One of the Kirby 100

I’m truly honored to be included in the book KIRBY 100: One Hundred Top Creators Celebrate Jack Kiby’s Work. The release of the book coincides with the centennial of Jack Kirby’s birth one hundred years ago this week.

Most of the Marvel superheroes were either created or co-created by Kirby. But for a time, he jumped ship to rival DC Comics to create The New Gods, Mister Miracle, OMAC, Kamandi, and many other characters. Here, I muse about a two-page spread I found to be an example of raw energy and imagination far beyond what anyone else was doing (or has done since) in comics. Years before anyone ever built the first monster truck, Kirby brought us “The Mountain of Judgement.”

There are some serious heavyweights of the comic art world, corraled into this magnificent tome by Jon B. Cooke and the fine folks at TwoMorrows Publishing. 

Happy Birthday to you, Mr. Kirby and thank you for all your wonderful creations.

See the story at

What I’m Reading

My favorite book of 2016 was Nike co-founder, Phil Kight’s memoir of the history of Nike, “Shoe Dog.” It’s not really about sports or dropping names of famous athletes (yet it does that only when needed), but rather about an unlikely cast of characters who reinvented footwear, and were undaunted in their mission. They fought their competitors, the US Congress, the US Customs Department, and even their own supplier. They were sued, cheated, lied to, and bloodied at every step in their climb to the top. Sure they prevailed, we know that, but it’s how they succeeded that makes for great reading. I came to admire Phil Knight because he never quit. He always found a way.

I call books like this Adventures In Business. As an entrepreneur, of course, I’d be interested in a success story like Nike’s, but corporations aren’t always compelling bedtime reading material. Knight’s story is the exception and begins with a journey that takes him around the globe as a young man and prepares him in ways he never imagined.

As with all books on business, I’m always looking for pearls of wisdom; Shoe Dog is full of them. Not just for business, but for many other aspects of life.

What I’m Reading

A great book about business. Some fun Hollywood gossip stories, but I found it most interesting when the book got into deals and expanding the market of what CAA was involved in. There were excesses and hubris, and plenty of lessons to learn from. It wasn’t as interesting after Mike Ovitz left the company, and it was tough to keep track of everyone who came afterward.

Can A Comic Creator Run A Comic Convention?

Okay — some time has passed since   I launched the Asbury Park Comicon. And at some point I’ll write more about what went into making it a reality. I could say it was a lot of work or it was hard, but there’s no way to measure that, and hard compared to what? We’d just come off of Hurricane Sandy — I think what the victims of the storm were going through was hard, what we went through was a challenge.

But with everything that life, nature, and city politics put in our way, we did reach May 30th, 2013 and the fans showed up. As did the talent. It was a glorious, if not frantic day. Friends from as far back as high school visited to wish me well (brought together through the magic of social media), as well as family, neighbors, old employees from my screen printing days, and the comics community.

We invited some great guests, some who’ve turned into friends. I especially had a great time with Ren & Stimpy co-creator Bob Camp and punk artist John Holmstom.
At one point at dinner with them, I laughed so hard I though shrimp would shoot out of my nostrils.

Other than that, the day was a blur with interviews, autographs, a costume contest judged by my neighborhood celebs Bryan Johnson, Mike Zapcic and Ming Chen of AMC-TV’s Comic Book Men, and Brian O’Halloran of the film Clerk’s.

Oh, yeah — and here’s MAD Magazine’s Al Jaffee a week after turning 95 with me on the Asbury Park boardwalk. When I originally invited him 6 months earlier, he said, “Cliff, I’ll be there if I’m still alive.” To which I replied, “Me too, Al.” And a month later I was hit by a car. So never kid about that shit.

And it was Judie’s birthday and someone made her a special gluten free cake!

I have a lot more to say about this event, with Allen Bellman, Danny Fingeroth, Herb Trimpe, Evan Dorkin Sarah Dyer, Jim Salicrup, and will ad to this soon.

Agent 88 For Heavy Metal Magazine Book

agent88xSome friends of mine out in L.A. are making a wild  webisode show called Agent 88. It’s been described as “Quentin Tarentino meets Mr. Magoo.”  They’ve asked me and other artists such as Jim Mahfood, Simon Bisley, Kevin Eastman,  David Mack, and many other talented humans to each contribute a page for a book that will be printed by the folks at Heavy Metal Magine. Looks like a groundbreaking show for the Web. Check it out at

What I’ve Been Reading


You may have heard David McCullough as the narrator on many of Ken Burns’ documentaries on PBS such as The Civil War,  The Brooklyn Bridge, and many episodes of the American Experience. McCullough speaks like the voice of history, probably because he’s not just reading a script, but because he’s steeped in the material.

His latest endeavor, weighing in at 752 pages is titled  The Greater Journey. It’s a collection of accounts of some the 19th Century’s greatest American artists, medical students, writers, thinkers, diplomats and scientist, who all were drawn to Paris for enlightenment. Such names as Mary Cassatt, Oliver WendelL Holmes, John Singer Sargent appear in their their formative years and go on to greatness. But my favorite was the story of the painter Samuel Morse, who invents the telegraph on a steamship voyage home from France.

Other great accounts are the horrors and stupidity of the Franco Prussian War and the surgery school that fed human remains to a cage full of dogs. Those were the good old days!

What I’ve Been Reading


Margret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake is a sad and imaginative near-future sci-fi about the downfall of humanity and those who bring it about. I love stories where the reader goes in completely blind, and gradually more and more is revealed until an entirely unpredictable turn of events leads to the scene of page one. The story is narrated by someone name Snowman, a pathetic lone human survivor of a manmade apocalypse. He shares what’s left of the world with the  strange humanoid creatures he calls “crakers” who were somehow created by his once friend Crake. Snowman recalls the events that lead to the downfall of humanity during his years of personal development as a teenager in the age of global warming. Atwood’s real strength is creating a range of totally believable characters. Good stuff.

What I’m Reading


Alphaville: 1988, Crime, Punishment, and the Battle for New York City’s Lower East Side by Michael Codella and Bruce Bennett is a wild ride of cops, drug dealers, junkies,  in lawless days of NYC. Brought me back to the days when Manhattan was fun, but dangerous.

Co-author Bruce Bennett was the co-host on The Hound show on New Jersey’s legendary WFMU FM. It was great radio show that was broadcast every Saturday afternoon from 3:00 to 6:00 PM from 1985 to ’97. Many a Saturday afternoon I would draw and listen to rare and bizarre rockabilly, soul, psychedelia,punk, r&b, and british invasion tunes. The banter between Bennett and The Hound, AKA Jim Marshall, was full of snide cracks, music trivia, horrible stories from the NY Daily News, oddities, you name it. It was like hanging out in the your favorite bar, with best jukebox and some of your most brutally amusing friends. Well, actually I had all that at the Court Tavern in New Brunswick, NJ, but with the Hound’s show, I could listen to all the great music and wise cracks, but actually get some work done.

During these Saturday afternoon drawing sessions I was free to draw whatever I wanted. Even though I had my own art department at Talking Tops, I rarely had time to experiment — it was all business. But at home, listening to The Hound, it was all fun. I’d sit and scribble, and giggle, draw some more, and listen to more great music.

A third regular on the show was Eric “Roscoe” Amble. Roscoe was a founding member of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, and was now touring in various bands throughout the years of the Hound’s show. While on the road, Roscoe would call in with a “Vibe Report” about what was going on where he was playing that weekend. He always had an amusing story or an observation about some strange venue he had just played.

All the time I was listening to The Hound and Bruce Bennett talk about Roscoe, I was working on the early version of Rat Bastard. Somewhere  around ’96 my character needed a name, and I knew that a “roscoe” was an old-time expression for a gun.  And that’s how Rat Bastard’s Roscoe Rodent got his name.

So thanks to Eric “Roscoe” Amble, The Hound, and Bruce Bennett, for all the Saturdays of great tunes and laughs, and inspiration for one of my favorite creations.