Jeffrey Catherine Jones' comics
Plus, pulp fanzines and polar bear-drawn sleighs
Here’s another entry in the “stuff I can’t fit into my book” category.
Jeffrey Catherine Jones loved creating black and white one-shot horror and sci-fi comics that are fun, stylish, and creatively plotted. But my art book is set up for individual images, not pages and pages of one comic, so I ultimately won’t be able to feature any of them.
I’ll definitely still have her art in the book! This is the artist that Frank Frazetta once called “the greatest living painter,” after all.
I figured I’d spend an email showcasing Jones’ comics. You’ll have to click through my links in order to read them all the way though, but they’re all pretty short and rewarding.
Here’s one story about an astronaut battling a hostile “empathic system” on an alien planet, from Spring 1969. One page from it:
And here’s an entire zine collection of short comic stories, published in 1973 by Last Gasp. It’s the motherlode, with nine stories.
Here’s my favorite single image, which is from the very front of the zine, unattached to any larger story. Fingers crossed, I’ll be able to get this in my book.
Just let that soak in! It’s a great example of Jones’ biggest strength: Injecting life into the human body (okay, it’s technically “undeath” in this example, but you get what I’m saying). She packs every single panel of every comic here with life and emotion, largely conveyed through the way that the characters hold themselves.
That’s a very tough trick to pull off. Frank Frazetta was known for it as well (it’s usually what people point to when arguing that Frazetta’s better than Boris Vallejo), and I’m sure it’s why he respected Jones’ work so much.
So I somehow managed to be a huge genre fiction nerd for years without learning about vintage paperback fanzine publisher Justin Marriott. But last week I was trying to track down an artist credit for an obscure paperback, and found a note citing an issue of some magazine called “The Paperback Fanatic.”
Turns out this one guy has been producing irregular fanzines all about pulp paperbacks since 2007! There’s more of them — The Sleazy Reader, Pulp Horror, Men Of Violence, Hot Lead — each dedicated to even more specific genres of pulp history.
Arch meta commentary on super niche retro publishing history? This is very much my kind of thing.
Here’s an interview he gave about his work in 2017:
Q&A with Fanzine Publisher Justin Marriott
Robert Deis, MensPulpMags.com
“One thing that is interesting to me, is that I receive much less correspondence from Amazon customers despite listing my e-mail in the zines and asking for correspondence. I theorize that ordering through Amazon rather than from me as an individual brings a different dimension to the editor/reader relationship. The pre-POD readership of the FANATIC have been on board for many, many years now, so I felt like we were a collective of some sort and I kind of knew who my readers were. Now I have no idea for the most part!”
Here’s another, earlier interview:
The Fanatic Of Oz
Paul Bishop, personal site
“I also have a hearty distrust of commentators who over-intellectualize popular culture. It’s as if they are trying to justify their interest in lowest common denominator material. Why not just admit you like it because it’s outrageous, shocking, violent, sexy, and unacceptable to the mainstream, or that you are a bit weird. Don’t try and dress it up in intellectual clothing.
However, I do think looking back at vintage paperbacks can provide a real insight into wider society, often revealing some unpalatable truths—such as the huge popularity of the plantation genre in the ‘70s, which were bodice-rippers set against the background of the slave trade. They were full of racial stereotypes, sex, and sadism, so who the hell was buying these books in such large numbers? What was it about the national psyche they tapped into? What did/does it say about use as a supposedly civilized species?”
I’ve already ordered a recent issue off Amazon.
An amazing Frazetta quote here, regarding his 1972 ‘Silver Warrior’ canvas:
“Harness? HA! Who needs a harness? This is emotion; those bears are coming for you, you don’t have time to see a harness. I paint feelings. I of course thought of the harness, but it would make a ridiculous clutter.”
-Frank Frazetta (Esquire interview, June 1977)
I actually wrote up this entire Barnes and Noble blog post about this work back in 2016, and basically came to the same conclusion. Here’s Howard Chaykin’s 1979 take on the same sleigh, which is a representation of Michael Moorcock’s Count Urlik Skarsol.
Chaykin’s great! But I have to agree with Frazetta that ignoring harnesses was the right move. I just wish I’d known about that Esquire quote back when I wrote up that post; it would have been a great note to end on.