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“It’s Not Nice to Fool Jay Kennedy,” By Patrick Rosenkranz
posted March 25, 2007

By Patrick Rosenkranz

I didn't want Jay Kennedy to be mad at me, so I fessed up before the joke went too far. I knew getting his facts straight was very important to him, and also, I figured my friend Charlie had had enough fun by then.

Charles Boucher and I met through a bookseller who knew we both liked underground comix. One day he was at Looking Glass Bookstore, talking to owner Bill Kloster about Artsy Fartsy Funnies, my 1974 underground comix history and Charlie said I probably lived in Holland since it was published there. Bill said, no, he lives right here in Portland. He eventually called me up and we got together for a jaw session.

It was the dawn of desktop publishing, and Charlie and Denis Wheary and I decided to publish a fanzine on his Mac Classic Called CounterMedia. Charlie liked to have fun so he proposed we start the magazine with issue #4. Between the three of us, we had plenty to say about comix, so we put out four issues over the next year.

Antennas went up. Jay Kennedy's vibrations were more sensitive than most, so when he caught wind of our esoteric outpourings, he wanted it all. He wrote to our post office box to order the first three issues. Unfortunately they're sold out, Charlie wrote back. Could he make photocopies, asked Jay? He'd like to but he's pretty busy right now, answered Charlie. Jay started writing to me. Could I make photocopies? Charlie put him off a while by writing and sending him complete tables of contents for issues #1-3 of CounterMedia.

The first issue featured Eleuteri Serpieri: The Persistence of Mammary. "You can't spell Italy without T and A! An introduction to one of Europe's most popular pornographers," boasted the blurb. The second and third issues promised additional goodies like The Art Spiegelman Checklist, Addenda to The R. Crumb Checklist, a Rick Griffin biography, and lots more.

That only whetted Jay's appetite. He smelled a rat, but he also wanted to believe those early issues really existed. They could represent a wealth of information. I had to tell Charlie he'd taken it far enough and so I spilled the beans to Jay, who wasn't happy. Nobody likes to be the fool. Plus I think he was a little disappointed that he wouldn't be able to read all those articles.

imageCommunications seemed a little strained after that incident, but I still kept in touch with him while I was researching my 2002 book Rebel Visions. He was one of the handful of people I asked to fact check my manuscript. He made some good suggestions. His book, The Official Underground and Newave Comix Price-Guide was a constant reference, an encyclopedic treasure that made my job a lot easier. That book alone would have enshrined him into the pantheon of comics, even if he hadn't done all those other great things for the medium.

I only met him in person once, at the 2003 San Diego Con. He came up to the front after a panel discussion on underground comix and introduced himself to me. I told him he looked younger than I thought he would be, and he said the same to me. Charles Boucher was there in the audience sitting next to my wife Ginny, so I sent Jay over to them to say hi. They chatted up a storm and parted as friends. I saw that he didn't hold a grudge. Jay was big-hearted as well as plenty smart.

I was out of town in a remote location last Thursday when Jay Kennedy died, so I didn't learn about it until I read the obit in Comics Reporter the following week. Another fallen soldier. What a life!