Saturday, April 22, 2017

0002: Yackety Sax

I mentioned Richard Sala in a previous post. In addition to having a Fantagraphics series "Evil Eye" (which, after 2003, transformed into a series of original graphic novels), Sala was probably the first self-published comic book artist to reach more people through television than through comic book stores. His cryptic, creepy "Invisible Hands" segments were among the more memorable parts of MTV's Liquid Television, which also launched "Aeon Flux" and "Beavis and Butthead". Prior to that his work appeared mostly in three- or four-page stories in anthologies from Kitchen Sink ("Twist", "Blab!") and Fantagraphics ("Prime Cuts", "Street Music"). After "Liquid Television", Sala became the first guest artist to do a published Madman pin-up in Tundra's "Madman Adventures" #1. (To understand what a big deal that was, there eventually became so many pin-ups by head-lining guest artists that they became the basis for two sets of trading cards.)

So, you can imagine my delight when I found a newly produced radio play acted out by some of my favorite musicians which was not only scripted by Jack Kerouac based on one of his lesser known novels, but accompanied by a book illustrated throughout by Sala just as "Evil Eye" had stopped publishing regular issues. Packaged as a book-and-2CD set by Gallery Six in 2003 (ISBN# 0-9729733-0-3), "DOCTOR SAX AND THE GREAT WORLD SNAKE" is worth seeking out, with poets Robert Creeley and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter and rocker/"Basketball Diaries" author Jim Carroll being joined by Kate Pierson (B-52's), Bill Janovitz (Buffalo Tom), folkie Ellis Paul and new-waver Graham Parker. Despite the collective musical talent there, they're only providing voices. The score is appropriately jazz oriented and provided by a small combo led by John Medeski (of Medeski, Martin and Wood). The 144-page book includes the full script and full page illustrations. I don't know if either the book or audio portion have ever been made available separately, but unless you get the packaging that holds them all together, you wouldn't have seen this illustration of the town where the story is set:

The thin grey horizontal lines you see in the center of either side of the picture are the slots where the CDs are normally held. I've removed them for this scan to get an unobstructed view, obviously.


  1. An impressive posting. I enjoy finding out things about creators (Sala) I'm somewhat familiar with and their ties to Pop Culture (Liquid Television)that helped shape my appreciation for the odd.
    Rave On!

    1. Thanks. If you have a taste for the odd, stay tuned. Marvel and DC make up a significant volume of my collection, so things will inevitably circle back to them frequently, but I've spent decades keeping an eye out for things I'd probably never see again if I didn't buy them in the moment. I admit that the internet takes much of the edge off that instinct; it gets harder to believe you'll never see something again when you can summon images from across the planet in seconds. But I'm hoping that if the audience becomes sufficiently large that I'll be able to share that "What the heck--?" feeling of discovery with at least a few people every other day.


Previously on "Sieve Eye Care"...