The Critic!

In 1996 an evil newspaper conglomerate cancelled my comic strip, “The Critic!” This media conglomerate owns many “alternative” weeklies including New York City’s Village Voice and San Francisco’s SF Weekly. After buying out the LA View (the free alternative weekly kind enough to publish my strip), this media conglomerate fired everyone including me. Then they replaced the LA View with one of their own papers.

After a very short burst of outrage, I soon felt relief. Making a weekly comic strip for more than three years was exhausting. Losing my extra income of 20 dollars per week (which worked out to about $3/hour) definitely did not upset me. I was planning to end “The Critic!” within two years because I was running out of ideas. But the strip was cancelled before I could finish.

I put “The Critic!” to rest in 2002 by making a comic book which included 54 of my favorite strips. Since I really only had about six hours a week to think up and draw the strips, the original versions were often poorly drawn. LA View published “The Critic!” every week from January 1993 to July 1996. Harpoon, the Bay Area’s Humor Magazine published the earliest of my comic strips monthly from 1989 to 1992.

I give special thanks to four people responsible for the creation of “The Critic!” My buddy, Ron Keyson, used to entertain me while we walked around the streets of Manhattan by criticizing anything and everything in sight: street musicians, graffiti, window displays, cars, fire hydrants, random pedestrians, garbage… etc.

I often used my friend, Mark Leyse, as a template for my character, Axel Scrivener. But Mark was no match for a graduate student he introduced me to years ago. I’ve forgotten his name, but he may have been the most pretentious person I’ve ever met. He proceeded to criticize and put down every artist and art movement mentioned during our talks with him. A small entourage of art students followed and listened to him as if he were a great and learned teacher. He later wrote an article for the Harvard Literary Review which was hard to understand and not nearly as entertaining as listening to him. Without Ron, Mark, and the unknown aesthete, my comic strip was not possible.

I also give thanks to my friend and former co-worker, Sergio Lobato, for inspiring many of my later strips. And I want to thank all the people who enjoyed reading “The Critic!” May he rest in peace.


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