Friday, February 3, 2012

Jack Jackson's American History Part 3: Comics Journal Resource Guide

UPDATE: The first volume of JACK JACKSON'S AMERICAN HISTORY has been tentatively rescheduled for April 2012. However, it is not listed in the distributors catalogue (linked to on the Fantagraphics home page) for titles previewed for April-August.
Following is a listing of Jack Jackson's interviews, panel appearances, and a few reviews in THE COMICS JOURNAL late-lamented print edition (links provided to the issues still in print from the publisher, some material may be accessed through the archive possibly):

THE COMICS JOURNAL #61 (Winter 1981) "Tejano Cartoonist: An Interview with Jack Jackson" pages 100-102 104-111. Conducted 8-28-1981 by Bill Sherman. This is an in-depth exploration of Jaxon's earliest underground comics efforts through his transition to historical narratives. Here's the quote that may have given birth to Fantagraphics Books:
"[BILL] SHERMAN: Has the response [to the COMANCHE MOON graphic novel] been good enough at least to gaurantee a similar paperback package for the Sequin
JACKSON: Not so far. I don't think sales have been enough to justify my
interest in pursuing it, frankly. I've been working on finishing the story-like
I did all that additional material for the Quanah Parker book-but I doubt if it
will be published. I'm just doing it for myself. Until that other market, that
straight market outside of regular underground readers, is tapped it probably
won't ever be published under one cover. In Germany they're interested in the
Seguin books, based on COMANCHE MOON's success over there. The book sells well
in Europe-they do it up in a real glossy package, too-but even good sales over
there is small compared to the normal underground market. They think in the
thousands instead of the tens-of-thousands." (pages 108-109)

THE COMICS JOURNAL #70 (January 1982) "Fantagraphics Schedules Five New Books: Coming in 1982: Two X-Men Books, Kane's SAVAGE, and LOS TEJANOS" pages 14-15. Press release written by Dwight R. Decker. Quote pertaining to Jackson's LOS TEJANOS:
"JACKSON'S HISTORICAL VOLUME: No firm release date has been set for Jack
(Jaxon) Jackson's LOS TEJANOS volume, but late Spring is considered
LOS TEJANOS will publish all of Jaxon's Texan history trilogy between two
covers. Parts I and II have already appeared separately as underground comics
from Last Gasp Comics, but Part III has never appeared before and will consist
of 32 pages of new material. The book will also include historical information
about the main character, Juan Seguin.
Gary Groth called LOS [TEJANOS] 'one of the most serious and ambitious
efforts ever attempted in the alternative press. When we heard that Jaxon was
finishing the trilogy, we contacted him immediately about publishing the entire
work in a single volume.
LOS TEJANOS will be over 120 pages long and is priced tentatively at
$7.95." (page 15)

THE COMICS JOURNAL #75 (September 1982) "Gil Kane" pages 52-54 57-58 60-61. Speech given 6-11-1982 at the 1982 Dallas Fantasy Fair; "Jack Jackson" pages 75-76 78-80 82-84. Convention panel conducted by Gary Groth 6-10-1982 at the same 1982 Dallas Fantasy Fair.
"[This Gil Kane speech turned into a debate as Jack Jackson asked questions
from the audience, and promptly received a beatdown from the veteran]
"JACKSON: That was the thrust of my initial question to you. I don't think
I quite got that across. Do you see a person as they get more mature with their
style tending to simplify or going on down the technical proficiency
"KANE: I seem to feel that what you're looking for is a justification for
your own approach. But my feeling is that I don't think it really matters. I
think it's amazing how some people...I'll give you an idea. My favorite artist
at this point is an artist, Giraud, who signs his work Moebius. I tend to think
he is the finest artist working today.
"JACKSON: Very simple stuff.
"KANE: Well, yes and no. When he's simple he's simple, and when he's not
simple, he's not simple. The point is that whatever he does, works.[...]
[And, this goes on for half a page. This is one of my favorite Jack Jackson appearances in The Journal, plus the Gary Groth interview-later in the issue-is hilarious as Mr. Groth is flabbergasted by Jack Jackson's saying he thinks he should give up historical graphic novels and go do JONAH HEX comics!] (page 58)

THE COMICS JOURNAL #100 (July 1985) "Jack Jackson" pages 111-114. Interview conducted by Gary Groth. This interview is illustrated with some real rarites: a photo of Jack and Tina Jackson at a book signing for LONG SHADOWS; an illustration from LOS MESTENOS; a panel from the then-unpublished "Why Do Texans Hate Yankees So Much?" (which looks suspiciously like a panel from LOST CAUSE); an unsourced fantasy illustration; and, a SingingTrees Dairy Goats t-shirt illustration. There's also an interesting discussion of missed opportunities where Mr. Groth and Jack Jackson discuss his short-lived Marvel Comics career illustrating for SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN (short as in never-happened).

THE COMICS JOURNAL #144 product page at list a Jack Jackson review of Jean Giraud's "Blueberry" graphic albums.

THE COMICS JOURNAL #210 (February 1999) "The Top 100 (English-Language) Comics of the Century" "no. 95, LOS TEJANOS, 1982, Jack Jackson" page 38. 1/2 page entry written by Gary Groth.

THE COMICS JOURNAL #213 (June 1999) "Beyond the Grid: Critique Revisited, Interview With Jack Jackson" pages 83-88. Interview conducted by Gary Groth.
"Lost Cause, Jack Jackson" pages 89-90. Review by Ron Evry (his Contributor Notes entry in this issue reads: "Ron Evry is a freelance writer and comics historian. In addition to writing on comics, sports, and computers for a wide range of magazines, he is the web page editor for the National Cartoonists' Society[...]"). The interview and review are in response to a September 18, 1998 Austin CHRONICLE review of LOST CAUSE by Michael Ventura and accompanying essay on John Wesley Hardin by Jesse Sublett, calling the book, it's main character, and Jackson racist. Jackson was given no chance to respond to this charge in the pages of The Austin CHRONICLE, so editor Gary Groth stepped up and not only let Jackson speak his mind, but commissioned a more fair and balanced review of the book.

THE COMICS JOURNAL #264 (November 2004) "Underground Comix Publishers" pages 113-115. Interview conducted May 18, 1972 by Patrick Rosenkranz.
"Photo" page 113. 1972 photo of Jack Jackson taken by Patrick Rosenkranz.
[This is a quite detailed oral history of the origins and day to day workings of Rip Off Press as witnessed by Jackson.]
(October 2006) "Jack Jackson's Long Rough Ride Comes To An End" pages 20-26. Obituary/biography by Patrick Rosenkranz. There's a fascinating section describing how difficult it was for Jack Jackson to actually physically produce his life's work:
"Drawing became slow and difficult as his hands became more crippled over
time. According to Jackson's son, 'He couldn't even hold his pen like most
people do. He had to hold it a different way, just out of his hand. It's amazing
how he did all that work. How he did what he did.'
"The artist explained, 'What happens is these muscles in your hands waste
away and your fingers get hooked and drawn and all of that. In bad cases you
won't even be able to juxtapose your thumb because the muscles atrophy so bad. I
had muscle transplants out there. They take muscles out of your lower arms and
sew them into your hands, in place of the ones that have gone away. It works
pretty well. It's one of those ordeals that you don't like to go through, but it
worked out OK.'
"[Michael] Priest said, 'To watch him draw was so astounding, because he
had to curl his four fingers around the pen staff and stab it inside this space
because he couldn't close his hands like we can close our hands. The most
astounding part was that he would do all lettering by hand and he didn't make
mistakes and there weren't any typos and the spacing was good and consistent.
But to watch Jackson cut Zipatone with an X-acto knife was just about the most
astounding thing. When talking about Jackson's drawing style, it's very
important to note that he used old-fashioned quill pens that you had to dip in
the ink just like everybody throughout the ages. He even turned me onto the nibs
he used that gave his lines that delicious tapering quality. It was also one of
the secrets of his lettering style.'" (page 24)
"Photo" page 20. photo of Jack, Tina, and Sam Jackson courtesy of Tina Jackson.
"A Tribute To Jaxon" pages 27-38. Interviews with Robert Crumb, Kim Deitch, Spain Rodriguez, S. Clay Wilson, Gilbert Shelton, Frank Stack, Bill Griffith, Leonard Rifas, and Victor Moscoso conducted by Gary Groth.
"Rip Off Press: The Golden Era" pages 29-32. 1988 comics story by Jack Jackson.
"Recurden Jack Jackson" pages 39-40. Memoir by Gary Groth.
"Nits Make Lice" pages 41-48. 1975 comics historical story by Jack Jackson.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for informing people about Jaxon and giving them sources to learn more about the man and his artwork. I'd like to add two more non-TCJ sources to this list.

    Jaxon wrote an interesting essay in a 1972 edition of the fanzine Infinity where he predicted many of the after effects the underground comix movement would have on the whole comic industry.

    Steven Bissette and Stanley Wiater wrote an essay titled, Jack Jackson the Texan Ranger in their excellent book Comic Book Rebels in 1993

    Here's are links to two short documentaries on Jaxon: