"Inexplicably," the editor of The Comics Journal e-mailed, "the Table of Contents for our next issue credits John Benson with your interview of S. Clay Wilson." He promised to call the printer, but it might be too late.
I first submitted to the Journal 20 years ago. After waiting an appropriate time and hearing nothing, I queried. It said it had not received my article and asked me to resubmit. I did. After waiting an appropriate period and hearing nothing, I queried. It said they had not received my article and asked me to resubmit. (Author’s Note: These last two sentences did not result from computer malfunction.) I did but said if it had an office pool running on how many times it could get this fool in Berkeley to send his stupid article, it would hear from my attorney. It accepted my article. A few weeks later, an editor called and told me the printer had lost it.
The Journal printed the next article I submitted too. Then, without asking, it listed me on the masthead as a Contributing Writer. Since, at the time, the rest of the literary world held me in about as much regard as a cancelled stamp, I kept submitting; and it kept publishing me. My style grew richer and my thoughts more interesting. (These judgments were not universally shared. Dissenters once made their views known on a Journal Message Board thread entitled, "Why Do You Keep Printing Articles By Bob Levin?")
I have published regularly with the Journal since. In 2003, Fantagraphics, its parent company, published my account of the efforts of a group of underground cartoonists to destroy Walt Disney (The Pirates and the Mouse) – and misspelled my name on the spine. In 2005, it published a collection of my articles (Outlaws, Rebels, Freethinkers, Pirates & Pornographers) – and omitted Pornographers.
I love The Comics Journal and Fantagraphics. Their principal owner, Gary Groth, has an artistic vision with which I am proud to be associated. He allows creators to venture into twisted alleys and dark corners; and when they emerge, ready to tack their bloody quarry upon the page, he backs them beyond what most would dare. To illustrate, when Pirates appeared, a biographer of Stan Lee, whose publisher had feared to show even one toe of The Hulk on his cover, gazed upon the legion of ravaged, deranged Mickey Mouses on mine and said, "Well, Fanta always had balls."
So I don’t sweat the small stuff. I enjoy the cosmic humor. I delight in the new story to tell. "No problem," I told the editor. "The next time Benson writes something for you, just credit it to me."
Causes Bob Levin Supports
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, ACLU, PEN, Berkeley Emergency Food & Housing Project.