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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Stuff That Is Both Real and Good

Posted by on Tue, Jan 21, 2014 at 7:54 AM

Dennis Eichhorn has been publishing autobiographical comics under the Real Stuff banner for decades now. Eichhorn's comics share some DNA with Harvey Pekar's comics—he's got a similar voice, and he similarly works with great artists—but his strips are generally more exciting. While Pekar interested himself with the minutia of a modest life, Eichhorn's stories are more eventful, and also harder to believe. He does drugs, fucks a lot, and runs into crazy people a whole bunch. Eichhorn published an excellent collection of the strips back in 2004, and then Real Stuff, as far as I understood, completely disappeared.

Late last year, a brand-new Seattle comics publisher called Poochie Press published a new edition of Real Stuff, titled Dennis Eichhorn's Real Good Stuff, after running a successful Kickstarter for the book. The art is excellent; speaking as an ardent fan of her work, the fact that Mary Fleener contributed a cover for the project alone is worth the price of admission. Stories are illustrated by great comics talent like Pat Moriarty, Jim Blanchard, Noah Van Sciver, and Fleener, making this a gorgeous anthology of new and old talent. If you're an Eichhorn fan, you'll find a lot to love, and the book also serves as an introduction for the uninitiated.

I cannot emphasize enough that this comic book is not for the easily offended. There is, in fact, what Kurt Vonnegut used to call a wide-open beaver shot in "Topsy Turvy," a story drawn by Aaron Lange about Eichhorn's obsession with having sex with a woman as she's performing a handstand. If you're the kind of person who shies away from that, though, you're probably not this book's target audience, anyway. It's full of the kind of stories that people tell at bars just before closing time—over-the-top gossip about terrible actions and their wonderful consequences. For ten bucks, you'll find stories about Eric Clapton's guitar pick, Eichhorn's short-lived career as a social worker in Spokane, a Viagra overdose, a hate-cult, and a lot of pot. Eichhorn's literary bravado can occasionally be off-putting—he does, at times, come across as a macho Beat-type—but he doesn't exude the smarminess of, say, a Bukowski. If stories of sex and drugs and rock and roll make you want to run away, you probably ought to forget Eichhorn's name right now. But for everyone else, Eichhorn's knack for writing comics that are short, interesting, and paced like a good pop song is truly a wonder to behold.


Comments (3) RSS

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Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In 1
Making a cartoon of anyone's life will make it more interesting. I found all of Eichorn's stories plausible; not hard at all to believe. He's lived a colorful life, but you also get a clear picture of the arc to his life.

Except the dog & deer story. That one's just crazy.
Posted by Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In on January 21, 2014 at 3:41 PM · Report this
The most remarkable fact about Dennis Eichhorn, as any of his many friends will tell you, is that whatever image forms of him in the readers mind as a result of reading these true vignettes of incidents in his life, even if you add them all up and consider them as one thing, they fall far short of defining the man, or revealing his integrity or quality of character. He is an artist and social commentator who refuses to delete himself from the context of the world as he describes it. That caliber of honest courage is so rare it almost seems unique.
Posted by Jack Large on February 6, 2014 at 7:13 AM · Report this
Believe I have to second the above comments. Well said, Jack!
Posted by Kit D on February 6, 2014 at 1:54 PM · Report this

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