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MRR Radio #1587 • 12/10/17

This week Matt pulls some rarities out of the vault to make the scums and punks drool. Intro song: STENGTE DØRER ...

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MRR Radio #1586 • 12/3/17

On this week's MRR Radio, Rob goes ballistic for late '70s and early '80s Bloodstains punk rock from around the ...

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Maximum Rocknroll #416 • Jan 2018

Another new year, another exciting issue of Maximum Rocknroll! MRR #416, our January 2018 issue, begins with a sad note as we ...

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"Who gives a fuck?"

MRR Radio #1585 • 11/26/17

“[...] Elvis gives them a short speech about the death pangs that humanity must go through in order to reach ...

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MRR Radio #1584 • 11/19/17

Another fuct up Rotten Ron and Horrrible Halitosis Punker Power Hour. Intro song: DRUGCHARGE - Husk Rotten Ron fucks it up so you ...

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Licking Shoes & Homemade Tattoos: The comics of Liz Suburbia

October 4th, 2011 by

One crucial night, in a seedy back alley of the internet, I stumbled across Liz Suburbia‘s Sacred Heart comic. It’s more polished than the comic trash I usually gravitate towards, but I immediately felt that magical tingle of familiarity you get when encountering a kindred weirdo. Sacred Heart is about high school punks and somehow manages to be both wholesome and pervy at the same time. It’s full of angst and relationship pathos, teen psychics, dogs, blowjobs in the woods, homemade tattoos and barfing all drawn in Liz’s confident line.

Immediately after reading Sacred Heart I needed another fix, so I wrote to Liz and ordered a copy of her mini Cyanide Milkshake — possibly my favorite comic fanzine in the past 10 years. Sex, punk, and B-movie references fill every page. Goofy ads for fake products like Man Merkins and movies like the post-apocalyptic blockbuster Sex Beserkers (Rated G for GWAR) are interspersed with short narratives featuring weirdo teens, zombies and dogs. Her storytelling/joke style (and even her art to some degree) reminds me of early Dork/Milk & Cheese-era Evan Dorkin. Another reason that this comparison keeps occurring to me is because they both seem to be steeped in comics culture in a similar way. Liz works full-time at a comic book store and draws comics on her days off. You can’t be a lightweight and keep that up.

Waiting for the next Cyanide Milkshake to hit my mailbox is fucking torture. In the meantime, to ease my comics blue balls, I asked Liz Suburbia some questions…

Janelle Blarg: It’s bizarre and kind of magical to me that I’d never heard of you until last year, but you obviously draw all the time and have a fully developed artistic style. Where did you come from? Or rather, when did you start drawing comics and when did you start publishing them?

Liz Suburbia: I HAVE TRAVELED HERE FROM THE YEAR 1984 TO MAKE COMICS FOR YOU ALL. It was a long trip and I started it as a baby. I think I’ve always been drawing and writing little stories going as far back as I can remember; my first real effort though was a goofy autobiographical web comic I started at the end of high school, followed by my first zine a few years later. That early stuff was pretty bad though, I think I had to get out and go through some shit and learn a lot more about life before I started making comics I was satisfied with. I started Sacred Heart about two years ago and in that time have started self-publishing Cyanide Milkshake and some other minis as well.

Sacred Heart is your ongoing series about high school punks and weirdos. How much of it is biographical? (Really, I want to know if you knew a guy like Otto who would hang out under the bleachers and lick shoes).

Ha! It’s weird because it takes place in my old hometown, and all the kids went to my old high school and all the landmarks are from real life, but I’m not trying consciously to make it too personal, you know? I get asked a lot if Ben is supposed to be me, which makes me uncomfortable because she’s really not intended that way, but I guess all your characters have a little bit of you in them. Maybe I shouldn’t have made her a dark-haired girl with a big nose. Otto is kind of a composite of my partner, my high school boyfriend, and a couple other guys, but as far as I know none of them ever foot-perved under the bleachers. I wouldn’t put it past them though.

I like that there are no parents featured in Sacred Heart. Just like Peanuts. Parents are boring! Censor them! Was that a conscious decision?

It’s actually a big part of the plot, though I’m not gonna tell why until the next book (which is going to take place about ten years after this one). Hopefully it won’t take me ten actual years to get that far into the story. I work at a snail’s pace and I have a day job, though, so it might be awhile.

The sneaky handjob scene between Otto and Bennie is perfect. That’s such a classic high school experience. You’re just hanging out with your friend on the couch and the next thing you know — bam! Wandering hand! I guess this is not a question. I just want to talk about the sex scenes in your comics because they are all brilliant.

It means a lot that people seem to really like the sex scenes, because they’re a big deal to me. There’s a lot of sexualization in comics that’s alienating or problematic and I really want the sex my characters are having to be more human and positive. I like my comics loaded with sex but it really takes the right approach for it to actually come off as honestly sexy, or at least realistically awkward, you know? I dunno, I grew up really repressed so I just hope it’s not too obvious that I’m working my issues out in comic form or whatever. One thing I can guarantee is that there’s lots more fucking still to come. Heh.

Sacred Heart is only online for now, right? Do you have any plans to produce a print copy? What are your feelings about print vs. online publishing?

Yeah, my plan is to finish this first book online and then see about getting it published. Whether I put it out myself or if someone else is interested, we’ll see, and then go from there. I like print because I’m kind of old fashioned: it’s nice to have an object to pass between friends, plus print is ultimately harder to monitor and censor. There’s a lot of accessibility that comes with publishing online though, and it’s important to me that anyone who wants to read it be able to, whether they have internet access or not or whether they can get their hands on a book without spending more than they can spare, or whatever. Ideally, I’d like to have a nice print copy of Sacred Heart for those who want it, but to still leave it up online in some form for everyone else. We’ll see.

What are your cartooning weapons of choice? Typically, how long does it take you to complete a page?

For Sacred Heart I use Bristol board and pens, though I’m working my way up to nibs because I’m a serious fucking artist y’all. I usually get two new pages done on the two days a week I don’t work, so I guess my rate is about a page a day. With Cyanide Milkshake and my minis, though, I just use computer paper and Sharpies. They’re supposed to be loose and fun, so I try not to let my anal retentive tendencies get the better of me. With the print stuff it’s almost like a game to see how fast I can get it made and still have it be readable.

You’re highly adept at drawing party scenes — a crucial punk cartoonist skill that not everyone can claim. Do you still go to house shows/parties in Virginia?

I do! I’m lucky because there’s always so much going on the in DC-MD-VA area. Everyone’s so involved in the scene around here, we get a lot of great bands coming through, and when a space gets shut down another one pops up before too long. I have to skip more shows and parties than I’d like because of work and other responsibilities, but I don’t care how old I get, I’ll always be really into this shit. And anyway if I never got out of the house and saw people being weird and crazy and angry and in love then what would I make comics about?

What comic artists are you inspired by? What are your current Top 5 favorite comics? Favorite publishers?

The people who get me most excited about making and reading comics are my friends: Matt and Kevin Czapiweski, Darryl Ayo Braithwaite, L. Nichols… those are just a few. I’d list everyone but we’d be here all day. Something Kevin talks about a lot on the Comics Cube blog is comics scenes, which really function like punk scenes and which I think can be integrated with punk scenes to everybody’s benefit. It’s all about making your own shit and and supporting each other, not just consuming but creating and participating in your own culture.

As for the bigger names, definitely Los Bros Hernandez; Love and Rockets is essential. Carla Speed McNeil’s Finder series is just as huge to me, she put it out herself for years and now Dark Horse is collecting it. Brandon Graham — his passion for comics and his emphasis on community and independence and his willingness to push the limits without taking himself too seriously is just punk as fuck to me, even though I don’t think the punk scene was ever his crowd. Ross Campbell, Paul Pope… I could go on forever. I guess I don’t think about publishers too much though, hmm. I will say this: Marvel and DC are The Man and they don’t need your money.

Are you going to continue publishing Cyanide Milkshake? It’s possibly my favorite zine of the past 10 years. Weirdly, the filler might even be my favorite part. “Sex Beserkers,” “HTML,” “Nutsacks of the Stars” — all genius.

You bet your ass I’m gonna keep publishing Cyanide Milkshake! I’m hoping to have #4 out by this spring, it just takes awhile between issues because I want to have enough free time to keep Sacred Heart semi-regular.

Future plans?

Get old, stay pissed off. I don’t know if I’ll ever be a comics “name” or anything, or if I’ll ever be able to quit my day job and just live off of comics, but I don’t ever want to stop making them. If I can live to be 100 and look back on 80 years of work and be okay with it, that’ll be good enough for me.

RIP Dylan Williams of Sparkplug Comics

September 22nd, 2011 by

Dylan Williams passed away on September 10, 2011 from complications due to cancer. He was 41 years old. Dylan was a cartoonist, a comics historian, co-owner of the Portland-based DVD/bookstore The Bad Apple, and founder of Sparkplug Comic Books publishing.

Sparkplug introduced a new style of business into comics culture; one that managed to meld comics purism with punk ethics and provided a home for developing young artists and old weirdos alike. Dylan’s consistent focus, and the catalyst for starting a publishing company in the first place, was to put out work that he loved and felt deserved a wider audience. Publishing based on sentiment rather than on perceived market demand may not be seen as the best business model, but Sparkplug was successful by consistently being a community presence and by releasing some of the most interesting books in independent comics. Dylan cared about the work foremost and truly wanted what was best for the artists he published. To gain some insight into the profound effect that Dylan had on others, one only has to turn to the dozens of personal tributes posted in every corner of the internet since his death: Austin English, Zak Sally, Olga Volozova, Aron Nels Steinke, Sophie Yanow, Landry Walker, Gabby Schulz, Comics Journal, Comics Reporter

Dylan was a person who was surrounded by love and his goodness was acknowledged and celebrated while he was here. He leaves behind his wife, Emily, his family, and many friends. I feel lucky to have known him and will miss him.

At the time of this writing, it appears as though Sparkplug will continue to operate. Please support them by buying comics: www.sparkplugcomics.com

“The thing is, if people are going to exclude you then fuck them. Do it your way. And if you are ever in the position to exclude others, try not to. Encouraging people is like the greatest feeling in the world. It gets rid of all that selfish shit that just ends up hurting everyone. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m a bitter old asshole but I feel like I fight it at every turn.”

—Dylan Williams (from an interview on Jason Miles’ Profanity Hill website)

Jake Austen Is Doing It for the Kids

March 4th, 2011 by

One of the things that I admire most about Jake Austen is that his own identity never supersedes the life of his projects. You may have heard of The Goblins (his band), Roctober magazine, or Chic-A-Go-Go (a children’s TV dance show) but his name is never conspicuously stamped at the forefront. He is almost literally the man behind the curtain — operating behind a drawing table, or a mask, or a puppet. But no matter which alter ego is at the helm, you can always feel confident that Jake really is doing it for the kids.

He’s been publishing the fanatical music magazine Roctober since 1992 and, unlike a lot of other fanzines that were also started around the same time, Roctober still comes out on a regular basis (2 – 3 times a year) and has never abandoned cut-and-paste layout in favor of computer graphics. The comics section has grown to around 30 pages and features cartoonists like Jerome Gaynor, Ivan Brunetti, Heather McAdams, John Porcellino, Megan Kelso, Jessica Abel, Chris Ware, Pedro Bell, and many others.

Jake’s own comic strip, Punk’nhead, chronicles the teenage exploits of a pumpkin-headed punk and his boots and braces-wearing BFF, a rat named Ratso. Much like Archie comics, each strip has a funny (or eye roll inducing) punchline and a similar high school innocence — except that the storylines in Punk’nhead have more record shopping, vandalism, and fighting The Man than you would probably find in Riverdale.

Ratso sold out to the three-dimensional world in the form of a puppet and became the notorious co-host of the childrens TV dance show, Chic-A-Go-Go. When I asked Jake why Punk’nhead didn’t make the cut, he told me that he had an art school friend make the puppet for Chic-A-Go-Go and felt bad asking her to make a second one. “Ratso is a better puppet anyhow, because you have all the built in ‘eating garbage’ jokes. You don’t need any backstory to have kids get into a puppet rat.” I once mentioned Chic-A-Go-Go to the owner of Uncle Fun during a visit to Chicago and he asked, “Isn’t that the public access show where they pick up a bunch of random people from the bus stop?”, which is exactly what it’s like. It’s truly magical that all manner of Chicagoans come on Chic-A-Go-Go just to dance goofy to whatever brand of music is being offered that day. Musical guests have run the gamut from Los Crudos to the Shirelles to the Cramps to Swamp Dogg to Cynthia Plaster Caster, and let us never neglect Jan Terri.

Roctober is celebrating its (almost) 20th anniversary this summer by publishing the 50th issue and releasing a book of their best interviews with Duke University Press. Also coming soon is a Roctober comics anthology and an LP collecting the best (and worst) Roctober records releases.


Watch The Goblins (w/Gary Burger) on YouTube here.

Janelle Blarg edited the Punk Comics issue of MRR and does her own awesome comic, Tales of Blarg. Check out more of her blog posts on our Comics page here.

Keep On Ooglin’: Nate Doyle

February 9th, 2011 by

Here’s the latest in our series on punk comics by Janelle Blarg. And don’t forget to check out the Comics Issue of MRR magazine, still available in our back issues.

Nate Doyle says that he’s trapped in “a weird purgatory where my art isn’t ‘punk enough’ for punks and ‘too punk’ for comics people.” I’m here to tell you not to be a chump. Nate’s a young dude whose art is progressing at a rapid rate and will soon pass you by. I asked him a couple of questions via email.

How did you get into drawing comics?

I kind of got into drawing comics as a kid. I really liked comics straight from Japan, where I had no idea what anyone was saying but would try and figure out the story anyways. So I would start making mini-comics right onto the folder paper, pamphlet style, and give up about half way through not knowing where the story was going to go, and blow the world up or something. But once I got into high school and started reading Optic Nerve and Nate Powell’s comics I started to think more and make little story doodles and quick comics.

You went to comic-drawing school. What was that like? Do you consider it money well spent?

I went to the School of Visual Arts for cartooning, yeah. That was an interesting experience… The exposure I got to underground, foreign and superhero comics was amazing. I learned so much from teachers just bringing in weirdo artists that I was super stoked on, or having teachers that were weirdo artists themselves who taught me a lot about how to handle or approach comics as a medium and some really helpful techniques. Aside from the school sort of treating the cartooning program as a joke I think it was somewhat well spent. Sometimes I wish I hadn’t gone to school for comics and that I fall into this weird wave of “comics brats” or being seen as something weird like that because I’m a younger artist, but I don’t really feel like I have that kind of comic school aesthetic to my work, which I’m kind of hoping others see as the case, hahah.

Who are some artists you’re inspired by?

Julie Doucet, Bobby Madness, Jaime Hernandez, Blutch, Edie Fake, Ken Dahl, John Porcellino, Vanessa Davis, and Dan Clowes…

Check out Nate’s website at ndcrookedteeth.blogspot.com. He also plays in the band NOMOS.

Punk Comic History, Pt. 3: Dennis Worden

January 14th, 2011 by

If you prefer to get your philosophy from inside a dead dog’s asshole like I do, then you need to know about Dennis Worden. In addition to contributing hilarious comics to anthologies like Weirdo or punk fanzines like Flipside in the early ’80s, he made a variety of minis about some old favorite things, like doing acid in the suburbs, and some unexpected new favorite things, like circus freaks fucking. He’s probably best known for his existential solo comic, Stickboy, about a stick figure that attempts to persevere while being relentlessly peed on by rats or tormented by a disembodied brain. Stickboy had a punk attitude, and although not actually a punk, he was named after Kickboy Face (Claude Bessy) from Slash magazine. Stickboy had a lot of the same experiences Dennis had — choosing to be homeless, living with a cult, working shitty jobs — and basically evolved as Dennis evolved.

The Stickboy comic went through four different publishers, due to various things such as better deals, death and companies folding. Everyone I knew who was into alternative comics at the time was a Stickboy fan. All ten of us. After Fantagraphics, he was published by Revolutionary Comics until the publisher, Todd Loren, was stabbed to death. The last issue of Stickboy was published by Carnal Comics — a porn publisher who had worked with Todd Loren. I’m sure more than a few Carnal Comics customers were hurt and disappointed by the lack of dicks and titties found in Stickboy.

Is Stickboy dead? He may be. At least for now. But even though he’s missed, purgatory seems like a philosophically appropriate place for him to wind up. In the meantime, Dennis has continued his art career doing paintings and shows. Once in a blue moon he still draws comics. Recently he did the cover for a mini of “They Saved Hitler’s Cock” and few panels for a European anthology called Puck. He’s been primarily focused on writing a subversive self-help book/philosophical rant — a more in depth continuation of the philosophical stuff in Stickboy. You can buy art and various merch from Dennis’ website: www.dennisworden.com.