Today, I received the sad news that Tim Corrigan is retiring from publishing small press comics. I credit Tim with getting me involved in the world of small press, making it possible for me to network with other cartoonists and setting me on the path I’ve followed for decades.
It was in the summer of 1986 that I first discovered his Small Press Comics Explosion, a kind of Factsheet Five for the comics set. SPCE made it possible for me to sample comics from around the country, introducing me to the likes of Matt Feazell, Graham Annable, Matt Levin, and many others who took obvious joy in making their own comics their own way rather than shaping their work to appeal to Marvel or DC. It was amazing to see the things that more experienced cartoonists were able to do in the medium of handmade comics, and it inspired me to stretch my own creativity in new ways. Most importantly, it allowed me to collaborate with cartoonists I never would have met otherwise in the pre-internet age when I had no cartooning peers of my own to work with locally.
But as important as Tim is to me as a rallying point for small press comic creators and an entry into that world, he was also a darn good cartoonist. He was equally adept at drawing Kirby-esque action as at silly superhero satire. Plus, he was a really good writer; his action comics were well-crafted, and his humor comics were actually laugh-out-loud funny. In fact, I’d been waiting until his (announced) hiatus was over to run a review of the only comic I subscribed to: Tim Corrigan’s Comics and Stories. While I won’t be getting any more manilla envelopes with new TCC&S issues, it was a treat I really looked forward to every month. And I do mean every month: from Sept. 2006 until earlier this year (taking off only an announced 6-month period in 2011) he produced a lovely anthology comic each and every month. For me it was a perfect small press digest, not only to enjoy as a reader of quality comics, but to aspire to a publisher myself.
TCC&S was a one-person anthology, and showcased Tim’s range well: from the humorous super-hero parody of “Mightyguy” to the gripping SF action of “Tyran”, from kids comics (“Herman and Stilts”) to autobiographical stories (“How I spent my summer vacation” in no. 43 is still a favorite of mine). While always showcasing his own talents, along the way Tim took time to collaborate with a range of other writers and artists– both old favorites and new talents– including Larned Justin, Mike Tuz, Larry Blake, Andrew Davis, Gary Gibeaut, and Tim’s son (and a fine cartoonist in his own right) Matt.
One of the things I found most enjoyable about the revolving showcase aspect of TCC&S was that just about the time I was thinking “I’d really like to read a Tyran comic” or “a multi-part Mightyguy would be fun”, just such a story appeared. Maybe that’s what helped keep the work fresh and interesting for Tim, too. He certainly had some secret up his sleeve, because his love for the characters and their stories really shined through and he maintained a high level of quality throughout the run! I also admired his productivity month in and month out on this project; even though Tim had a vast published inventory of material that he could have easily used as filler to flesh out his page count, he focused on new content: his occasional inclusions of older material was actually used as a way to finish incomplete projects (such as “The Tranquilizer”). It was yet another way Tim showed me how to publish good comics by publishing good comics.
Even though TCC&S appealed to me and (I can only hope) many other readers, Tim said he was feeling less connected to not only “pro” comics but also much of the current small press community (a feeling I’ve been sharing even before the demise of the SPS and the rise of DCs New 52), and felt it was a good time to move on to new arenas. As Tim does that, I wish him the best– thank you, Tim Corrigan, for decades of inspiring comic-making and especially for over five years of TCC&S!