Cartoonist/occasional hack Eric Reynolds

FANTAGRAPHICS

Cartoonist/occasional hack Eric Reynolds’s illustrations have appeared in The Stranger, The Comics Journal, The New York Times, The New York Press, and elsewhere. He occasionally ‘inks’ (to use industry lingo) Peter Bagge’s work. He draws comics once in awhile. He edits the Complete Crumb Comics, Angry Youth Comics and Dirty Stories, among others, for Fantagraphics Books and also serves as the company’s official shill, doing publicity, sorting mail, taking out garbage, etc.

Most of the art available is commercial illustration work for various papers and magazines, as well as a few Peter Bagge originals inked by Reynolds and two 7-inch vinyl records (cheap) and one minicomic (cheaper).

If for some seriously bizarre reason no one knew about Fantagraphics, how would you go about describing it? 

I meet people all the time who know nothing about Fantagraphics and it’s always hard to describe, even after all these years. I usually just tell people we publish comic books and go from there, depending on what points of reference I can determine someone might have to help get their head around what Fanta is (Crumb, Ghost World, Peanuts, etc.). But Fantagraphics is simply a publisher of fine cartooning, whether it be in the form of contemporary graphic novels that have more in common with literature than Spider-Man, or classic comic strips like Peanuts, or groundbreaking countercultural work like R. Crumb.

For all those wanting to get into the comic scene, what advice would you give them? 

Make comics, attend shows. Hell, you don’t even need to make good comics to be “in the scene”.

What’s it like working/inking for Peter Bagge? I’d imagine you’d be under loads of pressure. 

No, not really. Maybe at first — I’d never really inked anyone before Pete asked me except for maybe a few little things. I’m not sure what to say it’s like. Inking is inking, you just do it. Working with him is great, though, he’s very easy to work with. He knows what he wants and how to communicate what he wants and he’s one of my best friends, so it’s always been a very easy process. The deadlines can create pressure, because I’m not used to working under them like he is, so I have to usually kick myself into high gear when I do stuff for him.

Have you ever designed a record/CD cover? If no, which band would you draw for? (If ever you get desperate you could draw for my band – The Strangely Brown Experience….)

I’ve designed a couple. A band called BELL that was around Seattle in the late 1990s, as well as some of the Action Suits records I put out with Bagge. All of the design for those singles are some combination of myself and Pete. I did a lot off rock posters in the 1990s but don’t so much any more, I’ve kind of sworn off commercial art. If I did design another one, it would probably have to be for The Strangely Brown Experience or the Beatles.

Any new up’n’coming artists we should know about? 

Shameless plug: Read MOME!

What do you know about the UK indie comic scene? And do think it’s a market/scene you’d want to break into? (If not already) 

I’ve been to England a couple of times and know a handful of folks in the scene. I like it. Not sure what else to say about it but it’s always seemed to be thriving. England always seems to be a little bit smarter than the U.S. I like Lorna Miller a lot. Savage Pencil, too, when he does anything. I know some great folks behind the scenes like the guys at Gosh Comics, Page 45 and former Escape editor Paul Gravett. There’s a lot of good, younger cartoonists whose names I’m blanking on at the moment. There’s an AMAZING young cartoonist named Will Sweeney who I just discovered recently but he’s immediately become one of my favorite cartoonists.

Do you think we still have an underground scene or did that die in the 70s or 80s? 

Good question. It still exists, but it’s a lot different than what it meant in the 1960s, it’s not as politicized or as transgressive. Underground cartoonists aren’t as activistic as they were 40 years ago. I wonder if that will change after a near-decade of George Bush and the Iraq War.

So what’s next for yourself and Fantagraphics? 

More books. I’ve got a lot on my plate these days…

COMPLETELY RANDOM QUESTIONS FOR YA What 5 personal items would you save from a burning building? 

My two cats, first. My laptop. And then probably some of my original artwork collection, though it’s tough to say what. Probably a Clowes or Los Bros page or two. Jeez, I hope I never have to choose.

If you could fight any celebrity dead or alive who’d it be? 

Stephen Hawking, because I’m pretty sure I could take him.

If you could only buy one of the following box sets – which one would it be? The A Team, Knight Rider or Air Wolf. 

The A-Team. George Peppard!

If you could meet any artist who would it be? 

Probably E.C. Segar or Charles Schulz. But I think I’d especially like to hang with a early 20th Century cartoonist like Segar in his prime, in the 1930s. That was a swingin’ time for cartoonists. I have an irrational nostalgia for that era, depression or no depression.

We know they’re pretty damn good! Just look at what everyone else is saying!

Fantagraphics quotes:

“The 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

“Fantagraphics 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

“And 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

“It’d be difficult to find more challenging and entertaining rabble-rousers amid the panorama of popular culture.” – The Village Voice

“Fantagraphics publishes the best comics in the world.” – Wired

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