Denis Kitchen at Columbia University in 2015
|Born||August 27, 1946|
|Kitchen Sink Press
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
Kitchen grew up in Wisconsin, attending William Horlick High School, Racine, where he cofounded and edited Klepto, an unofficial school paper, also contributing stories and illustrations to the paper. He continued this interest at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, where in 1967 he cofounded and served as art director for the humor magazine Snide, also supplying cartoons.
Krupp Comics and Kitchen Sink Press
In 1969 Kitchen decided to self-publish his comics and cartoons in the magazine Mom’s Homemade Comics, inspired in part by Bijou Funnies and Zap Comix. The selling out of the 4000 print run inspired him further, and in 1970 he founded Kitchen Sink Press (initially as an artists' cooperative) and launched the underground newspaper The Bugle-American, with Jim Mitchell and others. Under the name of the Krupp Syndicate, he syndicated comic strips to almost 50 other underground and college newspapers. In addition to the Milwaukee artists like himself, Mitchell, Bruce Walthers, Don Glassford and Wendel Pugh, Kitchen began to publish works by such cartoonists as Howard Cruse, Robert Crumb, Art Spiegelman, Justin Green, Trina Robbins, and S. Clay Wilson, and he soon expanded his operations, launching Krupp Comic Works, a parent organization into which he placed ownership of Kitchen Sink Press and through which he also launched such diverse ventures as a record company and a commercial art studio. In 1980 he invited Cruse to edit Gay Comix, one of the first comics to feature the work of openly gay and lesbian cartoonists.
In the 1980s through the early 1990s, Kitchen Sink Press would publish industry legends such as Will Eisner, Harvey Kurtzman, Al Capp, and award-winning alternative creators such as Mark Schultz, Monte Beauchamp, and Charles Burns.
In 1993, Kitchen Sink Press merged with Kevin Eastman's Tundra Publishing and relocated to Northampton, Massachusetts. It would go on to publish works by Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, James O'Barr, Don Simpson, and Scott McCloud, winning numerous Eisner and Harvey Awards.
Kitchen's founding of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund occurred in 1986, after comic store manager Michael Correa was charged with possession and sale of obscene material. Since two of the works cited in the case as obscene were published by Kitchen Sink Press, Kitchen felt some responsibility for Correa's predicament, and so he set about raising funds for the defense of Correa, who saw his conviction overturned on appeal. Kitchen used surplus funds to incorporate the fund as a non-profit charitable organization in 1990. Kitchen served as the fund's president from its inception until 2004, noting on his retirement from the board that "The challenges facing comics are different from when I founded the Fund … I think it's fitting that the generation directly facing these challenges … should be the ones standing up to them."
After the press
Kitchen Sink Press as a publisher went out of business in 1999, and Kitchen severed all ties with the company. Subsequent ventures have seen Kitchen establish himself as an art agent, handling the estates of both Will Eisner and Harvey Kurtzman amongst others through his company Denis Kitchen Art Agency. He is also a partner with Judith Hansen in Kitchen & Hansen Agency, LLC, which serves as a literary agency for Will Eisner's estate.
On June 10, 2006 at the Mocca Art Festival in NYC, Kitchen announced the formation of a new company with partner, book designer John Lind. Their company Kitchen, Lind & Associates serves a dual role as agency and book packager. Clients have included The Estates of Harvey Kurtzman and Al Capp, Rebecca Guay, Howard Cruse, Eleanor Davis, Todd M. Hignite, Mark Fearing, and William Stout.
In 2010, Dark Horse Comics released his long-awaited The Oddly Compelling Art of Denis Kitchen which serves as part-artbook and part-autobiography. In 2011, it would be nominated for an Eisner Award (for Best-Comics Related Book) and a Harvey Award (for Best Biographical, Historical Or Journalistic Presentation). It went on to win a 2011 American Graphic Design Award in the editorial category.
Kitchen Sink Books
In 2013, Dark Horse Comics announced it had established a joint venture imprint called Kitchen Sink Books. The imprint would be directed by Kitchen and business partner John Lind and focus on art books, historical collections and reprints and possibly original graphic novels. Dark Horse publisher Mike Richardson said of the imprint "I’m extremely pleased to be working with Denis and John on this new venture. My relationship with Denis goes back to the earliest days of Dark Horse and we’ve had a shared aesthetic with regard to comics from day one. With John, we have one of the best designer/editors in the business. I’m very much looking forward to the exciting projects that will result from this new imprint." The first book released under the new Kitchen imprint was The Best of Comix Book, a collection of work edited by Kitchen and Stan Lee in the mid-1970s. It was published as a large format hardcover in December 2013.
- Acton, Jay, Le Mond, Alan, and Hodges, Parker. Mug Shots: Who's Who in the New Earth World Publishing: 1972; pp. 121
- Schreiner, Dave. Kitchen Sink Press, the First 25 Years. Northhampton, MA: Kitchen Sink Press, 1994; p. 14 et seq.
- Kitchen, Denis. Notes on the Underground... Confessions of an Underground Comics Publisher. Funnyworld #13 (Spring 1971), p. 30
- Tanzilo, Bobby. Milwaukee Talks: Denis Kitchen, onmilwaukee.com July 12, 2006]
- CBLDF archives
- MacDonald, Heidi (June 13, 2006). "Kitchen, Lind Debut Agency, Packaging House". Publishers Weekly Comics Week.
- "2011 Eisner nominees". Comic-Con.
- "2011 Harvey Award nominees". Harvey Award.
- "2011 American Graphic Design Awards winners". Graphic Design USA.
- Dooley, Michael. "The Unsinkable Denis Kitchen" AIGA Voice August 24, 2005
- The Denis Kitchen interview Accessed January 19, 2006