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Where Demented Wented: The Art & Comics of Rory Hayes

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I’ve posted briefly about Rory Hayes and the Mark Beyer connection before. I recently got ‘Where Demented Wented: The Art & Comics of Rory Hayes‘ from Nostalgia & Comics in Birmingham.


This is a real insight into Hayes’ work. It isn’t a simple collection of Hayes’ art & comics, but includes articles and interviews that open up your understanding of an artist whose work is largely disturbing and unappealing. It seems that while many of his contemporaries were producing work that rebelled against the comics code or explored taboos, Hayes’ early work embraced the comics that sparked the code and produced comics that emulated the storytelling conventions of the pre-code EC Horror comics such as Bogeyman Comics, sadly not reprinted in their entirety in this book.

The book also features a strip about Hayes by Bill Griffith (of Zippy fame). Griffith had this to say about Hayes;

Rory Hayes was the real thing; a genuine ‘outsider’ artist working alongside his more self-aware compatriots in the heady days of the San Francisco Underground Comix scene of the 1960s and ’70s. His work retains its raw, primitive power to this day, teetering precariously between chaos and control, madness and oddly endearing teddy bears.

Hayes has what you might generously call ‘limited appeal’ to the general public. You have been warned – these stories aren’t for everyone.

An introduction and 19-page excerpt are available from the Fantagraphics site.


Written by The Department of Illustration

September 8, 2009 at 12:38 pm

Bitterkomix, Racial Stereotypes and Tintin

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Paul Gravett introduces South African Anton Kannemeyer and Bitterkomix. I found this article really interesting, especially following the news that a Brooklyn library has restricted access to Tintin in the congo.


Parallels can be drawn between the premise of Paul’s article

Satire is in the eye of the beholder. The most cutting political satire, if misread, risks cutting both ways and appearing to endorse the very things it set out to assault. Might resurrecting racist imagery from the past to condemn racism today also serve to perpetuate that visual poison and feed prejudices further? Or can a postmodern re-reading give it added potency to shock and shame?

and the accusations of racism arising from comedian Richard Herring‘s recent Edinburgh show ‘Hitler Moustache’ in which he rails against voter apathy and the BNP, and attempts to re-appropriate the toothbrush moustache.

Satire is certainly in the eye of the beholder, and reinterpreting controversial imagery and subject matter is risky. It assumes that the audience is aware of both the original material/circumstances and the fine lines that divide the satire from the original message.

Written by The Department of Illustration

September 1, 2009 at 8:35 am

Posted in Articles, Comics, History

150 Million year old Squid Ink?

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_46228866_squid_comp282Check out this story from the BBC about paleontologists drawing with 150 million year old squid ink.


Written by The Department of Illustration

August 31, 2009 at 7:48 pm

Posted in History, Illustration, News

Barefoot Gen review

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Greg McElhatton over at Read About Comics writes about the first volume of Keiji Nakazawa’s autobiographical account of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Barefoot Gen. This one has been on my list of things to read for some time now.

For a different angle, head over to Paul Gravett’s site to read his article on Barefoot Gen.

I do agree with Greg though, using comic sans does detract from it somewhat.

Written by The Department of Illustration

August 25, 2009 at 1:22 pm

Posted in Buy This, History, Manga, Review

Crime and Noir Stories

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Laura Hudson at Comics Alliance introduces a history of crime and noir comics. If this is your cup of tea, why not splash out on Paul Gravett’s superb ‘Mammoth Book of Best Crime Comics‘, which features the Jack Cole story ‘Murder Morphine and Me’ by Plasticman Creator Jack Cole, from which the panel below is taken. Paul also writes a particularly insightful article on Art Spiegelman’s book on Cole, ‘Jack Cole & Plastic Man: Forms Stretched To Their Limits‘ that explores the connections between his work and suicide.


Once you have your crime-whistle suitably whetted, head on over to, register and download some gloriously copyright-free titles such as ‘Crime Must Pay The Penalty‘, ‘Men Against Crime‘ and ‘Crime Clinic‘.

Written by The Department of Illustration

August 20, 2009 at 8:57 pm

A history of Irish comics

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Patrick Brown of has started a very interesting history of Irish comics;

It’s difficult to compile a history of Irish cartooning from the available secondary sources. Most cartoon histories use cartoons to shed light on historical events and contemporary attitudes, and have little interest in the cartoonists and their art. For obvious reasons, political cartoons are well represented in such histories, but cartoons on more general subjects are of little interest to historians and are much harder to find. Compiling a proper history would take years of research through newspaper and magazine archives, backed up with the knowledge to place styles and trends in Irish cartooning, not just in their historical context, but in the context of styles and trends in cartooning and art generally, and I’m in no position to do that just at the moment. This article is based on the knowledge I have, in which there will obviously be huge gaps, but we have to start somewhere.

Written by The Department of Illustration

August 17, 2009 at 7:14 pm

Posted in Comics, European, History

Kirby story of the month

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1440397970_b393f9eb97_oLove The Line have a new Jack Kirby story all scanned in and ready to read. This is an odd tale. I won’t ruin the ending, but I really didn’t see that coming.

Written by The Department of Illustration

August 17, 2009 at 6:42 pm

Posted in Comics, History, Scans