Like many in the comics community, I was saddened to hear of the death last week of Dennis Eichhorn, who was best known for his very frank series of autobiographical comics, which were published under various titles, mostly in the 1990s (including REAL STUFF, REAL SMUT, and REAL SCHMUCK), and collected in the book REAL STUFF in 2004.
David Chelsea is reading:
by Peter Kuper
Like Harvey Pekar, Denny was a cartoonist who did not draw himself, and the artists he collaborated with are an honor roll of 90s-era alternative comics notables: Peter Kuper, Drew Friedman, Pete Bagge, Jaime Hernandez, Mary Fleener, Julie Doucet, Jim Woodring, J.R. Williams, Joe Sacco, Dave Cooper, Roberta Gregory, Colin Upton, Ivan Brunetti, Carol Swain… The list goes on and on. I am humbled to have been one of them.
I first ran across Denny’s comics when I was at work on my own autobiographical comic, DAVID CHELSEA IN LOVE, and his example definitely goaded me to be more explicit in exposing myself than I might otherwise have dared– I suspect that is true of a lot of people who were drawing autobiographical comics at the time. The Denny we meet in his stories is a raucous character who seemingly can’t enter a bar without getting into a fight (the wildest story of that kind has to be the one in which he kicks out a guy’s eye), or meet a woman without taking her to bed. When I met him in person at my first San Diego comic con, I was surprised at how BECALMED he seemed– perhaps he had gotten all the sex and violence out of his system by then.
Denny had seen and noticed my work, and he had a couple of stories that he felt I was particularly suited to draw. Probably he liked the way I drew naked women, because that’s what the stories I illustrated were heavy on. One was about a time when his wife became the most popular nude model at art school:
And the other recounted another of his innumerable one night stands:
My favorite piece of art done for Denny was a private sketch sent to him in a letter that he nonetheless printed in REAL SMUT; playing on his Idaho heritage, I showed him screwing Mrs. Potato Head. Given the solemn occasion, is to soon to post this image? I don’t think Denny would think so:
Want to see more? Check out the Dennis Eichhorn collection, REAL STUFF: