Thursday, January 21, 2016

Gen X funnies

This week's Retro Derf from 1992, which I just posted on Gocomics, is a fun one that I only recently uncovered in my files.

This is the debut of Generation X in my strip! The term had only recently been coined a few months earlier, in Douglass Coupland's book, Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture. Before this, the new wave of twentysomethings traveling downwind of the great cultural fart of the Baby Boom HAD no name.
Popular culture moved a bit slower in the days before the Electric Intertube. Most didn't even have laptops in 1992– Mac's first Powerbook had just been released– or even home computers, for that matter. Mobile didn't exist. Heck, I don't think I had even purchased my first Mac yet!  The Electric Intertube was there, but it was mostly limited to universities and brainiac computer geeks, who accessed it via snail-like 14k dial-up modems through clunky online portals like AOL or Compuserve. The counter culture, and there actually was one in 1992, wholly separate from the mainstream, spread through self-published zines and alt-weekly newspapers, both of which were in their golden ages. I was heavily invested in the latter, obviously. It was a fun time to be making comix! And I made them "old school." No Photoshop, no desktop publishing, just a pen and a piece of paper. 

But the term "Generation X" didn't catch on right away. As I recall, the first reaction was: why would I want to be named after Billy Idol's first band? But catch on it eventually did.

The streetscape here, by the way,  is Coventry Road in Cleveland Heights, which was the epicenter of of the local Gen X counterculture and also of Cleveland comics. I had just moved to the Heights after buying the house I would live in for the next decade, site of the infamous "unheated attic studio" where I made the comix that would make first my name. Harvey Pekar lived in a brownstone at the end of the block pictured here. Brian Michael Bendis, who grew up nearby, was still in town. You could bump into both at the Arabica coffee house on Coventry, where I'd spend every morning swilling the infamously bad brew and writing in my sketchbook as I watched a cluster of Xers play hacky-sack in the courtyard outside.
So this strip here kicked off the Gen X humor that would fuel the strip throughout its Nineties peak.