roaches, screams and gunshots at night. Pass the madeleines.

  127. Richard von Busack says:

    I’m flabbergasted by these stories, and very heartened to read about all the talent that wasn’t swallowed up by a whirlpool of booze and/or other substances. I live in the city of Richmond, a few miles from Point Richmond and Pinole, and it’s surprising to think of Beck and Brand, two pioneers of ug comics, coming from here. About every two weeks or so I think of gags that were in Banzai: “5000 years of pig genocide! Laugh that off.” And there’s stuff in the Simon and Siegel comics that I still chuckle over. I guess everyone here knows how it works: this stuff has a life of its own…

  128. Rod McKie says:

    This is a bit mind-boggling for me because it brings to life a lot of the characters behind the fiction that coloured my life, so very away from where it all happened. It’s a really touching and hugely entertaining article Kim, and the comments and Tom’s additional stories are really painting a vivid picture of the human beings behind the work. I’m going to have a real good read at it later today, because it has gone 1am here now. Thank you, it’s super stuff.

  129. Artie Romero says:

    Really awesome story, Kim, and very well written from the heart. All the subsequent comments are icing on the cake. These stories really takes me back to that amazing era of Sixties fandom and UGs. I would have to say that I don’t remember much of what happened in the 1970s, much less the 1960s, in anywhere near the detail I am reading here. I must have been a lightweight when it came to the mind-altering substances of the day. Or maybe it’s just been a really long time.

    Many thanks to Bruce Simon for telling me about this story. Thank you all for a night of reading enjoyment.

    I was the editor and publisher of Cascade, AKA Cascade Comix Monthly, and I don’t remember printing a news flash about Roger being jailed. I have no doubt that the quote is accurate. I do know for sure that I didn’t write that. I’m sorry if it came off as disrespectful to Roger, who was obviously a great man.

  130. Tom Conroy says:

    Another story Roger told me about him and Joel when they were still in high school. Joel is going to pick up his girlfriend Carol Verlinden for a date. It is night time and Roger hides in the back seat of the car. He lays down on the floor so that he can’t be seen. Joel picks up Carol and they are cruising along and Joel reaches his right arm around and puts it on Carol’s right shoulder. He squeezes her shoulder for a little bit and then drops his hand behind the seat and taps Roger. Roger then lifts his hand up and puts it on Carol’s shoulder.

    Joel then brings his hand back around and puts it on the steering wheel. He is now driving with both hands on the wheel and Roger is squeezing Carol’s shoulder. After a block or two it dawns on Carol that Joel now has three hands and she flips out. This is why I liked these two guys. Their brains operated at a different frequency than most people.

  131. Groth says:

    This is going to be utterly anti-climactic, but I can say that Gil Kane would rave about Roger Brand. (This would’ve been between the years 1978-2000). Every time Gil would bring up Roger, which wasn’t that often but often enough to make an impression on me, he would reminisce fondly about the times when Roger was his assistant and about what a 1st rate guy Roger was. I could tell not only by what he said but by his tone that he had great and genuine affection for him. And anyone who knows Gil will attest that he didn’t speak that way about many people. I didn’t really know who Brand was so I’d pretty much sit back and listen without probing much deeper (unfortunately). I can’t help but believe that much of Roger’s comics education was delivered to him by listening to Gil talk as he drew all day (or night) in his studio.

    Michelle Wrightson may not remember me, but when I was 15 or 16, I visited she and Bernie, who lived in upstate NY (Woodstock, I think, though I could be wrong) and camped on their couch for three days. For me, at that time and age, that was a mighty big adventure. It didn’t get any more cutting edge to a comics fan living in suburbia. Bernie was like a God to me and for this great artist —who was then working on Swamp Thing; I remember seeing pages on his drawing board– and his wife (or what it his girlfriend at the time?) to be so utterly giving and gracious was astonishing; I still can’t believe they would take so much time out of their lives to hang out with this kid who was just hanging around all day and night. One day, we all bundled into their car and they drove to a Halloween party at Vaughn Bode and Jeff Jones’ house. That pretty much blew my mind.

  132. John Benson says:


    Reading these extensive comments has been an amazing experience. Your piece is great and Tom’s reminiscences about Roger’s early days are even more riveting. I only knew Roger for about two or three years, and so it’s really been fascinating to read so much detail about his life before and after that time. I marvel over Tom’s detailed memories of so long ago. I wish my memory was better, because those were good times and it would be nice to relive them.
    I remember Roger with great fondness. I ‘m not sure where we first met, but it could have been at Woody’s. He and Michelle both attended the monthly comics meetings very regularly for a long time, probably most of their time in NYC, which is where I got to know him well. Friedel and I occasionally socialized with them, and I remember being frustrated that they didn’t have a phone, which made plans to get together complicated. We went up to my family summer home in the Poconos for a weekend, and packed a lunch and took a long walk in the woods on a beautiful fall day. At one point, Roger climbed a seven-foot boulder that sits along a trail, and I took a picture of him sitting cross-legged like a buddha on the top of that rock, which is somewhere in my hundreds of uncatalogued slides. I pass that rock frequently in the summer, and every time I do I think of Roger perched on the top.
    We also were at Roger and Michelle’s wedding, which took place at Gil’s work-studio apartment. Were you there? My clear recollection is that Roger, when asked, “Do you take this woman…” answered, “Sure!” The event was well attended by the underground artists who lived in NYC at the time. David Pascal (an occasional NEW YORKER cartoonist) happened to come up to Gil’s at that moment, not knowing about the wedding. He was writing something about underground comics at the time and could hardly believe his luck. He went around the party annoying everyone and trying to interview them all. I think Gil finally just threw him out!
    After Roger and Michelle moved back to the Bay Area, Bill Pearson and I took a trip across the country in his camper, which was also Bill’s move back to Phoenix. I flew from Salt Lake to SF and stayed with Roger and Michelle for about five or six days, in that homely little Point Richmond house that’s pictured, with the caption “his small house is a museum of comic art,” in the feature article on Roger by Clay Geerdes that appeared in the July 1971 ROGUE magazine. At that time Point Richmond was not a very stylish place, being close to the big oil storage units. (A look on Google street-view seems to indicate that it’s now upscale.) They had dog named Big Loochie, after a character in a Goodman Beaver story. Gilbert Shelton lived two blocks away but was “royalty” and about the only SF undergrounder Roger didn’t know. At the bottom of the hill near the highway was a restaurant called Judges and Spares (“time judges and spares us all”), which was a beautiful, homey hangout, an informal community spot where everyone knew each other. That visit with Roger and Michelle was a high point for me. Roger made it a point to introduce me to every part of the bay area and its underground culture. I had a rent-a-car, so he was not only showing me around but also taking advantage of available mobility to see friends. We visited many underground cartoonists and just hung out, which may have been an annoyance for a few of them. (Your place was on the tour, and you may have been in that latter category.) We even visited a Barks fan, perhaps Tom Andrae? It was a wonderful, relaxed, idyllic time for me. One evening there was a big party, I can’t remember where. Art Spiegelman was there, and he pulled me aside and said he had something he really wanted me to read, that he’d just finished. So I went off in a corner with this large party swirling around me and sat on the floor and read the original art for the first “Maus” short story that was soon to appear in FUNNY AMINALS. I knew immediately that this was a very important work.
    I remember Paul Rodgers very well from that visit, obviously a close friend of theirs. Rodgers drove a school bus for retarded kids and told a gentle little story about how one kid had figured out that the bus made the same stops every day. I do remember that they respected Rodgers’ art and wished he’d do more. For myself, I thought the few strips that Michelle had done were great and wished that she would do more.
    Roger and Michelle were just absolutely the perfect hosts, and San Francisco seemed like an innocent paradise to my outsider’s eyes: the sense of community and friendship, the casual, easygoing life, the relaxed sense of time, the human scale of the city. The lack of a phone that was a problem in New York seemed natural in Point Richmond. I seriously thought of moving to San Francisco.
    About a year later, in the Fall of 1971, I visited SF again, this time on a trip with Friedel. My memory of that trip is not as strong, but I do remember hanging out with Gary Arlington, and I was struck by what a sweet, innocent soul he was. I had no sense that Roger looked down on Gary at that time, but rather that he seemed respectful of those qualities. Flo was then briefly living in SF, and we talked with her about our possibly moving to SF, but Flo was homesick for New York and actually considered riding back with us on our return trip.
    Until I read Tom’s mention of those Crumb notebooks, I had forgotten about them being part of that trip. I was absolutely enchanted with them. Amazingly, I prevailed on Roger to loan me about a half-dozen of those books so I could copy them on the office copier (copying that volume on a commercial machine would have been very expensive). On the trip back East we were involved in a bad accident; our borrowed van-camper rolled over twice. Friedel had cuts on her face and hand, but otherwise we were fortunate not to have been seriously injured. Sitting in the hospital as Friedel’s cuts were being sewn up, my first thought was how providential it was that Flo had decided not to come back to New York with us, because the back seat didn’t have seat belts and whoever was sitting back there could have been seriously hurt or even killed. My second thought was that I had to quickly get in touch with Roger to tell him that the Crumb books were still safe and sound. I did copy those books and returned them by mail to Roger. Later, when Fantagraphics was running the Complete Crumb series, I asked Gary Groth if he were going to run material from those early books and he said no. So I made copies of my copies of the best material and sent them to Gary and as a result of that he made arrangements with Crumb to get the originals and included some of that material in the series. From Tom’s description of the Crumb books he saw (only five books and primitive Schulz-like drawing), I wonder if he visited during the time that I had the more sophisticated books in New York.
    The last time I visited SF was in 1973 or 1974. I stayed with Spiegelman, and it was a quieter visit. It took a bit of time to track Roger down. I found him still as genial as ever, and he was sort of glad to see me, but he was totally preoccupied with trying to sign up for Food Stamps. He was being sent from one office to another and we mostly visited on the fly during these travels. Michelle had left him, but I was told by someone that he had more or less intentionally made her leave by his behavior, that she had no other choice and it wasn’t her fault they’d split up. (I don’t wonder that Michelle doesn’t remember that time with affection. I think she got the short end of the stick then and perhaps even earlier.) It was almost as though he were casting her off from a downward trip that he knew was best taken alone. It seemed clear to me that he was already on that journey on that day I saw him, even though he was quite sober. Your description of what followed would not have surprised me on that day. But he was still Roger. We ordered take-out sandwiches from a deli, and when Roger asked for provolone, pronouncing it correctly, the counterboy repeated the order, emphasizing his pronunciation as “provoloan,” which amused Roger, who gave his characteristic it-takes-all-kinds grin and shrug of the shoulders. I’m grateful to you for writing about that long downward journey, but I’m glad I wasn’t there to see it.
    I never had a sense that Roger’s knowledge of comics came from Gil. Gill provided him with some historical background and tales of the creators, but I think what Roger knew about comics, which was a lot, was primarily gained from an intense study of the comics themselves. Tom’s tales of Roger in the early days shows that Roger was strongly into old comics way before he worked for Gil. Roger’s ability to recognize the work of a huge number of artists of the forties and fifties was extraordinary. At one point, I asked him to review the Harvey horror comics to identify the art, which was all unsigned. Years later, after a combination of Jim Vadeboncoeur’s subsequent review, the comments of Warren Kremer–Harvey’s art director when they were published–and even my own nascent abilities, it seemed to me that Roger’s analysis was the best and most accurate of all.
    And Roger’s esthetic sense was his own, and different from Gil’s. In fact, Roger was interested in the art of comics more than the history, and my conversations with Roger were often about comics esthetics. He had a very sophisticated esthetic overview of the medium, and his comments about the work of other artists classic or current, were always incisive and thoughtful, not to mention sometimes sardonic. If there’s one thing that isn’t adequately touched on in all these comments about Roger, it’s this aspect. I’m sending separately an interview I did with Roger during my second SF visit, that appeared in GRAPHIC STORY WORLD (#5, 2/72). It’s a formal interview, not a record of a private conversation, but it shows how articulate Roger was. For example, his phrase, “the best hack there is, you might say,” has always stuck in my mind as the quintessential description of Joe Kubert. Note also Roger’s copyediting, which clarifies and improves readability (and how, as an afterthought, he added Kane’s name to the list of his favorite artists). Roger loved to talk about comics and that talk was always full of ideas. (I still have the tape of that interview; it would a kick to pull it out and listen to it again.)
    Roger was hardly the first or only person to cut up comics. I personally cut out every page of my own complete “Hey Look” collection from the worthless comics that they appeared in, starting before I met Roger. Larry Ivie was doing this when I first met him in 1956, and much of Archie Goodwin’s collection was clipped pages (though he’d cut them in the fifties, when the comics were new). To me it was almost normal practice. But what was so great about Roger’s doing it was his glee in freaking people out, as Tom describes so well. I especially recall how pleased he was that his cutting up a rare comic was reported in NEWSWEEK. He said that he’d repeated the story three times to be sure that the reporter got it right. (At that, the reporter screwed up and has Roger “owning” INSECT FEAR, rather than contributing to it.)
    It’s hard to pin down in words the essence of Roger from the era that I knew him. I think Joe Schenkman got it best: “the Roger I met in the early 70s, who looked me in the eye with a twinkle in his, and was so full of life and interest in me and, I’m sure, people in general…so wholesome, interesting and interested.” I was aware, subliminally, that there was a dark side to Roger. I saw it in an occasional impish harassment of someone he had no respect for that could border on the obnoxious, especially if the person was vulnerable. But this was rare. He seemed to have a marvelous enjoyment of life, he was interested in everything, always cheerful. He viewed life’s ironies with tolerant amusement, and he could make very cynical comments, but also make observant, positive observations about life. When something unexpectedly positive happened, he’d say, “Came out of THAT one smelling like a rose.” He was someone you always looked forward to seeing because he was always so much fun to be with. You felt that his devilish aspect was a sham, that he was an innocent in the purest, truest sense.
    I’m really glad you and Tom and the others have chronicled his life, the good and the bad. He’s someone who was worth the effort.

  133. I got to see Tom do this at a comic book convention when we were both working the Memory Shop table. Making money selling comics is a fine thing, but watching the look on the guy’s face as Tom kept raising the price was worth so much more.

  134. Bruce Simon says:

    John, your post was very moving, you very much captured Roger’s essence. He was an innocent in many ways and I think he was as surprised as anyone as to what happened to him. His is truly, as Kim said, a cautionary tale and, as someone who enjoyed his vices sometimes too much, a ‘There but for the grace of whatever’ tale.

  135. Michele Wrightson says:

    Tom, thank you for the “fat ass Bimbo biker chick” remark. He left me, you know, not the other way around. She basically made fun of me on her way out the door with him, so gloating and triumphant. I suppose you could say she killed him, she was such a far gone alcoholic already. Not without his cooperation, of course. Her trademark was to finish a bottle of vodka and smash the bottle in the street.

  136. Michele Wrightson says:

    Hi Gary, I do remember you, the house was up a mountain 5 miles from Woodstock. And the Comic Journals that came in the mail, keeping us country woodchucks in touch with the scene. I don’t remember a party at Vaughn and Jeff’s though. Maybe I didn’t go to it.

  137. Michele Wrightson says:

    Hi John. God. Memory is so selective, I remember some things but others not at all. We were married in a chapel at a Unitarian church, the reception/party was at Gil Kane’s. “Came out of it smelling like a rose,” there’s a memory jog. Sorry about the car crash. How is Friedel? And what have you been up to for the last, oh, 40 yrs? You could msg me on Facebook.

  138. kim deitch says:

    John. Well. that was just great!! I’m floored. Yes, I was at Roger and Michelle’s wedding and yes, now that you have brought it up, yes, I remember that guy Dave Pascal running around, interviewing everybody. And WHY he ever split up with Michelle, [ a totally great human being and just about as fine a woman you could ever want to meet,] is a thing I am still scratching my head over. I can only chalk it up as an incipient sign of Roger’s growing derangement. Interestingly enough, it was a that same time that he suddenly became a cigarette smoker; more madness.

  139. Tom Conroy says:

    Hello John…..BRAVO….BRAVO….BRAVO…A standing ovation for a great article about Roger. When Roger was younger his favorite artists were Alex Raymond, Al Williamson, Milton Caniff and Frank Frasetta. EVERYONE I KNEW COLLECTED FRAZETTA. He really liked the stuff that Al and Roy Krenkel did together. Roger and me also collected art by magazine illustrators. We bought pocket books and tore of the covers of artist like Mitchell Hooks. I was a big Frank McCarthy fan and we both were crazy for any art we could get by Noel Sickels. Roger didn’t just collect comic art, he collected it all.

  140. kim deitch says:

    PS to John Benson. John that interview of Roger that you mention. It really sounds to me like a thing that belongs here in what most certainly has evolved into a collective effort by all of Roger’s friends. Could you somehow send it or send a link to it? PPS. I heartily agree with you about Tom Conroy’s great posts.

  141. Tom Conroy says:

    Kim….As I recall the story, Woody had just finished an E. C. story and the pages were lying on a table. The wind came in one window and blew the art out another window. This was in a studio Woody had somewhere in Times Square. He ran downstairs and starting looking for them. All he could find was two pages. He was in a panic and called Bill Gaines. Bill was not to upset. What Gaines did was he PAID WOODY FOR THE PAGES HE LOST, PLUS HE PAID FOR THE PAGES WHEN WOODY REDREW THEM AGAIN. My personal opinion of Bill Gaines is that I think he was the only comic publisher that had a soul.

  142. Michele Wrightson says:

    Thankew, thankew.

  143. Tom Conroy says:

    I like what John said about Roger being cynical. He is hanging out at my pad one day and I had two fan boys coming up to buy some comics. I asked him to watch my back while I was doing the deal. These guys start talking about Ralph Reese who was an assistant to Woody before Roger came along. Their talking about Ralph getting busted for drugs and he’s a dope fiend, that Woody hired guys to do his work for him, etc, etc. Then one guy says “Wood has this new assistant, some jerk from California…….blah…blah….blah”. They are talking all this stuff about Roger. I look over at Roger who is leaning in the corner. Now all the time I spent with Roger I have only seen him get mad TWICE. We keep looking at each other while these guys are yakking away. Roger was not mad, but the word I would use is peeved. So the fan boys pay for their comics and Roger steps forward and says “Hi….my name is Roger Brand and I’m Wally Wood’s new assistant”. He was very cool, collected and cynical. I can’t remember his exact words, but he let them both know they were a couple schmucks and didn’t know their ass from their elbows.

  144. Tom Stein says:

    Kim, I have a copy of Graphic Story World #5 in front of me right now. I just finished reading the Roger Brand interview, which runs two pages. I would be happy to make a photo copy of it this morning and send it out to you today, if you’d like.

  145. kim deitch says:

    Tom. Yes. Please send it.

  146. John Benson says:

    I also have the printed version but the draft manuscript with Roger’s changes is far more interesting. I can’t figure how to send it to the website direct. I sent it to Dan Nadel (the only related e-mail address I have) when I made the post but haven’t heard from him regarding posting it. It’s 7 or 8 pages long.

  147. Read with interest Kim’s memories of our mutual friend Roger Brand. I first met Roger at Seuling Cons I began setting up at in 1970, 71, 72. The comicon road trips some times blur as I have done well over a thousand of them since 67 age 14 when I left for that first one.

    As I begin some memories here sparked partly by what i have just read thru all the comments as well, further down I will relate how Roger died as related to me by Joel Beck who was the one who found him. Michelle had asked me to write it down during a FB exchange, but my oldest daughter Katy was going thru some life or death surgery earlier this year which found me otherwise distracted for some months..

    After having been caravaning with friend Bud Plant the summer June July August, starting back in late August 1972 I co-founded four Comics & Comix stores first in Berkeley, then San Francisco as well as San Jose, then Sacramento, with the late John Barrett along with “silent” partner Bud Plant, who never worked the stores, busy as he was with college in San Jose as well as his comics mail order business. Some time in 1975 I sold out, went back to school myself working more towards a degree.

    In November 1976 circumstances had me open my first “solo” store in the Haight Ashbury across the street from what was then the old Straight Theater. Started it off with 30 boxes of comic books in boxes on the floor, a card table and a cigar box to house the change which accumulated. The 3rd and final location is immortalized in the 1995 Crumb! bio-documentary Terry Zwigoff filmed of Robert Crumb and Don Donahue talking about many of the comics on the shelves therein. Terry had talked with me quite a bit back then prior to regarding filming Robert as something might happen during the move to France.

    Before the end of that first year in 1976 Roger Brand was my first employee in this new start up with him lending his comics expertise into the mix. Don Sucher was the second.

    Soon, after scoping out his expertise working with the public in the exchange of dollars for goods, I trusted him with a key to the place so i could begin to take days off. I started him off slowly as he was in full blown lament mode over having broken up with Michelle. He talked of her most every day with some memory coming to the surface.

    I also began a process which ultimately ended in failure a couple years later trying to dry him out from the speed and “Green Death” Rainer Ale > gin & vodka he was consuming. For a while there are some success of sorts, but then he took to sneaking the harder booze which towards the end had switched to little half pint gin and/or vodka bottles he would secrete around the store. We learned this only later as I will come to that part of the tale soon enough. I had made him promise to me not to drink Rainer Ale any more. I guess his solution was to “graduate” to harder stuff, easier to hide the containers to be sure.

    Prior to this he had been coming thru for some time offering me original art including multiple Alex Toth pages, Kurtzman Little Annie Fannie work ups, both black & white as well as color plus many other pages including his work in Thunder Agents mostly inking Wally Wood as well as a “Weed” solo story he had done in TA and so many numerous pages by other creators I no longer remember as many thousands of pages came thru my hands over the years starting when I set up in 1967 at my first comicon in Houston age 14. Took a greyhound bus for 28 hours to reach that event. My first original art was a Frazetta Li’l Abner Sunday from 1956 which had cost me $12 at the time.

    I bought many many pages of original art from Roger as was done with many thousands of other people over the years.

    He took solace in his would still be around the pages (till the ones I put up for sale sold, but there were many which i kept for years, sold only when I had to pay for bi-lateral hip joint replacement surgery and aftermath healing from the repair job from which I am only just recently emerging after a long slow painful experience. I still had by then many pages of Rogers’ work, only recently and reluctantly turned over to further the scenario.

    I also distinctly remember buying or trading from him the complete story Kim pictured above She Crawls on Her Belly Like A Reptile. In fact, I still have one of those pages in the remnants of what stuff remains following a half decade in medical purgatory hell as I call it these days seeking getting both hip joints replaced with metal spike implants stemming from the vehicle accident written up in part as “On The Road” in the anecdotal Dark Horse encyclopedia Between the Panels, evidently the most famous comic book accident of its day to some. Most of that story is not in the piece. Some of it is erroneous, but I digress

    The four pager in More Innocent Times I also acquired from Roger along with many other pages during his visits as he needed cash, plus he was also still picking up old comic books to fill in his tear sheet files.

    The last vintage comic book trade I did with him was a More Fun worth then about $150 with a Mort Meskin story he needed. When he tore the Meskin out and handed me back the rest, I told him there was no way I was letting have any more of my vintage comics for any reason, that instead, recognizing a guy down on his luck, like I had been just a couple months before, coupled with his uncanny in-depth knowledge from which I wanted to glean, learn, absorb, I told him instead would he want to work for me building up what had by then become a very stable, growing clientle.

    It was only after he had been working for me for a while I began to understand and discover the depths of his addiction to “two Rainer’s are psychedelic” (as Roger described having two in a short period of time) coupled with the speed he was taking. Back then I was very naive regarding speed (or coke or H for that matter), having been into green herb and acid more so in my inner explorations days of daze.

    In May of 1977 my ex-partners at C&C moved up the street to be next to the Mexican restaurant which is now Aomeba Records first flag ship store. By then business had grown very well from late 76 thru the late spring of 77, in no small part thanks to the expertise of Roger who taught all of us working for and with me in those days. Don Sucher was also working in the Haight store. Later I learned Roger had gotten Don into speed as well. The easy access in the Haight to damn near anything one wanted proved to be too much for some who needed such a crutch, it seems. Crumb’s attack on speed he drew especially for Rory Hayes which is in Zap Comics #2 comes to mind.

    Robert Ellsworth, then building owner of the original first Berkeley Comic Art Shop at 2512 Telegraph, rented me the space John and Bud vacated. We began moving stuff in the very afternoon they moved their last boxes up the street. Many erroneously thought this second location was the vintage comics (and comix) annex of Comics & Comix.

    The team I had been assembling was focused on the back issues. We actively explored the books for who drew what inside.

    C&C was all about the new stuff, which we also carried, but they never figured out the old comics market following my departure as that had been my department when I was a partner there.

    Roger played in prominently in those days. He was becoming more accepting of Michelle having gone onwards away. He was recognizing the speed was a major cause of their breaking up. He told me this point blank. The Green Deaths stopped being his part & parcel as well.

    Little did we know he had taken his alcohol thing “underground” which, like i wrote above, he hid small half pints around both stores. He worked both places as I wanted his best assets in play teaching all the youngsters coming in asking for jobs about the earlier stuff we love so much to this day

    What also got Roger depressed and he joked about it constantly was after our friend Willy Murphy had died, his stuff was split up amongst friends. Roger told me quite a few times he “inherited” Willy’s boots. Seems Willy had had a foot rash when he died. Roger had needed a new pair of foot ware, but he also inherited this foot rash, which soon thereafter spread to his hands as well. He scratched them constantly, some times causing massive scabs. He ultimately remained good natured about it as it made him think every day about Willy, whom he missed a lot.

    But the non-stop rash, i mean it never went away, it was painful, it wore deep on him as he struggled with this “curse” sometimes wearing gloves to cover it up. He joked it was the lot of many a cartoonist to not be able to afford doctor medical stuff. Back in those days in California one could be rejected from being served by most hospitals, only the county one had to take you in. Roger told me more than once it was a curse placed on him for being dumb enough to let Michelle out of his life. That was constantly his biggest vocalized lament to me as we hard to get him focused on not losing his battle with his inner demons.

    As so many who knew him know, Roger was literally a walking encyclopedia on comic books, able to ID artist after artist with an ease which to this day still astounds me when I think about all many thousands of collectors, readers, other creators, I have known over the four plus decades I have been doing this thing.

    I feel blessed to having been able to call him my friend. We still remained friends even after his passing out in the Berkeley store one day. He knew he had fucked up royally by passing out. I no longer remember exactly what day, or month for that matter, he passed out behind the counter at 2512 Telegraph Ave. He had passed out with a half pint almost still clutching in his hand.

    My memory says Ken Lupoff was in the store that day as a customer (hired shortly thereafter, he was another joy to work with) who was still there along with Bruce Simon who had wandered in to get a $20 advance in cash on his pay check.

    Kim, I was wondering right about now if you were working the counter in my store around the same time Roger was. I know Bruce was there overlapping both of you. Mark Stichman was hired tale end of those days.

    A couple days later I put it to a vote then, as every one working for me weighed in, on whether or not we could afford to keep Roger on. It was unanimous that very reluctantly we could not.

    Saying to Roger he had to go was one of the hardest things I had to do in all the years I had brick & mortar stores in the Bay Area 1972-1994. He had become a close personal friend. He cried. I cried. There had been simply one too many “mea culpa” scenarios after which he would promise to do better. We worked so hard at trying to dry him out. I do not know how many times he claimed it was breaking up with Michelle which was the main source of his depression. This is what I remember. I do not remember any other “stuff” in his brain affecting him quite as much.

    But passing out in the store took it out of him being able to maintain some of the hours on his own. We had every one else’s paycheck on the line. Especially after losing so many boxes of old comics as no one came to his succor that day until Bruce walked in, locked the front door so no more stuff would be lost. Roger had been “out” for about 20 minutes before Bruce walked in that day by sheer lucky fate. The loss was large, how much and its particulars are of no concern here. It is hard enough to type these words as it is.

    After he no longer worked for me, he took up residence in Gary Arlington’s lower apartment space. I stopped in many a time to check on him. Many of these trip there were brought on by coming to Gary’s place to trade him newer comics stuff he needed for his store out of his then huge multiple copy stashes of Adams Green Lanterns, Smith Conans, earlier out of print UG comix, etc. Gary was the earliest person I ever knew who began speculating on multiple copies of comic books beginning with upwards of 50 of any given issues of EC comics. When he first began cracking out of this large special stash the SF issues were all of $3 each. They were so white paper pure mint. I saw my first ones which Bud Plant had for sale at the 1969 Houstoncon. Had to garb the WS #18 with its stupendous Wally Wood multiple nuclear explosion multiple space ship cover – probably still my favorite of that title run.

    Some time later Roger moved back out to Point Richmond renting space of sorts inside Joel Beck’s place. These were the days Joel was bringing me in his comic book original art pages at rent time when he was in-between art jobs which grew mighty slim there for a while many a time. No doubt to me his Lenny, Marvin, Profit comic books are some of the earliest true underground comic book books. A little known fact is Don Shenker was publisher of Father Tree Press, which did at least The Profit IIRC. One day he walked in a sealed box of 30 copies of The Profit, told me he published it. This was circa 1978 as he divested himself of most of the remaining aspects of his Print Mint days. Seems to me it was around when Lemme Outta Here, Print Mint’s last comic book, was published. The Direct Market has passed their method of distribution by, the halycon days of Seuling expansion were upon us. The distribution was no longer quite so “underground”

    I would see Joel, some times Roger as well with him, at the first of the month for about a year as I acquired most of the pages from Lenny of Laredo, Marching Marvins, The Profit as well as some of this fantasy drawings which had gone in to a portfolio my stores were able to sell slow but steady over the years.

    The catch was many of these pages had been reconfigured to go into the Kitchen comix book Joel Beck’s Comics and Stories by Roger for Joel. Roger filled in the empty spaces as the panels were cut up to format as a news stand size comic book. Being broke, they used the original art. I told Joel i would have happily paid for xeroxes at Krishna Copy then right across the street at the corner of Dwight Way and Telegraph.

    One day Joel came in by himself to the Telegraph Ave store. By then the Pier 39 store and come and gone, a casualty of a Texas oil company which had bought the 99 year lease from Warren Simmons and did not renew the leases of any one who was black, Asian, or “hippy,” the store killed cuz we carried Zap, Freak Brothers, along with Uncle Scrooge, Archie, etc. I think it was 1985 when Joel wandered in and stood there in front of the counter for many minutes. Best of Two Worlds warehouse flood was Feb 1986, same week end as Eclipse Comics HQ was destroyed by the Russian River some 42 miles north.

    He then proceed to tell me Roger had died the night before. He said Roger had been drinking, then gone to use the head. Never heard the toilet flush. After a while he knocked on the door, opening it when he got no answer. Joel said to me looking in my eyes, both of us teary, that Roger was sitting on the “throne”, one of his arms up like that famous sculpture “The Thinker”, looking like he was heavy in contemplative thought, his head up, looking out the window at the stars. Joel told me Roger looked serene.

    I still miss my friend as we all do.

  148. kim deitch says:

    Damn! Another utterly fantastic post!!! Bob. I do not think my time working at your store overlapped with Roger. It must have been post Roger. I think your post is an invaluable addition to these growing papers about Roger Brand. Really, quite moving.

  149. Dan Nadel says:

    Hi all,

    John Benson asked me to go ahead and post the corrected (by RB) manuscript for his 1972 Graphic Story World interview with Roger Brand. It’s above, at the bottom of Kim’s original post.

    Patrick Rosenkranz has also sent an interview, and Tom Conroy has provided tons of images and stories. So, at some point, I hope December, we’ll gather up all of the material in this comments thread, edit it, and set up a new post so that everyone can read these memories and ideas in a clearer and more linear fashion. Thanks for your patience.

  150. Tom Conroy says:

    Bob……During one of my visits to Frisco, Roger told me about how he passed out in your comic store and you had to let him go. He blamed no one but himself. He admitted that it was a first class screw up.

  151. patrick ford says:

    Dan, My thought is the bulk of the stuff here, and the additional material you mention would make up a great print edition of TCJ.

  152. A bit of clarity re the day Roger passed out from alcohol in the Berkeley store. Then-young Ken Lupoff had been in the store as a customer that day when it happened. Ken said Roger had slumped unconscious. Ken tried unsuccessfully to stem people picking up boxes and hauling them out. He was just a teen age kid then. He apologized to me at the time, bu there were too many of these thieves.

    Bruce Simon by serendipity had come by to gain a paycheck advance for $20. He was going some where that night, needed some good times bucks. Bruce tracked me down either in the Haight or Pier 39 store, told me I had to get over to Berkeley right away, which I did zooming in & out of traffic across the Bay Bridge.

    Ken was still there along with Bruce when i got there. Out of this scenario, I hired Ken who had been seeking a job anyway. Since he was under age at the time, he could not work the place himself, only with a “responsible” adult due to insurance restraint concepts as he was under 21 then.

    Kim, I do remember it was Bruce who approached me saying you could use some hours as the UG comix market had dried for a bit. The Bay Area UG publisher market had dried up during the transition spell from “underground” distribution, which was the original definition of this aspect of the comics (and comix) market, into what we soon called the Direct Market once Seuling added in Code comics into the mix. By the late 70s even Keith Green’s experiments of “print to order” were not working well on that level.

    It must have been soon after Roger, as there was an “opening” which weighed heavily on me, as we, all of us working inside the system I developed, had tried so hard to dry Roger out, trying to get him focused, but, it was not meant to be.

  153. By the time it had happened, I thought we had made a lot of progress with Roger, but evidently his inner demons would not let go and had him bad. In the weeks and months following Roger having to stop working for me, we found half empty gin and vodka half pints secreted around the back room areas of the place. The first time one was accidentally found, it was a heart breaker for me as I realized I had failed my friend. After half a dozen had been come across I was able to release those feelings knowing no one could help Roger. He did not want to be helped, the “Willy Murphy Syndrome” curse re the rash which had gotten heavily on to his hands and feet, and not letting go, furthering his depression on top of his pining for Michelle. Ultimately i see Roger as his own worst enemy.

    To this day I still ponder “why” those demons would not let go of a wonderful person and friend. He did talk a lot of his days with Wally Wood, some times waxing philosophically re the battle cartoonists had with the demon known as alcohol. Roger had poured his heart and soul in to helping Wood launch and maintain the Tower comics publishing schedule with Thunder Agents, Dynamo, No-Man, Undersea Agents, etc. My memory says he was most proud of those days working with Wally Wood.

  154. kim deitch says:

    That all seems to line up right to me. What a crazy world. It’s a good thing it’s all rather intersting.

  155. Bruce Simon says:

    Yeah, I was reminded by my brother that the day Roger passed out at the shop was my birthday, he was up visiting me, so that places it on September 2nd of either 1978 or 1979.

  156. then is has to be either 1979 or maybe even 1980 (?), as the Pier 39 store officially opened Oct 4 1978 which was one of only four retail outlets open on that “Grand Opening” day. Seems to me you got a-hold of me at the Pier 39 store which had been named The Funny Pages.

  157. I do wish to stress that during my conversations with Roger at Gary Arlington’s home in the below apartment when i would stop thru at Gary’s almost weekly for a long time so we could do our trading his older semi-recent “hot” comics for brand new ones so I could help Gary out to keep him going thru lean times, I kept telling Roger if he actually got serious about drying out, sort of a “we are up to today” scenario concept, I would take him back in a heart beat as many hours as he could handle.

    I think looking back Roger was also maybe doing acid when he was at Gary’s as Gary kept a small jar of it in the fridge next to the beer, etc. Roger kept in there. Some visits I would hang out for an hour or two. Taking it in as it was painful to watch his slow descent. Was never sure, but he had easy access to it.

    Some days (daze) he was more cogent than others. But his clarity of mind accepting what “fate” had brought him slowly made him more fatalistic in said acceptance. Just so any stray idle brain is maybe thinking such, I am not putting down the possible acid usage during this time span as Gary’s “personal charity” (Gary’s description, not mine just for historical accuracy) till he could no longer afford it.

    Many of Roger’s inner demons subsided then I noticed. The grudging acceptance. The acid helped. Gary was on it most of the time, I spent a lot of time with Gary during the years 1977-1990. Then I got wrapped up in my Rick Griffin art gallery in The Cannery in Fisherman’s Wharf. Once I got Rick motivated, it was like hanging on to the tail of a charging tiger. My comic book trip took a back seat in 1991.

    But Roger’s addiction to speed stayed, as well as the alcohol “cutter” so calm the meth-induced jitters it brings after too long a run. That is what some here in this thread fail to under stand on a couple levels.

    Roger’s heavy alcohol consumption was brought on as a means to cut the jittery edge from when the speed starts wearing off.

    There were quite a few other cartoonists caught up in the end game results of what Robert Crumb warned us all about in the pages of Zap Comics: Speed Kills. RIP a lot of friends no longer with us. All in all, and i do not by any stretch of the imagination mean this meanly, but I was surprised in a way, as I look back, that Roger lasted as long as he did. Part of that I want to feel is because he had a network of friends who tried their damndess to turn him around.

    I took lessons learned from my own earlier personal failure with Roger to get him motivated with life again and applied them to when I got Rick Griffin off of doing eight balls, or, heroin/cocaine mixes, like what killed John Belushi, with Rick is was back in 1991. I succeeded in getting Rick focused on his art again, restored the self pride in who he was as an artist, as well as a friend. The lead up to the gallery worked wonders. The grand opening with ten thousand plus people even more so. Nine bands over ten hours. Herb Caen was a huge fan, he mentioned the place prominently over half a dozen times as did Jann Wenner inside Rolling Stone, amongst many other media outlets.

    We were just getting that endeavor off the ground when the cosmic forces of nature’s fate intervened once again. But I do know Rick died “clean” as he had regained that inner self confidence once again. That change was so noticable to those who really knew Rick that Grateful Dead management called me several times asking my advice on how to keep Jerry Garcia clean, who only lasted to June 1995. Both Roger and Rick were just a couple of the comics creators I knew over the years.

    My figuring out how to help Dan O’Neill get out from underneath Disney in the late 70s is partially documented in Chapter 19 of Bob Levin’s book FBI published. The plan was to get dozens of comics creators to do xerox Mickey Mouse comic books, then deliver em to Burbank. Faced with 80+ law suit potentials or simply undoing the judgment of $750,000 became their options. The bean counters fortunately prevailed.

    Doing that first David Sheridan art benefit auction, got every one from Crumb donating a 6 page story long dearly departed friend Jay Kennedy won with his high bid to virtually every one else in the greated UG comix community to contribute. Scheduled a few weeks out so promotion would hopefully bring a larger crowd, Dave died a couple days prior. I drove Gilbert Shelton to the event. It quickly turned into a benefit for Dave’s unborn child his wife Dava was still carrying. Over $7K raised that week end, every penny went to Dava.

    Dava had worked for me in the Berkeley store back during Comics & Comix days late 1972 thru 73 or so, about the time Dava took up with Stanley Miller before settling in with David. There are many others, untold stories, many memories come flooding back. This has been a powerful thread. Hope I have not bored any one as I continue to recovery heal from having both hip joints replaced with metal spikes done on the same day. Pain is gone, started working on Comic Book Store Wars which covers mainly the rise of the comic book store phenom coupled with the true myriad origins of the Direct Market as first created in the Bay Area especially so when Print Mint took Zap Comics #2 national the summer of 1968 followed up with #3 later that year. I never thought Zap should be a closed club. It’s irregularity contributed to erratic-ness in being able to build a sustaining UG comix distribution business. So many many readers would come in asking if there was a new Zap. The plethora of titles confused a lot of potential readers. There needed to be a flagship title for the collective whole to ride on its piggyback. This is something Roger and I talked about a lot when he first began to work for me late in 1976 back in that Haight Street store.

    Before I got sidetracked with expansion plans for further outlets, We had a lot of fun turning people on to all kinds of fun comics. Opening up books, showing classic Wood, and a zillion other creators mixed in with the work of less powerful creators. Those were very fun times. Thanks, Roger, you taught a lot of others about some very good comics all the while regaling with stories about them he garnered hanging out with so many of them.

    Am glad Kim posted this thread, so many have responded with such positive remembrances of our friend Roger Brand. His memory cries out for a book celebrating a very unique individual loved by many.

  158. Bruce Simon says:

    It wasn’t 1980, so let’s call it 1979.

  159. kim deitch says:

    Yeah I was taking some writing courses in 1979 and that was cutting into my comics producing time; the reason I sought part time work from you. It was very interesting getting to know that side of the business. I learned a lot. and you were a good boss. Whatever happened to John Bagley? I used to laugh at his collecting Classics Illustrated until I started collecting them myself.

  160. John Benson says:

    Hi, Michelle. Memory is indeed selective. Mine told me that the ceremony was probably not at Gil’s, that if it wasn’t then we probably weren’t at the ceremony, and that Roger had said, “Sure” at the ceremony. Obviously, one of these three points had to be wrong, but to keep the narrative going rather than waffle, I chose what I thought was the most likely. I chose wrong: we were at the ceremony in the chapel, which, when I think about it, is why I had a memory that it was not at Gil’s. I haven’t worked up to using Facebook, so I’ll just say here that Friedel and I are doing fine. Hope you are too!

  161. Tom Conroy says:

    In 1983 I was 40 years old. Carole came to NY to run the photo agency. I hitched out to New Mexico to team up with my friend Milt, who I knew from my old beatnik days. Milt was the guy that Janis Joplin shared an apartment with the first month she was in San Francisco. They were not lovers. Milt and I jumped a freight train that took us into Barstow, California. From there we hitched up to see Roger and also an old friend of Milt’s. A friend of Carole’s loaned us a car and we headed over to Point Richmond to find Roger. We went from bar to bar until we found Joel. He made a couple phone calls and about ten minutes later Roger showed up. He looked a little worse for wear, but it was really good to see him. When Joel saw that we had some wheels it was decided that we all would go on a mission. That mission was a trip to Rip Off Press so Joel could deliver some pages of artwork. At this time Milt and I both had cameras so I took some photos. I remember so well the drive across the Bay Bridge and us just doing nothing but laughing and laughing. Roger was funny but Joel was even funnier. It was a great trip. When Joel was outside of Point Richmond he was like a fish out of water, so we headed back. We dropped him off and came back into town with Roger and stayed at Carole’s pad with her brother. The next day we’re driving around and a cop pulled Milt over for an “illegal lane change”. He searches the car and checks our I. D. and finds out that Roger has an arrest warrant for “failure to appear”. It was for some two bit thing like jaywalking, open container or farting in an elevator. Roger gets handcuffed and hauled off to jail. This was one of the few times I was on the road and had a lot of money on me. This was the weekend and it took a day or two of running around to get Roger bailed out. The fine was $100.00 which we paid and they cut him loose. I have never seen Roger more happy than that day when he came walking out of the slammer. We hung out in Point Richmond for a few more days, then headed up to the Russian River to see Milt’s friend. We hung there for awhile and then came back to Point Richmond. Milt really liked being with Roger and Joel. Milt was also a drinker. Roger knew this old couple that we visited with. They were old beatniks from the 50’s and had great stories to tell about Frisco in the days before me and Milt made the scene. They had a Robert Crumb drawing that was framed and hanging on the wall. They liked underground comics and Roger was like a “guest of honor” when ever he stopped in.

    One of the local bars still had an old faded poster of the NUDE DAISY DUCK WITH TITTIES painting that Joel had done. He pointed at it and said “Do you remember that one.” Then he chuckled “The money I made off that paid my rent for three years”.

    About a year earlier Joel had gotten mugged one night and had his head split open with a lead pipe. He stumbled around town for a few hours before somebody took him to a hospital. Because of the injury a lot of his memories were a little scrambled. He would talk about stuff we had done when he came to New York in 1962 and he had a lot of stuff mixed up. Also his memories of the time in L. A. with him and Roger were jumbled. I know it was head injury, not the booze. I’m not sure who Roger was staying with, but he was homeless. Some chick said she would rent him a room at her place for $40.00 a month, so before we left I gave her the bucks for two months. I sent her money for a couple months after I got back to New York, but I think it was Joel or Paul that called and said she threw him out, so I stopped sending money. Even the sad shape Roger was in he had not changed. His essence, his inner being was still the same as when he was young. ANY TIME I SPENT WITH ROGER WAS A GOOD TIME AND JOEL BEING THERE MADE IT EVEN BETTER. THOSE GUYS WERE TWO OF THE BEST PEOPLE I HAVE EVER KNOWN. I did the “Live fast and die young” thing for twenty years. I failed at it. Roger succeeded.

  162. John Farwell says:

    hello Robert,

    re: Dave Sheridan, a sidenote,

    the album covers (front and back) he did for a jazz compilation LP (‘Irrepressible Impulses’) are not mentioned in his bibliographies as far as i can find. i’d happened to have bought that great album back in the day (for Dave’s artwork’s sake) and so knew about it and sought it out on the web a week or two ago.

  163. I have been seeking off and on the ramrod guy John Bagley formerly at Company and Sons for a while now. Company came out with some neat books. Bud Plant and I used to stop in there all the time on the runs we made on a regular basis to Print Mint, Rip Off Press, Last Gasp, Gary Arlington’s, etc. Then one day he was gone as was his comic book publishing outfit. Any body know where he might be, or if he still be?

  164. kim deitch says:

    I like that very much Tom. It’s the perfect mood sketch tot go with a lot of those photos you have sending us. Bob. somebody must have hit me over the head too just before I mentioned the name of John Bagley! I definitely drank from time to time with John Bagley of Company and sons. I thought the most interesting book Company and Sons published was a very poorly drawn book called Mutants of the Metropolis. Bum art, but a great story. It would be a great vehicle for someone today who draws well but hasn’t got much in the way of a knack for writing. But the guy I was actually thinking of was an Irishman named John Whoorton who came in as a manager at your Berkeley store and who I worked under until I quit a few months later. He only collected Classics Illustrated comics. I started collecting them all these years later when a guy on our street, [East 86th] started selling them off the street for five bucks a pop. I’ve gotten more interested in illustrated fiction in the mean time and I find those comics, the best of them, to be a strangely interesting missing link in the ongoing, ever unfolding history of the various and sundry ways we attempt to use words and pictures together.

  165. John Whorten’s tenure is an interesting tale unto itself. His Classics collecting stems from then partner Gary Wood who brought him in. I had partnered up with Wood to open the Pier 39 store The Funny Pages. Christine (who had earlier worked inside Gary Arlington’s store in the Misssion) was queen bee there until Wharton brewed some bull shit.

    I am headed into a small one day show in Omaha to relieve some comics dealers of their “better” stuff for my eBay store http://stores.ebay.com/BLBcomics. When I get back in a few hours will post some stuff about what came down. Wharton was placed on a mission which Bruce IIRC played a final aspect role in when I finally got pissed off and fired the Irishman


  166. Bhob Stewart says:

    Tom mentions Joel in New York in 1962, so I’ll toss in a memory. Joel was staying in Larry Ivie’s apartment, but Larry was out of town one week. The Charles Theater on the Lower East Side ran Filmmaker’s Night once a week. I had been contacting filmmakers such as Ed Emshwiller and talking them into bringing in their 16mm films. I knew that Larry Ivie had been running around Central Park in a Superman costume for a short movie starring himself as Superman.

    I spoke to Joel on the phone and told him to bring Larry’s film to the Charles. Joel was very reluctant to do this and said, “The splices are all Scotch tape.” Finally I talked him into it, and he turned up that evening with the film. When Walter Langsford, who owned the Charles, saw the Scotch tape splices, he was fearful of running it through the projector and did not put it on the program. However, later that night, after the audience had left, Langsford took the film up to the projection booth. I sat with Joel and one or two other people as we watched Larry’s film on the giant theater screen. The special effects involved a plastic Superman toy sliding down a wire attached to a tree. I can’t remember if Joel ever told Larry about the clandestine screening, but I somehow doubt it.

    Larry Ivie, btw, has vanished. Someone went to his house in Millbrae a few months ago and found it empty. Certain people are trying to figure out what has happened to him, so if you have any info, post it here.

  167. kim deitch says:

    Yeah, I remember Bruce didn’t like John Whorton noway nohow.

  168. kim deitch says:

    Yeah! Whatever happened to Larry Ivie? Roger had all kinds of amusing and acerbic things to say about him I never met him but I really enjoyed Monsters and Heroes and all of its enthusiastic quirkiness. Now if you could find Larry Ivie, maybe we could also find out what Happened to John Stockman that other strange and unique exemplar of Burroughs fandom. Is there such a thing as Burroughs fandom anymore?

  169. Am sorry to hear Larry has vanished like this. Every time i issued a paper catalog he would order an eclectic pile of stuff. He would call me on the phone, i took every opportunity to quiz him on nostalgic scenarios of days gone past. Another fount of knowledge lore. My last contact with him was about 4 years ago

  170. Tom Conroy says:

    Bob…..I was the one that bought that plastic airplane in a toy store and rigged it all up with the pulleys so it would fly. I hooked it up with a string and it flew over one of the small coves of the Central Park Lake with rocks in the background while Larry filmed it. It was a sea plane with pontoons and it had a cardboard cut out of Superman taped on one of the wings. It worked great and we only did one shot. I think it looked as good as anything Sam Katzman did. I remember jumping around on the rocks to set it all up and Larry asked me if I would dress up in tights so I could star in his “John Carter of Mars” film. Remember me, you and Joel stood out there on Avenue B and laughed about it for at least an hour.

  171. Bruce Simon says:

    Actually Kim, I’m glad you brought the subject of John Stockman up here. Quickly, because this is a little off topic, but there are a lot of eyes here, Kim and I have been trying for a couple years now to track down the whereabouts of John Stockman. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, there was a fellow from Ohio named John Stockman that published a long-lived series of mimeographed fanzines titled TALES OF TORMENT that featured fiction, illustrated by Stockman himself, on collecting comics, pulps, newspaper strips, BLBs and the like. They featured crazed, sociopathic individuals who collected this material, published fanzines, ran used book stores and the like and plotted to cheat, steal and otherwise get one over on the other in every encounter they had. If you read one, you would be unlikely to forget it. Kim and I ran across a stash of issues in the early 70’s and recently recalled them and thought it would be great to find out if Stockman was around and see what he had to say about those days. Anyone recall Stockman or his fanzine?

  172. Michele Wrightson says:

    Bob, thank you for writing about all that. I was completely out of touch with the scene after I went back east where I belonged, Around ’74.

    I had no idea Roger ever missed me or thought about me at all, he seemed so happy and triumphant when he left me for that dreadful alkie girl. I had to make an emotional disconnect which is still in effect, I never cried when he died, I thought it was what he wanted and intended. He certainly didn’t lift a finger to stop it, did he? Hidden bottles, yuk.

    I didn’t know it was Joel who found him, oh dear. They went back such a long way, to De Anza high school, I think.

    I was afraid I embarassed you a while back, asking nosy questions when we hadn’t even met. I remember your face, though, you seemed to turn up everywhere connected to comics, in the old days.

    I’m sorry about the hip replacements, ow.

    Thanks for the honesty and the information, I really did want to know.

  173. Tom Conroy says:

    A little bit about Joel Beck when he came to NYC in 1962. This was my first year of doing my “beatnik thing” so we would hang out all night long in Greenwich Village. Joel really liked the beat scene and we both did a lot of artwork for some of the coffee houses. I still have a menu that he drew for the “Cafe Wha” on MacDougal Street. So one day I’m at Larry Ivie’s pad and Joel was getting dressed so he could take his art portfolio around to the magazines hoping to get work. He had a suit jacket, vest, white shirt and a necktie and he had them all pinned together with safety pins. These four items were now one solid piece all pinned together. He laid them on the bed with the necktie facing down and then he “crawled” into them like a snake slithering into a rabbit hole. His arms went into the sleeves first and then his head popped out at the top. He flipped over and sat up, buttoned the collar and tucked in the shirt tails and he was now dressed. It was an amazing thing to see. “Well….I’m ready to go into the big city”. Joel considered Madison Avenue the “big city”. God made only one Joel Beck and after that he threw away the mold.

  174. Bruce Simon says:

    That is priceless, Tom. Joel, in his own way, really admired straight media even as he enjoyed skewering it.

  175. Yer welcome, Michelle.

    Actually, I went thru my memory thing here for you.

    You had asked so many ways over on FaceBook, but I was not in the proper head space earlier this year cuz oldest daughter Katy was then going thru her second skull opening brain moving surgery to reseal a hole where the ear attaches allowing atmosphere directly in on her brain. Coupled with my own healing recovery process with the bi-lateral hip joint replacements also in process, I was thoroughly distracted

    When some one suggested I check out this thread a couple days ago, I read it straight thru one sitting, both Kim’s initial thoughts, then 147 comments and it all came flooding back. Those days with Roger and I in my Haight Street store in the mid 70s were a lot of fun. Very fond memories for the most part.

    What needs to be corrected in Kim’s initial essay is Roger was not sprawled on the floor. He was sitting up, one hand propping his chin, looking out the bathroom window up at the stars that night. My story of Roger’s last night came directly from Joel Beck. No second hand hear say which tends to expand a scenario generally.

    Joel said “Roger looked serene” and that word “serene” has stuck with me all these years.

    And I am being frankly very honest when I say to you here he missed you, he vocalized it many times, he pined for you, he told me more than once the stupidest thing he ever did was let you out of his life, for what ever reasons earlier which led to the breakup

    He also was cognizant enough to acknowledge it was the craziness of too much meth speed which made him end up where he was at. He fought his addiction, but always lost. I worked so hard to bring him back to the living

    At one point I said to him he should contact you, let you know how he truly felt. He demurred, saying you were married, etc. That he was not worthy

  176. Tom Conroy says:

    For a week now I have been debating about telling this next Roger story because it is so weird that some people might not believe it. Screw it….here goes. In late 1963 I had a crash pad in Frisco on O’Farrell and Filmore streets.. It had six rooms and was what they called a “railroad flat” and had about ten people living there that were all as crazy as me. Roger came over from the East Bay and had been hanging out for a couple days. That night they were having the annual Chinese New Year Parade going up Grant Avenue in Chinatown. We had been talking all week about what kind of RIFF we could do. Now a RIFF is a staged event that you did to freak out the citizens……I will give an example.

    In Greenwich Village when the streets were filled with tourist you would stumble out of a doorway pretending to be drunk. You would stagger around for while until you gathered a crowd. Remember, people will watch anything. You would lean against the side of a building acting like you were going to throw up. Your holding your stomach and going….ugh…ugh…ugh….and just before you barf out your guts you grab your hat off your head, bend over and barf into the hat. Then you stand up and wipe your mouth, wobble back and forth a little bit and then put the hat back on your head. You can hear the people gagging as you walk away. THAT IS CALLED A RIFF.

    So we decide to do a “stabbing”. Now I can’t remember who came up with the idea, but Roger ran out and bought a can of red paint and paint brush. He did the painting on a white tee shirt over the heart area. Man, it looked fantastic. All nice and bloody. We then cut up a cardboard box and taped 3 or 4 strips of cardboard together and wrapped it around my chest. It wouldn’t stay up so we made some straps with string. When it was finished it was like a bra made out of cardboard and in the front the cardboard was about an inch thick. We had one slight problem, when the paint dried it looked kind of dull, so we had to put water on it to make it look nice and fresh. We had an old 1948 panel truck and we all jumped in it and headed off to North Beach to get there before the crowds started heading home. We hung around about an hour and the word spread that we were going to do a RIFF. This was on upper Grant Avenue. There was an old beatnik bar called the Coffee Gallery and when we were set to go a lot of the folks came out to watch. We got this chick to be the “innocent bystander”. When the parade ended the first of the crowd came up the street. When they were about a block away Paul McKlaren and Mike Quinn started “beating” me up and I would fall back into this doorway. The chick would scream out “HE HAS A KNIFE” and then Roger would charge across the sidewalk with the knife held over his head and into the doorway. Now we where in the doorway and the crowd could not see what we were doing. It was a small paring knife with the blade about three inches long and Roger would hand it to me and I would tap it in to the cardboard where the blood stain was. They would all run off and when the crowd was about 40 or 50 feet away I would come staggering out onto the sidewalk looking like an old E. C. comic book cover. I would stumble towards the crowd saying “Help me…help me…I’m hurt……please help me”. I would do this little turn so they could see me from the side with the knife sticking out of my chest. At this point the people in the front would stop and as I came closer to them they would start backing up so that I wouldn’t get any of the nasty blood on their nice clean clothes. The people in the back would be pushing forward so they could get a good look at what was going on up front and you ended up with this pile of human flesh stuck on the sidewalk. After staggering around a bit I would go into this temper tantrum like a spoiled two year old kid “I don’t like it hear….I come to see the pretty things and people always beat me up….. Oh look what they did to my shirt….etc …etc” By now I was in the middle of the street and would head over to the bar. The crowd would leave. The traffic light down on Columbus and Broadway would change about every 3 minutes and a new crowd would be heading our way and we would do it again. I still remember how Roger would chuckle each time he handed me the knife. About every three “stabbings” we would put water on the tee shirt to make it nice and fresh again. Now after each stabbing some of the crowd would hang around across the street to watch the next show and they would applaud each time we did it. Roger, Paul and Mike would run out and take bows. We must of done it about twenty or so times and then we saw two cops coming up the street and we mixed in with the crowd. The cops chased every body away and we all went home. The story floated around the scene for months afterwards. I might add here that all those times we did it NOBODY EVER STEPPED FORWARD AND OFFERED ME ANY HELP.

  177. I wish to stress that Kim’s version of Roger sprawled on the floor is s wrong and should be altered to conform to what I laid out above in a previous post as told directly to me by Joel Beck the day after Roger passed on that night back in 1985.

    My key word I use to jog this memory stored for posterity is “serene” as that is the word Joel said to me how Roger looked to him when he first entered the bathroom. Roger was sitting on the toilet, one hand up, his chin resting on that first like “The Thinker” sculpture so many of us are very familiar with.

    Roger was looking “serenely” out the window at the stars of the night, his eyes still open in death.

    Joel said Roger looked serene

    Joel used that word a few times that day in my store. Joel had come in because he knew I would be interested in Roger’s passing. Joel and I had discussed many a time the inner demons haunting Roger

    When Roger used to work for me, Joel would come thru on a semi-regular basis with a small stack of his Fantasy Portfolio. I still have a couple in my warehouse.

    I moved a steady stream of them over the time of the comics & poster store portion of my life 1972-1994. Great art work, Joel had vision. He told me he did art work for the Berkeley Free Speech movement in 1964. Whenever I got in copies of Lenny of Laredo, Marching Marvins, The Profit, I would pay him some dollars to sign the copies slowly and distinctly. I did this with a lot of the artists back then. We would simply charge the same extra dollars as it cost, made it easier to move some of the massive amounts of printed paper coming thru most weeks.

    I knew Joel well from early 70s thru the early 90s IIRC. I remember when he had his head beat in. Rough time for him. That might have been when he began selling me a few pages a month most of the artowrk to his three main UG comix claims to fame as he was “there” before Crumb did Zap #1, as were a lot of others, though no one noticed as much till Meatballs rained on an unsuspecting public

    Any hoot, was wondering if that thought of re-structuring how Roger was when Joel found him could be acted upon as what I wrote was historical truth.

    People down the road in this path we call life need to sort all this stuff out. We should give them the best tools of historical accuracy as we can. The Baby Boomers are now becoming the repositories of the collective lore. Scary thought for some of us -:)

  178. kim deitch says:

    Bob. The thing is, Yes I am really happy to have your account here, and IT SHALL STAND. I fully believe the truth of it. , but within the context of the piece I wrote, that IS the way it was told to me and that IS EXACTLY what I told Gil Kane which is specifically what I am recounting in the piece. We’re going to do something with all this stuff and your riveting comments will absolutely be a vital part of it. Speaking of other accounts. There is a website called cloud 109 which contains a really excellent piece about Roger called, Roger Brand and the Curse of the Green Death. Check it out.

  179. You are right, Kim. Was not denigrating your wonderful memory jogger initial thought patterns. Your context is spot on re relating what you had been told passing same on to Gil Kane, a comics creator I never got to know very well, much to my lament as we look back in to these recesses of our collective minds.

    Knowing Roger for so many of us is a bit like figuring out the twists and turns of the Mississippi River in its entirety. Failing to get Roger motivated in to a future he could be happy with still weighs a bit on me all these years later. I do know he enjoyed teaching his vast knowledge of comics lore to my worker bees as well as the people wandering thru the stores.

    Am going to Cloud 109 now and check this out – and think “serene” for Roger’s last night cuz Joel said so -:)

  180. So, went to Cloud 109 http://cloud-109.blogspot.com/2010/05/roger-brand

    and read this at the end “….By the time his Ranier ravaged remains were being carted out of his apartment as (according to legend) Arlington was busily trying to reunite the dismembered contents of Brand’s scrapbooks before the men with black bags moved in, his life seemed plotted by Charles Bukowski, with bouts of sofa surfing and sleeping on park benches….”

    which is entirely bogus, more myth than legend, people read this stuff and then think they know….

    Roger had long since used up Gary’s limited resources to keep him alive. This blog is also in need to complete revision as how where who etc re Roger’s last day as related to me by Joel Beck, eyeballs to eyeballs, the guy who discovered Roger dead in 1985.

    Michelle gives it more spot on accurately in the comments re Roger’s imbibing Green Death on a constant basis with “…God, where did you get all that information? All true except the length of my hair and the fact that he was a meth-head, sniffing crystal methedrine for years, which had more to do with his crash-and-burn than alcohol, probably. I’m glad some people remember him in a good way. I had kind of put it all behind me. I’m reminded of the classic EC image of the rotted hand erupting from the grave. MW …”

    No “probably” about it, from my up close and personal experience with Roger from 1976 onwards

    The reason for the constant alcohol intake was to cut the edge of the meth – speed – Roger was constantly taking into his body. A semi-constant refrain Roger would use was “…two Green Deaths are psychedelic…” which has stuck with me to this day. Once I tried to keep up with him downing two tall Green Death Rainers in short order, and, yup, it was “psychedelic” as there was definitely an out of body experience, coupled with hang over soon thereafter -:)

    But the key operative phrase to be remembered is Roger was addicted to speed.

    The Green Death, later on the half pints he hid from those around him trying to help him, were used to cut the edge of the speed. Having encountered many other speed freaks while having had comic books stores on Telegraph Ave and the Haight at the same time for many years, that addiction overpowers all things in life, all else ends up taking a back seat unless one overcomes said addiction. True for C and H as well.

    It pains me to write this out in such a way, but is simple truth.

  181. kim deitch says:

    Bob. the thing you may not quite understand is that your comments and new information will henceforth always be included with this piece. I don’t really think of this as my piece any more. I kicked it off. Dan Nadel produced it. At this point it is clearly a collective effort; and an amazing one at that.

  182. Michael T. Gilbert says:

    Hi Kim!

    Hey, I really enjoyed reading your reminisces about Roger Brand and life in the Bay Area in the early 70s, and those of your fellow posters. It brought back a lot of my own memories, and especially of my own encounter with Roger in the mid-70s.

    I’d moved from New York to San Francisco in 1975 with $200 to my name, intent on breaking into underground comix. Little did I know that by then the field was pretty much on life-support. But I was an idealistic 24-year old kid back then, and when my money ran out, I managed to survive by getting a great gig with an elderly professor couple in nearby Orinda. They provided room and board for 15 hours of work a week cleaning and gardening. I lived in a beautiful house, and the work left me plenty of time to pursue my cartooning career.

    Before long I sold a few cartoons to the legendary Berkeley Barb and had a few things published in Slow Death, Bizarre Sex and other comix. Not much money to be sure, but I was getting in print, and living the bohemian cartoon life I’d dreamed of. I discovered two wonderful comic book shops on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley –– Comics and Comix and Bob Beerbohm’s Best of Two Worlds. Equally important, I met fellow cartoonists who were very welcoming to this newcomer. These included Bruce Simon (Hi Bruce!), Roger May, Art Spiegleman, Trina Robbins, Larry Rippee and the great Kim Deitch!

    Larry was the one who told me about Roger, his drinking problems and his incredible wealth of comic book lore. The Ripp also explained that Roger was so in love with comics that he’d torn out pages from incredibly valuable Golden Age comic books, and made them into scrapbooks filled with art by comic greats like Frank Frazetta and Reed Crandall. This way, he wouldn’t be tempted to sell the comics when he was down and out, and needing a drink badly. Now that’s a real fan!

    I was familiar with Roger’s work, going back in the days when he worked on the Wally Wood fanzine, Witzend. To be honest, I never a huge fan of his art. It was serviceable, but the drawing seemed a bit mushy and suffered from weak anatomy. But I enjoyed his storytelling and his twisted stories. I recall one tale that appeared in Witzend #3 in 1967, “The Chase,” which featured experimental storytelling clearly inspired by Bernie Krigstein (who drew the legendary “Master Race” story for EC comics).

    Then there was Roger’s story, “The Head,” a tribute to Russ Heath’s “The Brain” –– a particularly gruesome 1950s Marvel horror story. Clearly this underground artist was as obsessed with comic history as I was!

    When Larry suggested paying Roger a visit, I totally up for it. This was in ’76 or so, and Roger was already in his downward spiral, down on his luck and living in an apartment supplied by Gary Arlington. After buying a few comix at Gary’s comic shop, we ambled around to Roger’s pad. He was friendly, and invited us in.

    It’s hard to remember too much about the apartment three decades later, but it struck me as a general-issue hippy pad, no better or worse than others I’d seen. Roger smelled of beer, but seemed pleasant, with a nice buzz on. He was more than happy to show us his notebooks filled with ripped-out comic book pages of our favorite artists. We talked about Wally Wood, Gil Kane, comic history and underground comics. We stayed for a couple of hours and enjoyed a really memorable visit.

    I moved away from California in 1979, living for a few years in Ohio and Texas. I continued cartooning, illustrating Michael Moorcock’s Sword & Sorcery hero, Elric, and my own monster-fighting hero, Mr. Monster. In 1985 I returned to the Bay Area, just in time to hear about Roger’s passing. No one seemed particularly surprised that his alcoholism finally did him in, but it was extremely sad.

    The tally of underground cartoonists who died before their time is an impressive one. Vaughn Bode, Rory Hayes, Jim Osborne, Dave Sheridan, Rand Holmes, Greg Irons and on and on. The life of a counterculture cartoonist is not for the faint of heart. But living in the Bay Area as an underground cartoonist in the 60s and early 70s was incredibly exciting, and I’m glad I was able to experience a small part of it.

    And those are my memories of Roger Brand –– a true original!

    Best wishes,

    Michael T. Gilbert

  183. Kim wrote, “Bob. the thing you may not quite understand is that your comments and new information will henceforth always be included with this piece. I don’t really think of this as my piece any more. I kicked it off. Dan Nadel produced it. At this point it is clearly a collective effort; and an amazing one at that.”

    Hi Kim, I understood and understand where you are coming from re damn near every one here’s mutual friend Roger. His long slow motion unfolding self-destruction still pains many of us, that is evident, and those of us who were friends with him will read thru this entire blog hoping to piece together this jigsaw puzzle

    My concern, such as it is, for posting said “final day” concern, stems from those casual readers who might very well stop at just your initial piece, or that thing over on Cloud 109, not read thru the zillions of responses, then think they know all the proper thought pattern answers, then passing on and further convoluting same, is all, which I most likely did not enunciate clearly enough, distracted as we are all with other “life” duties and demands on one’s time

    It was hard enough at the time taking in what Joel Beck said to me the day after Roger died all those years ago in 1985. Over the course of almost three years a collective “we” inside the comic book thing I ram-rodded tried so hard to get him “clean,” for a while I thought for sure we were “there,” then the heart break he was lying about it. We all battle our inner demons. I succeeded with Rick Griffin on a level or three, failure with Roger still haunts me a bit more than a quarter century later.

    I guess the image “…slumped on the floor…” conjures in a brain is what has me going here.

    Not trying to stir anything up, just that he was sitting, head on palm of one hand, staring out the bathroom window, eyes open, a clear starry night, literally looking into the night sky, which conjures up a whole nother image factoring in he was “slumped” on the floor behind that counter in the Telegraph Ave store back in what was probably 1979 after Bruce and I parsed the date(s) time line.

  184. and left out the word, “serene,” as Joel said

  185. Tom Conroy says:

    This is about speed….I stayed high on speed for 16 years and I never “had the jitters” or needed anything to “take off the edge”….when I came down I would just go to sleep. When using speed you should never let your tolerance go up. I saw people do in one hit what I could stay high on for one to two weeks. Even the last year or two I only needed a small amount to get high. NEVER USE A NEEDLE. ALL THE NEEDLE FREAKS ARE DEAD. Speed was meant to be ingested thru the stomach, not the blood vain. When I first started I would go 5 days with no sleep. About a year later I would sleep every couple days. I always had a connection and NEVER BOUGHT ANYTHING ON THE STREET. I was never that hard up. If I could not get anything GOOD I would just go WITHOUT, which was no big deal. In those years I was straight about three times for a month or so each. Near the end of my speed days I had started drinking coffee, and when I quit speed my coffee intake doubled. My coffee habit was worse than speed. Now I was smoking more weed to “take off the edge” of the coffee. I had the jitters, headaches, and it was really fucking up my stomach. Coffee also makes the angry. I had more goddamn problems with coffee than I ever had with speed. Now I drink one cup of coffee a week. I drink green tea and I use liquid Gotu Kola and Ginkgo which is nice and smooth. Anybody that gets the jitters from speed is because they are taking to much.

  186. Barry Siegel says:

    Hi Kim- Thank you for the concise and insightful article on the life and art of Roger Brand. It’s just impossible to separate the man and his art from his addictions. After I read your article my mind was flooded with memories of good ol’ Roger, so much so that I would like to sound in on the subject, even though what I mostly have to offer has been covered by other reader’s comments.
    As you know, I knew Roger pretty well as he was my friend and also a frequent house guest at the apartment/art studio that I shared with Bruce Simon on Dwight Way in Berkeley. I always thought Roger was exceedingly polite to me and honestly grateful for anything I gave him, be it food, alcohol or cigarette money. (Even though he got these things frequently from me, his thank you’s never got stale nor did he take anything for granted.) He loved to talk about comic art and his favorite artists and was very, very knowledgeable on the subject giving great and subtle nuances on the subject. He would have been a great curator in a comic art museum as his enthusiasm was real and contagious.
    When he’d spend the night we would sit up late talking comic art or movies or watched TV or some of the classic 16mm movies from my collection. All the while, the coffee table was filled with his drink of choice, Rainer Ale and the room heavy with cigarette smoke. I would often go to bed with a headache from all of this smoke, but I guess I thought it wasn’t a macho thing to do to complain about his smoking so I never did. (This was before the days of people smoking outside, and if so, he would have spent all of his time outdoors!) Roger’s cigarette of choice was Herbert Tareyton non-filters. A curious cigarette because even though they were non-filltered, a phony brown filter was printed on the end of the cigarette paper- it was just for looks. Roger said he like to light the “filter” end in front of strangers who would be alarmed and warn him he was lighting the wrong end. Just one of Roger’s private jokes, I guess.
    Although I was very fond of Roger, he would often be a house guest too long and overstayed his welcome. I felt bad, but I often had to get rid of him. Closer to the end of his life he had episodes where he passed out and hit the floor (although never in front of me). Once he passed out and when his head hit the floor he accidentally cut his tongue. At this point, Roger’s diet was getting worse and worse, and cutting his tongue made it difficult for him to eat. He was simply wasting away. One day he asked me to drive him into San Francisco and drop him off at Gary Arlington’s house where he had been staying. Before he got out of my car he said, “Barry, old boy,could you sport me to $1.28?” I asked him why he needed such an exacting amount, and he told me that that was the exact price of two pint cans of Rainer Ale including tax. Given his extremely poor health, this time I finally warned him what a doctor had told him about drinking. Like a line from a bad bio-pic movie he told me, “If I can’t drink, then I don’t want to live anymore.” This was probably one of the last, if not the last time I ever saw Roger.
    Roger was a very dear man with considerable talent and knowledge who also had many friends who truly liked him.
    Roger never felt sorry for himself or looked for sympathy. It would be easy now to say that his friends should have had an intervention and insist that he stop drinking, smoking and ruining his health, but I sincerely doubt it would have worked- besides, hindsight is 20-20. Truth is, it was probably way too late by that time to have saved his life.
    I’m glad a record amount of people have posted comments to your article, Kim and I’m very happy to have known Roger- he was a good guy except he was his own worse enemy although I sincerely doubt he set out to sabotage his life.

  187. Bruce Simon says:

    Hey Barry, thanks for throwing your two cents in. Do you, by any chance, have copies in your files of the layouts I drew for the ‘Dentist from Sheboygan’ and ‘Ricky & Doof’ stories from SAN FRANCISCO COMIX that you wrote for Roger? They were the last two stories he ever drew.

  188. Wow John, thanks for the URL to this fantastic Dave Sheridan work of art fronting this album. The detail is yet another example of Dave’s intricate line work which we all love so much. Now to go track one down to place into the collection. Dave’s passing way back when hit the comix community pretty hard. Had never seen this before, nor knew of its existence

  189. Barry Siegel says:

    Hey Bruce- I tend to think that I don’t have copies of the layouts to these two stories- possibly because I gave them to Roger to work off of. In any case, I don’t believe I have ever come across copies, but I have a mound of material in storage and I can search. If I come across them, I’ll send them to you. -Barry

  190. Bruce Simon says:

    Thanks, Barry. If you find those layouts, I’d be happy to copy and return them to you and if you find layouts of all those old Disney and H-B stories, the same goes for those. Thanks.

  191. I posted your URL to Dave’s cover album art on FB at Dava Sheridan’s page as well as Underground Comics (with the Zap #4 cover artpictured) – and it appears this has/had fallen off the radar on most all of us to date. Thank you so much for posting this. I caught your comment when re-reading thru this thread. The good memories go off in so many directions when jogging thereof is performed -:)

  192. Hi Tom,

    Maybe your experience is one way as you say, but I have encountered many hundreds of speed freak types in those years I had comics & concert poster stores in the Haight and Telegraph Ave, elsewhere in the Bay Area 1972-1994. I would henceforth say that maybe you were most fortunate not to be acquiring your mode of buzz off the streets then. My experience of encounter was not very much fun many a time. Can’t get into the head space right now to go into detail, but “jitter” on some of these addicts was being kind.

    There were plenty of persons cruising those streets who definitely did too much. Dealt with “overdosed” ones as well too many times.I learn the hard way the best music to play to calm em all down was Pink Floyd -:) Now I hear “they” rock it up like coke making it much more powerful than before.

    My experience with Roger taught me he drank as much as he did to cut that edge, that it was not an addiction to alcohol per se, rather what I say, as I had many a talk with Roger as we balanced him working with the public against his proclivities towards basicly slowly killing himself though he never seemed to see it that way

    He was a good friend to a great many people, the memories presented in this thread a powerful statement of just how much. I know this thread has released a lot of memories long bottled up. I still feel twinges of guilt of maybe I should have given him more chances to clean up, but after three years of trying, twas enough at the time

  193. Howard Cruse says:

    Hey, Kim, I’ve arrived late to this reminiscence party and don’t have anything new to add about Roger, whom I never knew. But I did want to say that not only is your piece a moving tribute to your friend and a great chronicle of a long-ago time (as are many of the comments that the post has prompted), but it’s beautifully written! I don’t think I’ve encountered your prose before, but my hat is off to you for this accomplishment.

  194. kim deitch says:

    Howard thanks. Check out my 12 part music series also in this site. That’s the most ambitious piece of web writing that I have done so far, although I do have some ideas for new things I want to try when I finish the book I am currently working on.

  195. Tom Conroy says:

    In NYC there used to be this store in Times Square that sold out-of-town newspapers. They also sold reams of magazines from England and Europe. I used to go up there and buy some of the comics from England that had nice artwork. Now this is 66/67 and I’m poking around and find this comic type magazine called PILOTE and I start flipping through it. I find this two page western strip drawn by some guy named “GIR”. The strip is “Lieutenant Blueberry” by JEAN GIRAUD. They had about about 5 or 6 back issues and I bought them all. After numerous visits I piled up 26 pages of this guys work and went down to 4th Street and showed them to Roger. He completely flipped out. As I recall, he borrowed them for about a month and showed them to everybody he knew, including Harvey Kurtzman. Harvey took them home with him and a week later called Roger and said “Sorry, your not getting these back”. Of course he was only kidding. Now Kurtzman started buying PILOTE and found that the guy who was doing it was an old buddy of his that he had not seen since 1948/49. Some one he went to school with or something, I can’t remember the details. Most people knew Giraud’s work when Heavy Metal started reprinting his stuff when he used the name MOEBIUS. Some of the stuff Roger left behind on 4th street were a huge pile of PILOTE mags with all the good stuff clipped out. When I saw Roger that time in the Tenderloin, he dragged me over to this Italian book store. They were selling hard cover reprints of “Blueberry” in Italian. The color wasn’t that good but I bought a copy of a everything they had. Roger already has his own copies. Roger and me were BIG FANS of Giraud’s work. The guy was one of the best artist we had seen. I must have heard Roger say a dozen times “When are they going to start printing this guy in American. That way we can read the stories”. I don’t know when they started printing “Blueberry” in America, but I think it was after Roger died.

  196. Bhob Stewart says:

    After European English translations of “Blueberry” by Egmont/Methuen and Dargaud in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Catalan Communications (which was located near Union Square in NYC) published three “Blueberry” titles in 1989-90.

    Btw, Roger’s birth/death is listed as 1943-85, but what are the exact dates?

  197. R. Fiore says:

    Kurtzman’s connection to Pilote was Rene Goscinny, wasn’t it?

  198. Yes, it was Goscinny (who had met Kurtzman around 1948 as Tom says, and even collaborated with him on some books for children).

  199. ron turner says:

    I just read the whole enchilada, Kim, and I am swirling with memories. Roger told me he was raised in El
    Sobrante,next to Richmond, and that his Japanese middle name was because his father taught at a Japanese internment camp. Beck told me he used to slip his cartoons under the door of the Pelican, Cal Berkeley’s humor mag. He won the best cartoonist award. They didn’t know he was a high school student, they assumed he was a shy Cal student.
    Bob: John Bagley last seen by me 10 years ago, was making jewelry in Northern California, employing
    undocumented workers on a farm. His partner in Company and Sons went to edit the Texas Monthly. Just saddened to revisit all these wonderful people from my past: Willie
    Murphy, Roger, Don Donahue…Joel. Larry Gonick and S.Clay Wilson went with me to Joel’s services in
    Point Richmond. then a few years ago, a newspaper tried to find a daughter he supposedly had. So many mysteries. Working on a book about Donahue, and just published a small tome from Gary Arlington dealing with his post comic career as an artist. Irons, Rick Griffin, Bob Sidebottom…I will join you all after I process this loss of amazing talent.

  200. Larry Rippee says:

    “A Lousy Week for Woods” is a fine—and very evocative remembrance of Roger Brand.

    When I first met Roger (probably around 1970) I was already pretty much in awe of him.

    I knew of him and his work (along with that of his buddy Joel Beck) through Bay Area based fanzines such as Voice of Comicdom and All Stars. This was before underground comix.

    He was probably the most knowledgeable person I had met on the subject of comic books.

    Around 1971-1972, when I was living with Gary Arlington, Roger would come over to hang out—most often to drink and schmooze with Simon Deitch. The two would engage in deep comic book lore.

    I was surprised to hear Kim‘s description of Roger’s speed use. Roger’s most visible drug of choice back then was beer. He would usually show up with two large quart bottles for his personal consumption.

    Back then I did some trading with Roger. I had a golden age copy of a 1945 All-Star Comics (one of the few comics remaining from my comic book collection that I hadn’t sold off by then).

    I suggested a trade for some original art. I knew Roger had an extensive collection. He said he would see what that he would be willing to unload and make me an offer.

    The offer came in— and I was pretty much flabbergasted: It included pages of Alex Toth along with work by Frank Robbins, Al Williamson and Roy Krenkel ( the sheer quantity of work made me ponder just how much original artwork did Roger have?)

    I recall Simon Deitch was a little unsettled by the trade because he knew Roger’s practice of slicing up comics and filing away the work of artists he liked. (This was probably the fate of All Star Comics#24).

    Aside from being the most knowledgeable of cartoonists he may have also been the most overtly destructive. I recall late back in the ‘70’s Don Donahue once comparing Roger to S.Clay Wilson stating that although Wilson lived hard he actually wanted to live.

    I have to say in those last years when Roger was pretty much living on the street I’m not sure he wanted to continue on. A terrible waste.

    Along with Joel Beck, Willy Murphy, Jim Osborne and George Metzger, I think Roger is one of the under- acknowledged early Underground artists. It would be nice to see more attention paid to his work—perhaps a limited edition book along the lines of the recent ones done on Rory Hayes, Greg Irons and Jaxon.

    Thanks again.


  201. kim deitch says:

    Ron and Larry.. Thanks to you both for your interesting and thoughtful contributions. It is glad tidings indeed to find you both up and running.

  202. kim deitch says:

    PS. Ron. I thought it was terrific that you published Gary Arlington’s recent book, I Am Not Of This Planet. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s a definite must have for discriminating and erudite students of comics culture everywhere, and I heartily recommend it.

  203. Bob Slavin says:

    When I met Roger in 1960 at Contra Costa College, he was drawing large comic strips in the cafeteria (‘practicing for the future’). He already had an encyclopedic knowledge about comics and cartoonists. Even in his last crazy days he could still pull out information (with dates!) without a moment’s cogitation.

  204. Roger was indirectly responsible for the creation of my Zippy the Pinhead. In the Fall of 1970, he asked me to do a story for his “Real Pulp Comics #1”. When I asked if he had any editorial guidelines he said, “Do something in the Young Lust vein, maybe a threesome between two normal people and one really weird person.” I went from Roger’s apartment in the Mission District to Jim Osborne’s place out on California St., where I leafed through his collection of sideshow freaks postcards. I came across “Schlitzie” the pinead and remembered having seen him in the 1932 Tod Browning movie “Freaks” back in art school in Brooklyn. I had my ” weird” charcter. 42 years later–I’m still filling in all those polka dots on Zippy’s muu-muu. Thanks, Roger.

  205. Chance Fiveash says:

    I agree. I have long been an admirer and fan of Rogers work. There are so many underground artists that have yet to be properly documented in book form…Brand and Larry Todd come to mind. I was SO happy when Fantagraphics released books on Rand Holmes and Greg Irons..two artists who’s work I tracked down religiously in the early 90’s. Mostly from ordering from Don Donahue via phone. I was a frequent phone customer on Don’s back then.

  206. Larry Rippee says:

    Ever since reading “A Lousy Week for Woods” and the cornucopia of responses that followed, I find that my thoughts keep returning to Roger Brand. New memories keep surfacing.

    It turns out I have one more bit of info to pass along in response to Tom Conroy’s* reference to Roger’s musicianship.

    A few years ago, I attended a wedding in southern California where I ran into a cousin of Roger’s.

    He told me that Roger was considered a child prodigy on the trumpet (Possibly performing first chair in a local symphony).

    Roger’s father apparently had a lot invested in Roger continuing with his music but Roger began moving towards comic art. Apparently, Roger’s father wasn’t supportive of that which ultimately resulted in a strained relationship. It sounds like Roger rarely visited his family as an adult.

    (*Speaking of Tom Conroy, I believe he also drew some early comic strips in the Voice of Comicdom newspaper along with Roger and Joel Beck back in the early ‘60’s.)

  207. Tom Conroy says:

    Larry….Wow, what a great post. As I said, Roger was a very good trumpet player. I never said this to Roger, but I thought he could play music better than he could draw. Yes….I did draw a three panel “war” comic strip back in 1964 when I was living in Frisco. I should say it was an “anti-war” strip, since I was a big fan of Harvey Kurtzman’s two war comics for E. C. Rudi Frank was a friend of Roger’s and one of them talked me into doing the strip, but I can’t recall if the strip was ever printed. I guess it was. I only did one strip, because that Summer I hitched to NYC and drove back with a friend of mine. The trunk of the car was filled with movie posters.

    If someone out there has a copy of the strip, it sure would make my day if they could post it here on this sight. It sure would be nice to see some artwork I had done 47 years ago. Thank you Larry for mentioning the comic strip.

  208. Tom Conroy says:

    Just a few words about Roger’s love of music. When I was using his pad as a lifeboat in 1965 he turned me on to all the great “rhythm and blues” music that was coming out of England. He knew these guys that had a place South of Berkeley on Telegraph. Their pad was full of musicians while Roger’s pad was full of cartoonist. He would loan one of the guys over there some comics and he would loan Roger all these neat records. This is the first time I heard the Rolling Stones. I was really into the “blues” and the music those guys in England were doing was fantastic stuff. We would sit around all day drawing comics with this great music playing in the background. Stoned on weed and speed, what else did we need. It was a great time. Later in New York in 1966 Roger called me on the phone and said “Hey man…listen to this” and he set the phone next to his record player. The entire side of one album was a track called “Two trains running” by “Danny Kalb and the Blues Project” and was one of the best piece of music ever recorded. I had just smoked a joint and that night Roger completely blew my mind. I ran out the next day and bought the album. Oh my….so many memories. The 60’s were a great time to be alive.

  209. Tom Conroy says:

    This story is about the last day with Roger and Joel in L. A. at the end of the Summer in 1961. Joel had gotten his last paycheck from Box Greeting Cards, but he couldn’t cash it until the bank opened on Monday. Joel had a car and we spent all day Sunday at the Santa Monica Beach watching all these girls running around in bikinis. We were parked on the West side of Highway 101 by this old abandoned plunge when the first cops stopped and searched us. We still had short hair and none of us looked like freaks. You might say we were “young and innocent”. Joel had a goatee. After they searched us we left a little after dark and stopped for something to eat. Now we had all this time to kill so we were just driving around L. A. Roger was in the back seat playing with Joel’s guitar. Joel says “Hey….the gas is getting low, lets just park some where and stop burning up gas”

    So we’re sitting on this side street off of Santa Monica Blvd for about a half an hour when we see a cop car go by. The cop makes a U-turn about a block behind us and Joel says ”I bet we look suspicious, lets go buy a couple candy bars in the store”. So they get out and head into this liqueur store on the corner.

    I am sitting in the front seat plunking on the guitar when all of a sudden the door flies open and I fall out into the sidewalk. There is a cop standing over me with a gun about two feet from my head “Freeze…Don’t move…turn over….hands on your head….etc..etc.” As he handcuffs me another cop car pulls up and he yells “His buddies went into the store” I’m sitting on the sidewalk when Roger and Joel come bopping around the corner and both of them are eating candy bars. Two cops are pointing guns at them “Freeze…hands up…on the ground…etc..etc” Now Roger and Joel are laying on the street handcuffed. Along the wall of the store is this flower bed that was about 50 feet long and a cop is searching it with his flashlight and another cop is searching under some cars that are parked on the street.

    When they are done searching they yell at Roger and Joel “Where is the gun….tell us where you stashed the gun” Roger says “We don’t have no gun, we went in the store to buy some candy bars”. Now they have us all by the car and they’re searching it. “Okay, what’s inside the trunk” Roger says “Comic books” The cop says “Hey, don’t get smart with me”. Another cop grabs the keys and opens the trunk and the cop asks “What’s in the trunk” The other cop says “Comic books, they got boxes of comic books in here”.

    These were all the comics that me and Roger picked up in L.A. that Summer and now the cops are going through the boxes. “Hey look, Captain Marvel. You remember him. Hey, Sheena, I used to like her..etc…etc”. Now the cops want to know why we have all these comics and Roger tells them were cartoonist and we collect old comics. The cops are getting kind of friendly and Joel shows them some of his artwork and his paycheck from Box and tells them we were just waiting for the bank to open. They take off the handcuffs and tell us that anybody sitting close to a liqueur store on Sunday night might be planning a robbery. Since we had no criminal records they let us go.

    Roger and Joel went back up North and I hitched to Tucson to see my mom and to visit Bill Pearson. Hitching up to see Bill I got arrested in Phoenix and did twenty days in jail for vagrancy. Bill picked me up when they cut me loose and I spent a few days with him before hitching back to New York. I turned 19 in a rain storm in Oklahoma.

  210. Artie Romero says:

    Great story, Tom, and well told. I have to say once again, you have amazingly detailed access to that catalog of memories, considering this particular scene happened over 50 years ago. It makes terrific reading, so… thanks!

  211. Tom Conroy says:

    Artie….Hey, there is a lot of stuff I can’t remember. A lot of the stories Roger told me about stuff he did with Joel have been erased from my brain. My wife has told me things we did with Roger that also have been blanked out. My worst memory lose was I couldn’t remember when and where I first met Wally Wood. Was it through Roger, Bill Pearson or Paul Kirchner? Paul said “How could you forget when you met Woody. I’ll never forget that day”. Blinko, blanko, the memory was gone until Carole reminded me of when I went with her to visit Flo Steinberg in 1967. Carole remembers it, but I don’t. Sometimes I don’t even know what day it is.

  212. Marc Von Arx says:

    Remarkable article Kim, and thank you to all the comment contributors who continue to shed so much light on Roger’s life and the whole comix scene in those days. I just thought I should recount my one brief encounter with Roger. It was some time in the early ’80’s. I had recently moved to Los Angeles from the east coast, and had searched out Kim who was then living in a very cool apartment in the already retro hip 1940’s Park LaBrea complex (which, for you conspiracy theorists, was laid out on the shape of a Freemason symbol). I told Kim that Jerry Weist (SquaTront, Million Year Picnic) and I were going up to the Bay area to meet a few of the underground artists (Spain, Clay Wilson, Bill Griffith), and asked him who else we should look up. He said we had to go visit Roger Brand and gave us an address. He warned us that Roger had been doing too much speed and wasn’t in great shape, but that he would appreciate our visit. Roger had no phone at the time, so we just went over there one afternoon. I think it must have been at the Gary Arlington apartment, because when he rung us up it was just as Kim described: one room with a shadeless light bulb dangling from a dangerously frayed extension cord. The place was virtually devoid of furniture and almost every inch of floor space illuminated by the dim circle of light was covered with trash, newspapers, bits of drawings or notes, and other unidentifiable detritus of Roger’s wreck of a life. In one corner of the room was a mattress that I imagined to be alive with lice and vermin. Roger himself was rail thin and his hair was as long and tangled as a Trenchtown Rastaman. He was dressed only in a ratty bathrobe and as far as we could tell he didn’t own another piece of clothing. Although Jerry and I were just out of college ourselves, and used to pretty basic living conditions, even we were appalled by what we saw. We were still young and had no idea how to transcend the awkwardness of the situation. But Roger, to his credit, did everything he could to make us feel welcome. Despite our obvious discomfort, and the dismal conditions surrounding him, Roger carried himself with an almost regal bearing. He invited us in and acted the gracious host offering us potato chips or whatever meager junk food he had. With a staccato voice and more than a bit of hand wringing and facial twitches, he regaled us with stories of the undergrounds and told us how well things were going for him. He had a optimism about his life and his future that was both tragically comical and surprisingly heartwarming. We really wanted to believe, despite all evidence to the contrary, that he was about to turn things around. I think that afternoon in that dank, windowless apartment the last of my romantic fantasies about the ’60’s died and I, sadly, finally, acknowledged that those beautiful sentiments about peace, love and transcendence which inspired and fueled my adolescence had been choked to death by drugs and self-indulgence. Now, 30 years later, time and distance have allowed me to one again reclaim those beliefs and to realize that change is a long process rife with tribulations and setbacks along the way. But, like Roger’s Gloria Swanson dignity, the spirit of those times have survived and continue to change the world for the better. While many of the horrors that plagued us then, plague us still, my life is so much better for the ideas and passions that drove the Undergrounds and all the other counter-culture movements of the day. Before we left, Roger offered to sell us some of his artwork. While he dug around for a few pieces, Jerry and I debated whether or not it would be wise to give him money. We were afraid it would go directly into his veins. Ultimately either or desire to help Roger out or our greed for comic art led us to agree to buy a few pages. I still have a beautiful page of Roger’s from that day, and I’ve put a scan up here: http://cl.ly/1w290I0H2A1r2M231q2M.

  213. Bruce York says:

    It has been fascinating and nostalgiac reading all of your memories of Roger, and of the era itself. I moved to San Francisco when I was 19 years old, in 1971. Tom Conroy is my brother-in-law, and at this time, and my sister is Carole. We opened and ran Memory Shop West, in San Francisco, dealing in movie memorabilia (stills, posters etc.) The shop opened in 1973, and over the years, was in 4 different locations (Upper Market area), until closing in 1992. Through my sister Carole, I had the pleasure of meeting Roger Brand in 1971, when he was with Michele, and lived in the Mission District. I never got to know him well, but I remember him as a very friendly, kind and caring person. Whenever Carole and I would visit him and Michele, it was always a pleasure. I was so happy to be living in San Francisco, and meeting all these interesting folks, like Roger, and other cartoonists that Carole knew. I also met Trina Robbins and Flo Steinberg. Flo lived just around the corner f from Roger, and I got to know her pretty well. This was in 1971 and ’72. I hardly ever saw Roger in later years, but when I did, despite his problems, he was the same good-hearted and friendly guy that he always was. A true gentleman, so to speak.

    Our friend Alan Hose who worked a couple of days a week at Gary Arlington’s shop, also did most of our printing (stills), and would come to my shop after he got through at Gary’s……..would keep us informed on how Roger was doing. It didn’t sound good. Alan is still in San Francisco, and I don’t know if he knows about this blog….not even sure he has a computer…but he knew Roger for years, from hanging around Gary’s. He probably has many stories he could share. Reading everyone’s posts has made me very nostalgiac for the ‘good old days’. For me, it was an incredible time to be in San Francisco and the Bay Area. I was just a few years out of high school, and meeting so many interesting and talented people….and being part of such an amazing scene, makes me feel grateful that I was there at that time. I owe a lot of that to to my sister Carole, who encouraged me to go to San Franciscco for the first time. I would come see her from 1965-1970, when she lived in the East Village in NYC. After a trip to the west coast, she said that she was moving there…….that’s where things were really happening, and I guess she had had enough of NYC by then. We hitchhiked from NY to SF in the summer of 1970. I had to go back and finish junior college in Miami….but come Spring 1971, I moved to SF. Exciting times indeed. I now live in Key West, Fla. I think that it is wonderful that Roger is getting the recognition he truly deserves. Thanks Kim for the article that started this blog. And thanks to everyone for posting. This has really stirred up a lot of good, and pleasant memories.

  214. Michele Wrightson says:

    Hi Bruce.

  215. Bruce Simon says:

    Hi Mark Von Arx! Thanks for your memories of Roger, but that page you posted was not by Roger, it is by Charlie Dallas, another memorable UG artist. Wrong scan?

  216. Dan Nadel says:

    Not to veer off course, but I’ve been trying to find Charles Dallas for years. He and Barney Steel are completely impossible to locate. Anyone have any hints?

  217. Tom Stein says:

    Hey, Tom Conroy, I just got a copy of VOC #2, dated 9/64. It has your war strip , plus a great article by Roger on the back page. If you give me your address, I’d be happy to send you photocopies.

  218. kim deitch says:

    It would indeed be interesting to know what ever became of Charlie Dallas. I was casual friends with him and his wife and socialized with them some. His wife, a sturdy country girlish red head was a nude dancer in one of those joints down on the Barbary coast. But the strange thing about both of them was that Charlie, purveyor of depraved and degenerate comics and his wife in that somewhat dubious trade, well, they were about as wholesome and genuinely likable a pair as you were likely to run into; both sweet and sort of innocent in their own utterly offbeat way. At a certain point Charlie wasn’t really getting by in comics and they decided to start fresh in another location. I can’t remember what state. But when they’d been gone awhile, I one day got a letter from Charlie telling me how they were getting on. Enclosed in the letter was a clipping from a local newspaper of a fashion illustration Charlie was getting work doing. It was quite good and well drawn, but it had a sinisterness about it that fascinated. I probably still have that letter and clipping buried somewhere in my files. Barney Steel, I only knew in passing. He was a remarkable physical specimen. Big strapping good looking guy. He had a hairy chest that went right up to the edge of his neck. I think Ron Turner told me he ended up running or owning a bar somewhere in California other than the bay area. He certainly was a fascinating original. He seemed pleasant enough, but not quite real; more like a made up person who wasn’t altogether that true to life.

  219. Bruce Simon says:

    This story is not finished yet. I was contacted by Roger, Joel and Tom Conway’s friend Paul Rodgers last night after he came upon this article and saw I was looking for him. Master Detective that I am, I was looking for him north of Berkeley where he used to live when I knew him and he presently lives in Oakland, south of me. More to come.

  220. Tom Conroy says:

    WOW…….Bruce and Kim…..I just got your email about Paul. I will be calling him tonight. If there is anybody out there with more stories about Roger, it would be Paul and also Carol Verlinden. What I find amazing is that we are all still alive. I never thought I would become a senior citizen. The last time I saw Carole was in May 1987. I ran into her while I was photographing a Vietnam Veterans Parade in Los Angeles. Life is good.

    This message is for TOM STEIN. Kim’s friend Bill Schelly has an extra copy of VOC #2 with my war strip and is mailing me a copy. THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR THE OFFER. You sound like a really nice guy. Tom.

  221. patrick ford says:

    A very minor point, but Mark Evanier recently mentioned Roger Brand assisted Gil Kane by applying all the screentone used on His Name was Savage.

  222. Michele Wrightson says:

    Actually, that was me. Really. Pretty much all of it.

  223. John Farwell says:

    Bill Schelly is a really nice guy too. I had the pleasure of meeting him last month at Oklahoma City’s OAFCON. Coincidentally I had only just read his great book ‘Man of Rock’ a month or two prior, and was glad to have the chance to tell him how much I appreciated what his work had given me in telling Joe’s story as well as he did. A very affable, accessible and genuine person, I really enjoyed speaking with him.


  224. patrick ford says:

    Michele, So was this an assignment Roger had from Gil, which you ended up doing?

  225. Paul Rodgers says:

    Hi Bruce, Tom, Kim and Michele. Oh my gosh, we are all still here! I remember that when Roger died Roger’s parents, Mark and Olive, came to the Bay Area and we went to Point Richmond and, as directed by Joel, to the laundromat where Roger had worked and met the proprietress and the young guy, an employee of the laundry, who Roger lived with. Both the laundromat and the second floor apartment were located in the small Point Richmond triangle. A little community. The proprietress was a stern mother-hen type who seemed to take in strays. The kid was a real nice guy and the apartment was clean, tidy and comfortable. He told us they watched Forbidden Planet on the TV and Roger filled him in on a brace of background tidbits and movie lore, as Roger was wont to do. At some point Roger announced formally that he was going to the bathroom. After some time the nice kid guy went looking and found Roger dead in the bathroom. And he told us Roger had a calm expression on his face–staring philosophically into infinity.

  226. Kim Thompson says:

    If we ever do another edition of SAVAGE!, we’ll have to credit you!

  227. Michele Wrightson says:

    We all worked at Gil’s studio/apartment on the thing, I guess there was a deadline with the printer, we were under pressure. I heard most of them never made it out of the warehouse, no distribution. Maybe it was the flying-teeth violence, or they just didn’t bother with small print runs.

  228. Bruce Simon says:

    Paul and I met again yesterday for the first time since Roger’s memorial 26 years ago and fell in together like the old friends we were and are. The good of all this reminicing and storytelling is all the reconnecting going on and I know Roger and Joel would be more than good with all that as long as there were some good ol’ beers about and a pack of Philip Morris Commanders for Roger.

  229. patrick ford says:

    Fantagraphics should reprint “Savage.” Maybe Tim Hodler could get Frank Miller to write an introduction for the original sin city comic book.

    I was just reading Kane’s “clippings” from the TCJ interview.
    Miller might not go for it though, Kane sounds like a dirty hippie.

    in part,

    Gil Kane:It’s happened continuously faced with extraordinary problems. The industrial age brought in a sweatshop psychology, an acceptable treatment of people that was incredible, unbelievable, which amounted to slavery, people dying, tuberculosis, people dying by the millions as a result of the kind of jobs they held, and they were the only jobs possible because agriculture stopped becoming the basis, the city bc-me the basis for everything. Yet, somehow or other by degrees, they managed to exert themselves, and they were constructive from every point of view. The owners began to realize that they had to provide something better because it wasn’t even a practical situation for them, and finally the workers began to organize and demand better conditions. Since that had an impact, economically, on the employers, it became a total involvement working toward a better understanding of each other’s needs and what, in effect, the other would be forced to do by the pressure from another group. But, always they worked toward a constructive response. I think what’s happening now is that everything is getting the shit kicked out of it. [Laughter] I mean, for instance, independent farmers look like they’re going to go out of business, and the only ones who are going to be able to farm are large combines, big, enormous food growers and food processors who will be able to do it economically and who economically, of course, will be able to control, like energy. People absolutely turn the fucking country on its ear any time they want to; the major companies will control the food supply, will soon have that same kind of handhold. What happened when Reagan came in, they talked about this trickle-down economy, and what the big corporations did was not spend any money on production, just on buying other companies. All their profits, as much as they could ever make from turning out a product, just from buying and selling other companies. No labor came down, no employment came down, but there was money in exchange at a rarefied level.

    Yes, that’s because in a democratic situation, a democratic situation is almost impossible not to achieve, as long as there’s a free press and there’s accessible information through the media, and it doesn’t even make any difference if the media screwed up, the fact is, enough information gets through that people become dissatisfied with a situation that is not the equivalent of typical situations that are being lived or experienced elsewhere. I just feel that what’s happening now in the world at large is that every dark pocket of the world is being infiltrated with movies and information of one kind or another, the whole planet is in rebellion against colonial attitudes, imperialism, exploitation. Even in our own country everyone feels that they’ve gotten enough information that they no longer want to tolerate the exploitation that they’ve experienced for years and generations. The whole process of revolt is a direct result of the progress in disseminating information. It seems to be following a natural progression and if it’s a natural progression, a lot of these situations will be remedied, adjusted, the society will hopefully move on from there. Of course, it’s capable of annihilating itself at any point, but barring that, it seems to me… Since everything we see is a kind of natural progression of everything’s that preceded it — what we see is the only thing that would be unnatural would be some aberration that would set in that would set off a bomb or something. But, beyond that, as I say, if the media, if information has become accessible and if information is changing the face of the earth, which it is, then information will continue to change it. Why would it stop at this point? What I’m saying is that there is a kind of natural progression we’ve built the entire society, the whole world culture on the strength of what’s being disseminated to us every day, which is essentially what technology knows

  230. kim deitch says:

    Paul. that’s a very interestiing, haunting post, but with a lot of humanity. I was at the Brooklyn con at Our Lady Of Mount Carmel in Brooklyn yesterday. Really nice affair too, and Tom Stein showed me a fascinating piece off early Roger original art from the 1960’s. Man, this has all been mighty fascinating. Sure is waking up the dead in my old brain.

  231. Michele Wrightson says:

    Hi Paul.

  232. R. Fiore says:

    You should reissue Savage with a sleaze pulp paperback cover, like Hard Case Crime.

  233. Marc Von Arx says:

    No, it’s the right scan Bruce, Just wrong brain sector. You are right, of course, that’s Charles Dallas’ work, but it’s still the page that Roger sold me that day. I don’t think he had any of his own work left to sell. I love both of them, and becasue they were both so influenced by the EC horror comics and both Slow Death contributors, my mind just blurred the line. In many ways, I think Charles Dallas’ work was even darker and more sexually charged than Roger’s. I miss them both.

  234. Bruce Simon says:

    I’ll go along with that, Marc. Charlie Dallas had a very scary and dangerous vibe to his work, that would probably go over like gangbusters if he was working today.

  235. Dan Nadel says:

    Bruce, You gotta tell more about Charlie Dallas. The world needs to know more.

  236. kim deitch says:

    The whole dichotomy about Charlie dallas. In a nutshell; unwholesome work, wholesome guy. Sweet natured honorable, but with a rather jaded aesthetic. He was discovered by Jack Jackson. Where I first saw his work was at Jackson’s pad. All on big huge pieces of illustration board and wash shading, which made for reproduction problems, which is why Jackson sat on the fence for awhile before publishing him but the big problem for Charlie; too late to the party. Dallas wasn’t a Wilsonesque loud mouthed drunken braggart as one might imagine looking at his work. He was a decent guy and I’m betting he’s still out there somewhere. I wouldn’t even be surprised if he was still married to his equally sweet, essentially wholesome nude dancer wife. He struck me as an essentially steady guy.

  237. Dan Nadel says:

    That’s good to know, Kim. He made some damn good comics — unhinged and good.

  238. patrick ford says:

    Charles Dallas wrote a short article on EC comics for Blab #1 published in 1993.

    The ditor was Monte Beauchamp. Dallas mentions he was born in 1951.

  239. kim deitch says:

    Now I feel like we need to find him. Patrick has given us a few clues. I wonder how one would proceed?

  240. patrick ford says:

    Actually the copy of “Blab” #1 I have is a reprint edition. The original edition was from 1986 so that pushes things back a few years.

    Dallas produced an illustration to accompany his EC article, and like an amazing number of things it turned up at Heritage Auction Gallery.
    Sold in 2003.

  241. Artie Romero says:

    Some luck, Monte Beauchamp is a friend on Facebook. I messaged him with this thread. He’s still known as the Blab proprietor.

  242. patrick ford says:

    This might be a good time to point out all Dan Clowes fans must own Blab #2.

    A five page “adaptation” of Fred Wertham’s “Show of Violence.”

    A double-page splash illustration for the article “Notes From the Underground.” (Cartoonists describe their personal EC experiance)

    Cartoonists, such as Gahan Wilson, Mobius, Jerry Moriarity, Charles Burns, Mark Marek, XNO, and Drew Friedman.

    A full page text entry, and smallheader illustration, for said article by Clowes.

    Oh, and a GREAT five page story by Kim Deitch.

  243. Bruce Simon says:

    The search for Charlie Dallas is officially on. I’ve already received lots and tips and info and am in the process of sorting them out so I am able to do an intelligent search. If you have any leads, tips, info, notions or theories, please forward them to me at kinevideo@aol.com or, if you’re on Facebook, you can private message me. Thanks, and if Charlie is out there to be found, we will find him.

  244. Barry Siegel says:

    Hi Tom- I enjoyed your JIVING WITH JOEL BECK on the POTRZEBIE website. Like Roger, I also knew Joel Beck and I have a couple of photos and drawings I’d like to share with you. Where can I send them to?

  245. “….At some point Roger announced formally that he was going to the bathroom. After some time the nice kid guy went looking and found Roger dead in the bathroom. And he told us Roger had a calm expression on his face–staring philosophically into infinity…..”

    Hi Paul,

    Good to see you here, I was in this thread earlier, then got wrapped up with vintage comic book sales in my eBay store for some weeks now. Your story re Roger’s last night rings pretty just like it was told to me, but for one aspect. I distinctly remember Joel Beck coming in to my Berkeley comics store saying he was the one who discovered Roger

    Your line “….had a calm expression on his face–staring philosophically into infinity….” jibes with the thought of “serene” looking out the bathroom window as Joel told me.

    So, I am wondering who is having a potential senior moment here? Could be me, but the image of talking with Joel re Roger about his last day is pretty well branded in my psyche.

  246. I knew Charles Dallas, went over to his San Fran house a couple times back in the day. Bought a couple pages of his work, a very nice guy.

    I do not remember if it was here in this thread or over on Facebook, but there was a hunt initiated to track down Larry Todd as well about a month ago. Well, Larry got a-hold of me today via FB IM:

    “Yes, Bob, I am still out here in cyberspace, but since I am presently living in Covelo, I have to go down to town to the library to have internet access. That will probably change soon, since my landlord-cum-housemate sez we can get internet access via our direct TV link, but my good computer is temporarily down due to its burntout power supply. New one is soon to arrive, and I’ll be able to receive and respond more or less promptly…as it is, I get rather few authentic emails but a lot of commercial spam. Anyhoo, bests to you and have a happy holiday. Larry Todd”

    So, those of you wondering where Larry had gotten off to, the mystery is solved. You can FB if you like. He sounds like things are improving for him again in a matter of degrees. I had started to hunt for him as I had gotten back in touch with Christine who used to work for both me at the Pier 39 store in the late 70s as well as for Gary Arlington in his funny book emporium in the early 70s. She has a great Doctor Atomic drawing I think might make a fun poster or at least a post card about growing mary jane plants from puppies. Must date circa 1972 or 73.

  247. Most of Duncan’s artwork and copies of Tele Times were donated to the Ohio State Comic Art Museum. Its a classic, one-of-a-kind zine that’s for sure. I’ve got copies of all the issues myself. Claire Burch also did a video documentary “The History of Tele Times.” I remember the Brand interview but was fascinated to read Kim’s account of how it came about. I met Brand once in Duncan’s dusty old hotel room at the Berkeley Inn. Must have been around 1981. He was quiet and subdued and unassuming. Almost a ghost-like figure. Duncan mentioned he was an alcoholic. This art thing is a tough racket. As Kim well knows. One of the survivors.

  248. Tom Conroy says:

    Paul called me in New York and told me about Roger dying. The story he told me was the same one he told here. Roger was in the bathroom of a friend of his at the laundry, not with Joel. I recall one or two other people saying the same thing. Years ago someone in California had called me for photos of Roger for an article they were writing. It was printed in a small “comic” magazine about the size of the “TV Guide”, but not as thick. I think he also told me Roger was working in a laundry. He was folding clothes and living with the owner. I had never heard anything about Roger staying with Joel during his last days.

  249. Paul Rodgers says:

    Hi Bhob. I am slowly absorbing this blog about Roger…I went to the same high school as Roger and Joel. Roger was first comic book person I ever met and through him I met Tom Conroy, and briefly, Larry Ivie. Anyway, I just wanted to relate that Joel used to make the joke: “Ever notice that you never see Superman and Larry Ivie in the same place?” Trying to remember stuff to add…Especially light stuff. I have a dim memory of Larry Ivie trying to wrap my head with a paper hanger. Odd, but there it is…it’s what I remember and nothing else. The only paper hanger wrapping incident I’ve ever heard of.


  250. Was wondering when the edits of this blog to turn it into a cohesive to our dearly departed friend was maybe going to happen? Just inquiring, hope every one is going to have a great end of year contemplation of where life is going to end up in the next year.

  251. ruth hoebel says:

    roger brand was my boyfriend in highschool, then his brother terrel for a short time, also paul rogers later. paul and i got a place on haste street berkeley and roger and joel moved in, 1964 and 1965, they drew commics all the time on speed coka cola and coffee, india ink up to their elbows. paul had a job. the lights were on all the time. i left and went to live in the porch room at channing place. lsd. joel was there in a room across the hall. i went to SF and then denver returned and occasionally crashed at haste house which had changed considerably. stairways missing and huge graffitti in the kitchen, peanuts characters rendered pornographic. one night trying to sleep bhind the curtain with other crashers, joel on the lit up side started a stand up ruitine, so funny that went on and on. we were all laughing so hard. he could have been on stage.

  252. http://www.comicartfans.com/GalleryPiece.asp?Piece=782327&GSub=113438

    Roger Brand used to work for me. This was drawn on the first day I hired Roger back in late 1976. He was my first employee in my first Haight Ashbury comic book location upon severing ties with Comics & Comix, another comics chain store operation I was a partner in, having been involved in opening its first days in Aug 1972. I miss my friend.

  253. Paul Rodgers says:

    Additions to the Roger Brand story

    Sorry it has taken so long to add this. My brain works slowly. I knew Roger and Joel Beck from high school.

    Roger and Wally Wood:

    Wally Wood used to draw Flesh Garden and Superdooperman for Mad Magazine with a particular and very dramatic slouching posture. Roger told me it hadn’t come naturally. Wally couldn’t manage it at first. He took a special trip out somewhere to visit Frazetta who taught him how to draw the cool macho slouch.

    Wally taught Roger about spotting the blacks. Wally gave a page of almost completed work to Roger and said “Spot the blacks. Put blacks everywhere you can. Keep trying. Look at it when you’re finished. Put some more blacks in. Finally, give it back to me…and I will put the blacks in.” Later on some folks thought Roger had a strange compulsion to over-ink.

    Roger thought Wally Wood drew eyes that looked sort of…upside down. Turned out when they met Wally’s eyes appeared to Roger as “upside down.”

    Ask Roger

    When Roger died I thought “He is the one who should have written books”. People would ask “Hey, Roger. What year did something-or-other happen?” or “who was it that did something-or-other?”. He was the instant provider of answers and/or opinions on all comic matters. Like a one-man internet. I miss that.

    Roger had a favorite technique for identifying uncredited pencilers and inkers. He studied how the ears were drawn. Like fingerprints he thought. He was really good at Sherlocking art credits.

    Gil Kane and Roger found each other. Two speed thinkers. Similar in a lot of ways. I didn’t realize until reading this blog how significantly Gil Kane contributed to Roger’s vast store of comic lore. Although Roger was always an encyclopedia, before and after New York.

    Words of wisdom.

    Way back then, us guys puttering around…Roger once said ” Of all of us…if anybody is going to make it…if one of us is going to get famous…it’s Artie. Art Spiegelman will do something big time.” Way, way way back he said this.

  254. John Wharton ended up a PG&E meter reader. Gary Wood got him the job after I fired his sorry ass. I fired John under urging of restoring sanity to the store from none other than Bruce Simon, sage advice as I look back on the entire scenario then unfolding

  255. >>”…When Roger died I thought “He is the one who should have written books”. People would ask “Hey, Roger. What year did something-or-other happen?” or “who was it that did something-or-other?”. He was the instant provider of answers and/or opinions on all comic matters. Like a one-man internet. I miss that…Gil Kane and Roger found each other. Two speed thinkers. Similar in a lot of ways. I didn’t realize until reading this blog how significantly Gil Kane contributed to Roger’s vast store of comic lore. Although Roger was always an encyclopedia, before and after New York.

    “Words of wisdom….”

    This is a prime time reason Roger became my first employee in late 1976 when I went solo from Comics & Comix with a comic book store in the Haight Ashbury with that first location right across the street from Straight Theater. He definitely was a one man google machine re comic book lore. He told me Gil Kane was a prime pass on factor, but Roger seemed to have met a ga-zillion creators from back in the day as well.

  256. Tribute with illustrations from Candid Press by Jim Linderman on Vintage Sleaze the Blog

  257. Norm Carnick says:

    I have one of the Straight Banana Roger Brand fliers, happy to scan and send to you Kim (or other friends of Rogers’s). My biological mother was Bonnie Sue Solomon. I wouldn’t be surprised if a few of you knew her. I’ve been trying to get to know Bonnie (died 22 years ago) through friends of hers. In this area, so far I’ve had no luck reaching Arlene Elster and sadly Ferd Eggan died before I found out about Bonnie.

    If any here knew Bonnie, I’d love to chat. Email is ncarnick@hotmail.com.

  258. Mark B. Smith says:

    Great article. A part of Roger’s life that I didn’t know. Roger and I were best friends from 1950 to 1957. Which brings up something. The article refers to Roger growing up in Point Richmond. He actually lived in El Sobrante on St. Andrews Drive from 1950 to 1956, then moved to Collins Ave. in Pinole. He was still living in Pinole when I visited him in late 1960 or 61. I never saw him again until I noticed his name in the San Francisco phone book around 1972. I called the number, but Roger’s wife said they had split up, but she recognized my name and gave me his new number. He invited me over one evening (I was going to a P.G.&E. school at Potrero) He was living in Diamond Heights in a run-down apartment that he shared with two other hippie-types. He showed me his art work, and gave me a few drawing to take home. One of his buddies went out and bought some ale, and handed one to me. It was getting late, so I bid Roger good-bye, and started driving back to my motel. I woke up a few hours later, miles from the motel in a parking lot!! Nice ale! I tried to call Roger later, but his phone had been disconnected. I sent several letters, but he never got back to me.
    I guess I remember Roger from his El Sobrante days. He was getting his start in elementary school by drawing less than appropriate sketches of the teachers at Pinole-Hercules#1, and DeAnza High. He was an avid collector of old comics, having hundreds stashed under his bed.
    I heard of his death several years after the fact. It saddens me to think of the waste of talent. He was a good friend.

    Mark Smith

  259. This morning I re-read all of this in one sitting. Talk about memory re-jog back to days of daZe for so many of us. Just touching base in here to say “thank you” to all those who worked with me inside “Best of Two Worlds” which would include Roger, Bruce Simon, Kim Deitch, and so many others over time I lose count of em all. The pressures of coming up with the adequate cash flow(s) to cover rents, employee pay checks, etc was always intense. My apologies to those who thought me a bit crazy at times due to said pressures.

    I – we – worked so hard trying to get Roger to dry out from that which was killing him. One of the hardest things I had to perform as “boss” back then was to admit defeat and let Roger go. He simply could not beat back the demons in his head.

    Michelle, if you ever read this, Roger told me many a times the stupidest thing he ever did was let go of you.

    He cried many a time wishing he could un-do his actions at you then.
    In all actuality it was the “speed” he was addicted to then.
    Being up 4-5 days at a time.

  260. Chris V says:

    Update: The Rialto Report recently published a two-part interview with the Sutter Cinema’s Lowell Pickett and Arlene Elster, and midway through Part 1 there’s some talk about Roger Brand and the UG cartoonists in the orbit of Sutter at the time. Better still, there’s samples of his Sutter Fables strips, the Straight Banana poster, and a page or two from the comic, none of which I’ve seen online before.

    Here’s the link (Warning: definitely NSFW):

  261. Johnny says:

    This is one of the greatest things I have ever read online. I mean the combination of article and comments–bittersweet, funny, heartbreaking. Thank you. Alas, the link to the Benson interview at the end appears to be invalid. Could you possibly repost it?

  262. William says:

    Thank you so much for this. Roger Brand was certainly alive again as I read this over tea this morning as the sun was coming up here on the East Coast.

  263. Mark Morey says:

    God, this article and these comments are SOLID GOLD.

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