Punk Fiction - Part 1

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Part 1 - From Schmitt Stix to the Silver Age

Broken Frontier:  Your website is a skate shop! Were you a skater? Do you still get out on a board?

Rick Remender: Yeah, it shaped a good deal of my youth. I’m still involved in the culture but I don’t get on my deck anymore these days. As it turns out being a workaholic and getting married tends to put twenty pounds on your ass. I’m going to lose these love handles next year though so maybe I’ll get back on.

BF: What was the skate and/or punk scene like where you grew up?

RR: I grew up in Phoenix AZ, I didn’t move to the Bay Area till I was 25. Downtown Phoenix in the mid 80’s was a special time and place. We got the run off from all the great LA punk scene and we had an amazing skate scene. I got into skating and punk around the same time, 1984. My first punk record was Agent Orange, Living in Darkness followed by Fear and then Minor Threat, The Misfits, Suicidal Tendencies (their first album is still an all time classic punk cd). In fact the name Fear Agent comes from Agent Orange and Fear. The cd’s were on my desk when I was brainstorming some names.

The scene was amazing from 84-88. We had a half pipe we’d skate all day and there was an old German cafeteria that had been converted into a punk club called The Metro where we’d see shows at night. The Metro also had a half pipe in the back so they’d have pro’s skate before shows. I saw Agent Orange, Social Distortion, TSOL, Suicidal Tendencies, The Vandals and many others play there back then.

The scene was different, the fashion grew from individuals doing goofy s**t they though looked cool. You sure as f***ing s**t didn’t buy it at Hot Topic. It wasn’t about any fashion show to me or my buddies back then. It was smart powerful music made by kids like us with no dreams of riches or tour buses. They did it for them and for us. It mattered to me. The skateboard was our sport. Not a one of us have a rats s**t about football or baseball. We played some soccer and we skated, we skated and destroyed as the saying goes. It was ours and when you ran into a kid with a Samhain tee shirt on he was your instant friend because you knew he knew. We got f***ed with by rednecks in pick up trucks. It’s all so safe now, suck a boring costume worn by kids who don’t understand what it was about in the first place. If it’s just a fashion why bother. So says old man Remender.

BF: Would it be off-base to suggest you were visually influenced by the spraycan sensibility of skateboard graphics?

RR: It would be on base. In my dream world I’m still doing Black Heart Billy comics and they sell enough to keep a roof over my head. Black Heart Billy was the manifestation with the culture from my youth. Art wise that culture was Robert Williams, skateboard art and comic books. The old Schmitt Stix and Santa Cruz decks had such amazing icon imagery. It looks to like nothing that powerful is even attempted anymore. I’ve got pals who work for some big skateboard companies and they are crushed anytime they do anything of any real interest. It’s become a corporate run show and the art is clearly hurt by that. It’s not what it was, that’s for sure. It also was anything but spray can. The graffiti sensibility didn’t really make its way into skate art till the 90’s from my recollection.

BF: Were you always a comics reader? What books made you want to aspire to comics greatness?

RR: Some nights when I’ve been working non-stop for months on end I don’t remember why I started or what books ever had such an impact on me to drive me to work so hard. It’s the hardest god-damned profession in the arts. Just making one good comic book is such a powerful and draining experience, it’s hard to explain without sounding like I’m complaining about it. I’m not. I’m a bit tired and I find vocalizing that sounds unpleasant to other people. F*** it. I read comics like a fiend from 1984 to about 1990. I then slowed down for sex, drugs and rock and roll. When it became clear the drugs were not much of a friend I stopped and got a job at a comic shop. I used comics as a deterrent form the party life and went straight edge for a few years. I collected silver age like a mad man while the shop owner, Blake Shira taught me about EC and the other important history of comics. I knew that was what I had to do. I know I had to write and draw comics. What was the question?

While I’m off topic, doing comics is a way to leave behind your ideas and art for other people to find and make enjoy. It’s a way for me to get some of this constant buzz out of my head and onto paper where it makes sense. Not all books are super personal but they all have my personality in them. I hope someone will let me know if I achieve greatness. That might be pretty cool.

End Part 1.
Coming Soon: Part 2 - Punk and Pulp.

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