Would You Buy a Comic Strip from This Man?
|"The Kurdish Whey" - Kurt Erichsen 1980|
If I was gong to sell my services as a freelance cartoonist to such an obviously elegant periodical as International Justice Monthly, I would have to convince them of my talent, and that they could depend on me to crank out consistently topical and funny gay cartoons, month after justice-filled month. I wonder what I sent them to make my case. What was I drawing in 1980-1?
My (science fiction and comics) fan art at the time was mostly silly one panel gag cartoons. It
was a step down creatively from my work as contributor, editor, and publisher of Endeavor during my teen years -- but I've always drawn what the market demanded. What's a little frightening about this particular cartoon is how timeless it's turned out to be.
|Cartoon for PROgram by Kurt Erichsen drawing as "Al Heimstadt" 1980|
New to the gay community and Toledo in general, I got active in the Personal Rights Organization (PRO) of Toledo. I volunteered to do what I could, and that was draw cartoons for the newsletter. Most were social filler-- some took an activist bent. Still cautious about putting my real name in print as gay-identified --- Gay Comix #1 notwithstanding--I used a pseudonym. I signed my work "Al Heimstadt" -- using the original spelling of my mother's family name, and deriving "Al" from my middle name.
The one piece of artwork I probably sent the folks at International Justice Monthly was part or all of "Saboteur," my story in the first issue of Gay Comix, edited by Howard Cruse. Above all it showed that I could tell a story with pictures and a series of jokes leading up to a point.
I suspect graphic story telling technique was lost on IJM. They gave me a "no" of some sort -- I wonder if I still have their letter? And I think they put me onto the idea of self-syndication.
Below: the first page of my comic book story "Saboteur" (1980).
Note the walk-on character called "Murphy!" Any connection with the later comic strip just shows I had a "Murphy" stuck in my head for some reason. "Roger" draws his name from the most vitriolic homophobe at my place of employment. I felt he ought to have a queer character named after him.
|"Saboteur" by Kurt Erichsen from Gay Comix #1 (Kitchen Sink Press 1980)|