Influences

18 INFLUENCES

RYAN H: Who were the main influences artistically (writers, illustrators, music) on your work growing up as a young artist? In Steve Bissette’s TABOO introduction of your story Akimbo, he wrote that he saw in your work, influences the likes of Alfred Jarry, Samuel Beckett, Mark Beyer, Jim Woodring, and Max Ernst. Vintage John Waters films, Captain Beefheart lyrics, and the Three Stooges were all mentioned at some point also. Were any of these an influence on your writing and artwork in some way?”

RICK GRIMES: “If I had to boil it down, it would be the rasp and clang and anvil chorus of the freakishly coiffed Three Stooges. The perpetual background of ‘Warner Bros’, Terrytoons and (ooh… it’s just) Popeyes. Jay Ward’s Bullwinkle (and followup characters); and their imitative, less funny brethren, the ‘Total TV’ crowd (King Leonardo, Underdog, Tennessee Tuxedo). Dr. Seuss, probably more than I realize. Walt Kelly and Chester Gould most definitely. Some Carl Barks and more often the less ‘thoughty’ Paul Murry (Mickey [Mouse] and Goofy stories). None of us knew their names back then. The early Hanna-Barbera TV ‘stable’ was always fun to look at (tho’ never hilarious), until they ‘ran out of animals’ and abandoned their old crew for self imitation and endless teenagers-with-hound dogs gurge. Their Hollywood derived ‘J. Evil Scientist’. The subsequent TV Munsters and Addams Family, casts, settings and all. And their cartoon reflections Milton the Monster and Gold Key Comics’ Little Monsters. The forgotten Virgil Partch. Basil Wolverton in a class all his own, and no doubt Ed Roth’s Rat Fink and the Odd Rods craze.

Fifties and Sixties B movie ‘horrors’, [Roger] Corman, [William] Castle, Larry Buchanan and such ilk.

Gilligan (Gilligan’s Island), Get Smart and Gomer [Pyle]. Paul Henning’s crossover world of Hillbillies – the indomitable vitality and ‘frightening charm’ of the stupid. Especially, most all of Green Acres, the epitome of cornball surrealism.

That’s just part of the flood, folks.

And I hope it doesn’t disillusion any of my fellow, but ‘differently-challenged’, obsessives who think I dropped out of some eyre of insanity not of this beleaguered earth, and prefer mystique. But, that was it. The secret’s out. I’m just another media baby.

However, I refuse to take the ‘blame by association’. All of that stuff was already here for years before I got here or/and came along/later throo dint of effort of many others not only as goofy but probably goofier than I. Earth, or America anyway, does that to you.

So, whatever the particular passing landmarks in the flood of others’ works, I defy anyone not to have that fecundity coming out of their ears in pleasing piles of myriad mind-manure.

To continue: Some of the more readily available surrealists – Dali, Magritte, Ernst.

Sergio Leone. Eraserhead. Herbie. Many others, large and small. It could even be any number of things impossible to track down.


In writing: Dr. Seuss and Walt Kelly, again. Frank Jacobs’ song parodies in Mad Magazine. W.C. Fields’ domestic scenarios.

Captain Beefheart (Don Van Vliet) records freed me to speak of things, things themselves.

A little later, Robbe-Grillet, especially In The Labyrinth and Jealousy, The House of Rendezvous and his book of essays on other writers. His comments on other writers. His comments on Raymond Roussel and examples of his method.

[Samuel] Beckett, of course, took it all to the limits, and I did read him.

Harry Crews brings you back to earth with the cthonic humour of his Southern-fried freaks. Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood.

[Kurt] Vonnegut and [Richard] Brautigan showed you can have a complete story, a full book, using brevity, personal nuance and humour. Some Donald Barthelme.

Am aware of the others you quoted – whatever’s been available to touch, glance at or wallow in probably lurks or shines somewhere, too – you have little raps on when, what, & how much. Is there anything that doesn’t influence you? I don’t think that the nature of it is, in general, even understood. Probably never to be. Plus other people and places – the whole of one’s life, which can’t be remembered entirely.

Everyone has phases too. I had a Peanuts phase as a kid. Kept drawing the characters. A [Robert] Crumb phase as a teenager drawing, (‘twenties’ style), cats and dogs. But, how much of that can you see in my stuff now?

Or other things, particularly later in your life, only reaffirm your direction or fill in some area of created worlds and approaches you almost went to; or never conceived of ’til you saw someone else’s work.

You may know you’ll never go there. Like in dreams where you see this great style or page that may be signed by some weird name. But, you wake up and realize it could have been your style, had you laboured for that, or been a tad or a slew more capable.

You’ve dreamed artwork that can never, may never quite be. Yet you saw it as if real in a different niche or continuum of artistic influences.

Again, another ‘last point’: as you develop you realize a direction isn’t quite you and you sort of reject it. You must still love it and respect that artist, writer, or performer but you just don’t go there as much for inspiration. Maybe for escape and entertainment! A lot of things I love but have not mentioned because I just don’t see the effect on my art.” — (December 22, 2008).

Yak YakLaurel Near  E'head

Jack Elam the fly in the gun barrel

Safe As MilkHerbie #3a  copy 2

'Uncle'  12 26 '71Kelly last pg FC220  crop

>> All Fair Use images copyright their respective owners.

{Top to bottom, left to right: Yak Yak, one of the more marginal characters I would await, sometimes drawing them via the TV, from Tennessee Tuxedo (1963-66). The Lady in the Radiator (Laurel Near), a transubstantial figure, to my mind, in David Lynch’s wholly unique and incredible Eraserhead (1977). Jack Elam, and his new fly, in the jaw-dropping opening of Sergio Leone’s  Once Upon a Time in the West (1968). The 1967 Captain Beefheart album Safe as Milk, which I bought, as my first, and a life saver, for a dollar in a New Jersey mall some ten years later (no bumper sticker by then, tho’). The wonderful Herbie, with his grand dad, the acme of ACG’s creations of the mid ’60s, by artist Ogden Whitney & publisher/writer Richard E. Hughes (Leo Rosenbaum). ‘Uncle’ an unfortunately minor ’70s character in Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy (in the story run where Gravel Gertie has a treasure map tattooed on her head). And, lastly but not leastly, Walt Kelly eggzits as Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty in Dell’s Four Color #220}.

{I felt this page, and perhaps the others of this sort, could use a bit of fresh change. No insult to Ryan, who’s selections can still be viewed via the Wayback Machine which has stored an apparently workable copy of our old website(!!!) at http://web.archive.org/web/20140125164136/http://rickgrimesfansite.net/ . The above images are about as arbitrary as those found here on the former site. There could be a dozen–or a thousand–different ones, any of which could represent something I saw, heard, or loved. Whether any are or could be the best representatives of wherever my own art is coming from, even I can’t say with complete certainty. Add to this the sometimes slim reward of many a ‘google’ search versus the inconvenience of rooting something better out of some hands on pile or other. Often the possibly best things, or the more chronologically apt are out of reach for one reason or other. And the results here or on some similar page are as limited as they are ‘true’. The Kelly image, for example, is one completely new to me. And most of the above otherwise skips past my childhood, the usually more ‘formative’ time, according to the know-it-alls. For a bit more expanded view of such truck, see the next page…}. –RG 4/8/’015

 

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