by Carl Macki
Left: ©1997 Gary
Baseman; Cover for Blab! #9 Right:
©2005 Elvis Studio (Xavier Robel & Helge Reumann);Burst of a
Nation; Blab! #16
Left: ©2004 Marc
Rosenthal; What's Dat?; Blab! #14 Right:
©2001 The Clayton Brothers; Ding Dong! Welcome to Tim House; Blab! #12
been called "the New
Yorker for Mutants." Its list of contributors
is multi-galactic in the art universe.That doesn't really do it justice. BLAB! is
more than a magazine.
It's a flourishing and nourishing fountain of
ideas and creativity in illustration and design started by Monte
Beauchamp years ago, in Chicago, while Monte held down
a day job in advertising. A job that might be considered punishing.
Also one in which he has won multiple honors in New York for his art
It just keeps on getting better and stronger.
As Beauchamp tells it, "
The first issue of BLAB! rolled off a long-forgotten Chicago press
early summer of 1986. It was a 1500-copy, self-published, one-shot,
backed financially by the money I was earning working as a full-time
advertising art director. My wife at the time was actually the impetus
behind it; she was the one who suggested I draw a comic book in the
first place, to take my mind off the disconcerting politics and
dynamics where I worked. Though I loved to draw I had no desire to draw
an entire comic book, but the idea gave way to doing a 'zine about
comics. So that's how the whole thing got
This was around the
beginnings of the Graphic Novel--wasn't it?
BLAB! came along eight years later. In 1978, the paperback version of
A Contract with God
was the book that popularized the term "graphic novel"
and set the standard for all that has followed. The term itself was
actually coined in the sixties in an obscure comic 'zine, but never
stuck. When Eisner described A
Contract with God as a "graphic novel"
he had never heard of the term.
Left: ©2006 Matt
Stromberg (MATS?!); Humanamals; Blab!
#16 Right: ©2000
Monte Beauchamp; The Krampus Postcards; Blab! #11
Left: ©2005 Bob
Staake; Live like an Artist; Blab!
©2006 Fred Stonehouse; Dog: Blab!
Art Spiegelman (author
of the Pulitzer-Prize winning MAUS) had already started Arcade with Bill Griffith
(Zippy the Pinhead),
hadn't started yet, right?
MB: Arcade #1
appeared in 1975 and lasted only 2 or 3 years before Artie and
Griffith tossed in the towel, but their mag was a real enjoyable
highlight back in the day. I have real fond memories
of it. There wasn't much else out back then. Not at all like there is
came out in 1980. I snagged a copy but didn't think much of
it. I tore out the "Two-Fisted
Tales" insert, then tossed the rest out. The whole persona of that
had a Berlinish war-time bleakness about it. Issue #2 caught my eye
because of MAUS
and I began buying it solely for that. Yet as Raw (and
its artists) progressed, the mag became quite interesting. By issue #4
it became a must-have.
talk about your work as an art director and
your vocation as
an editor and designer
of the Blab! series of
magazines and books. How
much of those two worlds intersect?
the day, I likened it to a husband with a mistress on the
side. As an art director working in corporate America, BLAB! was my
mistress. I was real quiet about BLAB!
when it came to my professional
career; I strived to keep the two things separate. Yet as the years
rolled on, BLAB!
took on a life of its own and I could no longer keep
it under wraps. Some of my fellow employees found out about it and
there were mixed reactions, though some were really positive.
remember meeting a nice gal at one of the agencies I worked for and
after we got to know each other a bit, she took me aside and asked:
"Are you, by chance, THE Monte
Beauchamp who does BLAB!???"
acknowledged so, she raved about how much she adored the magazine; that
she absolutely loved it, then added, "Why in the world
are you still
working in advertising?"
When I asked what she meant by
that, she said,
"You must be wealthy from being the creator of BLAB!."
When I queried
her as to why she would think that, she cited blue chip illustrators
such as Gary Baseman, Jonathon Rosen, and Christian
tandem with how well-designed and printed BLAB! was.
So that was one of
the good reactions. Yet, on the other hand, when a writer read the plug
for my first book in Vanity
Life and Times of R. Crumb,
published by St. Martin's Press--he said, "Why would you EVER do a book
Late 1999... early 2000, somewhere
around there, is when I began not caring what my fellow advertising
employees thought about BLAB!.
remember when your
Krampus card reproductions came out... I think they were in BLAB!
#11 -- now you have put out two books --
The Devil in Design: The Krampus
Greetings: Vintage Devil Postcards.
explain how you discovered these Krampus cards?
1990, I met a
gal at a bar whose cousin was coming by, and he turned out to be an
eclectic art aficianado. He knew about ECs, the history of Joker
playing cards... all sorts of interesting subjects.
is a Krampus and how does the figure relate to the Devil?
years later, the phone rings and it's this same guy checking in to say,
"Hello." During the course of our conversation he waxes poetically
these pre-World War 1 Krampus postcards he's been collecting, and based
on his eclectic taste, I just had to have a look. So a couple weeks
later, he brings them over and my jaw goes slack. His collection of
Krampus postcards was majestically incredible. So I just had to run a
feature on them, which later led to my book The Devil in Design: The
Krampus is of European origin and arose out of their Christmas
tradition. Krampus is St. Nicholas' helper. Whereas St. Nicholas
rewards good children with gifts and treats, the Krampus tracks down
those who have been bad all year and terrorizes them until they promise
to be good. One thing I'd like to make real clear is the Krampus is not
evil... he's not a devil... he's a character of good heart and looks
the way he does to convince the bad into becoming good.
I liked the story you told about getting a negative reaction to Blab! and
your championing of Robert Crumb.
was going through a
bad divorce and just don't remember much from that time spent with the
Crumbs (the early '90s)... really can't comment ... my head was a big
scrambled eggs back then.
Globe: I was wondering
Picto-Novelettes. Can you tell me some more about
them and what is coming down the pike
with those offshoots of
Blab! the magazine?
grew out of my fondess of children's books and their beautifully
designed experimental formats with sparse copy.
I thought why not adopt it for an older crowd? I coined the term
Picto-Novelette and pitched the series to Kim at Fantagraphics,
who green-lighted it.
Rose Garcia's book
was to debut the line but took way longer
than expected, so we launched with Sheep
by Sue Coe and Judith Brody,
which won a
Book-of-the-Year award from PETA. Next was a MAD-styled version of Struwwelpeter,
by Bob Staake, which
was plugged by NPR
and the New York Times.
Our third was Walter Minus' Darling
at the Victoria's Secret's crowd.
Alphabetical Ballad of
came next and received a review in the New York Times, as did
Drew Friedman's Old
generated a phenomenal amount of
press--a second-printing was ordered within a month. Camille finally
and it was well worth the two-year wait -- and is
now in its third printing.
There's one by Shag, and a followup to
Old Jewish Comedians. Gary Baseman's is next.
Ryan Heshka and I are
collaborating on a BLAB!-styled
picto-novelette -- believe it or not. So far it's been
a lot of fun.
Should be out
between Spring and Fall of 2010, not sure
who will the publisher will be since we're no longer with Fantagraphics.
I asked the
painters Rob and Christian the Clayton Brothers
to comment on Blab!
and Monte Beauchamp. Here's
what they said--
Beauchamp has always given us freedom to interpret our idea of
comics, even though we have never immersed ourselves in this world.
We have always appreciated Monte’s insights regarding our work.
He is and always will be a renegade in the wild world of
comics.Long live BLAB!"
about then I received an email from Monte informing me
of a new show --
earlier he had sent me the Issue of Blab!
to showcase the exhibition
in Topeka of his work at the Beach Museum there. It was good news to
learn that there will be a free, public Blab! Exhibit at
Columbia College's Leviton A+D Gallery in Chicago
June 18 through July 22. Click here
for poster of show
of the artists
in the show are represented below:
12" x 12", acrylic and collage on
To be published in Blab!
Colley, "My Burdened Heart"
drawing on laminated plastic
18 – July 22, 2009
The show, which is curated
is focused on the Midwestern artists who have made powerful
contributions to BLAB!
and carry the values and standards of the publication.
Anchor Graphics at
Columbia College, Chicago is the co-curator of this exhibition.
Fred Stonehouse lecture:
Wednesday, June 17 at 6:30pm, 623 S. Wabash, Room 203. No reservations