Panel showing Harold Hedd, Rand Holmes' most well-known creation
February 22, 1942|
Truro, Nova Scotia
|Died||March 15, 2002
Nanaimo, British Columbia
|Awards||Canadian Cartoonist Hall of Fame
Joe Shuster Hall of Fame
Randolph Holton Holmes (February 22, 1942 – March 15, 2002) was a Canadian artist and illustrator probably best known for his work in underground comix. His work was of a higher level of quality than was seen elsewhere in the field, and is considered comparable to such creations as Gilbert Shelton's Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers and Robert Crumb's Mr. Natural.
Born in Truro, Nova Scotia, he grew up in Edmonton, Alberta. As a teenager Holmes taught himself to draw by copying comic-strip artists Wally Wood and Will Eisner. Harvey Kurtzman later published two of his drawings in Help! He married young and worked briefly as a sign painter.
Career in underground comix
Here was one of the greatest artists in the history of underground comics, living in our building and churning out major satirical work about those who were out to destroy us, turning them into buffoons. He was a sweet, gentle man who helped us to seize the moral high ground when we were feeling beaten.
He drew numerous covers for the Straight and created the Harold Hedd comic strip, which ran in the paper as well as in other publications such as The Body Politic, during the early 1970s. Described by writer Dana Larsen as Holmes's "most well known cartoon creation", the one-page strip was collected in two volumes:
- The Collected Adventures of Harold Hedd (1972) Georgia Straight (1st edition), with a 2nd edition in 1973 by Last Gasp, Berkeley, oversized, 36 p.
- Anus Clenching Adventures with Harold Hedd (1973), Last Gasp, 36 p.
Holmes's work appeared in various underground comics titles:
- White Lunch Comix #1 (1972, Georgia Straight)
- All Canadian Beaver Comics #1 (1973, Georgia Straight)
- Slow Death #5 (1973, Last Gasp), #6 (1974)
- Fog City Comics #1 (1977), #2 (1978), #3 (1979, Stampart)
- Snarf #11 (1986, Kitchen Sink)
In 1982, Holmes and his second wife Martha left Vancouver and moved to Lasqueti Island. In his last years he concentrated on his meticulous surrealistic oil painting. His reference library included works by René Magritte, Robert Williams, Pablo Picasso and Wonder Warthog.
In 2007, Holmes was inducted into the Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Fame, and a retrospective of his work was presented at that time at his Gulf Island home. A further exhibition was held in Vancouver in 2011.
- Gill, Alexandra (March 25, 2002). "Cartoonist of the B.C. underground". The Globe and Mail.
- Rosenkranz, Patrick (2007). "Rand Holmes' Secret Stash". The Comics Journal (280): 163–164.
- Rosenkranz, Patrick (2010). The Artist Himself: A Rand Holmes Retrospective. Seattle: Fantagraphics. ISBN 978-1-60699-170-1.
- Gill 2002.
- Mietkiewicz, Henry. "Rand Holmes (1942-2002)". The Canadian Comic Book Creator Awards. Retrieved 2007-07-13.
- "Rand Holmes". Lambiek.net. Retrieved 2007-07-13.
- "Historicist: I Sing The Body Politic". Torontoist, February 14, 2015.
- Larsen, Dana. "'Harold Hedd' Creator Dies". Cannabis Culture Marijuana Magazine. Retrieved 2007-07-13.
- Rosenkranz 2007, p. 163.
- "Artists honoured for comics hailing nostalgia, everyday life". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2007-08-18. Retrieved 2011-12-29.
- Rosenkranz 2007, p. 164.
- Dunphy, Martin (August 4, 2011). "Iconic underground-comix artist Rand Holmes's art showcased sex, drugs, and the environment". The Georgia Straight.