Rand Holmes was Canada’s most revolutionary artist in his heyday, the star cartoonist at the Georgia Straight newspaper in British Columbia during the 1970s. His hippie hero, Harold Hedd, became the spokesman of the emerging counterculture as he avoided work, explored free love, and flouted drug laws. The Adventures of Harold Hedd spread across the globe in the wave of underground comix and newspapers of the era and Holmes became famous — or at least notorious. While his comic character was bold and blatant, the artist was shy and quiet, well on his way to becoming a complete hermit.
This book is an intimate and expansive account of a very private man who expressed his deepest feelings in the then disreputable medium of comix. “He didn’t talk much but he sure wrote a lot,” avowed his widow Martha. This biography/retrospective includes generous selections from his private journals and correspondence, family photo albums, sketchbooks, and personal anecdotes from his friends and colleagues. His artistic history began haltingly on the lonely windswept plateau of Edmonton, flourished in Vancouver and San Francisco, and concluded peacefully on Lasqueti Island, a remote backwater in the Straits of Georgia where he lived out his dreams of pioneering and homesteading.
Holmes’ life story is richly illustrated with drawings, comic strips, watercolors, and paintings that span his whole career, from the hot rod cartoons he drew as a teenager, dozens of covers for the Georgia Straight, pornographic cartoons for the sex tabloid Vancouver Star, to complete comic stories from Slow Death Funnies, Dope Comix, All Canadian Beaver, Death Rattle, Grateful Dead Comix, and many more. The full-length Harold Hedd comic novels, Wings Over Tijuana and Hitler’s Cocaine are reprinted in their entirety together for the first time. This unique collection of art documents a lifetime of work by one of the most talented artists of his generation.
Holmes died in March 2002 from Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and his ashes are buried next to the Art Centre he helped build on Lasqueti Island. A retrospective exhibition of his original work was held five years later at the community hall.
Author Patrick Rosenkranz met Holmes in his salad days and remained in touch throughout his life. The Holmes family gave him complete access to their art collection and personal files, and encouraged him to tell the whole truth about Rand Holmes’ life and work.
Download an EXCLUSIVE 22-page PDF excerpt (9.5 MB) which includes the first 5 pages of the biography, the entire 7-page story "And Here He Is... The Artist Himself!" and the first chapter of "Harold Hedd in Hitler's Cocaine."
[We're pleased to present the following report and photos fromRebel Visions author Partrick Rosenkranz. – Ed.]
I heard last winter that Crumb 's Genesis artwork was coming to the Portland Art Museum but I didn't see anything in the local press about it until just recently. When I received a letter inviting me to attend the opening night reception on Thursday, June 10th I eagerly accepted, and not just for the food and open bar. I wanted to examine the pages up close — how much whiteout did he use (not much); the size of the originals (just a bit bigger than the printed pages); how the museum would display them (on partitions painted different colors organized by chapters with portraits of the main characters above); and what would staid Portland supporters of culture think about having one of the world's most sexually obsessed artists hanging in their museum (some claimed to be unaware of all that hanky panky in the Bible).
Of course I was totally blown away by his superb draftsmanship and mastery of human anatomy, animals, landscapes, and architecture. I bought and read the book when it came out, but that crisp black ink on white art boards looked so much more precise than their reproduction onto printed pages. Even the crosshatching and shadowing was revealed in all its convoluted entirety. On the other hand I was a little disappointed that he didn't give Genesis the down and dirty Crumb treatment we've come to expect and love, but I'm consoled by some of the other drawings he's released here and there showing what he might have done, like this Adam and Eve strip that appeared in the Crumb Handbook.
• Review: "Whether you love the swords and sorcery genre, high adventure, romance, or any or all of the above, Hal Foster’s early work on Prince Valiant is well worth reading. ... Fantagraphics has done a remarkable job remastering these strips, which, thanks to the use of original proof sheets and advances in printing technology, are even brighter and crisper than when they were first published 70 years ago. This second volume from Fantagaphics is due to ship in June 2010." – James Henry, Mid-Ohio-Con
• Review: "In form, content and effect, [Muzzlers, Guzzlers and Good Yeggs] is a hell of a book. Coleman's intricate line drawings capture phantasmagorical scenes of horror and pathos, mixing nightmares with satire and surreal portraiture. There a strange and powerful sense of vitality at play, and a feeling of obsession mixed with a furious sort of joy." – Oliver Ho, PopMatters
• Plug:New York magazine places Wally Gropius by Tim Hensley well on the "brilliant" side of their Approval Matrix, says reading it "is like taking acid during a time-machine trip to the sixties."
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater continues his conversation with Gene Deitch: "When it rained, we had to shove the drawings under our coats and run from one room to another. But it was exciting. We really felt we were pioneers, no question about it. These people were very intelligent and were very cultured in art."
Peter Clothier, host of The Art of Outrage podcast on ArtScene Visual Radio, gathers preeminent R. Crumb experts Todd Hignite (curator of the "R. Crumb's Underground" traveling exhibit), collector Eric Sack, and Rebel Visions writer Patrick Rosenkranz for a roundtable discussion about the Genesis exhibit at the Hammer Museum and other aspects of Crumb's work and context. Listen here.
We've been posting these as we've found them, but here's a (slightly OCD) alphabetical list of Fantagraphics titles and whose year-end lists that they've appeared on, for your handy reference. (Links will continue to be added as we find them.) Rankings appear in parentheses; no number means the list was unranked: