Welcome to our indyview with independent cartoonist Rik
Verlin Livingston, creator and publisher of Z.A.P! comics,
better known as ZONO ART PRODUCTIONS. To tell you how
long ZONO comics have been around, it was way back in
1988, when Rik had published his first 128 page paperback
book collection of ZONO comics works entitled "MR.
VERLIN'S ZONO COMIX'.
Now, a decade later, he has
outdone himself. Published in numerous newspapers and
publications like MILK, DEADBEAT, HARPOON MAGAZINE
and a San Francisco newspaper with "Sunday sized" ZONO
comics, Rik continues to produce ZONO. His background in
freelance graphics and fine art has allowed him jobs
working with various publishing companies like the COMICS
JOURNAL as a staff artist, and has had his work in fine art
exhibits. Rik is also an instructor in a variety of arts like
sculpturing, ceramics, fine arts, computer art and painting.
We here at INDEPENDENT CARTOONIST & COMICS
despise him most deeply and are extremely jealous of his
outstanding career. But hey, being the nice guys we are
here, we featured him here anyway. So in the future, if you
have trouble remembering the name Rik Verlin Livingsfon,
remember the name ZONO. I'm sure you will be seeing a lot
more of these funny and witty comics!
Now on with the Indyview...
Our first question we wanted to ask Rik was a simple one
but yet a curious one. It had to do with his studio's name
Z.A.P! for ZONO ART PRODUCTIONS! We just had to know
where the ! #@!&'! word ZONO come from?
Believe it or not, I, only a short time ago, noticed that Z.A.P!
was the abbreviation for my business name, and started
using it on the Comikz, sort of a nod to the (in)famous ZAP
COMIX which started here in San Francisco.
Likewise, I have only recently found out that ZONO is a real
Japanese nickname, so I apologize to all those Zone's Sushi
Shops out there! I thought it was just a nonsense word I
wrote above a doodle on the back of a letter to a
friend-and-somelimes-collaborator, Joel Sanderson. Joel
liked the doodle and made it into a T-shirt for me. So my
days at the SF Institute, I was always running around with
this T-shirt that said "ZONO" across the lop and, the name
kinda stuck. Later on I made up this whole mystical
nonsense about how the 'O's represented the curved line,
closed forms, feminine, consistent sfde of art making, and
the "Z" (which is an "N" on its side) symbolized the straight
line, open formed, masculine, changing aspect of the duality!
But really it was just an accident. Although, is there such a
thing as accidents...?
What about drafting materials, anything special you like to use?
always carry around a regular old 2HB pencil and a
clipboard of either 8 1/2 by 11 or 14 typewriter/printer
paper. With these cheap materials, I can start over,
give or throw away without feeling like it's costing me
the ZONO farm.
But, BEWARE! once this insidious addiction called
'Cartooning" lured me in with "free samples', I came to
discover they led to more expensive habits: I rarely use
constantly-clogging Rapidiograph pens anymore, but
still crave cart-loads of costly Erminette detail brushes
to ink my drawings.
And I rue the day I experimented with my first
computer, when I truly found myself paying for the
'hard stuff": Now, I have about every peripheral device
hooked to a Power Mac with 72MB of memory and it's
NOT ENOUGH! I need more, MORE, I TELL YOU! to do
the larger manipulated COLOR images I ache for!!!
Children: JUST SAY 'NO' to cartooning!
think I spilt my coffee or I just peed myself
-Wow- Okay. What kind of characters or
comics do you like to draw most?
can enjoy a drawing of two people sifting at
a table having a conversation if the image is
However, if it's a drawing of two people
sitting at a table, and one of them has three
eyes and smokes wheat germ and soy bean
cigars and the other is an Ostrich from
outside Omaha and the conversation they're
engaged in concerns why one of their bird
brained relatives crossed a road in Nowhere,
Nebraska, THEN I'd enjoy it a lot
Now, that may sound silly to some, but
what's silly to me is how bland and
conservative most of our art and media is
when life itself is so wonderfully complex
Very wel put. What about favorite independent cartoonist and comics? Do you have any and do any inspire you or motivate you?
I've collected (and been inspired by ) literally thousands of comics and related materials, and a LARGE portion of them are Independent and Underground publications, so to REALLY answer this question would keep me listing names all night, but relatively recently I've been especially excited by Richard Sala, Kaz, Charles Burns and "Ribs" Weissman to name a few of the more well known creators. Lately, I've also been collecting the Gemstone reprints of EC Comics and hunting down the back issues of "MAZING MAN", which was a financially unsuccessful but endearing experiment that DC. COMlCS tried a lot of years ago...
Okay, lets move on to some recent publications ZONO ART PRODUCTIONS just released. In ZONO # 18 THE SLEEP OF REASON, which is a book of selections from your sketch book-show a lot of wonderful weird cartoon art and illustrations that you have done. So to match that, here is a weird question for you, and I think it might be a little hard for you to answer, but
see if you can answer it anyway. Okay- here is the question. How do these ideas flow from your mind and into your pen to create such imaginary art work?
Flows" is right: At those drawings are done with felt-tips without any pencil under-drawings.
NO pencil under-drawings!? Those really look great! And... I guess that question was too easy for you. What about your ideas for your comics and illustrations, where do those come from....?
( Tapping pencil against clipboard nervously) Do you have any questions for me Rik?
What I want to know is where do BLONDE AND DAGWOOD and FAMILY CIRCUS come from?
Those poor people have been living some kind of twisted nightmare for decades and can't wake
(Pencil taps faster against clpboard..knee starts to shake nervously) Lets move on, shall we...
In your new book, GONE POSTAL, you feature some different ZONO comic strips like SURREL
CITY and SMUK DA' DUK. Will these be limted comic strips or can we expect more?
SURREAL CITY will 'surrely" continue with occasional'appearances by my drinking buddy,
How did you get the idea of SMUK DA' DUK?
Multi-tasking''. While working on some mixed media projects, I started "rapping" these four line spontaneous 'songs' out loud. After awhile some of them started to be pretty funny so / scribbled them down on the back of a piece of wallpaper that I was using in my collage art. All of the SMUK DA' DUK and BORIZ AND CORPSELLA strips were written in that one evening.
I don't really do that much anymore, though, 'cause there's still a bunch of rhymes on that wallpaper scrap that I haven't used yet, and besides visitors to my studio were beginning to wonder 'who WAS that 'Vanilla Ice' wannabe rapping about drunk duks...'
Any other future comics or ideas coming out from ZAP?
AB-SO-LUTELY!! I'm VERY excited about it: Hopefully, it'll be THREE books, at least! And I think it's some of the BEST work I've done graphically! It's working title is BAD CAT'. It's Superhero but Funny Animal. It's "all ages" but with an edge. It's quirky and personal but perhaps my most "marketable" fantasy. It's due out before Christmas BUTprobably late! (Just Kiddin' about that last one - I'm usually pretty good with deadlines.)
know you also do a lot of paintings and sculptures. Does any of your comic art rub off into those area of art or vise a versa?
f you've seen my web site (Put together with the aforementioned Joel Sanderson of demolitionkitchen.com. PLUG!) you can see that the imagery and color is a LOT the same, even in the mixed media sculpture. I would hope the Fine Art sensibility gives my graphics more depth and the graphics experience keeps my painting and sculpture from becoming TOO SELF-INDULGENT..but WAIT! I just had this idea for a piece of Conceptual Art- I'll get naked, smear chocolate all over my body and sculpt SMUK DA' DUK with used plastic spoons in pigeon dung!!! WOW! GOTTA GET TO MY STUDIO! See Ya'!