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Hart Fisher on Comics Journalism, Frank Miller, Running Danzig’s Verotik and Life in Los Angeles

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by Hart D. Fisher

In the early 90’s Hero Illustrated (Wizard’s main competitor at the time) put Hart Fisher on their Top 100 Most Important People in the Comic Book Industry. They also dubbed him as “the most dangerous man in comics.”
He then found himself doing journalism for Hero. For one article, Hart spoke with the man himself, Frank Miller. I asked Hart about Frank’s work and what it meant to him (and all us really) back then and how he felt about everything that Miller had accomplished over the past few years.

WORKING FOR HERO ILLUSTRATED AND HANGING OUT WITH FRANK MILLER

I did journalism writing for several of the old comics magazines. When I was in college I wrote an opinions column for the Daily Illini and got fired for being too controversial and outspoken, literally. I wrote for The Comics Journal (a great Rob Liefeld interview which was stunt casting. I should post the original audio tapes. He really spills the dirt after about an hour of bullshit), Fan Magazine, Hero Illustrated hired me for a few, that’s how I got to really know Glenn Danzig.


When Hero asked me to do the Miller interview, I was jumping for joy. I was a big Frank Miller fan back then. I loved his work. I loved his outspoken dedication to a truly adult and free press. I loved that he was fighting for the comic book as an adult art form. I respected how he walked away from Marvel at the height of his success to find his own way instead of selling his soul slowly like John Byrne. I grew up a Marvel Maniac. I felt Marvel had betrayed its fan base in the nineties and liked that Frank spoke out on that issue. I met him several times over the years and found I enjoyed his work less and less with time.

The interview with him for Hero, that kind of sealed it for me. That and the fact that every time I ran into Frank he acted like he’d never met me, never spoke to me before or even had a clue who the fuck I was. When you meet a guy for the 2nd or 3rd time, sure, I can expect that. But the 5th or 6th time I run into you, and this is after I interview the guy and he’s got one of my Marvel Can Suck My Cock shirts? Gimme a fuckin’ break. But that’s all my bruised ego talking. During the interview he got really cranky when I pointed out the spots he ripped Mickey Spillane off DIRECTLY from the novels. I mean, go read the Spillane books, you won’t be as impressed with the writing on Sin City after that. I was bored with all of the other interviews I read with him. They should have printed my original text. I wanted to know what beer he had in the fridge, what was the last CD he bought, real life shit like that. Some of it made it in, other parts didn’t. I should really post up all of these tapes.

I’d have to say after talking to him here and there over the years, I found him to be a cold fish full of sour grapes. I’m happy a new audience is finding his work. I’m enjoying the film adaptations immensely. 300 rocked, Sin City rocked everywhere Michael Madsen wasn’t on screen stinking up the place. Look at the way his graphic style has found its way into advertising now, look at the ads for Death Sentence. That’s all Miller there. The man was the guy who turned me onto Japanese manga which changed my art style completely. Dark Angel wouldn’t have looked the way it did if Frank Miller didn’t get Dark Horse to publish Lone Wolf and Cub. Miller was very influential on my work growing up and into college.

I only hope it puts people into comic books stores to buy comics. That’s the bottom line. Sure there are great film adaptations of Millers work are coming out, the real question is does this help the comics industry? Sales figures suck. I mean, they suck hard. You can’t make a living in comics. You make it from turning your comic into a movie or a video game. I hope that Frank’s success helps change some of that.

RUNNING FULL-TILT IN 1994, TAKING ON THE JOB AS MANAGING EDITOR FOR GLENN DANZIG’S VEROTIK COMIC EMPIRE

I know It’s a little off point, but I’m going to give you some background to this period in time. On August 16th 1994 I moved from Champaign Illinois to Los Angeles California. Why? I was deeply disturbed by Michelle’s murder and the ensuing murder trial. Anyone who’s read Poems for the Dead should know that when those poems were being written I was insane and suicidal. I moved to LA to get away from the pit I was in and to finish The Garbage Man. By the time I left Champaign I was playing Russian Roulette with a .38 special on a regular basis. It was time to leave Champaign.


Los Angeles was tough. I moved with my brother and a friend, Rob Robbins. The friend turned into a real piece of shit, not paying any rent, no money for food, and boy did he like shit talking me to all our friends back home. Told them all I’d blown the Boneyard “Riches” on drugs, hookers and partying. Not a fucking chance. I had a book that was supposed to set me up and leave me with some money. I had great pre-sales through the roof, I was going to make a killing. But the artist fucked me and blew his deadlines completely on what would have been Boneyard’s first color book. This left me with barely any rent money in my new place in LA.

I was hired by Hero Illustrated to interview Glenn for the magazine. We hit it off. I was already a fan of his anyway. At the point that Glenn called, I was three months behind on my rent, the deadbeat roommate had just skipped town owing me money, food was scarce and we were pretty fucking desperate. My brother was working in a chop shop and making just enough to keep us eating. Glenn’s call saved my ass and gave me a shot at the big time working with big names and a real budget to work with. I leapt into this position. It was a dream job in everyway except for the reality. Glenn and I butted heads plenty, and I don’t think this is the venue to talk about that.

Funny stories? Yeah, I have plenty. I think the best story out of them all is when my late father came to town and he’s got no clue who Glenn is, what he’s about, nothing.
At the time the Verotik offices were located in my house. The whole crew gathered there, Glenn, Me, the boneyard crew, Glenn’s art dealer, some of the guys from Verotik, to get ready for a night out at the strip clubs.
In front of everyone, my old man starts grilling Glenn about this leather jacket he’s wearing that’s barely held together by safety pins.
Fred “Hey, you make money, right?”
Glenn “Uh, yeah, I guess you could say that.”
Fred “Well how old is that fuckin’ coat?”
Surprised, Glenn looks down at his leather coat, the pins “It’s almost as old as I am and…”
Fred “Yeah, well, I think it’s time to buy a new fuckin’ coat.”
The room erupts in laughter. No one could believe my old man was razzing Glenn, but that was my old man. Picture Chuck Norris if he never did martial arts, had a bad perm and smoked 3 packs of Belair’s a day. I got my big mouth from him and my brass balls from my mother.

One night we had dinner with the bassist from White Zombie and some Hell’s Angels. Another night it was the Biohazard guys. I got to harass Simon Bisley for inking with a goddamn Sharpy on Death Dealer, and shoot some pool with him in San Diego. That was great. Simon was fun. Working on Go Nagai’s Devilman was cool, but the end product didn’t hold up. Talking with Glenn’s Jeet Kune Do sensei, one of Bruce Lee’s students, that was pretty fucking cool. He was a little disappointed in Glenn ‘cuz he’d lost his temper and laid a guy out that night.

He was ready to kill me when I didn’t back him up at a meeting with all of his financial people. We didn’t see eye to on the sales forecast for the upcoming releases, I didn’t back him up on his claims. He was furious. He let me have it in the elevator as soon as the doors shut leaving the meeting. But I was right when the figures came in, unfortunately for him.

Then there was the time, I forget where we were, but one night we were talking about bands, punk rock, and at the time, I wasn’t really into punk. Didn’t know much about it. Someone brought up The Misfits. I asked Glenn if he thought they were any good. He looked at me like I was kidding, but I wasn’t. I had no clue that Glenn had been the lead singer for this band, or how fucking great they are. Glenn thought I was fucking with him, but he was even more shocked that I wasn’t. Through a couple shots down my throat in a crowded bar and I’ll tell you stories all night long about just working with Glenn.

Working for Glenn was a tremendous learning experience. I made some mistakes with him and that business, but I learned from them and applied them to Boneyard.

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  • http://nilskidoo.blogspot.com/ Richard

    Hell yea. Thanks for running this, J.

    Hart can do no wrong, in my book. I remember his work for Hero, probably the only good thing about that short-lived rag.
    And I know all about the fun of Danzig. Get some drinks in me and I have stories too.
    :P

  • http://nilskidoo.blogspot.com/ Richard

    Hell yea. Thanks for running this, J.

    Hart can do no wrong, in my book. I remember his work for Hero, probably the only good thing about that short-lived rag.
    And I know all about the fun of Danzig. Get some drinks in me and I have stories too.
    :P

  • http://myspace.com/gabrielshepard Gabriel

    Yea, it is a shame that Frank Miller and the rest of the Marvel ink and paint guys got the screws in the 90′s. But it was leading that way any way. Look at the way they have conducted them selves with Stan Lee. He is only fortunate that he has all those years under his belt with his name on all those covers. But some of my favorite Marvel was inked or wrote by Miller. Hands down!!

    It is nice that all these “kids” that don’t know spit about anything is getting the chance to snuggle up to the characters that all of grew to love (or despise in some cases) I also love the adaptations, even more to the point of fact that they are keeping true to Millers art in the books on the films!!!! Major plus+ in my book!!!!

    But Danzig? He should be more like Al Jourgenson, and know when to call it quits musicly. As far as the art goes, the guy has a egocentric version of Giger trapped in a dwarf body. I wish the comics were easier to get. They might have sold better in there day.

    Great read this story though!!!!

  • http://myspace.com/gabrielshepard Gabriel

    Yea, it is a shame that Frank Miller and the rest of the Marvel ink and paint guys got the screws in the 90′s. But it was leading that way any way. Look at the way they have conducted them selves with Stan Lee. He is only fortunate that he has all those years under his belt with his name on all those covers. But some of my favorite Marvel was inked or wrote by Miller. Hands down!!

    It is nice that all these “kids” that don’t know spit about anything is getting the chance to snuggle up to the characters that all of grew to love (or despise in some cases) I also love the adaptations, even more to the point of fact that they are keeping true to Millers art in the books on the films!!!! Major plus+ in my book!!!!

    But Danzig? He should be more like Al Jourgenson, and know when to call it quits musicly. As far as the art goes, the guy has a egocentric version of Giger trapped in a dwarf body. I wish the comics were easier to get. They might have sold better in there day.

    Great read this story though!!!!

  • http://iconoctlan.blogspot.com/ Mauricio Matamoros

    Hey Hart, here in Mexico can’t take you to the bar. So why not write more Danzig stories, and Boneyard and et all too.
    Great to see this column

  • http://iconoctlan.blogspot.com/ Mauricio Matamoros

    Hey Hart, here in Mexico can’t take you to the bar. So why not write more Danzig stories, and Boneyard and et all too.
    Great to see this column

  • JamesD

    Thanks for the useful info. It’s so interesting

  • JamesD

    Thanks for the useful info. It’s so interesting

  • http://www.urbanmacuser.com terryj

    GReat stories as always.
    Hero could have been a contender to Wizard,
    had they had a chump like Shamus to blow the Image Crew
    like he did in the 90′s. Verotik books were and still are easy to get,
    just don’t depend on the deuce running the comic shop to get them,
    he’s got his hands full jerkin’ off to the latest x-babes retread.
    Best place to get Indies is always Direct, direct, direct….

  • http://www.urbanmacuser.com terryj

    GReat stories as always.
    Hero could have been a contender to Wizard,
    had they had a chump like Shamus to blow the Image Crew
    like he did in the 90′s. Verotik books were and still are easy to get,
    just don’t depend on the deuce running the comic shop to get them,
    he’s got his hands full jerkin’ off to the latest x-babes retread.
    Best place to get Indies is always Direct, direct, direct….

  • http://keenerworks.com website design

    Yes, dammit, he should release his interview tapes.

  • http://keenerworks.com website design

    Yes, dammit, he should release his interview tapes.

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