A biographical look at pre-digital sign making by comic artist turned sign painter

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See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Justin Green is the author of the classic Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary, an underground comix autobiography about growing up Catholic and OCD. Sadly, creating brilliant underground comix doesn't provide the most stable of incomes, so in the mid-1970s – with a family to support – Green went into business as a commercial sign painter.

Sign painting, or "commercial brush lettering," evolved over hundreds of years and is probably the earliest form of advertising. But by the 1980s – when Green was seriously devoting himself to the business – it was being eclipsed by computer type and cheap printed vinyl signs. Master sign-painters were aging out and few young craftspeople were taking up the brush, so Green started his monthly comic strip "Sign Game" (collected here) to record some of this hard-won knowledge before it disappeared.

The early strips tell how Green found his footing; including the one-thousand hours required to brush a perfect "O." In later strips he requested techniques and stories from veteran brushmen. They offered priceless knowledge like how to mix your paint so it stays put under the hot sun or how much arm-twisting to apply when a client lets an invoice sit for too long. Some of these sign painters became recurring characters in "Sign Game," and a few died during its run leaving these strips – and a few fading signs – as their final memorial.

Like a great sign, Green's strips are dense with information, lettered in classic historical styles, yet easy to follow. Read the rest

Man interviews himself 38 years later and makes it into an amazing movie

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This is wonderful. When Stoney Emshwiller was 18 years old, he filmed himself interviewing his older self. Thirty-eight years later a 56-year-old Stoney completed the interview by answering his younger self's questions. He's funded the production of a movie, called "Later That Same Life." Read the rest

Glenn Head's autobiography of an underground cartoonist

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An excerpt from the new book Chicago, "A Portrait of the Cartoonist as a Young Virgin Living in Suburbia, Featuring Cameo Appearances by R. Crumb, Muhammad Ali and the Author’s Suicidal Thoughts." Published by Fantagraphics.

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Six-degrees of separation from Robert Crumb

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Autobiographical cartoonist Jonathan Baylis recalls a story involving the legendary R. Crumb. Excerpted from So Buttons: Man of, Like, a Dozen Faces. Illustrated by Joseph Remnant.

Real Stuff: "Them Changes"

"I've often wondered what made me such a violent teenager... But whatever the reason, by the time I was in my mid-teens I fancied myself a pretty tough customer." Originally published in Real Stuff #6, April 1992. Illustrated by Seth and Chester Brown.

Real Stuff: "Dinner at Dale's"

"Dale and I weren't real close friends in high school, so I was a bit surprised one day when he invited me to dinner at his house." Illustrated by Julie Doucet. Originally published in Real Stuff #6, April 1992.