Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The strange world of Al Columbia and Charles Burns

Al Columbia - Exhibition - Fantagraphics - 01

Al Columbia doing autographs

Al Columbia - Original - 01
Al Columbia - Original - 02

Al Columbia - Original - 03

Al Columbia - Original - 04

I remember reading and seeing the work of Al Columbia on 1992 with 'Doghead' (published by Tundra publishing) along with Charles Burns 'Skin Deep' GN (published by Penguin books) with Iggy Pop praise for this book on the back cover and later Burns made the vinyl cover for Iggy's album "Brick by Brick" .

Doghead - Cover
Doghead - Page

Doghead - Page

 Both were really different from everything that I've seen at the time (and even now) and I thoughtthat both were going to be excellent comic book authors and well known on the world.

Later on 1994 and the following years, I started reading Al Columbia 'Biologic Show' (released on 1994) and read issues 0 and 1, 23 Skidoo, minicomic, by Wow Cool, Zero Zero, Taboo and Blab short stories:

Biologic Show - 0

Biologic Show - 1

"I Was Killing When Killing Wasn't Cool", 8 pages, Zero Zero #4 (August 1995, Fantagraphics Books)

"Jack never woke up", 1 page (inside front cover), Zero Zero #8 (March/April 1996)

"The Blood-Clot Boy", 6 pages, Zero Zero #16 (April/May 1997)

"Amnesia", 8 pages, Zero Zero #20 (September/October 1997)

"Alfred the Great", 5 pages, Zero Zero #26 (July/August 1999)

Vladimir Nabokov's Cheapy the Guinea Pig" (back cover) and untitled front cover, Zero Zero #27 (August 2000)

 "Johnny 23", 4 pages, Taboo #8 (1995) by Kitchen Sink Press

"The Trumpets They Play!", 8 pages, BLAB! #10 (1998, Fantagraphics Books)

At the same time I was reading 'Black Hole' by Burns, that was being released by Kitchen Sink Press and later from Fantagraphics until 2005, strange thing was that at the exact same time that I saw these  artists works, when I remembered one, I also remembered the other and my interest on them always grew through the years.

When new works by Charles Burns appeared, I would imediately try to find news ones by Al Columbia:

The Pogostick #1 (February 2003, Fantagraphics Books)

The Pogostick #2 (December 2003)

"Chopped Up People", 9 pages, Mome #7 (Spring 2007, Fantagraphics Books)

"Fucking Felix", 9 pages, Mome #8 (Summer 2007)

"Pim & Francie", 1 page, The Stranger, March 22, 2001; reprinted in color in Mome #9 (Fall 2007, Fantagraphics Books)

Untitled front and back covers, Mome #10 (Winter/Spring 2008)

"5:45", 4 pages, Mome #11 (Summer 2008

"Invasion", 3 pages, Mome #12 (Fall 2008)

Untitled wraparound cover, Dirty Stories Volume 3 (Spring 2002, Eros Comix/Fantagraphics Books)

Gravett, Paul. "Al Columbia's Voyage of Discovery". The Comics Journal Special Edition, Vol. 1, Winter 2002

Pim & Francie: The Golden Bear Days (2009, Fantagraphics Books)

Hi-Fructose Magazine Vol. 15, April 2010

Not  released:

The beginning of Al Columbia work on Alan Moore's Big Numbers published by Tundra

1990 : Al Columbia was asked to replace Bill Sienkiewicz on the amazing comic book by Alan Moore "Big Numbers" and Al  made the cover, pages, a print for the third issue abandoning the project on issue 4 (There were rumours that Al spent all the money paid in advance by Tundra, at Las Vegas,  that never saw this work, others that he left the country and was seen working on Italy doing dishes).

 On 2011 on an interview Al Columbia tells what he did to issue 4:

 "I was roommates with all the guys in this band called Sebadoh, which were particularly large back in the day — Lou Barlow, Eric Gaffney, and Jason Loewenstein, they were all hanging out. And Eric Gaffney was gonna put out this single, this little split single with somebody, and he wanted artwork for it and he wanted me to do something. He was big into collages and stuff like that, and we got the idea that I would chop up all this Big Numbers artwork and make a collage out of it for his album cover. I don’t know how I got the idea, but I just hated [Big Numbers] — I didn’t want anything to do with it, I had already quit it or I was going to, I knew I wasn’t going to have anything to do with it. So we put every page on a chopping block, one of those big slicers, and I just chopped it up madly for about a half hour — just sliced the whole thing up with a chopper. And Marc Arsenault, who’s the Wow Cool guy — I don’t know if anyone knows who he is, the minizine guy — he was a good friend of mine, he came over and just looked horrified. He stood in the doorway and watched me chopping up all the artwork and just went “Oh my God!” I think he must have told somebody I’d done it, and that’s how that [story] got started. But I think even before that, there was something [going around] to that effect. That might have been what influenced me to do it: “Well, they’re saying I did this, I might as well.” I can’t remember, though. But it wasn’t like “Oh my God, I’m gonna flip out, I can’t stand this!” It wasn’t this breakdown. It was just like, “Oh, this’ll make a cool record cover.” That’s it. That’s all it was."


"The Virus", 8 pages (artwork only); front cover and various illustrations, From Beyonde #1 (February 1991, Studio Insidio) [as "Lucien"]

"Clara Mutilarés", 11 pages; front cover and various illustrations, From Beyonde #2 (May 1991)

"Untitled", 4 pages; back cover, From Beyonde #3 (September 1991)

Early Charles Burns works:

In 1982, Burns did a die-cut cover for RAW #4.

 Raw Books also published two books of Burns as 'RAW One-Shot': Big Baby (on 1986) and Hard-Boiled Defective Stories (on 1988).

1999 - Misterios de la carne - La Cupula

Book released in spanish with original stories

Curse of the Molemen by Charles Burns (Mar 1991) by Kitchen Sink Press (reprinting Raw books Big Baby)

Blood Club, Featuring Big Baby by Charles Burns (Nov 1992) (reprinting Raw books Big Baby)


1992 Goon Squad Cards

Charles Burns: Modern Horror Sketch Book by Charles Burns (Mar 1994)

In 1993, The Coca-Cola Company decided they wanted capture the Generation X market by creating a new product that was unslick, cynical and anti-corporate. The result of that effort was OK Soda.  - To give the cans and print ads an edgy look, OK Soda featured designs by “alternative” cartoonists Daniel Clowes (“Ghost World”) and Charles Burns (“Black Hole”). 

My Education: A Book Of Dreams. Burroughs, William, Burns, Charles. Published by Picador, London, England, 1995

1998 - Facetasm: A Creepy Mix and Match Book of Gross Face Mutations!

El Borbah (Fantagraphics) by Charles Burns (Aug 20, 1999) (reprinting Hard-Boiled Defective Stories (on 1988).

Big Baby (Fantagraphics) by Charles Burns (2000) (reprinting Raw books : Big Baby (on 1986))

Skin Deep  by Charles Burns (2001) ( reprinting Skin Deep: Tales of Doomed romance by Penguin books (on 1992).

2005 - Black Hole - Compilation by Pantheon books

Black Hole - T-shirt

 One Eye by Charles Burns (Feb 20, 2007)

2007 French black-and-white animated anthology film on the subject of fear[1] written and directed by several notable comic book creators and graphic designers like : Blutch
Charles Burns,Marie Caillou,Pierre di Sciullo,Lorenzo Mattotti and Richard McGuire

Fantagraphics, Elysian and Charles Burns Serve Up 12 Beers of the Apocalypse


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