Lynch at the 2014 New York Comic Con
January 7, 1945 |
Orange, New Jersey
|Area(s)||Cartoonist, Writer, Editor|
Phoebe and the Pigeon People
Nard n' Pat
Jay Lynch (born January 7, 1945) is an American cartoonist who played a key role in the underground comix movement with his Bijou Funnies and other titles. His work is sometimes signed Jayzey Lynch. Lynch was the main writer for Bazooka Joe comics from 1967 to 1990; he has contributed to Mad, and in the 2000s has expanded into the children's book field.
Ben Schwartz, writing in the alternative weekly The Chicago Reader, traced Lynch's formative years:
In 1963, at age 17, Lynch had moved to Chicago from Florida, where he grew up. Working a string of odd jobs to support himself, he wound up manning the service bar at Second City one summer. This was between the theater's skinny-tie Alan Arkin days and the Belushi hippie years. "At that time it seemed like Second City was over," Lynch says. "They had been on Jack Paar, and all the Hyde Park Compass Players were gone... The Realist would come out, and you'd see them taking their improvs from there." Lynch moved into Del Close's old apartment on Hudson. Close had left it in such a mess that the landlord let him live there for free on the condition that he fix the place up.
He drew cartoons for Roosevelt University's humor magazine, the Aardvark, which got tossed off campus by college administrators after the first issue. Then in 1967 Lynch with help from Skip Williamson put out The Chicago Mirror, which lasted three issues and would become Chicago's answer to Robert Crumb's Zap Comix: Bijou Funnies, with early work by Lynch, Spiegelman, Gilbert Shelton and Skip Williamson.
Bijou Funnies was collected in 1975 in the book The Best of Bijou Funnies (Quick Fox/Links Books).
Lynch's best known comic book stories involve the human-cat duo Nard n' Pat, recurring characters in Bijou Funnies. Nard is a bald middle-aged man, and Patrick is his talking cat. Nard n' Pat were featured in two issues of their own comic, the first one published by Cartoonists Co-Op Press in 1974 (Cartoonists Co-Op Press was a self-publishing venture by Lynch, Kim Deitch, Bill Griffith, Jerry Lane, Willy Murphy, Diane Noomin, and Art Spiegelman that operated in 1973–1974), and the second issue published by Kitchen Sink Press in 1981.
The weekly comic strip Phoebe and the Pigeon People, by Lynch and illustrator Gary Whitney, ran in the Chicago Reader for 17 years in the late 1970s and 1980s; Kitchen Sink Press published 3 issues of a Phoebe & the Pigeon People comic book collecting material from the strip in 1979–1981. Lynch has scans of more than 500 editions of the strip ready for any publisher who sees the potential of a Phoebe and the Pigeon People book.
Beginning in 1968, Lynch became a major contributor to Topps' Wacky Packages and Garbage Pail Kids, plus other Topps humor products. In 2002, he recalled his creative working methods and procedures with Len Brown and others at the Topps' Product Development Department:
I would get a phone call from Len Brown or Art Spiegelman telling me it was time for me to do some roughs for a new series of Wacky Packages. I would usually submit a dozen roughs at a time. Len would tell me, usually on the phone, which food conglomerates I could not parody, based on cease and desist letters from prior series. I had a master list of taboo companies – and this would be added to, by phone, until a new master list would be compiled and sent to me. In those days I had a pretty good working knowledge of who made what, though. So I would give Len a verbal list of maybe 20 or so products, of which he would pick a dozen. Sometimes he would suggest products, sometimes he would come up with the gag title on the phone, and I would add to it on the rough. Sometimes Spiegelman, or Bhob Stewart, or Woody Gelman would phone the assignment to me. In the 80s, Mark Newgarden would phone the assignment to me. In the 90s Ira Friedman would phone the assignment to me. But mostly it would be Len. I think in the 60s I got $8 a rough. By the 70s it had gone up to $20 a rough. By the 80s it was $125 a rough, and so on. What I got for a rough always remained the same amount in actual buying power. It has gone up with inflation, though. One rough pays about the same as a week's worth of groceries. Always has – and always will. Anyway – after I had some idea of the initial dozen products that I would parody, I would go to the supermarket and buy these products. Sometimes I would get ideas for additional products as well – and Topps would reimburse me for this cost of the actual products when I would send them the receipt along with my bill, which I would enclose with each batch of roughs. These roughs were done in India ink and colored with Magic Markers. I would just send them in by regular mail, and I didn't bother to retain Xerox copies of them until the mid-1970s when the drugstore down the block from my house installed a pay Xerox machine. I was living in Chicago then. I would only go to Brooklyn to meet with the Topps guys once every six months or so. Usually this was to work on a vast variety of other Topps and Bazooka projects. Wacky Packages was just one of the countless series in development then, only one in ten of which would ever see the light of day.
Mad and books
His children's book, Otto's Orange Day (Toon Books, 2008), a collaboration with Syracuse political cartoonist Frank Cammuso, is described by the publisher: "When Otto the cat meets a magical genie, he knows just what to wish for: he makes the whole world orange! At first, this new, bright world seems like a lot of fun, but when his mom serves orange spinach for lunch, Otto realizes that his favorite color isn’t the best color for everything. Fixing this mixed-up world won’t be easy though because Otto already used up his only wish."
Greg McElhatton (Read About Comics) reviewed:
Lynch's story is aimed at readers in the 5 to 8 range, and I have to say that if I had a child that old I know what they'd be reading. I really appreciated that Lynch never talked down to his audience; while everything is spelled out for the reader carefully, it doesn't come across as condescending or patronizing. The story itself is fun and cute; Otto's song about all things orange made me laugh, and I absolutely love the scene when everything has become orange and Otto goes outside to see his creation. Each burst of excitement as he spies something newly orange, be it a duck or a clown, is pretty contagious. Lynch has a good handle on just how to write for kids, as well as any adults that might be looking over the kid's shoulder. What also impressed me, though, is how Lynch handled the ending. It's a combination of smart thinking on both Aunt Sally and Otto's parts, and it teaches something to kids without being cloying or over the top. For a book that's just 40 pages, I was impressed at how full this story felt.
Another collaboration, Mo and Jo Fighting Together Forever by Lynch with Dean Haspiel, was published by Toon Books in fall 2008. Toon describes this superhero satire: "Mona and Joey can't stop fighting! When the Mighty Mojo decides to give his powerful costume to them, these argumentative twins fight so much they rip it in half. Now each one is only half as strong! Can Mo and Jo find a way to combine their powers, fight the evil Saw-Jaw and save their town?"
Lynch's wife Jane Lynch was an occasional contributor to comics in the early 1970s, including pieces she wrote for Arcade #3 (an interview with Bill Griffith's character Zippy the Pinhead) and Skywald Publications's Psycho #17 (a story called "The Lunatic Class Of '64," illustrated by Emilio Bernardo).
Undergrounds (contributed & edited)
- Bijou Funnies #1–8 (Bijou Publishing Empire, Print Mint, Kitchen Sink, 1968–1973)
- Don Dohler's ProJunior (Kitchen Sink, Oct. 1971)
- Turned on Cuties (Golden Gate Publishing Company, 1972)
- Roxy Funnies (Head Imports, 1972)
- Purple Cat (Adam's Apple Distributing, 1973)
- Nard n' Pat #1-2 (Cartoonists Co-Op Press, 1974; Kitchen Sink, 1981) — Lynch solo series
- Phoebe & the Pigeon People #1–3 (Kitchen Sink, 1979–1981) — collection of material from Phoebe and the Pigeon People strip with Gary Whitney (17-year run in the Chicago Reader)
- Gothic Blimp Works #1–2 (1969)
- Radical America Komiks (Radical America, Jan. 1969)
- Bogeyman #2 (San Francisco Comic Book Company, 1969)
- Bogeyman #3 (Company & Sons, 1970)
- Otto's Orange Day (Toon Books, 2008) — illustrated by Frank Cammuso
- Mo and Jo (Toon Books, 2009) — illustrated by Dean Haspiel
Lynch was the cover story of The Comics Journal #114 (February 1987) which featured an extensive interview, "Jay Lynch and the Free Exploration of Ideas: An Interview," covering his life and career in detail. Lynch created a caricatured self-portrait for the cover illustration.
- San Francisco Comic Book #5 (Print Mint/Last Gasp, Jan. 1980).
- Miller, John Jackson (June 10, 2005). "Comics Industry Birthdays". Comics Buyer's Guide. Archived from the original on October 29, 2010. Retrieved December 12, 2010.
- Gene Weingarten (November 20, 2012). "Chewish humor". Washington Post Magazine. Retrieved December 3, 2012.
- Lewis, Michael. Lynch bio, The Apex Treasury of Underground Comics (Links Books/Quick Fox, 1974), p. 179.
- Schwartz, Ben. "Culture Jamming," Chicago Reader (June 25, 2004).
- Lynch, Jay. "How a Wacky Package series was put together (from my point of view at least)," August, 2002.
- Topps Production Codes
- The Topps Vault
- Otto's Orange Day. Toon Books.
- McElhatton, Greg, Read About Comics, March 28, 2008.
- Mo and Jo Fighting Together Forever. Toon Books.
- Shelly, Bill. Harvey Kurtzman: The Man Who Created Mad and Revolutionized Humor in America (Fantagraphics, 2015), p. 486.
- "Congratulations to All of the Nominees" Harveyawards.org., Summer, 2009.
- Fantagraphics Books: The Comics Journal, February 1987.
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