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Justin Green Remembered

John Kelly and The Comics Journal has collected reminiscences of Justin Green
by cartoonists, editors, historians, friends, and family of the creator of Binky Brown.

 
Carol Tyler and Justin Green. Photo by John Kinhart

From Bill Griffith who knew Justin from early in the underground movement:

I first met Justin in New York in 1969 or ’70. We were both handing in pages for the East Village Other. I sensed a kindred spirit right away. I could see that Justin and I both came from non-comics backgrounds in the way we drew and wrote our stuff. Yes, we were the spawn of Harvey Kurtzman’s Mad magazine, but we veered from that influence to find inspiration elsewhere…

In the early ’90s, I encouraged Justin to submit a daily strip idea to King Features. I figured if they ran with Zippy, there might be a shot at another Underground-derived strip, especially since King’s comics editor then was Jay Kennedy, author of the original Underground Comix Price Guide and a big fan of Justin’s. These Wolf Boy (above) strips were one attempt–there were a few others–but it was not to be. I guess King figured one weirdo (me) was enough for their befuddled salesmen.

 

Cartoonist and publisher Denis Kitchen:

Justin Green will always be associated before all else with Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary, which is understandable, but there was a lot more to him. He was an especially inventive cartoonist, tackling all manner of topics, generally with keen insight, or unusual perspective, and other times just for crude guffaws…

 

Cartoonist and editor Drew Friedman:

In late 1990, I was hired to revamp the “Funnies” section of National Lampoon magazine. My friend George Barkin … had just become the Lampoon‘s new editor-in-chief in their latest attempt to revive the floundering humor publication which had been going increasingly downhill for more than a decade … George asked me to contribute a monthly comic page, become the new comics editor, and invite some of my hip cartoonist colleagues to help accelerate the “Funnies” section by infusing it with a Raw/Weirdo type vibe.

 

I phoned Justin at his home in Sacramento and he told me he had been enjoying my work and was flattered to be asked to contribute to the Lampoon. When I mentioned that the page rate was $600, he took a long pause, and without a trace of sarcasm responded: “Well, I guess my ship has come in.” I told him he could create anything he’d like for the “Funnies” section, I didn’t want to hinder him or steer him in any direction (or any of the other artists), aside from the single caveat that the comic strip be funny, or what he perceived as funny…

 

Editor Marc Weidenbaum:

Justin Green lived in Sacramento when I did, in the early 1990s…

I’d moved from Brooklyn to California’s capital city in 1989, a year out of college, to take a job as an editor at Pulse!, Tower Records’ print magazine…

 

There are a lot of things I could share about working with Justin at such length and regularity. I could talk about his love for glass ink nibs. Or about how he aggressively remade any scripts supplied by writers other than himself (I wrote a few), always for the better. Or about his painstaking use of multiple drafts to refine stories. Or about how the strips’ seemingly most surreal grace notes were often there from the first sketch (whimsy as linchpin)…

 

The above are short excerpts from Bill, Denis, And Drew. But they are only a few of the many recollecting their time with Justin. Others include wife and cartoonist Carol Tyler, cartoonist Kim Deitch, cartoonist Robert Armstrong, cartoonist Jim Woodring, comix publisher Ron Turner, comix historian Patrick Rosenkranz, historian and art collector Glenn Bray, and a dozen more.

Including daughter Julia Green:

I’ve avoided writing a tribute to my dad because it alludes to a form of finality of his life. So, here I am, in true Justin Green fashion, sitting at my local coffee house, attempting in the eleventh hour to achieve something that can’t be summarized in a couple of paragraphs, but I will try. My father—elusive, brilliant, generous, creative, and a multitude of other adjectives—was a force in all of our lives…

The memorial service will be held at Design Collective in Cincinnati with a private opening of the gallery on Thursday, October 6, at 6 PM. Public reception will commence at 7 PM on Friday, October 7th. The project is a huge undertaking and support would be greatly appreciated. More information can be found here.


Photo by Matthew Kuborn

The Comics Journal eulogies can be read here.

 

 

 

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