Click here to open lightboxDave Taylor was one of five artists who made up the Everyman Studios group as an artists' collective in 1973.
The Comics Journal 101. Aug. 1985. Page 80. New Wave Comics Survey by Dale Luciano

 

If you read the clipping, you’ll see where I’m coming from. Dale Luciano wrote this small entry about me in his New Wave Comics Survey in the August 1985 The Comics Journal #101 , long after I’d left comics, for what I thought was for good. I didn’t see any future in it for someone who would always be an underground comix artist. I still am, but with the twist of being 67 years old. About a year and a half ago, I decided it was time to make another stab at it. 

But first, some backstory…

Back in 1973 or so, I was Dave Taylor, probably the first “Dave Taylor”. Kudos to the other one. I like his stuff. I wrote and drew and edited for the most part, a comic book back then.  In the winter of 1973, I imposed myself on the Everyman Studios group in Colorado Springs, CO, and spent several months with them while working on an underground comic, Hobo Stories.

Hobo Stories, 1979I finished it when I went back to Missouri, where I grew up, and tried to hawk it later that summer in San Francisco, at Rip Off Press, and Ron Turner’s Last Gasp. I spent an afternoon watching Gilbert Shelton draw an episode of Furry Freak Brothers, and will always remember how kind he was to this 20-year old kid. Neither publisher was interested. It was finally published in 1979, but it was too late for the underground scene and too early for indies, so it flopped (even now, though, it pops up on Amazon, eBay, and other sundry comic sites for sale). No matter, except to the publisher, for it was appropriately a sophomoric effort. The drawing was proficient, but I didn’t know how to tell a story, and the tale it told was just me being p.o.’d at the world. Hey, it was 1973. 

My principle problem, as I see it now, is I didn’t know squat about life. I took care of that part by living. I spent time as an orderly, taking care of the elderly and disabled. That financed my undergraduate degree in painting and printmaking from Missouri State University. After that, I went to Pratt Institute and met Rolf Fjelde, the Ibsen scholar, and studied with him. We became friends. He literally changed my life. I learned a great deal from his take on Ibsen, whom his grandfather had known and been friends with. I went to off-Broadway performances of his translations of Ibsen’s last twelve prose plays. He also gave me insights into Greek drama, Bertolt Brecht, Molière, and Shakespeare; more than I’d ever absorbed in undergrad school. I worked at Pratt for a few years before beginning my teaching career as a full-time high school art teacher, and an adjunct art professor, teaching drawing, humanities and art history. I used the material I received from Fjelde and discovered the value of teaching to an artist. When you teach it, you learn on a level that is different than being in the studio. The research that is the foundation of teaching led me to Aristotle, who, though he didn’t know how many teeth were in his wife’s mouth, wrote Nicomachean Ethics, which is indispensable to anyone’s education. Logic was a part of my research (I’m no logician, but I recognize a decent argument when I see it, and have used it in the most simple fashion to teach students how to write solid scholarly essays). I worked with special needs students for many years. I’m not the wet-behind-the-ears kid I was in 1973, sitting in the Rip Off Press office, watching Gilbert Shelton do it and realizing I was a rube.

First study for Blueboy Brown. August 2018

Blueboy Brown study from August 2018.

Almost thirty years later, I’m retired from full-time teaching. I took up intaglio printmaking again (it was toxic until nontoxic approaches developed in the 1990s), and then in August of 2018, I was looking at some stories I’d written over the years and created a drawing in my sketchbook that spurred me to take up comics again.

I’d been sitting on this unfinished novel for about a decade. It’s about a near-giant lumberjack, patterned after my father’s uncle, who was both a lumberjack and a near-giant. Dad said he was around six-foot eight or nine. He became the spirit behind the plot, though nothing in the story I’ve written has anything to do with the life of my dad’s uncle or his family. So I got out my clipping of that old Comics Journal article, and scratched my whiskers for awhile.

“What if Dale Luciano was right?”

Couldn’t hurt to make a comeback of sorts (of sorts because I left comics before Hobo Stories was ever published. The mid-1970s was a dreadful time to be in comics. At least it was for me, and I’d fallen for Rembrandt and Picasso and printmaking).  So in August of 2018 I began. It’s taken me this long to get it in shape to begin to roll it out in serial form, three pages a week. It’s 148 pages in the first book. I failed to mention it started out in my mind as a trilogy. Trilogies are the thing, I guess. Along the way I toyed with the idea of getting a grant through the college I teach at, and developed the project into a nine book arc of three trilogies. I have the first and third trilogies already written. The series spans from the Civil War to the present, all in the lives of one extended family, the Browns. It’ll begin as a webcomic and we’ll see where it goes from there. I spent the time between my inspiration and now running my production past Rick Berry, an old friend of nearly fifty years duration. He was there when I did Hobo Stories in Colorado at Everyman Studios. Rick has worked with people like William Gibson, Stephen King, and Neil Gaiman, won numerous awards in illustration (and contributed to the history of comics in a wonderful way with his Eternals covers for Gaiman’s run in Marvel), and he is enthusiastic. He’s been a real boost to me, coming in from the cold, as it were. Thanks, Rick.

Now, Mr. Luciano probably overstated the case, but I know I can produce better work now than I could 46 years ago. And whatever tiny spot in the history of comics I occupy now, I am committed to this nine-book series as my contribution to something I’ve loved since I was a toddler. I’m in good health and having sixty years of drawing under my belt, I can produce at a pretty good clip. I dallied with the idea of getting a Wacom display tablet to do it all digitally, but recently it has been discovered that prolonged exposure to the spectrum of light that is emitted by computer displays causes irreparable damage to the retina. I’m real fond of my eyesight, so the whole thing is planned on bristol board, drawn with mechanical pencils. If it’s good enough for Alex Toth, it’s good enough for me. (I learned to read from Toth’s run on Zorro in the late 1950s, when I was four or so). I’m the writer, artist, colorist, editor, and publisher, confirming what my elementary school teachers put in the comment section of my grade cards: “Does not play well with others.”

So, starting on January 1st, a Wednesday, I’ll post three pages on every Monday, and blog about the development of the series (I have video from later in the book). In a year, let’s see if that long-ago snippet in the New Wave Comics Survey a college buddy showed me at a party with the question “Are you the Dave Taylor?” holds any water.  

I’m not the Dave Taylor anymore. That’s somebody else, well-deserved. I’m David Greg Taylor.