Eric Reynolds, Comic & Editor of The Comics Journal
16th June 2003
Media Man Australia interviews Eric Reynolds, who's
comic work has brought him international acclaim and
discusses his background and career highlights.
was born in Orange County, California, on June 22,
1971. I remained in Southern California until graduating
from the University of California at Irvine in 1993
with a B.A. in English and Comparative Literature.
In the summer of 1993, he moved to Seattle to accept
a position as the news editor of The Comics Journal,
a respected trade magazine of news and criticism about
comics that was founded in 1976 and more recently
won the 2002 UTNE Independent Press Award for Arts
& Literature coverage. As news editor from 1993
to 1996, I was known as the industrys most aggressive
advocacy journalist, particularly in regard to first
coverage of cartoonist Mike Dianas case against
the State of Florida, an obscenity trial that sent
the young man to jail for drawing dirty
pictures, drew attention to the case from the ACLU
and media like Utne Reader and Mother Jones.
1996, I moved over to the side of the Journals
parent publisher, Fantagraphics Books, the worlds
foremost publisher of graphic literature and alternative
comics. I assumed the editorial duties for a variety
of authors, including living legends like Robert Crumb
and up-and-comers like Johnny Ryan. I also took over
the companys publicity and marketing, which
he perceived to be a perpetual shortcoming of the
are you positioned in the market?
is widely acknowledged to be the nations foremost
proponent of treating the artform of comics as a medium
as legitimate an artform as any other for expressing
the full breadth of the human condition, and I am
widely considered to be an integral cog in the Fantagraphics
are some of the best cartoonists you have worked with?
Crumb, Daniel Clowes, Robert Williams, Chris Ware,
Los Bros Hernandez, Jim Woodring, Joe Sacco, Peter
Bagge and Kim Deitch, in no particular order.
other media attention have you garnered?
a publicist and promoter, I have earned local attention
by garnering a 1999 King County Events & Promotions
Award (KEPA) for putting on the areas most creative
and successful independent fundraising event that
year in the Under $50,000 category. The
fundraiser was for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
(a non-profit organization that protects the First
Amendment rights of comic book industry professionals)
and held at Seattles popular Crocodile Café;
the event included an art show (with over 40 donated
pieces by Chris Ware, Jim Woodring, Ed Fotheringham,
and many others) as well as performances by New York
Times best-selling author Neil Gaiman and local punk
rock legends Gas Huffer and Peter Parker. The event
raised $10,000 and was the non-profits most
successful fundraising event of the year.
has also taught cartooning classes in his spare time
to Seattle-area junior high school students, through
the citys Coyote Junior High School program
and written book reviews for The Stranger.
has your work appeared?
a cartoonist, I have contributed to the New York Times,
The New York Press, The Stranger, The Rocket, The
Ganzfeld, Bakunin and Yeti, amongst many others. My
artwork has appeared in exhibitions ranging from Seattle
to New York to Portugal.
have a knack for being in odd places in comics history.
In March 2002, I attended the Granada Comics Festival
in the Spanish coastal town as a guest of the festivals
organizers along with fellow Seattle cartoonist Peter
Bagge. The event featured a controversial awards ceremony
that satirized the terrorist acts of Sept. 11, 2001,
and included a live sex performance onstage. Myself
and Bagge were the only Americans in attendance, and
I was the only one whom apparently brought a camera
the event scandalized Europe and it was my
pics that were circulated from Spains El Pais
newspaper to as far as newspapers in the UK and the
TV shows have you appeared on?
appeared as a character on The Simpsons television
show in 2000 and has made cameos in comics such as
Hate, The Sandman, Eightball and others. He was even
once violently killed in a licensed Aliens comic book
from Dark Horse Comics.
the deal with Bethesda?
recently served on the steering committee of Bethesda,
Marylands SPX/EXPO, an annual gathering of independent
comics press and artists and academics, but resigned
in protest earlier this year amidst great controversy.
A news story appeared in the March 31, 2003 edition
of Publishers Weekly. The event is the mediums
most prestigious festival, treating comics as a serious
artform as opposed to mindless genre entertainment
and hot collectibles.
did you resign from ICAF?
resigned over what he saw as a betrayal of the shows
ideals in regard to a proposed merger with the Baltimore
Comics Convention and a severing of the shows
relationship with ICAF, the nations largest
academic conference focusing on the medium of comics.
I was perceived as an aesthetic hard-liner, opposed
the merger with a traditional comic convention as
well as the break with ICAF.
me about ICAF?
draws comic book professionals and academics from
around the world; the events most recent guest
of honor (in 2002) was the Pulitzer Prize-winning
cartoonist Art Spiegelman, who attended at the behest
of Reynolds, a longtime friend.
projects have been keeping you busy lately?
continue to promote and market Fantagraphics full-time,
along with the notion of comics as literature, while
pursuing personal projects like the recently released
Hysteria In Remission: The Comix & Drawings of
Robt. Williams, a massive retrospective that I co-authored
and edited along with the notorious outsider painter
represented by the Tony Shafrazzi Gallery in New York
I also continue to edit Fantagraphics R. Crumb
titles as well as special projects like Dirty Stories,
an anthology challenging notions of pornography and
eroticism by gathering the mediums best cartoonists
to tackle the theme of sex.
popular anthology has drawn raves from The Onion and
San Francisco Bay Guadian and been banned from the
entire country of Canada. I also finds time to pursue
my musical interests; my band, the Action Suits (which
has featured fellow cartoonists Pete Bagge, Al Columbia
and Jeremy Eaton over the years), has released five
records over the last several years.
note: A industry innovator that has experienced the
highs and lows in the business. The quality of his
work speaks for itself. We wish Eric continues success.
Comics Journal official website
Comics Journal: Ignoring Turbulent Times, by Eric
Books official website
Art Collective: Eric Reynolds profile
Book Legal Defense Fund
publishing company that cartoonists are thankful to
for perhaps starting this minor genre is Fantagraphics."
Martin Arnold, New York Times, November 2, 2000
What we are doing is the literary equivalent of grunge
rock. We're the grunge comics." Larry Reid (of
Fantagraphics), Seattle P. I. June 1, 1992
is the home of some of the best storytellers in the
world documenting a part of America pop culture for
posterity." Tammy Watson, Stale Mate, Issue 1
without Fantagraphics comics, I would be hard pressed
to think of an excuse to hide under my blanket with
a flashlight and eat frozen pizzas all night."
Tammy Watson, StaleMate, Issue 1
books, has become one of the nations leading producers
of "alternative comics"- the 90's version
of the underground comics of the '60s and '70s."
Clayton Park, Puget sound Business Journal, Vol. 13
#44 March 19-25, 1993
"hard-edged" alternative titles have received
glowing praise from the national media, including
The Village Voice, LA Weekly, and Entertainment Weekly."
Clayton Park, Puget sound Business Journal, Vol. 13
#44 March 19-25, 1993
round of applause for all the folks at Fantagraphics,
for keeping alive through long, lean years the great
tradition of comic art, embracing all the sub-genres
from superhero to Zero Zero, Olympian to Gutter, manga
to serie noir." Art Town, Edited by Roger Downey,
Seattle Weekly, Nov. 26 1998.
based Fantagraphics is the largest, best alternative-comics
publisher in the U.S." Queen, NY Press Holiday
Gift Guide, Nov. 26- Dec. 2 1997.
Books is today regarded as the most popular and successful
publisher of alternative comics. In an industry threatened
with mainstream commercial appeal, in a time when
there have never been more alternative comics publishers,
Fantagraphics remains committed to the ideals upon
which it was founded." The Official Newsletter
of the Words and Pictures Museum, Vol. 6 #1 Feb.-April
Books publishes some of the best and most intriguing
comics on the market." Maurice Harter, Words
Books is putting out some of the most handsome and
innovative comic books in the country." Clark
Humphrey, Seattle Times/ Seattle P.I, Nov. 5 1989.
is considered the granddaddy of today's alternative
market..." Richard Seven, Pacific Northwest-The
Seattle Times Magazine, March 18 2001.
BOOKS as been to the '80s and '90s what City Lights
was to the '50s and '60s: the premiere gathering place,
publisher and promoter of the era's most exciting
and multi-faceted form of literature." - Utne
be difficult to find more challenging and entertaining
rabble-rousers amid the panorama of popular culture."
- The Village Voice
publishes the best comics in the world." - Wired
Books has been a leading proponent of comics as a
legitimate form of art and literature since it began
publishing the critical trade magazine The Comics
Journal in 1976. By the early 1980s, Fantagraphics
found itself at the forefront of the burgeoning movement
to establish comics as a medium as eloquent and expressive
as the more established popular arts of film, literature,
poetry, et al. Fantagraphics quickly established a
reputation as an advocacy publisher that specialized
in seeking out and publishing the kind of innovative
work that traditional comics corporations who dealt
almost exclusively in super-heroes and fantasy either
didn't know existed or wouldn't touch: serious, dramatic,
historical, journalistic, political, and satirical
work by a new generation of alternative cartoonists
as well as many artists who gained prominence as part
of the seminal underground comix movement of the '60s.
Fantagraphics has since gained an international reputation
for its literate and audacious editorial standards
and its exacting production values.
work of artists such as R. Crumb, Gilbert and Jaime
Hernandez, Dan Clowes, Joe Sacco, Chris Ware and others
has continued to gain commercial momentum and critical
recognition over the last 20 years by combining the
social relevance of the previous generation of underground
comix artists, attention to personal and psychologal
veracity, and formal experimentation and innovation.
authors have garnered more favorable press attention
than any publisher's in the history of the medium.
Recent books alone have received significant, positive
coverage in TIME, Newsweek, Entertainment Weekly,
Spin, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The
Washington Post, The Nation, and others. Fantagraphics
was ranked among the top five most influential publishers
in the history of comics in a recent poll by an industry
trade newspaper; it was the only independent publisher
on the list, and the only contemporary publisher named
alongside corporate behemoths Marvel and DC.
Fall list represents one of our strongest and most
varied, from new collections by Chris Ware, Joe Sacco,
Gilbert Hernandez, Bill Grifith, and Dan Clowes to
reprints of classic work by Arnold Roth, George Herriman,
R. Crumb, and Gil Kane, to a hardcover art collection
celebrating the work of cartoonist and fine artist
Bernard Krigstein, a new book by one of Europe's most
acclaimed young cartoonists, and even a 2002 Calendar
by an artist who is best known for setting a new standard
for mainstream comics storytelling - a truly connoisseurial
list of great cartooning.