Chris and Reggie’s Cosmic Treadmill, Episode 93: Kill Image #1 (1993)



Chris and Reggie’s Cosmic Treadmill, Episode #93


Kill Image #1 (1993)
by Hart D. Fisher and Joe Duncan
Boneyard Press


Before getting into today’s piece, I’d like to engage in my daily-kvetching over how awful Blogger (and Blogger Support) have been over the past few days.  It’s really one of those “good news, bad news” situations… where, there are a bunch of people making the exact same complaints as me… but, Blogger doesn’t seem to care a whit.

I’m also coming to learn that there are “blind” Blogger fans out there… it’s just like comics (any fandom, I suppose!).  They ignore very real problems, shift blame to the user, all in the hope that someone with a “blue check” next to their name gives ’em a thumbs up!  It’s pathetic.  Anyhoo, let’s talk about probably the episode of the Cosmic Treadmill I’m probably the most proud of: Our coverage of Hart Fisher’s Kill Image.






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You ever have a comic you happen across in the back of the shop that causes you to do a double-take?  Welp, lemme tell ya… when I first saw this bugger in a back room of a local shop, I was not sure what to make of it.  I, naturally, immediately purchased it.  I mean, just look at it.  We’ve got the heads of Rob Liefeld, Todd McFarlane, and Jim Lee with their eyes whited out.  I mean, what in the world could this be about?


I trudged up to the register with it… and almost felt a bit dirty.  It just has that kinda look and feel, ya know?  Anyhoo, I go to pay, and the shop owner, who I would chat up pretty often… took one look and kinda winced.  He’s friends with Rob Liefeld… and he asked me to do him a favor.  He asked me not to rush off to Twitter, post this comic, and tag Rob.  Well, I’m not a “tagger” to begin with, but his point was well taken.  I think Rob’s a good dude, and I wasn’t about to try and spoil his day.


I am, however, a co-host of an obscure little comic book podcast where we take great joy in uncovering obscure little comic books… so, I knew we’d eventually get around to devoting an episode to it.  The shop owner wouldn’t stop me from buying the issue… I mean, it was on his sales floor, but I told him my plans… and also told him that none of the Image guys would likely ever listen to anything I put together.


So, I get into my car… and immediately took a picture of the book… and, no, I didn’t post it to social media, I texted it to Reggie.  I was like, “We gotta do this one on the show”, it was just too weird not to.  Reggie was surprised by this weird little ditty, thought it was a great idea… told me he would get a copy, and we’d be good to go.


Here’s the thing, though… just like Jim Nastics (which we talked about the other day), there were no copies of Kill Image floating around anywhere in New York City!  Even online, he couldn’t track this sucker down.  And so, just like Jim Nastics before, I had to snap pictures of this entire issue and send ’em over.


I hemmed and hawed a bit before actually buckling down for this episode.  It’s… and this is something I made sure to include as a disclaimer for the episode… it’s cruel.  Hart Fisher himself even laughed at the disclaimer when he listened in.





I’ve often said, I’m not a provocateur… perhaps mostly because, who would care what I think about anything, right?  But this episode made me a bit nervous.  Not only was I a bit worried about coming across as a “troll” of some sort, being part of the social-media pile-on against early 90’s comics… but, I wanted to tell Hart Fisher’s story, and… hoo boy, it’s a story and a half.


Let’s get into it… the actual “putting together” of this episode.


I scripted this show during a week in which my wife was on vacation.  Now, she’s seen me write up shows before… but, as a grad student, I’m often alt-tabbing between windows anyway… so, she probably couldn’t tell when I was “working” (writing a paper) or “playing” (writing a script/post).  This time, she asked me the question you never wanna be asked… especially if you’re investing a lot of time and getting not a whole lot in return.  She asked me how long it took to put together an episode.  Scary prospect… and, not something I ever sought to actually calculate.


This time, however, I decided I’d appease the better half by “clocking in” when working on the show.  And so, I had a little pad next to me, and I would mark the time anytime I would engage in any research or writing.  I initially assumed this would be a “quickie”… and feared we’d only get around a half-hour of audio out of it.


I knew very little about Hart Fisher going into this.  I knew about the Jeffery Dahmer: An Unauthorized Biography of a Serial Killer comic, and the “Marvel Can…” t-shirts at Comicon… but, that was about it.  I really just thought this was going to be the story of someone who was, at the end of the day, just an attention-seeker.


This was all I knew… which made me even more nervous going in.  Was this a hill I was willing to die on, ya know?  I didn’t wanna tick the Image guys off… and I certainly didn’t want to provoke Hart Fisher.  I decided I’d start by scripting the Kill Image portion… if nothing else, it might make for an interesting “lost episode” down the line… or, might even be used as an “After Dark”, a concept which we were always sort of toying with.  More on that another time.


So, I dutifully broke down Kill Image… and, was pleased with how it came out.  Yes, it’s cruel… but, it’s so over-the-top, it’s clear it’s not to be taken seriously.  I have no doubt it ruffled plenty of feathers back in 1993… and might still.  But, after breaking it down, I felt a lot better about sharing it on the show.


Then, it was time to work on the bio… and, again… I thought this would come down to a brief mention of the Dahmer book, and the t-shirt.  I’m pretty sure the t-shirt was prominently displayed for a moment in a scene in Chasing Amy, so I assumed some of our listeners would at least have a passing memory of it.


Well, I was not prepared for the absolute education I was about to receive.  About comics, about the First Amendment, about a man who put it all on the line… and had to face a lot of unjust adversity all for writing a story.  I’m going to include a load of videos from Hart Fisher’s YouTube Channel below… where you can see him on Sally Jesse Raphael, Jerry Springer, and even Larry King Live.


If you decide to watch them… keep in mind that this wasn’t all that long ago.  The uproar regarding his work is pretty outrageous… and, from all accounts, that organization that’s supposed to help comic pros in these sorts of situations (the CBLDF), decided to sit this one out.  This is one of the reasons I’m so cynical when it comes to that organization.



Over the course of the seventy-four (74!) hours I spent working on this episode… remember, I “clocked in” for this one… I learned so much about Hart Fisher, small-press publishing in the 1990’s, censorship, and the power of one-man against… well, a whole lotta angry people.  Fisher put his money (literally) where his mouth is.  This was before the days where you could self-publish anything you’d like to the internet.  These were very different times, and it was a very different comics landscape.


I mean, let’s just look at Kill Image for a moment.  Back in 1993, Image Comics was the “thing” in the world of comics.  And here’s Hart Fisher telling them to stick it.  Burning what might’ve been a lucrative bridge back then, because he felt so strongly that they weren’t the best thing for the industry long-term… and, despite what Image Comics would eventually become, he wasn’t exactly wrong.  Telling the (at the time) kings of the industry to pound sand… isn’t the wisest career move, but Hart Fisher talked the talk… and, walked the walk.


After Kill Image, Hart published Kill Marvel… which, is exactly what it sounds like.  We talk a lot about Fisher’s feud with Marvel in the show, so I won’t go too deep here.  Suffice it to say, Hart Fisher won this one.  In hindsight, it wasn’t a “huge” win, but… still, he won.  I’ve never seen a copy of Kill Marvel “in the wild”, but I’ll share a picture below of a copy that a fan had signed… by Stan Lee.  For real.

I mean, there’s just so much “meat” on this bone… and I’d love to dissect the whole show and share it here (he had feuds with O.J. Simpson’s lawyer, Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance, the state of Oklahoma…), but then you’d have no reason to listen (well, less of a reason anyway… because, c’mon, you probably ain’t gonna listen!).  This story, of Hart Fisher and Friends… including the first American artist to ever be criminally convicted for obscenity, Mike Diana (Boiled Angel), became the impetus for Reggie and I to re-open our Underground Comix Weird Comics History box-set.

I’ve still got a partially written script for that Underground Episode that never came.  It was set to feature more stories of Hart Fisher, plus Mike Diana, and Jim Goad of the Answer Me! zine.  I also have a partially-written episode of Cosmic Treadmill: After Dark focused on Mike Diana’s Boiled Angel.

Anyways… I’m probably babbling at this point.  I put a lot of hours into this episode… and, like I said, it might just be the one I’m most proud of.  If you’re interested, I’d encourage you to check it out.  It’s a pretty wild one.  I assumed this was going to be a quick and dirty episode, but instead… I found out about a man who I now have tremendous respect and admiration for.

We’d release the episode as normal… and, as normal, it didn’t generate a whole lotta buzz.  As you might’ve seen in Fisher’s tweet, he did listen to it.  Talk about a stomach-churning moment.  Just knowing that he was listening… oh boy, I was nervous.  The story we told about him was a very personal one.  It wasn’t just about the comics… there’s plenty in there about Hart the man as well.  I feared we might’ve crossed a line (or two… or three) in the presentation.

Well, imagine my relief when I saw this:


Hart did share the show on his socials… and, the reception we got from his friends and fans… it was pretty great!  I, personally, received some very nice emails and messages from folks who know him “in real life”, who were very appreciative that we told his story the way we did.


Just combing through old tweets now, to tie this all up… and came across one where Hart offered to talk to us about his career.  Problem is, he only sent that tweet to Reggie.  I guess that’s the problem with having multiple social media accounts for a show.  This sort of thing happened a lot.



Reggie never responded to him… but, hey… if the offer still stands two years later, and if Hart’s reading this piece (which I highly doubt), I’d definitely be down to learn more.


Oh well, I think that’s all for now.  Didn’t expect to spend 74 hours on this back in May-June of 2018… and didn’t expect to spend another three on it today… but, here we are!  Below, I’ve included a bunch of pictures and videos to add a little bit of “flavor”.




“Kill Marvel” Advertisement:

Links:

Channel-3 News Report on Fisher’s Dahmer book being banned in Wisconsin



Hart Fisher on Sally Jesse Raphael (Re: Dahmer)



Hart Fisher on Jerry Springer (Re: Dahmer)



Hart Fisher on Larry King Live (Re: Dahmer)



Hart Fisher on E! Entertainment News (Re: OJ)


Hart Attack Radio (iTunes Link in image):



American Horrors (Hart’s 24/7 Horror Channel… that you can watch for FREE – Link in image):


An American Horror Story, by Hart D. Fisher:



Some “Fisher-facts” from Wizard Magazine #94 (June, 1999)

Kill Marvel SIGNED BY STAN LEE

For more about getting some Boneyard works autographed, check out this piece from Jeaux Janovsky’s “All My Heroes Have Dayjobs” blog.


A (very misguided) piece of Cosmic Treadmill “merch” that we (thankfully) never got around to pulling the trigger on (in Cosmictreadmillese):

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0 thoughts on “Chris and Reggie’s Cosmic Treadmill, Episode 93: Kill Image #1 (1993)

  • June 18, 2020 at 6:56 pm
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    Certainly one of your most memorable episodes! I remember being captivated while listening it. I thought I had sent an email on it with what I thought after listening to it, because it was a seriously thought provoking episode but I could not find it. It was an episode worth discussing.

    Reply
  • June 18, 2020 at 7:19 pm
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    Hart is a great guy.He published two comics I wrote, one on mass murderer Richard Speck and another called BRANDON LEE Taken Too Soon. I also had a lot of prose pieces in his anthology FLOWERS ON THE RAZORWIRE.

    Another idea of his was TIPPER GORE MUST DIE, because at the time she was on her crusade re: music lyrics and how CDs should come with adult ratings. The comic never happened because Tipper never made much news. But in one of my short stories, an el train does pass a billboard for Boneyard Press and TGMD.

    Hart is one stand-up guy.

    Reply
  • June 18, 2020 at 7:36 pm
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    Hooooleee s*** is all I will say to this one. I loved the episode but the blog post is BETTER!! Great work man!

    Reply

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