Friday, May 20, 2011

Larry's Cartoon Vault: Gary Arlington

Congratulations to Gary Arlington.

Last Gasp just published a collection of Gary’s drawings “I Am Not of This Planet: The Art of Gary Edson Arlington”.

Gary in the early 1970's

 Former comic book shop proprietor, publisher, editor and comic artists mentor, Gary Arlington had hit on hard times in recent years.   But surprisingly, has reemerged as an artist. Gary now lives in the Mission Creek area near the SF Giant’s ball park.  He spends much of his time drawing.

Gary's place

Gary Arlington  founded the San Francisco Comic Book Company in San Francisco on 23rd street  in 1968—arguably the very first comic book shop in the country, possibly the world.   R. Crumb wandered in with Zap Comix not long afterward and Gary’s shop soon became ground zero for the emerging underground comix scene.
By the beginning of the 1970’s, cartoonists from the east coast began moving into the Mission District—Roger Brand, Kim Deitch, Trina, Justin Green, Spain, Bill Griffith and others. Underground cartoonists congregated at the shop on a daily basis.
 I first met Gary there in 1969.  As a young neophyte cartoonist I spent many hours at the San Francisco Comic Book Co .  I got my first glimpses of Rick Griffin, S. Clay Wilson, Gilbert Shelton, George Metzger, Greg Irons --and quite often their latest artwork. Rory Hayes worked behind the counter. Greg Irons gave me a tutorial on color separations. I also met Leonard Rifas at the SF Comic Book Co. 
Leonard and I both came into the shop the same February afternoon in 1970.  Gary had Leonard’s mini book Quoz on the shelf next to a comics tabloid Dirty Girdie’s Comix  featuring  my work.  Gary introduced us to each other and said “You guys should get together” (I eventually contributed to a handful of Leonard’s EduComics titles).
Gary knew comics; He had lots of good ideas.He had an immediate intuitive understanding of what the undergrounds were all about.  He created the San Francisco Comic Book and the EC influenced horror comic, Skull Comix. Gary published Hayes’ Bogeyman, Larry Fuller’s Ebon, the Nickel Library series and Rick Griffin’s Man from Utopia.

By late 1971, I became roommates with Gary and later worked at his Eric Fromm comix mail order operation . The Albion Street flat was a sort of waystation for cartoonists –during the time I was there Kim Deitch, Sally Cruikshank and Simon Deitch lived there at least briefly.

Eric Fromm crew: Gary in upper left. Larry as shoe rack- early 1973

A caricature I did of Gary in a comic strip in 1972

When Gary had to leave his home and shop a couple of years ago things weren’t looking so good. This book stands as a remarkable new chapter in Gary’s life.

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