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Nick Gazin's Comic Book Love-In #117

VICE art editor Nick Gazin hits up the creator behind the raw outsider comic 'Real Deal' in this week's installment.

by Nick Gazin
18 April 2017, 10:17pm

Hello, how are you? I am Nicholas Gazin. This is my weekly column for VICE in which I discuss comics, zines, art, art books, illustration, animation, toys, and anything related to art, beauty, or nerdish shit.

In the 80s, for some English reason, Weetabix made a series of animated commercials for its cereal featuring shredded wheat cereal that threatens you into eating its product.

In other cereal news, Kellogg's has made a really cool princess cereal themed around Disney princesses. The box is sparkly, and on the back, there's a cut-outable tiara that's too small for my adult-sized head.

Real Deal by Lawrence "Rawdog" Hubbard and H.P. McElwee a.k.a. R. D. Bone (Fantagraphics)

Real Deal is a comic that was started by Rawdog and R.D. Bone in 1990 and by 2015 had only made it to issue seven. Each issue was strange and full of exploitatively horrific sex and violence but also beauty and humor. The beauty mostly comes from the abstract qualities of the self-taught drawing style and strong color combinations on the covers.

I ran a couple of comics by the still-living Raw Dog on this site. Sadly H.P. McElwee is no longer with us. The two men collaborated on the first five issues of Real Deal. After McElwee's death in a car accident in 1998, Hubbard carried the baton solo, spreading the word of Real Deal. I recently spoke to him.

VICE: What's it like to have this hardcover collection of your comics after all these decades?
Lawrence "Raw Dog" Hubbard: "What's it like?" It's a feeling of euphoria, of validation. Thinking of all of the hard work, hours of drawing and creating Real Deal and wondering, Does anybody give a shit about this?

All of the times me and H.P. McElwee took Real Deal directly to the people, the fans, they loved it! But at the same time when we went before the gatekeepers of the industry—publishers, distributors, shop owners—they said, "No! Why don't you come up with a new superhero?" The best way to look at this is to never give up! If you love something and have a passion for it, stick with it! And whatever happens will happen! And thanks to Fantagraphics, the word about Real Deal will get out to gobs of comic fans who never heard of it before.

Can you tell me about Plantation 2000?
What the fuck is Plantation 2000, you may ask! That was the simply drawn comic (on 4x6 scratch paper) with plenty of rage that Harold P. McElwee a.k.a. R.D. Bone showed me way back in the day when we were working in a now-defunct savings and loan where we used to hang out on the sub-basement level, me in the MIS (now called IT) division, Harold in record storage. The B2 level was a quiet place where we could keep our whiskey bottles and chill, get our drink on while at work, and not have to worry about slow-witted assholes disturbing us.

Plantation 2000 was about a slave plantation in that far-off year 2000. (Remember, I'm talking about way back in the day when the Gipper was still president.) And they had robot bloodhounds to chase the slaves down and electric-stun neck collars for control. I asked H. P McElwee a.k.a. R.D Bone what the hell was this? Why was he drawing it? And he simply said, "Because I have to! It's in me!" It was some of the funniest shit I had ever seen—the unbridled rage of the characters, the non-PC, anything-goes storyline. It was stream-of-consciousness mayhem!

Buy Real Deal.

Evil Dead 2: Ash Williams (Sideshow Collectibles)

This is one of Sideshow's finest 12-inch figures yet. A few years ago, around when I turned 30, it occurred to me that I'd really like a well-made Ash Williams doll. I'd claim that this doll was the product of my manifesting it, but I couldn't form a doll so perfect out of just my wishes and positive thinking. The head sculpt, body sculpt, paint job, clothing, and accessories are all perfect. The sixth-scale sawed-off shotgun can be opened and the tiny little shotgun shells can be removed. He even comes with a head of the Deadite that attacks him the basement of Evil Dead 2, the Necronomicon, and his own zombified hand.

If you can afford to buy a $250 doll, then you should buy this $250 doll. Here's an unboxing video I made in which I yell at my cat a lot.

Buy Ash Williams.

Icons by Parker Day (Not a Cult)

Candy-colored clowns clutter up this catalogue of Parker Day's photos. Each one is carefully styled and posed. Each one is perfect. My sister and her friends are all in here looking like monstrous beauties. If you didn't read it already, check out this interview I did with Parker.

Buy Icons.

Dissolving Classroom by Junji Ito (Vertical)

Junji Ito is maybe the best current horror manga artist, and this is his newest book. It's a series of short stories that each involve an apologetic teenage boy and his younger, openly sadistic sister. Everywhere they go, people melt into goo. According to Chizumi, the sister, her brother's apologizing is a form of communication with the devil. By apologizing to people, he is causing electromagnetic rays to pass from him to Satan and through their bodies. This is a great book about the increasingly common trend of people being caught doing bad things that they have to publicly apologize for. It also seems to be about the social landscape of Japan where people are often polite, but there's an underlying judgmental attitude beneath the self-effacing etiquette. It's haunting, weird, and fun, like everything Junji Ito makes. The cover design is really phenomenal and stretches across the front and back.

Buy Dissolving Classroom.

Vision: Little Worse Than a Man by Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta (Marvel)

Getting into superhero comics published by Marvel and DC can be laborious since both companies have mythological universes they've been adding information to for many decades, but this Vision comic is self-contained and easy to get into.

Vision is a superhero robot who is on a team with some other superheroes called the Avengers. In this book, he tries living a middle-class suburban existence with his wife and children who look like him with red and green robot bodies. Despite their best efforts to fit in at school and in their community, everything goes wrong, not the least of which is his daughter getting sliced in half by a wall-bursting villain named the Grim Reaper.

This is a really well-written and tastefully drawn and colored comic that's easy to follow and doesn't live or die based on the readers being familiar with every character's backstory.

Buy The Vision: Little Worse Than a Man.

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