Porcellino, photographed at the 2004 Alternative Press Expo (APE) in San Francisco.
September 18, 1968 |
|Awards||Ignatz Award, 2005|
John Porcellino (b. September 18, 1968, in Chicago, Illinois) is a popular creator of minicomics. Porcellino's self-published, photocopied, mostly autobiographical series King-Cat Comics is among the best-known and longest-running minicomics produced today, begun when Porcellino was a teenager and still going strong.
For several years Porcellino had his own music and comics distribution company, Grinding Wheels Enterprises (evolving later into Spit and a Half), but he eventually abandoned it and went back to just publishing his own work. In the '90s Porcellino did some stories about his struggles to find a publisher for his work, and reprinted several of the rejection letters that criticized his drawing skills. He was briefly in negotiations to do an entire Trail Watch book, but that project fell through. Porcellino still mostly publishes himself, although now this is apparently mostly by choice.
In recent years other publishers have been publishing collections of his work, including the graphic novel Perfect Example, chronicling his teenage struggles with depression. La Mano, Zak Sally's publishing venture, released Porcellino's Diary of a Mosquito Abatement Man, collecting various King-Cat stories about Porcellino's experiences as a pest control worker. The book won an Ignatz Award at the 2005 Small Press Expo in Bethesda, MD.
Porcellino's work consists of very simple line drawings, usually without any attempts at shading or anatomical realism, but his style has been highly influential on a generation of alternative comics creators, notably the Fort Thunder group. Content-wise Porcellino's work has evolved considerably over the years: through the mid-'90s his comics were much more angry and humorous, with a punk rock sensibility. A popular, ongoing feature was "Trail Watch", where Porcellino affectionately criticized the various drawing and story peculiarities in the syndicated Mark Trail comic strip. Porcellino also did an entire issue chronicling his (fictional) romantic relationship with Madonna, and did a series of strips following the adventures of Racky Racoon, a slacker-ish animal who works at a series of dead-end jobs and likes to get drunk. But mixed in with these stories there were always more quiet, melancholy or philosophical stories, and as the years went on these stories increasingly took over the book. Porcellino developed a strong interest in zen, and he began creating very zen-like stories reflecting on the transient nature of life and sometimes recounting tales of various zen masters or illustrating ancient zen koans. These stories alienated Porcellino's old fans who had enjoyed the humorous elements of his work, but they won him a new audience.
Porcellino lived in Denver, Colorado, from 1992–1998. He acquired his beloved cat Maisie Kukoc in March of 1992 (the cat died in 2007). He married his longtime "sweetheart" Kera in September of 1996 in Elgin, Illinois. They honeymooned in Tucson, Arizona. By this time, Porcellino had been suffering from hyperacusis for some years, and had begun exploring holistic healing options, including yoga, meditation, and the study of Zen Buddhism.
In the spring and summer of 1997 Porcellino began suffering from severe abdominal pain that eventually resulted in the removal of a benign tumor from his small intestine. After living in Denver for six years, in early 1998 Porcellino and Kera moved back to his home state of Illinois, first back home to Hoffman Estates and then to Kera's parents' house in Elgin. Also, after two years out of the job market, Porcellino got a job at a health food store. In the spring and summer of 1998 Porcellino again dealt with a severe illness, probably related to pesticide exposure from his years spent as a mosquito abatement worker. Consulting with an environmental medicine specialist helped, and through the rest of 1998 Porcellino's health began to improve — but then he was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder.
In September 1999, Porcellino and Kera were divorced after three years of marriage.
For months after the attacks of September 11, 2001, Porcellino's OCD rendered him unable to produce comics. In September 2002, Porcellino married Misun Oh, whom he had met via the letter column of King-Cat. Later that year the couple moved back to Denver, partly so Misun could finish her studies in traditional Chinese medicine.
Porcellino currently lives in South Beloit, Illinois.
- King-Cat Comics and Stories (Spit and a Half, ongoing publication 1989 – present)
- Diary of a Mosquito Abatement Man (La Mano, 2005) ISBN 097652550X
- Perfect Example (Drawn and Quarterly, 2005) ISBN 1896597750
- King-Cat Classix (Drawn and Quarterly, 2007) ISBN 1894937910
- Thoreau at Walden (Hyperion, 2008) ISBN 1423100387
- Map of My Heart (Drawn and Quarterly, 2009) ISBN 1897299931
- The Next Day (Pop Sandbox, 2011) ISBN 0986488410
- Bio at Lambiek.net's Comiclopedia. Accessed Dec. 27, 2008.
- Porcellino, John. "King-Cat Snornose No. 57," King-Cat Comix & Stores #57 (Aug. 2000).
- Porcellino, John. "Map of My Heart: Notes by John P.," Map of My Heart (Drawn and Quarterly, 2009), p. 290.
- Map of My Heart, p. 287.
- Map of My Heart, p. 323.
- Porcellino, John. "K.C. Snornose," King-Cat Comix & Stores #51 (Dec. 1996).
- Porcellino, John. "K.C. Sooper Snornose," King-Cat Comix & Stores #52 (May 1997).
- Porcellino, John. "K.C. Snornose," King-Cat Comix & Stores #53 (February 1998).
- Map of My Heart, p. 288.
- Porcellino, John. "King-Cat Sooper. Snornose 54," King-Cat Comix & Stores #54 (Sept. 1998).
- Map of My Heart, p. 289.
- Map of My Heart, p. 299.
- Porcellino, John. "It's All Happening to Fast," King-Cat Comix & Stores #61 (Sept. 2002).
- Map of My Heart, p. 300.