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Creating Comics! by Paul Gulacy, Spencer Drate, Judith Salavetz

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66
Creating Comics
G
lenn Head was born 1958 in Morristown, New
Jersey, and grew up nearby. After graduating
high school, he attended the Cleveland Insti-
tute of Art, the Art Students League of New York, and the
School of Visual Arts, where he studied for three years
and was taught by, among others, Art Spiegelman, which
was an invaluable experience. Head studied the history of
comics and attended workshops in cartooning, which cov-
ered all the basics—writing, drawing, plotting, lettering,
and inking. He also learned about printing and distribu-
tion, and how to self-publish and get his work into stores.
Since leaving art school, Head’s comics and illustrations
have been published in various newspapers and
magazines, including the Wall Street Journal, the
New York Press, Screw magazine, Nickelodeon Magazine,
Walt Disney Magazine, the New Republic, and the
Village Voice. His work has also appeared in R. Crumb’s
Weirdo magazine.
In the 1990s, with fellow cartoonist Kaz, Head edited the
three issues of Fantagraphics’ comics anthology Snake
Eyes. Also with Fantagraphics, he put out three solo books:
Avenue D, and Guttersnipe 1 and 2.
Currently, Head edits and contributes to Fantagraphics’
Hotwire Comics, an anthology of new work by some of
today’s best cartoonists. Hotwire Vol. 1 was nominated for
the 2006 Eisner and Harvey Awards for Best Anthology.
Glenn Head
67
Title: Booze/Drugs
Client: Hotwire Comics Vol. 2, 2008
Media: Brush and pen on paper, Photoshop
Creative Process
The art I make often requires various processes. For the two-
page spread “Booze/Drugs,” preliminary sketches of many
characters were done long before the piece was started. They
came wholesale from my imagination and personal life, rather
than any source material.
Once I’d completed many thumbnail studies, I chose several
characters that seemed to be interrelated. The characters
seemed to have a kind of high-energy, drugged-out craziness.
I knew these would work well together in a full-page piece.
Starting with a character in the lower right, I developed a
sweating, blinking, greasy-haired junkie character, a flying head
with a syringe in his tongue, swirling manically out of a garbage
can. (In drug lingo, someone like this is called a garbage head.)
Having developed this character and a background crack house
scene, the challenge was to develop an interesting composition.
With a drawing of this type, which is about a kind of visual
excitement and anarchy, there is still a need for control. In this
case, I achieved it by working out a cycle of energy. The motion
of the garbage-head character leads to the electrified female
lightning bolt character, which leads to the martini drinker,
whose whiskey bottle pours onto the tongue of the smashed,
swirling light bulb—whose trail leads to the man throwing it at
the garbage can lid.
What appears at first glance to be purely anarchic actu-
ally follows a pattern, a circular motion of psychotic behavior.
This approach was also used for the booze half of the piece.
In fact, the drawing here was intended as a counterpoint to
drugs. Here, in place of the garbage head is the boozehound
that comes flying out of the pages of the Alcoholics Anonymous
Big Book. Here again we see a cycle of bad behavior from the
swirling boozehound, to the other flying, peppy drunks, to the
cop smashing through a window—it’s a never-ending cycle of
drunken mayhem.
This picture shows a kind of duality, because the drinking
seems to be taking place not in a bar, but in an Alcoholics Anon-
ymous meeting. There seems to be a yin-yang involved here. On
the one hand the boozers are drunken, happy, crazy, and funny,
and yet the following morning seems to beckon. In this case it
seems that the cycle of bad behavior may be followed by an-
other cycle of slogan mongering, rule following, brainwashing,
and going-out-for-coffee fellowship. In fact, the bad behavior
and the recovery seem to be happening simultaneously, remind-
ing us that you can’t have one without the other.
Clenn Head
New York Press, Screw magazine, Nickelodeon Magazine,
Walt Disney Magazine, the New Republic, and the
Village Voice. His work has also appeared in R. Crumb’s
Weirdo magazine.
In the 1990s, with fellow cartoonist Kaz, Head edited the
three issues of Fantagraphics’ comics anthology Snake
Eyes. Also with Fantagraphics, he put out three solo books:
Avenue D, and Guttersnipe 1 and 2.
Currently, Head edits and contributes to Fantagraphics’
Hotwire Comics, an anthology of new work by some of
today’s best cartoonists. Hotwire Vol. 1 was nominated for
the 2006 Eisner and Harvey Awards for Best Anthology.
Glenn Head

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