Trip with Rick

Rick Veitch is the comics writer and artist who got famous for the Swamp Thing issues he drew for Alan Moore, and is probably still best known for a later issue he planned (the infamous cancelled #88) in which Swamp Thing went back in time, met Jesus and served as the cross on which the messiah was crucified. Although Moore resurrected Swamp Thing, it was Veitch who wrote that story about a hippy actually eating one of the monster's tubers and tripping Veitch continued the series' psychedelic path and took it in some even more dangerous directions.

Veitch split from DC for many years, and became a sensation on his own, publishing extremely bizarre yet resonant psychedelic fables. Psychedelic being the operative word.

Now they're back - bigger and brighter than ever before. And in my experience, it's the first time a second dose has packed more wallop than the first. His seminal 1980's graphic novel Brat Pack which will finally be republished in a deluxe edition in spring 2009, read like Teen Titans on crank, and served as a template for those super-bad-ass do-gooders in The Boys, Authority, and Kick Ass. He's also reprinting very high quality editions of his classics The Maximortal (free preview) and my personal favorite, Heartburst (which includes a reprint of the almost forgotten “Mirror Of Love” with Alan Moore and S.R. Bissette).

Veitch also drew a story for Harvey Pekar in Smith's fabulous ongoing Next Door Neighbor series (disclosure, my wife has one coming up, as well), and is starting his second year of a disturbingly entertaining war comedy-horror series for Vertigo called Army @ Love.

Douglas Rushkoff is a guest blogger.


  1. His “Can’t Get No” is also highly recommended. A mind-bending take on modern life and the personal impact of 9/11 (told almost entirely in prose). A total trip that was one of my favorite releases of 2006.

  2. I’ve only read Veitch’s Swamp Thing run once, as compared to three or four times I’ve read Moore’s, but it sure sounds like you’re talking about Swamp Thing #43, “Windfall,” where Chester the hippy finds and examines a Swamp Thing tuber. Chester never actually ends up eating the tuber himself, but pieces of it are consumed by a pair of people, one of whom has a glorious experience and the other a hellish one.

    The issue was written by Moore, with art by Stan Woch and Ron Randall.

  3. “His seminal 1980’s graphic novel Brat Pack…served as a template for those super-bad-ass do-gooders in The Boys, Authority, and Kick Ass.”

    Yep, this is just about true. & pretty much sums up why I hate Brat Pack.

  4. Rushkoff is crushing it at a guest-blogger! I’d also like to recommend Veitch’s ‘the One’, which was arguably influential on ‘Watchmen’ and is supremely psychedelic – I read that when I was probably 15 and it definitely twisted my adolescent brain box up big-time.

  5. …I also recommend The One and Abraxas and the Earthman as two more of Rick’s masterpieces. I just wish he’d get around to finishing the King Hell Heroica, which has been on hold almost as long as Scott McCloud’s Zot!

  6. I remember one here a white-haired — w/ a black blaze — young woman nibbles on Swamp Thang’s heart and not only trips out but has a major orgasm as a bonus; but that was maybe Wrightson?

  7. But Zot is finally happening, I thought.

    Veitch didn’t write the episode with Chester? I was sure he did. Oh well. My friend who claims to know these things steered me wrong. I couldn’t find the issue in my box and trusted him. Veitch didn’t even draw that one. He did develop a lot of that Chester character in this own run – complete with psychedelics ingestion. But the actual SwampThing eating and tripping was Moore, indeed.

  8. ah it would be great if you could stay longer! i’ve been enjoying bb a lot more with you blogging

  9. Buddy66 @ #8–that’s a different issue of Swamp Thing, #34, the gorgeous “Rite of Spring,” by Alan Moore, Stephen Bissette and John Totleben.

    And Douglas, I agree, it’d be great if you could stick around—you’ve been a fine addition to the stellar BoingBoing team.

  10. The Maximortal stuff is twisted. It’s one of a very, very few comics to successfully give me nightmares. I’ve seen the new collection, but I’m gradually accumulating the original issues from Tundra with the backmatter (the wonderful Rarebit Fiends strips and letters). They’re pretty reasonable.

    Also worth tracking down: “Bedlam,” a two issue anthology mishmash from Vietch and Steve Bissette, containing primarily previously-published material and other goodies, published by Eclipse. They’re typically 50-cent-bin fillers, they’re so obscure.

  11. Veitch is one cranky dude but “Heartburst” was and is one of the best — and sweetest — graphic novels ever published.

    And his collaborations with Moore are uniformly excellent, too.

  12. At least I now know that green women have shocking-pink nipples.

    Pity, really — it would have been so much more fun if it had been a surprise!

  13. Next door neighbor is phenomenal. Thank you for linking to that site. With the archives, you can see a lot of these!! I will be looking for your wife’s panel and reading through the rest as I try to deal with the fact that two weeks are over.

  14. “The Maximortal stuff is twisted. It’s one of a very, very few comics to successfully give me nightmares”

    …Let’s also keep in mind that Rick was at a very dark period in his comics career, with him still being pissed at the industry over censorship issues. The “Swamp Thing Crucifix” story is still one of those that shows just how chickenshit DC can be about things that might offend people even in a book that’s supposed to offend people.

    …But Rick’s one of the few 80’s geniuses still in the biz who hasn’t prostituted his values, unlike Jim Starlin(*) and Frank Miller. Army@Love is a classic example of that, even if he doesn’t address the issue of how much of a pain it is to have to spit hair out of your mouth after making hot monkey love with a magically transmorphed ape woman. In his defense, he probably hasn’t attented that many furry parties :-) :-) :-)

    (*) Starlin’s just recycling the same old Adam Warlock stories over and over again, and there’s a LOT of Jack Kirby fans who literally want him castrated over eight issues of dreck called Death of the New Gods

  15. I started reading Rick Veitch’s comics because we share an unusual last name…I was surprised to find that such a random pick turned out to be such a great read. I think the first one I read was “The One” which I picked up at a comic book store in Decatur? Atlanta? Awesomely subversive and trippy.

  16. Since I’ve not seen them mentioned elsewhere:

    Veitch continues to collaborate with Alan Moore, often on homages to landmarks in comics: Greyshirt was a marvelous homage to Will Eisner & The Spirit (much more so than I think we’re likely to get out of Frank Miller), exploring the possibilities of the comic format in the same way; Supreme took a flimsy Superman knockoff that Rob Liefeld farted out and turned it into a great statement on that archetype, including communion with Jack Kirby as the godhead; and his contributions to Moore’s 1963 miniseries (incomplete and not likely to be republished anytime soon due to rights conflicts), a delightful pastiche of the dawn of the Marvel Universe.

    His own Roarin’ Rick’s Rare Bit Fiends (named after a running gag in Winsor McKay’s Little Nemo In Slumberland) is a wonderful dream journal, which for obvious reasons features a who’s who of comic luminaries in oneiric cameos.

  17. I never really got behind Brat Pack–it seemed a little too much like a wannabe Watchmen to me–but I’ve enjoyed most of Veitch’s other work, especially his Greyshirt graphic novel, Indigo Sunset.

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