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"This day's experience, set in order, none of it left ragged or lying about, all of it gathered in like treasure and finished with, set aside." –Alice Munro, "What is Remembered"

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Idyl

Heads Up: IDYL – I’M AGE by Jeffrey Jones

Late to the party again… but life (and laziness!) gets in the way… anyway… last year, near the end of the summer, Donald M. Grant published the first-ever all-in-one collection of two comic strips by Jeffrey Jones: Idyl, which originally ran in National Lampoon in the 1970s, and I’m Age, which ran in Heavy Metal in the early 1980s.

I received my two hardcover copies of the collection in the autumn of 2015 — I ordered from Amazon.com as neither the hardcover nor the softcover edition was unavailable through Amazon.ca, although I suppose I could have ordered directly from the publisher, which would have netted me a complimentary copy of Jones’s cartoon book, It’s Garbage Coming — and now I’m here to let you know that I have one complaint and one concern about the book.

My complaint is that Grant has failed to include one of the I’m Age strips in the new collection and instead of going back to press to correct the error has been encouraging buyers to download a JPEG of the strip via a link on the order page, print it off at home, and slip it into the book, which I’ve done, of course, though I’m not happy about it. The overall number of strips is small. Was it really such a difficult task to create a complete, master list of strips and proofread the collection accordingly? Mistakes happen, sure. And yes, yes, going back to press to correct a publisher’s error (vs. a printer’s error) would have been prohibitively expensive. But COME ON!!!

My concern is that the introductory and other text in the collection completely ignores Jones’s struggle, in later years, to claim a more authentic identity for herself as a woman. No mention, even, of the name change from Jeffrey Jones to Jeffrey Catherine Jones. Now, Jeffrey Catherine Jones was, by all accounts, perfectly content to let her old friends continue to refer to her as Jeffrey, and of course, the major collection of her art published during her lifetime, with her participation, after she began her transition, bore the title, Jeffrey Jones: A Life in Art. Still, it seems wrong to me for Jones’s “friends” to act, now (or then), as though Jeffrey *Catherine* Jones never existed! The omission is especially egregious in George Pratt’s “Afterword,” which recounts an outing that was filmed, in part, by Maria Paz Cabardo for her documentary, Better Things: The Life and Choices of Jeffrey Catherine Jones. If you’ve seen the footage, you know very well what I’m talking about!

In fact, I think a strong case could be made that, far from being irrelevant to the strips, Jones’s ongoing gender-identity struggle was central to them. Pity that neither Jones’s publisher nor her friends were ready, willing, or able to imagine the possibility!

Anyway, I do love the work. And I do recommend the book, because the sad fact is, it’s the only game in town if you want to have two of Jones’s three major comic strips available in your non-virtual library in a convenient format at a reasonable cost.

Look Here, Read: IDYL (Nov. 1975) by Jeffrey Jones

A few months ago, I picked up a couple of “bales” of National Lampoon Magazine — thirty-two issues, in all — from a local bookseller for cheap. It was only when I got home with my bales and cut the strings that I found out that all but one of the issues were from the 1980s and 1990s, which was okay because, at the very least, it gave me quite a few terrific comic strips by M. K. Brown, R. Crumb, Shary Flenniken, Rick Geary, Buddy Hickerson, Mark Marek, Rodrigues, Gahan Wilson, et al., to read. The lone exception, however, was an issue from November 1975, which — o lucky me! — includes the second-last Idyl strip by Jeffrey Jones that ever appeared in the magazine.

Now, if all you’ve seen are reprints of Idyl, you might be interested to know that the strip first appeared in a newsprint section of the Lampoon called “Funny Pages” and that, in the November 1975 issue, all of the strips in the “Funny Pages,” including Idyl, were overprinted in light blue with only the word balloons left uncoloured. To give you an idea of the sombre, twilight mood that the blue colour lends to Jones’s strip — which begins with the words, “It’ll be dark soon” — I present to you the following scan:

[CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE]

The effect is so appropriate to the theme of the strip that one can’t help but wonder if the art director didn’t choose the colour specifically to complement Jones’s work…


Idyl was intended as satire and whimsy. One art director and one editor, who met me each month with puzzled faces, continued to remind me that National Lampoon was a humor magazine, ‘As long as YOU laugh,’ they finally said. So each month I would go in laughing. I also must admit that I love to draw nude women.”
— Jeffrey Jones, interview, 2001


RELATED LINKS:

Connections: Hal Foster vs. Frank Frazetta

Yesterday over at Golden Age Comic Book Stories, the intrepid Mr. Door Tree posted a beautiful collection of Tarzan dailies by Hal Foster. As I browsed through the images, one panel in particular leaped out at me…

[CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE]

Compare those Tarzan dailies with Idyl, and I think you’ll be amazed at how much Jeffrey Jones in the 1970s styled his work in pen/brush and ink after the early comic-strip work of Hal Foster.

See also: Connections: Frazetta vs. Ferri

Look There: “Idyl” by Jeffrey Jones

I’ve posted a few Idyl strips on this blog in the past, along with one scan of an Idyl original, but here’s your chance to read all 44 Idyl strips (45 pages, total) included in the Dragon’s Dream collection from 1979 (after you click the link, scroll to the bottom of the page). And if you read Spanish (I don’t, and the Google translation leaves a lot to be desired), you’ll also be able (fully, completely) to enjoy a heavily illustrated overview of Jones’s career as one of “those who fled comics.”

THAT LINK AGAIN, IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

And here’s an important tip for you: to bypass the image viewer and open the larger files in Firefox, hold Ctrl down as you left click each image.

And please note, if you haven’t already, that you can read all of the “I’m Age” strips from Heavy Metal right here.

Connections: Jeffrey Jones vs. Esteban Maroto, again

The first page here is by Esteban Maroto. It is from a story called “Idi and Me,” written by Bill DuBay, that first appeared in issue #4 of the Warren magazine, 1984, way back in 1978. And though the script is junk, it’s an attractive page. Only problem is, all of the female figures are very clearly swiped from Jeffrey Jones’s celebrated comic strip, Idyl, which ran in National Lampoon from 1972 to 1975. See below for the ocular proof:

For those who haven’t read 1984 #4, which would be almost everyone, the woman in the DuBay-penned “Idi and Me” is the brutal dictator, Idi Amin, whose chromosomes have been jumbled, just for laughs, by the American “Department of Dirty Tricks” (DDT), thereby turning “the former gorilla-faced leader of Uganda into this heavenly image of white Anglo-Saxon femininity,” Idi, who nonetheless retains a male psychology and sex drive and is thus seeking an operation to change back into a man. (And the final line/moral of the story? “I guess no matter what form you’re in… the world just isn’t ready for Idi Amin!”) All of which seems very odd, given Jeffrey Catherine Jones’s own difficult journey; however, the story did appear way back in 1978, as I noted above, which is about 20 years, more or less, before Jones decided to take definite steps become a woman. So what’s going on here? Seems most likely to me that it’s just a coincidence — though if it isn’t, if DuBay is taking a shot at Jones’s sexuality based on industry rumours, private confidences, or whatever, it’s an incredibly crude commentary! I mean, why would DuBay have done it, and why on earth would Maroto have participated? It doesn’t make sense to me, though, of course, even if the sex-change theme is a coincidence, it doesn’t mean that the story of Idi wasn’t intended, in part, as a parody of Jones’s Idyl. That would certainly explain the blatant swipes, except that Maroto has swiped from Jones (and others) before. So maybe the simple answer is that Jones’s work on Idyl was so skillful, so sensitive, so gorgeous, and — perhaps it seemed to Maroto — so obscure, that it was ripe for the swiping… or not… because the fact is, I’m not sure what to think…

Anyone have any ideas?

Look Here: Original art for an “Idyl” strip by Jeffrey Jones

You can view the printed version, with the title stripped in, here; it’s third from the top.

Look Here: “Idyl” by Jeffrey Jones

Here, as promised in a previous post, are all of the Idyl strips that I saved from Jeffrey Jones’s long-abandoned Web site:

I thought I only had four strips on hand; turns out, I have five. Enjoy!

UPDATE:

Ragged Claws Network: Look There: “Idyl” by Jeffrey Jones

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