Tuesday, January 25, 2011


It's Stryper's fault. All these monsters and tits I draw...they're because of Stryper.

Look, it was the 80s. None of us in our teens had any real taste in music. You had to be there.

And you had to be there in the PMRC days. The "D&D will send you to hell" days. Back when W.A.S.P. was singing about "Tie you down-down, I come steal your love...like an Animal!" Between the long-haired rockstars and the Goddamned Communists, if you were a parent in the 80s, you were scared. Because there was a lot of evil shit going around, and your teenaged kids were right in the middle of it!

My parents were scared. I drove my Dad nuts. All I wanted to do was look at pictures in the Monster Manual and listen to heavy metal. I got into D&D, but spent more time drawing the things in the game than actually playing the game. And in my version, there were lots of monsters and tits, because I was also sneaking peeks at neighbors' Heavy Metal magazines and my Dad's Playboy/Penthouse/Hustler collection. Those were the years of Barbi Benton's return, and they were good years. Barbi Benton was dreamy. That was also the magical time between 1979 and 1986-ish, when Heavy Metal magazine was the most amazing comic book on the planet. These were wonderful things to expose yourself to when you were between 14 and 16.

(Pre-internet, kids. Pre-internet...in rural North Idaho. Imagine the 1950s...except someone in the neighborhood had HBO.)

My Dad was all about John Wayne and the Beach Boys and Old Glory and things like that. And why not? Those are fine people and things to be a fan of. So (despite the fact that they were HIS titty magazines), I was taught to not let any filth in the house. The D&D was tolerated, but the heavy metal music was absolutely-no-way-over-my-dead-body-son. And that really sucked. But my Mom talked him into allowing Stryper, because that was Christian metal.

This was not the Christian metal you kids have nowadays. This was all "Jesus is the way" and "rockin' for The Rock" shit. The kind of shit that got your ass kicked at school--or at least the schools I attended. And, because of that, I fucking hated it.

I have nothing against the band or its members, or its fans. I have nothing against the message in the music. Oz Fox plays some ass-kickin' guitar solos, and Michael Sweet hits some seriously high notes. But the fact remained: Stryper wasn't cool in my school, but that's all I was allowed to listen to at home. I'd go over to friends' houses and listen to the metal I wanted to hear (W.A.S.P. and Motorhead and Twisted Sister and Priest and all that shit), but when I was alone in that magical attic I turned into my first studio, I listened only to Stryper.

And I hated Stryper so badly that the things that came out of my pencil were terrible, horrible things. My Mom told me a couple years ago that she'd found all that artwork--all the gory battles and naked women and monsters and pretty much all the shit I draw nowadays--and made damn sure my Dad never set foot in the attic. Thanks, Mom!

We're all older now, and I give my Dad hell because he listened to more drugged-out musicians than I did--Linda Ronstadt and Rick Nelson and the aforementioned Beach Boys did waaaaay more drugs than Kiss or most of the bands in my tape deck back then. We laugh about the whole experience, and Dad admits the real reason he didn't like the music was the way it sounded, and that's just fine. I can't stand some of the "Cookie Monster chases a drum kit down the stairs" shit my kids call metal. But I let them listen to it anyway. It's just music.

26 years later, and I have this weird love/hate relationship with Stryper. Because there are days when I get severe Artist's Block, and only Stryper kills it. Stryper and the old red light from that attic studio. I've put it in a dozen different lamps, and the bulb's still working. It's my Muse.

The above was very, very rambling, and I hope it made sense. It's way too late at night to go up and edit, and I shouldn't be telling you these things anyway. But you had to understand where pages like this came from. And this and this and this and this. And pretty much every single page of Locus.

Cool thing is: I've got an upstairs studio again. The red light bulb was the first thing I set up. Year Three of Locus should turn out very well.