|Born||1945 (age 68–69)
Deer Lodge, Montana
|Awards||Harvey Award, 1999|
Dennis P. Eichhorn (born 1945, in Deer Lodge, Montana) is an award-winning American writer best known for his adult-oriented autobiographical comic book series Real Stuff. Due to his energetic, sex-, drug-, and alcohol-riddled stories, Eichhorn has been compared to Jack Kerouac, Ken Kesey, and Charles Bukowski.
Early life and career
Eichhorn was born in Deer Lodge, Montana, in the Montana State Prison's infirmary. He was adopted when he was just a few days old by Eileen and Elmer Eichhorn family, and reared in Boise, Idaho. He graduated from Boise's Borah High School in 1963. Eichhorn played football on athletic scholarships at Whitman College and the University of Idaho; he graduated from the latter with a B.A. in Sociology in 1968. Dennis didn't learn he was adopted until he was in his 30s, and has never met his birth mother. (Years later, Eichhorn spent a short time in prison himself for a drug charge.)
Before, during, and after establishing himself as a writer, editor, and publisher, Eichhorn has worked at a variety of jobs: arborist, barista, bartender, bouncer, chauffeur, concert promoter, cook, dishwasher, doorman, excavator, firefighter, grant writer, hay bucker, hod carrier, janitor, legal messenger, mill worker, musician, nightclub manager, paralegal investigator, process server, restauranteur, sailor, social worker, stable hand, taxi and van driver, telephone pollster, and warehouseman. For four years, Eichhorn also served as promoter and operator of the Blue Mountain Festival, an outdoor music festival held in the spring at the University of Idaho's Arboretum, and was the primary organizer of the 1971 Universal Life Church Picnic, a large festival held over the Fourth of July weekend in northern Idaho's Farragut State Park.
Eichhorn has been married three times, to Kip Charlson, Joan Pelley, and most recently (and still) to Jane Rebelowski. He has a daughter, Sarah, born in 1977, and a grandson, Knox, born in 2004. Eichhorn lives in Bremerton, Washington.
Eichhorn was a contributing writer to The Argonaut, the University of Idaho's student newspaper, while a student there in 1968. (He also edited an underground comic book during that time, The Moscow Duck Review, writing one of the stories which was rendered by Reilly Clark.) While living in San Francisco in 1977, his interview with the band Crime was published in New York City's Punk magazine. This was his first national exposure. Soon afterwards, Eichhorn was briefly a stringer for Jim Wilde, a writer for Time (magazine), and then worked as a research assistant for writer Bill Cardoso.
Moving to Seattle in the late 1970s, Eichorn became a writer and later entertainment editor for the weekly Seattle Sun newspaper from 1980 until its demise in 1982, and then a writer and senior editor at The Rocket, a monthly entertainment tabloid, from 1982 until 1991. At The Rocket, Eichhorn met a number of Seattle-area and northwestern cartoonists and illustrators who eventually became contributors to his autobiographical series Real Stuff and Real Smut.
While at The Rocket, Eichhorn was contacted by Gerry Turman, owner of Turman Publishing, a company which published literature and teachers' aids for use in remedial reading classes, and offered a position as staff writer. Eichhorn took on the assignment, eventually turning it into a lucrative side business from 1983 until 1994, writing hundreds of articles for Stars magazine and 18 biographical books about celebrities and professional athletes.
From 1988–1990, Eichhorn was publisher and editor of the Northwest EXTRA!, a "lurid, pulp tabloid" zine which ran for 15 issues. (A 16th issue was published in 2001.)
In 1994, Eichhorn became editorial director for Loompanics Unlimited, a mail-order libertarian publishing and book distribution company in Port Townsend, Washington, a position which he held for four years. Eichhorn was responsible for the publication of 65 books during this time, wrote dozens of articles and hundreds of book synopses for Loompanics' publications and catalogs, and oversaw contractual agreements with writers, as well as movie rights and foreign translations.
Before becoming a comics writer, Eichhorn had read the work of Justin Green, Robert Crumb, Frank Stack, and Harvey Pekar. (In fact, The Rocket had occasionally run Pekar's strips while Eichhorn worked there.)
In the early 1980s, Eichhorn met cartoonist Peter Bagge in Seattle, which led to Eichhorn's inclusion in Weirdo magazine, which Bagge edited at that time. Eichhorn began writing autobiographical stories for sequential illustration, which he described as "regurgitations of pithy stories I'd regaled my friends with for years." The first two were rendered by Carel Moiseiwitsch and Michael Dougan. This led to Eichhorn's creation of the anthology series Real Stuff, published from 1990–1995 by Seattle-based Fantagraphics. Eichhorn followed Pekar's example of writing true stories for others to illustrate, but unlike Pekar, emphasized action-filled tales of sex, substance abuse, and violence, many taking place in Eichhorn's native state of Idaho. After nine issues, Fantagraphics experienced problems shipping Real Stuff to Canada and United Kingdom countries because of the explicit sexual content, and a spin-off carnal series titled Real Smut was created in 1992, to remove sex from Real Stuff. Stories in the Eisner Award-winning Real Stuff were illustrated by many artists, including, in addition to those named above, Ed Brubaker, Rick Altergott, Donna Barr, Lynda Barry, Jim Blanchard, Ariel Bordeaux, Chester Brown, Bob Crabb, Julie Doucet, Éric Thériault, Gene Fama, Mary Fleener, Ellen Forney, Renee French, Roberta Gregory, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Peter Kuper, Paul Mavrides, Pat Moriarity, Joe Sacco, Triangle-Slash, Holly Tuttle, J.R. Williams, Jim Woodring, Mark Zingrarelli, and numerous others.
From 1992 until 2006 Eichhorn wrote comic stories (as well as articles and book reviews) for Scram magazine, a Los Angeles music publication.
In 1993, Eichhorn funded Starhead Comix's publication of Real Schmuck comix. He also paid for Starhead's publication of two other titles, The Amazing Adventures of Ace International in 1993 and Northwest Cartoon Cookery in 1995.
Eichhorn and his Real Stuff comic books were mentioned by Robert Crumb in Hup Comics #4.
In 2004, Top Shelf Productions released The Legend of Wild Man Fischer, a collection of comic book stories about the outsider musician (most of which had appeared in Real Stuff) which Eichhorn co-authored with artists J.R. Williams and Holly Tuttle. In that same year, Swifty Morales Press published Real Stuff by Dennis P. Eichhorn and a Host of Artists, a collection of stories from Eichhorn's comic books and other sources. Eichhorn says that the preponderance of violent stories in this book resulted from the publisher's selection of material, pointing out that the book contains approximately one-fifth of his output.
Also, Eichhorn was featured on the cover of The Comics Journal #162 along with Robert Crumb, Harvey Pekar, Chester Brown, R.L. Crabb, Joe Sacco, Bill Griffith, Joe Matt, Jim Woodring, Diane Noomin, and Aline Kominsky-Crumb. An interview with Eichhorn appears within.
Eichhorn recently entered into an agreement with Boing Boing to post some of his old Real Stuff comics online. There are also plans in the works for Eichhorn to publish new comics titled "Dennis P. Eichhorn's Real Good Stuff."
Critic Alan David Doane:
|“||Eichhorn has had a genuinely interesting life and makes some apt observations about what he's learned, with a compelling narrative style. . . .||”|
Critic Tom Spurgeon:
|“||The conventional wisdom about Denny Eichhorn's autobiographical series is that it succeeded where some other have only antagonized because Eichhorn lived a life worth documenting. There's something to that: in just this issue alone [Real Stuff #1] we see a trip to jail, a sexual encounter or two, some drugs, and an encounter with a mass murderer. But there are plenty of people with crazy lives that don't make for good art. What really stands out reading Real Stuff . . . is how many quality artists Eichhorn put to work.||”|
- Eisner Award nomination, Best Writer, 1993
- Eisner Award nomination, Best Continuing Series (Real Stuff), 1993.
- Eisner Award nomination, Best Anthology (Real Stuff), 1993.
- Eisner Award nomination, Best Anthology (Real Stuff), 1994.
- Harvey Award, Best New Series (The Spirit: The New Adventures), 1999.
- Ignatz Award nomination, Outstanding Story (The Legend of Wildman Fischer), 2005.
- Real Stuff (20 issues, Fantagraphics, 1990–1995)
- Real Smut (6 issues, Eros/Fantagraphics, 1992–1993)
- Drawn & Quarterly Vol. 1 #7-8 (Drawn & Quarterly, 1992)
- Big Mouth #1-2, 4-5 (Starhead Comix, Fantagraphics, 1992–1995)
- Real Schmuck (Starhead Comix, 1993)
- The Amazing Adventures of Ace International (Starhead Comix, 1993)
- Colin Upton's Authorized Big Black Thing (Starhead Comix. 1994)
- Northwest Cartoon Cookery (Starhead Comix, 1995)
- The Spirit: The New Adventures #7 (Kitchen Sink Press, 1998)
- The Legend of Wild Man Fischer (Top Shelf Productions, 2004) ISBN 1-891830-61-9
- Real Stuff by Dennis P. Eichhorn and a Host of Artists (Swifty Morales Press, 2004) ISBN 0-9745870-0-1
- The Spirit:The New Adventures (Spirit Archives) (Dark Horse Books) ISBN 978-1569717325
- Mineshaft Magazine #24 (Mineshaft Magazine, 2008)
- Mineshaft Magazine #26 (Mineshaft Magazine, 2011)
- Mineshaft Magazine #27 (Mineshaft Magazine, 2011)
- Real Good Stuff #1 & #2 (Poochie Press, 2014)
- Epstein, Daniel Robert. "Real Stuff with Dennis Eichhorn," Newsarama (Mar. 5, 2004). Accessed Apr. 26, 2009.
- Frauenfelder, Mark. "Real Stuff by Dennis P. Eichhorn," BoingBoing (June 10, 2004). Accessed Apr. 26, 2009.
- Eichhorn bio at Lambiek's Comiclopedia.
- Northwest Extra advertisement, Real Stuff #14 (Fantagraphics, 1993).
- Doane, Alan David. "The Legend of Wild Man Fischer, Comic Book Galaxy (2004). Accessed Apr. 26, 2009.
- Spurgeon, Tom. "Real Stuff #1," Comics Reporter (July 5, 2006). Accessed Apr. 26, 2009.
- Daniel, Dennis. "Dennis Eichhorn Interview" The Comics Journal #162 (Oct. 1993), p. 83-89
- Arnold, Andrew D. "Sexing Up a Story," Time.com (Mar. 08, 2004)