Cartoonist Richard Sala (1955 – 2020)

The cartoonist Richard Sala passed away this week at the age of 61. I always loved his work and own many of his comic books.

Cartoonist Daniel Clowes wrote a beautiful tribute to his friend, Richard Sala:

Richard was a very complicated guy, totally unlike anyone I've ever met. He could be gregarious and charming, always energetic and animated in conversation, but also crippled by terrible anxiety and profoundly agoraphobic. Over the years, it got harder and harder to get him out of the house. I basically forced him to meet me for lunch every Friday, and we did that right up until the COVID quarantine, but toward the end, that was the extent of his social life (except for the vast hours he spent online — a true lifeline). He would always show up five minutes late, furious about traffic, wearing a thick, black work shirt and his famous bucket hat, which curiously covered a full head of thick hair. He would close his eyes tight while ordering, as though trying to solve a complicated math equation, and then chop his ham and eggs into weird goulash, which he never finished.

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RIP Sy Sperling, founder of Hair Club for Men

"I'm not only the Hair Club president but I'm also a client." If those words ring a bell, then join me in celebrating a man brought much happiness to others. I'm talking about Sy Sperling, founder of Hair Club for Men, who rose to fame when he starred in his own television commercials. In addition to founding a successful hair restoration company in 1976, Sperling went on to become an active philanthropist.

From NBC News:

Sperling's family said he was "most proud of his charitable contribution in the form of Hair Club for Kids, in which Hair Club for Men provided hair free of charge to children under 18 who lost their hair from chemotherapy."

He acted as the honorary chairman for City Relief, which provides "Meals on Wheels" for the homeless. He also fought for animal rights and lived a "devout" vegan lifestyle, his family said.

"Colleagues, friends, and family recall Mr. Sperling as a visionary with an immense passion for business, innovation and helping others," said a statement from Hair Club. "We continue to live by his words 'Live life to the fullest, take chances and risks, and believe in yourself.'"

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RIP Daniel Johnston 1961-2019

Time stood still when I heard the news that Daniel Johnston left us this month. There are only a few moments in one’s lifetime when time stands still. At the time I felt guilty for the sorrow I felt and for the tears that I cried, because if you’re a Johnston fan, you know he wouldn’t want that. It wasn’t simply the fact of death that caused my sorrow, but also the sudden understanding that I would never see an artist of this caliber in my lifetime again.

The first time I heard Johnston’s music, I was thirteen, at an age when self-discovery seemed so crucial my mind and body felt like they were on fire. The year had not been a particularly good one for me and it felt like any daily event could change the course of who I was forever. I couldn’t put it into words myself, but I craved a sense of security — I craved a sense of identity, however strange it would be. I wanted a world where I could run away to escape everything going on around me, if only for a short while. Music was an obvious escape from reality, a place where I couldn't be bothered.

After some time spent going to record stores, watching old bootlegs of musicians, and wandering into clothing shops, I began to notice one image that kept catching my attention: Jeremiah the Innocent, the little cartoon frog from the cover of Johnston’s Hi, How Are You. Read the rest

Luke Perry RIP

After suffering a massive stroke on Wednesday actor Luke Perry passed away today, surrounded by his children and other family members. He played the role of the troubled yet soulful rich kid Dylan McKay in Beverly Hills 90210, which ran from 1990 to 2000, and appeared in many movies and television shows in the years that followed, most notably in the role of Archie Andrews' dad in Riverdale.

Sadly, Perry's stroke happened on the same day a 90210 reboot had been announced, which is reuniting the original characters. Read the rest

Pete Shelley of The Buzzcocks (1955-2018)

I'm very sad to hear that Pete Shelley, leader of The Buzzcocks, died of a heart attack today. He was 63.

From The Guardian:

The band formed part of the UK’s punk scene and have been closely associated with it ever since. Speaking later about his views on music, Shelley told the Guardian: “I’m not interested in being able to play. A musician is like another brand of entertainer.

“There are plenty of musicians that I enjoy watching that are entertainers. But I wouldn’t want to be that, because the thing with an entertainer is that there is always that dishonesty, which is what punk tried to get rid of. It was like, you’re not pretending to be something you are not. You are just what you are. Punk is an art of action. It’s about deciding to do something and then going out and doing it.”

Fellow artists paid tribute to Shelley after the news of his death was confirmed on Thursday. The author Neil Gaiman tweeted: “Part of my youth dies with him. RIP Pete Shelley.”

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RIP Village Voice co-founder John Wilcock, 1927-2018

John Wilcock has been the subject of an ongoing comic book biography here on Boing Boing. Scott Marshall and I have been working on the comic since 2012, or so, and it's been a nice goal to complete the book in John's lifetime. John lived many lives almost simultaneously, and it's been a massive research project effort to connect his experiences into one cohesive timeline. It's with some regret that while the book will likely complete in 2019, John passed away last night at the age of 91. But what a terrific life.

As chronicled in the comic, much of today's subculture (and news culture, and drug culture, and positive-minded sex culture, and the syndication nature of the Internet) was largely influenced by John's interest in connecting like minds in the 1950s and 1960s. He cofounded The Village Voice, established the Underground Press Syndicate, and later worked with Andy Warhol to develop Interview.

John was also a travel writer for both The New York Times and Frommer's, and published his own underground paper, Other Scenes, which is an unheralded masterpiece of weird optics, amazing design, and challenging subjects. (Part of the goal of the comic book biography is to highlight Other Scenes, which you'll see here on Boing Boing in 2019.)

As we celebrate John's accomplished life, here's a few comics from the biography:

Editing Norman Mailer Ladies and Gentlemen, Lenny Bruce! (and Part Two) Timothy Leary's First Night on Hallucinogens Thelonious Monk's Heroin Arrest The History of ECHO, The Magazine You Play on Your Phonograph Four Significant Counterculture Events

With love to John and his life, Ethan Persoff (with Scott Marshall) Read the rest