1984

Chron Comics281While searching through my “files” for something totally unrelated, I came across some weathered copies of the San Francisco Chronicle from 1984. It was during the Democratic National Convention held in The City that summer. Chron columnist Warren Hinckle was doing a special section devoted to the con, and a gang of local cartoonists was recruited to provide some humor. I was lucky enough to tag along with the big boys, mostly to do layouts and and background fill-ins. It was quite a notorious group, featuring Robert Crumb, Victor Moscoso, Spain, Phil Frank, S. Clay Wilson, Dan O’Neill, and others. We set up a makeshift studio in the women’s dressing room at the Mitchell Bros. O’Farrell Theatre and scribbled away for four days of unscripted insanity.

The main thrust of this particular entry was a lavish party hosted by then-assembly speaker Willie Brown. It was said that Willie’s friends ponied up $400,000 for the extravagonzo, and the main feature was a scale model of the Golden Gate bridge that you could walk across. 20,000 lucky Democrats were invited to the shindig, but sadly, I was not one of them.

It didn’t stop the ragged crew of cartoonists from imagining the event, though. And since many of those involved had trouble with the daily deadlines I was recruited to add my own cartoon, “As The World Burns”, in next morning’s fishwrap. I was thrilled to be included with legends like Crumb and Moscoso, but was horrified when I saw the printed version. The editors had jumbled my four-panel cartoon, running it backwards! Oh well, welcome to the big leagues.

(Sorry if some of the text is hard to read. Like I said, this page was reproduced from a weathered old newspaper. No digital.)

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13 Responses to 1984

  1. Breen says:

    Holy cow. I remember that page.
    I don’t even want to think about what it would cost to put all those kids through UCLA today…

  2. Brad Croul says:

    Classic! Love the R.Crumb, “Willy”, rendition.
    So, I guess it was it supposed to go, potato salad, UCLA, bridge, Reagan?

  3. I see that Crumb recently turned 70. Apparently, there is hope for cartoonists.

    Warren Hinckle is a good example of what can happen when Catholic school boys go bad. He also fits an old definition of a reporter: A fellow who walks around with a can of gasoline looking for a smoldering fire.

    Too bad you didn’t do this work for the Chronicle a year later; you might have met Suds Pelline.

  4. PeteK says:

    You guys actually got work done by working in the dressing room at Mitchell Bros?? What?… were they closed or something?? I could NEVER get any “work” done in that theatre!

    • rl crabb says:

      Closed? With a convention full of horny Democrats in town? Ha! The joint was rockin’ all night long. The dressing room scene was a little intimidating at first, but I reminded myself that I grew up on the Yuba River looking at nekkid women. After I adjusted my perspective it wasn’t difficult to work under those stressful conditions. Anybody who went to art school is used to the female form in its natural state.

  5. Greg Goodknight says:

    Wow, great stuff. How long did the Crabman signature last?

    I wonder how DiFi reacted to being portrayed as Canio, the clown of Leoncavallo’s opera, Pagliacci. Obviously inspired by photographs of Enrico Caruso in character:
    http://www.baumanrarebooks.com/BookImages/80197f.jpg
    I can’t say I remember Moscoso through the purple haze of time, but it is inspired. He chose well 🙂

    No one could do blackface like R.Crumb and get away with it, but I somehow don’t see B’rer Willy very happy.

  6. Chris Peterson says:

    My youngest brother, under the name John Burnham, hung out and drew with thuse guys back then. Wish he’d stuck to it; he was probably the most talented kid in the family by along shot.

    Ah well.

  7. I too as a lifelong SoCal intern missed out on the finer points of that era in northern California. Thanks to all for the education.

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