His latest work, a collaboration with Act-I-Vater, Dean Haspiel, is hardly Jay Lynch’s first foray into the world of children’s entertainment. The book, Mo & Jo Fighting Together Forever, is Lynch’s second for Francoise Mouly’s Toon Books imprint. It’s also the latest in a long line of output aimed at children, including Garbage Pail Kids packs, My Little Pony sticker books, and lyrics for kids songs—a far cry from the latter day output of many of his late-60s underground comics contemporaries.
In this second part of our interview with the artist, we discuss the state of children’s books, X-men’s sales figures, and why his days drawing Duckman comics will also make him think of OJ.
Do you find that interest in your work tends to come in waves?
There’s certainly more interest in old underground comics than there was seven years ago. I don’t know, I kept all of my underground comics stuff out of print, because no one has really—I started an autobiographical comic that I wrote and Ed Piskor drew.
That appeared in Mineshaft, right?
Yes, that was serialized in Mineshaft. We don’t get paid for Mineshaft, but I like it. When we did underground comics, we made good money. When we started, Bijou was the third title, so there were only like a dozen titles. One of our titles would sell about equally with what Mad Magazine sells today. In the 60s, Mad sold 3 million a month. Our books would have printings of about 50,000. So today Mad is under 200,000. We’d sell out the reprints. Now for comic books, it’s not something you do for money. The X-men, now, is the biggest selling comic, and it has a smaller circulation than most of the underground comics.
Is that a result of the marketplace being flooded?
Yeah. And also, it’s sold in the shops. No one ever really goes to the shops, except collectors. That’s why I haven’t really done any comics. I drew a Duckman comic for Topps, about—when the OJ thing was happening.
Yeah. When OJ was on the car chase. I remember when I was drawing Duckman, OJ was on the TV, being chased. I guess that was like the early or mid-90s.
When you’re working on something like Duckman, how closely do you have to study the source material? Do they make you watch all of the episodes?
No. Stefan Petrucha wrote the thing. They sent me a style kit. Sometimes I’d write it—that’s mostly what I’d do, draw roughs, and other people draw it.
When you’re actually doing the writing, what are you using as source material?
Well, most of the sticker albums are based on movies or episodes of TV shows. Oh, that was a good job—I had to read every Goosebumps book that there was. I had a three-foot high pile of Goosebumps books to do a Goosebumps trivia book with questions about the stories.
Do you have a particular favorite non-comics job that you’ve done, over the years?
Non-comics? I wrote a comic in the 60s which was like a poem. And a band called The Boogers covered it on a album with songs for kids. Country Joe and the Fish wrote one, too. That will be out in a month, or so.
Let’s talk more about the superhero book, Mo & Jo. The first thing is to get a moral and then write the book.
It seems that, in the case of that book, the moral is pretty well stated in the title.
Yeah, that was Francoise, or maybe Art, who came up with the title. I called it something like “Major Mojo.”
Were there things that you wanted to put in, which were deemed not age appropriate?
No. Well, I think the hippo balloon was originally a Thanksgiving Day parade, so it was a turkey balloon, but that would have made the book seasonal, so they changed it to a hippo balloon.
You’ve done a bit of work for kids at this point. Would you say that you’re pretty well accustomed to what will and won’t fly for certain age levels?
Yeah. Well, there’s some stuff that you can’t have in kids books. No one can smoke, no one can die, and there can be no fire. Although a lot of the old classic things like Snow White and the original Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and Sleeping Beauty, the prince goes blind, and in Cinderella, they cut off the queens feet. Pecos Bill, they went over the whole film and took away his cigarettes.
[Concluded in Part Three]