Robert Triptow

cartoonist / writer / madman


Food Clown

Published in Juicy Mother 2: How They Met, Manic D Press. @2007 Robert Triptow.

The second issue of Jennifer Camper’s Juicy Mother anthology had a theme, “How They Met,” and there was no question for me as to what to do: a fictionalized retelling of how my old hippie friends Tom Sliva and Valerie Brown met in Salt Lake City in the early 1970s. She was a locally infamous wild-woman, he was a transplant from NYC, they met in an all-night grocery through mutual friends after the bars closed, and got thrown out after a fake fight over a candy bar. We all talked about and laughed at it for years.

“Food Klown” is another of my favorite pieces because I was given a decent amount of time to draw it, so I like the results (especially the panels seen here). The weird thing is that I got horrible news about a death in the family just as I sat down to draw. I wasn’t able to look at it for a long time, so I didn’t. Then one day I finally opened up the book to read the other stories, it flipped open to this page, and I thought, “Who did that one?” and liked it a lot before I realized it was me.

The other strange thing to this story is that Val and Tom both died within six months of its publication. Very weird. I’m happy to report that they both liked it.

Teddy Bears’ Wedding

Published in Juicy Mother: Celebration, Soft Skull Press, 2005. ©2005 Robert Triptow

I was invited to participate in the first issue of Jennifer Camper’s terrific anthology, Juicy Mother. The theme was “celebrations,” so I decided to make fun of gay “wedding” or “commitment” ceremonies.  At the time, these rituals meant nothing legally and very little to me as a person; they were self-indulgences for people who liked ritual.

Who could have guessed that the book would encounter difficulties and take more than two years to be published or, more problematic, that same-sex marriage would become a huge national issue and be totally redefined in people’s minds? I freaked and almost pulled the story. The better solution was to do a sequel to match (and illustrate) the changing times…

I hardly made any of this story up. It less fiction-writing than it is event-reporting. Almost everything was taken from friends’ do-it-yourself ceremony in Golden Gate Park that went hilariously wrong. Even the ludicrous situation in this panel was taken from a photograph.

Teddy Bears’ Wedding Two

Published in Naughty Bits #40, Fantagraphics, 2004. ©2004 Robert Triptow

Normally I hate my characters by the end of each story and never want to draw them again, but I had to bring back Carlo and Van for my same-sex wedding sequel, and it’s my favorite longer story I’ve ever published. It’s fun to me because I was able to report on a real-life event and sugar-coat it with silly.

I was so inspired at the time that I had the script nailed down within 30 minutes and drew it all in less than a week. I didn’t even mind all those crowd scenes. My good friend Roberta Gregory generously made room for it in the final issue of her series Naughty Bits.

Pork Grease Fantasies

Three pages; pencilled 1983 with Kalynn Campbell; inked 1995; ©1996 Robert Triptow

Until the late 1960s, Bill & Nada’s Cafe was the only all-night restaurant in Salt Lake City. It catered to rednecks and Mormon families during the day and to the dregs of society after the bars closed at night. This cartoon was based on conversations overheard there and on legends that circulate to this day about— about— Well, whatever you do, don’t eat the soup.

Dick Hymen, Lovelorn Detective,
in ‘Hard-Boiled Romance’

Two pages; drawn 1993; published in Young Lust #8, Last Gasp; ©1993 Robert Triptow
Between surgeries after my appendix burst, I drew this in the one weekend I was able to lean against the drawing table.

Drawing for this publication was strange. I kept remembering having been a teenager with one of the few copies of Young Lust #1 in all of Utah and thinking, “I wanna draw for this comic book.” I fulfilled my little dream.

Dick Hymen and his girlfriend reminded me of someone, but I couldn’t figure out who. I already knew about Dick Hyman, the ’40s big band leader, but that wasn’t it. Finally it came to me. Dick and Lucretia were Jay Leno and Madonna. Br-r-r.

Nowhere Chick


Nowhere Chick Goes Vegas!

Four pages; drawn 1990; published in Real Girl #1; ©1990 Robert Triptow

Nowhere Chick seemed like ancient history when Angela Bocage persuaded me to resurrect her for the first issue of Real Girl. Angela loves Nowhere Chick, and she’s a card-carrying feminist. (I’m for feminism, too.) Naturally, Angela chose the only other Nowhere Chick story where she stuffs things in her mouth.

It’s not a fixation. Really, it’s not. Please, it can’t be.

Fortunately, feminists seem to “get” Nowhere Chick and think the concept is funny. I’m definitely going to draw at least one more story (she meets the Beatles, sort of), but I’ve thought it would be fun to have women cartoonists draw the other stories.

Or is that just another twisted male fantasy?


Growing Up Strange

Eight pages; drawn 1979-1980; published in the 1984 reprint of Bizarre Sex #4, Kitchen Sink Press ©1984 Robert Triptow

Bizarre Sex Comics #4, among the most notorious of the underground comix, originally came out in 1973 with a rather distasteful Harvey Pekar story about a gang-bang in a drive-in movie. In 1984 Kitchen Sink Press decided to reprint, and, for whatever reason, the Pekar story was no longer available. So Nowhere Chick and I made our debut with this parody of porn in one of the most overt comic books ever. How perfect!

Who is Nowhere Chick? Among other things, she’s the character I’ve tried to stay away from. I’ve written tons of Nowhere Chick stories, but ten years went by between her first and second comic book appearances. I didn’t want people to think of her as a sexist depiction of a pathetic female. They wouldn’t know that Nowhere Chick is a self-portrait in many ways. Gender has nothing to do with it.

Nowhere Chick is a misfit only because society isn’t ready for her. She’s slightly ahead of (or to the side of) her time. Yet she desperately wants to fit in, and that’s her fatal flaw. She constantly makes a fool of herself while trying to impress the world.

Who does that sound like?

Birds of a Feather

Ten pages; drawn 1989-1991; published in Gay Comix #13, 1991. ©1991 Robert Triptow

The magnum opus that nearly did me in. I counted once and discovered that there were something like 325 faces in this story. I had a nervous breakdown over each and every facial expression.


Two pages; drawn 1988; published in Strip AIDS U.S.A., Last Gasp Comics. ©1988 Robert Triptow

One of the few pieces in Strip AIDS U.S.A. to depict anything of the life of an AIDS patient. It was dedicated “for Peter, Mickey, Spig & Rig, John, Steve, Vince, Joah, Raven, Tom, Hippler, and too many others.” Eight years later, only one of these people is still alive.


Eight pages; drawn 1988; published in Gay Comix #10, 1988. ©1988 Robert Triptow

I was playing around with my friend Tom Allison’s new typewriter as he told me about his recent experience with a fruit-eating fanatic who would not go away. I typed down every word (I’m a very fast typist) and realized I had a story for Gay Comix.

Tom knew that I was doing the story and that I was giving him credit. He seemed to be all for the project, but when I gave him a copy of the finished comic book, he didn’t say a word. I never saw him again.

I Know You Are But What Am I

Seven pages; drawn 1987; published in Gay Comix #10; reprinted in the book Gay Comics. ©1987 Robert Triptow

I thought this story was fiction until six months after it was published; then I was horrified to realize just how much it told. How much it tells about a lot of people.

Pee-Wee’s Gayhouse

Eight pages; drawn 1987 with Michael Goldberg; published in Gay Comix #11, 1987. ©1984 Robert Triptow and Michael Goldberg

Michael Goldberg did “Swishy Fishy” for Gay Comix and was famous for whimsical background work and elfin detail. I was best at snide facial expressions and sarcastic dialog. We were the perfect team for Wee–Wee. I did the writing and layouts and rough pencils and inked Wee‑Wee and the other “human” characters.

This was a fun project and rates among my favorites. I’m only sorry that Pee‑Wee Herman himself is no longer around. Now my comic strip parody is dated. Wah!

I sent a copy of “Wee-Wee’s Gayhouse” to a friend who wrote a couple of Playhouse scripts. Did Pee-Wee see it? We’ll never know — but I certainly noticed when our “Swish? Did somebody say swish?” joke popped up on the TV show a few months later.

Superhero Parody


Everything Am Reversed on the Bizarro World!

One page (cover); drawn 1986; published in Gay Comix #8. ©1986 Robert Triptow

Also known as “Yag Tragix,” because it was an alternate cover for Gay Comix and everything is reversed, etc.

The editors at DC Comics obviously weren’t thinking of sexuality (or society’s attitude toward it) when they created the backwards Bizarro people, imperfect duplicates of Superman and Lois Lane, etc., etc.


Fa-a-abulous Four

One page; drawn 1986; published in Gay Comix #8
©1986 Robert Triptow

Here was my chance to make some disturbing comparisons between the homophobic comics fanboys who live in the Marvel universe and those Castroid clones who adore all things gay.

Too bad my page count was cut in half. I did this comic instead.


+ Persons

One page; drawn 1986; published in Gay Comix #8
©1986 Robert Triptow

A new cartoonist promised me a great parody of the X-men, but couldn’t deliver the goods. But the cover of Gay Comix #8 had already been printed with “+ Persons.” Everything had to go to the printer on Monday. What to do, what to do?

When you’ve got a lemon, make lemonade. I hurriedly turned the X-men into cockeyed optimists. People who were too cheery always seemed like mutants to me anyway.

Bi… Bi… Baby

Five pages; drawn 1986; published in Gay Comix #7, reprinted in Meatmen. ©1986 Robert Triptow
I was just sitting down to write the script for this story when the phone rang. It was my ex-girlfriend, whom I hadn’t seen in ten years, calling out of the blue — just like the woman in this very comic. Weird.


Promo piece; drawn 1985; published in Gay Comix #6 and as a color invitation to a party at The Saint. ©1985 Robert Triptow

Gay Comix may only have been an excuse for the party, but what a party! The Saint — a disco occupying the East Village building that was once the Fillmore East — hosted me and Howard Cruse, Burton Clarke, and whatever other cartoonists were within shouting distance.

I was the guest of honor at a hot Labor Day thump-a-thon. It was overwhelming, really. Seeing my cartoons incorporated into the disco lightshow quite literally left me reeling.

Of course, I was more impressed by it having been the Fillmore East.

When Worlds Collide

Five pages; drawn 1984; published in Gay Comix #5, 1984, Kitchen Sink Press. ©1984 Robert Triptow

Maybe it was unwise to begin my editorship of Gay Comix with a piece about a clash between a female impersonator and an audience of lesbians.

Such a clash had occurred at the Castro Theatre in 1980 at a benefit to retire the campaign debt of the late Harvey Milk. The infamously bitchy drag queen Charles Pierce was moderating with tried-and-true material guaranteed to offend a lesbian chorus, who arose en masse and walked out.

Later on I got to know Charles Pierce, who was really a very sweet soul when not possessed by Bette Davis. It took me years to work up the courage to let him know I’d depicted him as such a neurotic character in my comic book. He read it in silence, then wrote on the front, “So, so funny and so true!”

Tippi Firmcrust


Tippi Firmcrust, Blind Housewife, in ‘A Rose by Any Other Name’

One page; drawn 1980; published in Spastic Culture, 1983, and Real Girl #2, 1990
©1983 Robert Triptow

Based almost word-for-word on a real conversation with my mother.

I’d probably do more of these cartoons, but why flog that horse? Besides, her physical resemblance to Nowhere Chick can cause some confusion. Tippi is reactionary and self-righteous, though, and Nowhere Chick has that irrepressible personality. Their hair says it all.


Meat Loaf Adventure

One page; drawn 1980, inked 1993
©1984 Robert Triptow

Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s a cheap shot to make jokes about the blind. (That didn’t stop Jerry Garcia from laughing at the Helen Keller jokes I told him at Last Gasp Comix’ annual Burrito Bash.)

whippedWhile I do indulge in blind jokes with Tippi, the point of these cartoons is that she’s more figuratively blind. Obnoxiously so.


1 Comment

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