|Born||Richard Eugene Green
May 7, 1939
Fort Wayne, Indiana
|Died||August 5, 2002
Fort Wayne, Indiana
|Xal-Kor the Human Cat
Super Soul Comix
|Awards||Alley Award, 1966|
Richard Eugene "Grass" Green (May 7, 1939 – August 5, 2002) was an African American cartoonist notable for being the first black participant in both the 1960s fan art movement and the 1970s underground comics movement. In the 1960s, Green's Harvey Kurtzman-like zany, action-packed, humorous comics parodies appeared in numerous fanzines. His "outrageous" 1970s and 1980s underground work used searing humor to expose America's racism and bigotry.
Born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Green was given the nickname "Grass" by his childhood friend Ronn Foss, with whom he later collaborated in editing two issues of the magazine Alter Ego. Beginning in 1964, Green's fan art appeared in such fanzines as Alter Ego, Star-Studded Comics, Fantasy Illustrated, The Buyer's Guide to Comics Fandom, Rocket's Blast Comicollector, Komix Illustrated, Super-Hero, and Masquerader.
In 1967, Green broke into the professional comics world, collaborating with Roy Thomas on "The Shape" in Charlton Premiere #1. In the late 1960s, Green drew several more humorous strips for Charlton Comics, mostly in Go-Go Comics. (He also had work published in Bill Pearson's witzend.) He then became involved in the underground comix movement, where his work was published in Super Soul Comix (Kitchen Sink Press) and a Wildman and Rubberroy series. Super Soul Comix #1 (1972) sold 200,000 copies. In the 1990s, Green produced work for, among other places, Eros Comics.
Xal-Kor the Human Cat
Green's Xal-Kor the Human Cat is a classic Golden Age-type superhero. Sent from the planet Felis by the Great White Cat, Xal-Kor fights the Rat People with his Dimension Belt, which enables him to change form from a common house cat to a hybrid man-cat form, and then into a fully human form. As a human, his alter ego is photojournalist Colin Chambers.
Xal-Kor (who first appeared in 1964) was often voted the most popular fan creation in the fanzine Star-Studded Comics. The character returned several times over the years, most recently in May 2002 in a collection from TwoMorrows Publishing. Green was working on a new series of Xal-Kor adventures when he died in August 2002.
Green collaborated for many years with writer Michael Vance, including for four years on the comic book strip Holiday Out, featuring the characters Plastic Mam and Rok. Holiday Out stories were collected in Holiday Out #1-3, from Renegade Press, as well as books like Comico Primer (Comico), and Mangazine (Antarctic Press); much of it was re-released in June 2002 from Blue Moon Comics.
In the 1960s, Green founded the company REGCo, an acronym for his name, Richard Eugene Green, which offered comic book artists and newspaper cartoonists ready-to-use layout art boards with borders and panels pre-drafted, delineated with non-repro blue ink. Green promoted this as a major time-saver for fellow artists, recognizing the time and tedium required for repeatedly laying out pages by hand. Although this was a practical idea, his business was only modestly successful, as many comic artists tend(ed) to be very particular about which type of art board they penciled and inked on.
Personal life and death
Green was also a musician, who as a young man appeared on Ted Mack's The Original Amateur Hour — a popular national television program that was the precursor to today's America's Got Talent and American Idol. On the Ted Mack show, Green won the talent contests with his singing, guitar-playing, and comedy performances, and, for a short time, he became a local celebrity, which offered him an opportunity to perform professionally at various clubs around the Fort Wayne area.
Green won a 1966 Alley Award for Best Fan Comic Strip for "Xal-Kor."
- Social Security Death Index.
- Grass Green at the Lambiek Comiclopedia. Accessed Apr. 16, 2009.
- "Grass Green Succumbs at 63", Comic Book Network Electronic Magazine. Reprinted in Vance, Michael. "Suspended Animation," SFReader.com (Aug. 15, 2002). Accessed Apr. 16, 2009.
- Rifas, Leonard. "Racial Imagery, Racism, Individualism, and Underground Comix," ImageTexT (2004). Accessed Apr. 14, 2009.
- Light, Leslie. "Profiles in Black Cartooning: Richard Eugene “Grass” Green," Comic Book Legal Defense Fund website (February 19, 2016).
- Obituary, The Comics Journal #247 (Oct. 2002)