Dildo Boy: Two Feet High & Rising
Two-Footed Tales, Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Dong.
Early in 2017 I stumbled across this fellow calling himself Doktor Geraldo who was beaming some really raw self-made comics out onto the internet. They were mesmerizingly original. When I finally got in contact with him I had to confess that I could not determine the source of his influences. I soon found out why. Because I'd never heard of any of his influences: Oor Wullie and the Broons, Viz, Warlord, Victor. The man had not seen a comic since he was a kid. He was writing and illustrating his own story called Spec Ops Hobo, a war comic set in 1985 starring a spoof of a legendary local bum in his hometown.
He made his comic like it was pulled from a time machine. A fascinatingly strange element is how his Hobo is portrayed with this certain look on his face, like he's waiting to be victimized. There's no thought bubbles to let you know what's going on inside his head. We're separated from all his inner opinions.
I tentatively asked if he would let me draw a pinup of his character. He said "Sure, what's a pinup?" It was like Doktor Geraldo had landed here from Mars.
When Geraldo wanted to take the inevitable stab at superheroes, he revealed that he understood them as "really just teenage boys obsessing over impossibly sexy and unattainable women". He said that he was going to push his story into the direction of the old underground adult comix. I asked him how strong an effect he was striving toward; Rated-R, NC-17, or even Rated-X? I thought this might be a great opportunity to scratch a terrific Guido Crepax type expressional itch. He said "Triple X".
The timing of this was of note because the fashion of the moment was for members of the comic book community to hold up silver-age or even modern examples of Wonder Woman and Captain America battling swastika-suited foes as a way to claim their own right, nay their duty, to go forth and "Punch Nazis". Forgetting for the moment that everyone doing this was soft as soup and had never swung on anybody in their miserable sunless lives, what was bothersome to me was the hijacking of the superhero into being the defacto representative of the eternal struggle against ideological tyranny and selectively forgetting what is actually the only cool and interesting thing about superheroes which is their lurid psycho-sexual pulpy origins.
I love the pulps and I crave that sense of disorientation when you pick up a 1930's issue of Batman and find that Bob Kane's ideas of Bruce Wayne are that he's a sometimes-reporter packing a gun along with his occultist girlfriend Julie (Detective Comics #32).
Geraldo's concept was to go beyond all the strained Golden Age innuendo and head his superhero story roaring straight over the edge of artistically-defensible taste with his characters Dildo Boy and Torpedo Tits.
Superheroes I knew about. What research I had in front of me in way of drawing preparation was to put a close eye on the successes and failures when rendering pornography into a comic book format. Today's approach seemed to all be hentai, which having no appreciation for manga, left me visually cold. I ended up rolling things back to tough guy Spain Rodriguez and started with his Big Bitch. It was during this time that I so came to appreciate the work of Cherry Poptart creator and this week's interview on the Comix Voodoo Hayride, Mr. Larry Welz.
Cherry was a character romping in this innocuous Archie Comics type world with a message of naughty sex positivism and armed with an indefatigable sense of humor. It was the Larry Welz approach to the book that put it out on its own and today 35 years later it still sets an example as a high water mark for what can be accomplished with comix.
Welz lived through the wild west of the underground scene. Until a few years ago he used his blog (and later Tumblr) to talk about the faces and places of that time, shopping at the first comics store ever opened and the general daily trials and tribulations of a working artist made vivid by example. Terrifically candid, his dispatches let you know that sometimes you'll be tasked with pushing your imagination to it's limit and beyond while other times you're painting the prices across the windshield of used cars.
After comics, Welz has spent time creating traveling Freakshow banners, the artwork for carnival attractions and made waves in Roswell New Mexico, graffiting big black alien eyes on the city street lamps. He has now relocated to Albuquerque and makes sporadic guest appearances at comic conventions from Denver to Phoenix.
He is not easily reached. My conversation with him took about six weeks to organize. He has been and continues to be a huge influence on me and getting him here to speak to you guys has been a golden experience.
Also this week...
On the other end of the spectrum, for balance, I talk briefly about Richard Nixon's favorite cartoonist and one-legged wrecking crew Al Capp. Fantagraphics just digitally released Alexander Theroux's 1999 profile The Enigma of Al Capp where the life of the controversial politics-swapping cartoonist is shortly examined along with examples from his comic strips.
You might be interested to learn that my tastes are such that I passionately hate the way that Capp really rose to millionaire status by vomiting on the Queen's English in L'il Abner and yet I find Capp's actual broadcast-ready voice spellbinding with his aw-shucks timing from some altogether other era. No matter the liquidity of his viewpoints he kept about him the remarkable capacity to convince people that they were wrong and that he was right. "I think that Superman is the greatest moron that's come along in some time." once said Capp on The Author Meets The Critics radio show. Deliciously coy when needed and a masterful marketer when called upon, I've hung on his every loaded word through hours of recordings.
You'll be hearing from more bad apples including Argentinian horror comic book artist CJ Camba and we'll also be having a wrap party for my Kickstarter horror comic Corsair on which you can still get in as it stands at 90% funded at the time of this writing. Alright gang, let's march out there and give the devil two black eyes and we'll meet back here next week on the Comix Voodoo Hayride.