March 18th, 2015 by Amelia
I met artist/illustrator/cartoonist Avi Spivak when Andy Animal took me hostage one night after the premier of the Lemmy doc…I think I crashed his birthday party in Brooklyn? He was very hospitable and we’ve stayed in touch since. Since then, Avi has continuously caught my eye from his work twice appearing on the cover of MRR to record covers to his own publications. Here is Avi Spivak…
How’d you start doing comics?
Sort of out of passion and as a way to communicate ideas and hopefully tell interesting stories. I guess I started out as a fan and I’ve always been interested in drawing so the progression was natural.
Did you grow up reading comics?
Sure, I was lucky enough to have an older brother around who was way into comics so there was always piles of them around the house. When the underground stuff started shoing up I got completely obsessed with it, I would sneak in old issues of Zap and Weirdo to school when most kids would bring in porno mags they stole or found in the woods or something…
What about zines?
Yeah, I read them too. It was a different time then. I would read whatever I could get my hands on. It was a strange time in history before the internet where if you wanted to be into punk you had to make a little effort and zines were a big part of that.
Do you have any zines in the works now? What zines have you done thus far? What about books?
I have a new issue of Human Being Lawnmower in the works, it will be #4. So far I’ve scattered three issues over the last six years or so with a full length comic book, Kicksville Confidential, appearing between issues #2 and 3.
How’d you get involved with submitting to MRR?
The first thing I did was a cover back in like 2010 or something. I was put in touch through the photographer Mark Murrmann, who used to do a column I think. I was happy to be involved because it’s been such a staple in punk for so long. And anytime you can see your work on the newsstand is a pretty big thrill. So I’ve submitted some comics to them over the years and designed some merch.
I really like the MRR buttons you did — I think there were four different designs, I think, sold in a set?
I’m pretty sure there were five of them. They asked for a design and I showed them a bunch of ideas for sketches and they ended up wanting to use all of them.
You did an MRR cover or two, right?
Yeah, two of them. The first one I mentioned which was a drawing of a crazy house party scene with the house getting struck by lightning while strange characters lurk about. The next one was in December of 2012, which was supposed to be the end of the world according to the Mayan calendar, so I put my Mexican friend Omar on the cover for that one in an apocalyptic landscape, of course.
Merm was really set on the world ending, I’m glad she was wrong but it worked out in a great cover for MRR. I saw you did a cover for my buddy ALANA AMRAM & THE ROUGH GEMS, looks tight. Have you done covers for other bands?
Alana is a dear old childhood friend of mine so I was really happy to do her record cover. And I’ve done a bunch others over the years. I’ve learned to say no a little bit more recently though. Most of the time I don’t think cartoons work particularly well as record covers, however there are some notable exceptions.
I agree. What do you do to pay the rent?
Well, aside from the occasional freelance gig or selling artwork I have a part time day job, and as of earlier this year I’ve been operating a small shop with a couple of friends called Rebel Rouser. It’s mostly used records, comics, mags, VHS, paperbacks, etc. All the things I like… I actually think it’s a pretty unique thing in NYC right now. It’s located within an alleyway with a couple of other like-minded but different shops and is able to thrive within the current climate of a rapidly changing city. It’s a little hidden jewel and something you really have to see to believe.
Where was the last art show you were featured in?
I have a semi-permanent exhibition at a cafe here in Brooklyn called Otha’s. I had an art show there when they first opened a couple of years ago and have been able to use the space to have shows and feature new work ever since. I’ve had a few different themed shows of drawings there, and am getting another together now for a new series.
Where was the last place you were published?
Probably Ugly Things, whatever their last issue was. It’s been my most steady illustration work the last few years, which I’m happy to say. Like MRR, it was something I was very familiar with before having any involvement and it’s great to be associated with such a fine publication. It also allows me to regularly collaborate with one of my heroes, Cyril Jordan, whose column I illustrate.
How can we stay up to date on what you’re doing?
I have a site that I try to keep fairly up to date at www.avispivak.com, and if you’re in NYC come by Rebel Rouser and say hi. Located in Flea Market Alley, 867 Broadway in Brooklyn.