Oh, man, I was so proud that something I did got into a Free Comic Book Day comic. Still am, for that matter.
The comic-book store in the second panel is based on a real store, but an awesome and historically significant one. The San Francisco Comic Book Company, located in my stomping grounds here in the Mission District, is by most accounts the oldest comic-book store in the country. It’s owned by Gary Arlington, who hung out with all the SF underground cartoonists back in the ’60s and published some of their comics, most notably those of tragic head case Rory Hayes. The store still exists, but I’m not sure whether it’s still open, and even when it was, there was never any guarantee that Gary Arlington would let you go inside or purchase anything. A couple of times, we found him sitting in his lawn chair in the doorway, chasing away anyone unwise enough to try to buy a comic from him. There’s another, almost identical store two doors down; legend has it that it was started by a disgruntled ex-employee of Arlington’s store in a futile attempt to drive him out of business. I get the impression that many comic-book stores in the Bay Area were started as grudges against Gary Arlington.
I know my drawing of Tom Hart looks a lot like my drawing of Andrew. In my defense, the real Tom Hart looks a lot like the real Andrew.
Rory Root, proprietor of Comic Relief, died last year, leaving the comics world much poorer. I wrote a tribute in this Comixology column.
This Free Comic Book Day comic became infamous! Gordon Lee, a comic-store retailer in Georgia, was arrested for distributing pornography to minors because the Alternative Comics sampler included an excerpt from Nick Bertozzi’s graphic novel The Salon featuring a historically accurate depiction of Pablo Picasso running around his apartment naked. Because when I think “porn,” I think “small drawings that include an unattractive Cubist’s flaccid penis.” It’s true that Pablo Picasso is a sexually magnetic individual who causes girls to turn the color of an avocado when he drives by in his El Dorado, but I know from sexy drawings of naked men, and these were not sexy.
The case was taken up by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and dragged on for three years, costing thousands upon thousands of dollars, before finally being dismissed. And nobody even mentioned the great elephants Tom Hart drew.