Justin Green (cartoonist)

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Justin Green
BornJustin Considine Green
1945 (age 74–75)
Notable works
Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary
Spouse(s)Carol Tyler

Justin Considine Green (born 1945)[1] is an American cartoonist who is known as the "father of autobiographical comics."[citation needed] A key figure and pioneer in the 1970s generation of underground comics artists, he is best known for his 1972 comic book Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary.


Green grew up in Chicago, the son of a Jewish father and Catholic mother; he was raised Catholic.[2] As a child he at first attended a Catholic parochial school, and later transferred to a school where most students were Jews.[3] He rejected the Catholic faith in 1958 as he believed it caused him "compulsive neurosis"[4] that decades later was diagnosed as obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD).[5]

Green was studying painting at the Rhode Island School of Design[1] when in 1967 he discovered the work of Robert Crumb and turned to cartooning, attracted to what he called Crumb's "harsh drawing stuffed into crookedly-drawn panels".[6] He experimented with his artwork to find what he called an "inherent and automatic style as a conduit for the chimerical forms in [his] own psyche".[7] He dropped out of an MFA program at Syracuse University[8] when in 1968 he felt a "call to arms"[6] to move to San Francisco, where the nascent underground comix scene was blossoming amid the counterculture there.[6]

Green's short comics pieces appeared in various titles and anthologies including Art Spiegelman's and Bill Griffith's anthologies Arcade and Young Lust. But in 1972, he was overwhelmed by an urgent desire to tell the story of his personal anxieties.[9][10][11] Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary is a solo comic book that details Green's struggle with a form of OCD known as scrupulosity, within the framework of growing up Catholic in 1950s Chicago. Intense graphic depiction of personal torment had never appeared in comic book form before, and it had a profound effect on other cartoonists and the future direction of comics as literature. Green's roommate at the time, Art Spiegelman, was so inspired by Binky Brown that he thought he'd try his own memoir-type story, a strip he called "Maus" which some years later became the seed of Maus.[12]

Green is also a master sign painter, which he described during the 1980s in his monthly comic strip for the trade publication Signs of the Times, that later became a book entitled Justin Green's Sign Game (Last Gasp, June 1995).

In the 1990s, Green focused his cartooning attention on a series of visual biographies for Pulse!, the in-house magazine for Tower Records. It ran for ten years, later collected into an anthology known as Musical Legends (Last Gasp, 2004 ISBN 978-0867196214).

Green still makes comics the way he did when he started, by dipping a pen nib into an ink bottle.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Green's younger brother Keith Green (c. 1951[13]–1996) was also involved in the underground comix movement, as an underground distributor from c. 1968–1975, and publishing comics under the name Keith Green Industrial Realities (as well the imprint Saving Grace) in the period c. 1971–1977.[14] He later became an art dealer. Keith Green died in 1996.[15]

Justin Green lives in Cincinnati, and is married to fellow cartoonist Carol Tyler.[16] Green and Tyler met in San Francisco in the early 1980s; they have a child together.[17]

Green is first cousins with film director William Friedkin (Green's father and Friedkin's mother are siblings).[1]

Bibliography (collections)[edit]



  1. ^ a b c Justin Green bio Archived 2015-07-01 at the Wayback Machine, Iconoclast Editions website. Accessed Dec. 14, 2013.
  2. ^ Green 2010, p. 56.
  3. ^ Hatfield 2005, p. 135.
  4. ^ Hatfield 2005, p. 134.
  5. ^ Green 2010, p. 58.
  6. ^ a b c Chute 2010, p. 17.
  7. ^ Manning 2010.
  8. ^ Levin 1998, p. 101.
  9. ^ "JUSTIN GREEN EXHIBITION!". jimwoodring.blogspot.com. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
  10. ^ Richard von Busack (Oct 12–18, 1995). "Memoirs of a Catholic Boyhood". Metro: Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
  11. ^ "Duke Ellington & A Brief History Of The Barber Pole". Signblanks blog. Nov 19, 2012. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
  12. ^ Spiegelman, Art, introduction. Binky Brown Sampler. Last Gasp (1995): "Without Binky Brown there would be no Maus."
  13. ^ Keith Green entry, Who's Who of American Comic Books, 1928–1999. Accessed Dec. 27, 2016.
  14. ^ Keith Green entry, Grand Comics Database. Accessed Dec. 8, 2016.
  15. ^ Arsenault, Marc. "Underground Distributor Keith Green Dies", The Comics Journal #189 (Aug. 1996), p. 34.
  16. ^ Mautner, Chris. “'I Was Dipping a Pen at My Dying Mother’s Bedside': An Interview with Carol Tyler", The Comics Journal website (June 26, 2013).
  17. ^ Ramos, Steve. "Drawn to Be an Artist: Clifton cartoonist Carol Tyler is a late bloomer Archived 2006-06-17 at the Wayback Machine". Cincinnati CityBeat (August 31, 2005).

Works cited[edit]

External links[edit]