R.I.P., S. Clay Wilson

A sampling of the works of S. Clay Wilson.

S. Clay Wilson made Robert Crumb look like Charles M. Schultz.

Captain Pissgums and his Pervert Pirates. The Checkered Demon and Star-Eyed Stella. Ruby the Dyke. Dude didn’t push the envelope, he lit it up and pissed it out.

I was a fiend for underground cartoons in their heyday, and still am, now that I think of it. My personal fave is Gilbert Shelton, probably because he paid at least as much attention to being funny as to being controversial.

There was R. Crumb, of course. And Bobby London, Vaughn Bodē, Spain Rodriguez, Rand Holmes, Dan O’Neill, Dave Sheridan, Skip Williamson, Jay Lynch, Greg Irons, Robert Williams … shit, the list goes on and on and on. Many were outrageous, and quite a few were funny, too.

But Wilson was out there, all by himself.  Even Crumb knew it, and he could punch the squares’ buttons as well as anyone.

Interviewed in the early 1990s for The Comics Journal by the underground-comics aficionado Bob Levin, Mr. Wilson called comics “a great visual art form,” adding, “Primarily, I’m trying to show that you can draw anything you want.”

I took a page from Wilson’s book once, drawing a vile caricature of myself doing something unspeakable and faxing it to a publisher who had wronged me, as publishers are wont to do. I don’t recall whether the act achieved my purpose, but at that particular moment I felt that I could draw anything I wanted.

S. Clay Wilson died Sunday in San Francisco. He was 79.


6 Responses to “R.I.P., S. Clay Wilson”

  1. psobrien Says:

    I like the old school masthead! Chapeau! Not familiar with Wilson’s work.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Wilson was about as far out of the mainstream as you could get, then or now. He was a very naughty boy. But he buried some memorable lines in all that sex and violence.

      Punching someone out was “churning a chump to mush with the old five of clubs.” Or, “The bigger they come, the harder they fall. But you really gotta hit ’em.” Or, “Allow me to introduce your thick skull to the unsympathetic charms of this belaying pin.” A harlot asks the Checkered Demon if she can join him for a drink and he replies, “Is it dangerous to walk through the jungle wearing a pork-chop jacket?” That sort of thing.

  2. Mark Rerek Says:

    The hits keep coming. Don’t know if I should be proud or embarrassed at owning all of the pictured comics. S. Clay Wilson was my favorite by a wide margin. Fantasy and Science Fiction on a really weird trip. “Omar, pepper that auto”. “Hey there uglier than me give me a blistering ice cold bottle of your finest kraut beer. Now!” And many more of the raunchier persuasion. Thanks for letting us know. That sort of news doesn’t reach the current squaresville I’ve come to inhabit.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Haw. I was just looking though that issue of “The Checkered Demon.” Lord, he was bent.

      As I mentioned, I was more into Shelton’s “Freak Brothers,” but you had to appreciate Wilson’s willingness to set anything down on paper. Dude was absolutely fearless. No wonder he and Burroughs got along.

      You ever read any “Harold Hedd,” by Rand Holmes? Sort of a Canadian “Freak Brothers,” with a cat and everything. Good shit. He’s long gone; Hodgkins lymphoma did for him in 2002.

  3. jaf48 Says:

    Bite my crank Matey

  4. khal spencer Says:

    I was more familiar with the Freak Bros, R. Crumb, and Mad. Was exposed to S. Clay but didn’t follow too much. Probably offended my tender sensitivities.

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