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The Secret Origin of “Ace Backwords”

From Wikipedia:

Peter Labriola (born September 12, 1956), better known by the pen name Ace Backwords is an American author and a former underground cartoonist based in Berkeley, California.

Backwords, born Peter Labriola, published Twisted Image, a punk rock tabloid, from 1982 to 1984 featuring interviews with Johnny Rotten, Jello Biafra, Henry Rollins, Charles Bukowski, R.Crumb, and Charles Schulz. The name was also used for a comic strip he created and distributed to independent publications.

That entry for Ace Backwords is far too boring for such a cartoonist, and starts too late.
Ace tells it much better himself:

I was working for a sleazy porno tabloid from Los Angeles at the time. Impulse was the paper’s name, and it really was sleazy, even by porn’s standards. From some of the ads, you had to wonder if it was a front for some kind of  underground sex  ring or something. This was 1979, and there was an anything-goes feeling at the times, especially in decadent Los Angeles.

I had gotten a few comics published in the Berkeley Barb, the latest remnant of the ’60s underground. But aside from that, the world seemed completely indifferent, if not outright hostile, to my strange and tender feelings.  I sent out my work here and there. But the only encouragement I got was from this sleazy porn tabloid from Los Angeles. They actually printed a couple of my comics: stuff like Dagwood and Blondie having sex and then appearing on the Dick Cavett show and getting in a bitch-fight.

Ace expands on his origins in another blog post:

It was some time in 1980, age 23, when I got a letter from this guy in San Francisco.  He had just started this porn tabloid, the San Francisco PLEASURE GUIDE, and he was interested in running my “Sexley’s  cartoon and my “SIN FRANCISCO” column every month in his paper. 

My “Sexley’s BELIEVE IT OR NUTS!!”  strip started out as a basic parody of “Ripley’s BELIEVE OR NOT!!”  But over the years I expanded the format so it encompassed just about anything that combined sex and comics.  I’d do  strips about the sex lives of historical figures like J. Edgar Hoover and Ted Kennedy.

Eventually…

A couple days later I got an angry and threatening letter from the lawyers at Ripley’s, demanding that I immediately cease and desist from infringing on their copyrighted, trademark, logo and/or patent-pending intellectual property, etc. etc. Ergo and forsooth. Esquire.

All that and more to found at Ace’s blog.


images © Ace Backwords

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