Above, a dream strip from RARE BIT FIENDS starring myself, Steve Bissette and John Totleben. John is also the subject of the short piece that follows which was written for a tribute zine published as a con giveaway many years back. Enjoy.
THE DANCE OF THE DEATH CHICKY
By Rick Veitch
While John Totleben is justifiably renowned for his astonishing pen and ink techniques and stone cold visionary delineation’s of skin crawling horror, a small group of artists who knew John intimately in his student days are more apt to celebrate this gifted artist by recalling his greatest talent: puppetry.
John’s hidden marionette skills made their world debut at the FLYING DUTCHMAN STUDIO (actually a roach-ridden New Jersey flop-house shared by Totleben, Tom Yeates, Steve Bissette, and myself and frequented by various starving artists, hangers on, lost souls and subterranean culture vultures). While retrievable memory cells from those halcyon days are fortunately in short supply, I suspect it began as most things did in that hallowed environment, which was with a slowly dawning awareness among one or more of the DUTCHMEN that important bodily functions had been neglected for too long. In the case of DEATH CHICKY, this would probably have been a painful gnawing at the abused lining of what passed for stomachs among these budding but soon-to-be-lionized comic book geniuses. With the stabbing pangs would begin a mighty and increasingly frantic search of chronically empty pockets and wallets, followed by a shaking down of any hapless visitors or luckless girlfriends and capped with an archeological dig through epic piles of landfilled garbage for left over deposit bottles from the previous weekend’s festivities.
Above: a dream from RARE BIT FIENDS. Below: an introduction I recently wrote to an Italian reissue of Alan Moore’s WRITING FOR COMICS.
The Secrets Of Alan’s Brain
By Rick Veitch
Let’s face it. The odds are vanishingly small that you, or anyone else picking up this book, needs any kind of introduction to Alan Moore. It’s a foregone conclusion that you’ve already devoured every comic of Alan’s that you could get your mitts on and probably had your life changed by more than a few. You’ve been spellbound by his prose novel, mesmerized by his spoken word cd’s and busted a gut to see him on the Simpsons. And you’ve no doubt groaned your way through the ham fisted hatchet jobs Hollywood has made of some of his best work.
What you’re probably far more interested in is how the mind that conceived Marvelman, Swamp Thing, Watchmen, From Hell, Promethia, Lost Girls and all those other masterpieces, actually operates. You might very well have picked up this essential volume, in which Alan shares his approach to comic book writing, looking for some clues to what really makes him tick. Having had the good fortune to collaborate with the guy for 25 years, I get the question from comic book fans all the time. As a result of the constant requests, I’ve developed a pet theory on that very subject, most of which boils down to the fact that Alan Moore’s mind simply doesn’t work like most other people’s.