Warner Brother: Underground comics for the Stoners are back

If you look Neal Warner on IMDb, you’ll find references to animated movies and TV shows he worked on, like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Rugrats and heavy metalbut there is no mention of his 1970s underground comic strip, The pizza guy.

“It was from and about Los Angeles in the early 70s, and that’s where The pizza guy debuted in late 1971,” the Hollywood native tells me. “Funny thing about 1971, not only The pizza guy debut in Los Angeles Comics #1but Cheech & Chong’s debut album came out at that time, and some high school kids coined the term “420”.

Drawn in black and white, the original The pizza guy the band (left) had a distinct Art Crumb look. “What I got from the underground comix style was the freedom to lay out a page creatively – not just a series of panels – by becoming more abstract with the backgrounds and incorporating the dialogue text into the part of the design,” explains Warner.

“It was a major element of psychedelic posters, and I found it was much harder for editors to censor or edit your text. One of the stylistic elements of guys like Crumb was using contour lines that indicate shadows and highlights to suggest a rounded quality to the characters. Crumb’s characters always felt rubbery to me. Story-wise, I really liked the Gilbert Shelton one Fabulous Furry Freak Brothersone of the few underground comix where the characters were the stars rather than the artist.

“I’ve never been a big fan of regular comics,” he adds. “I loved underground comics and mad magazinethat I would buy for artists and writers, rather than a specific character.

Warner’s first comic book, raw mother, was released in 1970 while still in high school. “Although I was published twice a month for about two years – until I left LA to go to school in San Diego – only half a dozen comics were The pizza guynotes Warner. “There was a late night TV show that I watched in the late 60s called scary night. Larry Vincent, who played a character called Sinister Seymour, hosted it. During the before and after commercial break segments, Seymour made fun of bad horror movies and, as a recurring gag, he used a payphone on set to try to order food from Pizza Fella, a parody of the popular pizza. . Pizza Man delivery chain. Although you could never hear the side of Pizza Fella’s phone conversation, you could tell he was funny and probably a stoner.

pizza guy

“A lot of people who stayed up past midnight watching bad horror movies and ordering pizza were probably stoners too. When the offer to create a six-page comic strip for LA Comics came, I thought to myself that if I could The pizza guy, a lot of my target audience, LA stoners, would already know the character. It seemed to have worked. Warner was then hired by Ralph Bakshi, director of Fritz the cat, which Warner recalls “had an affinity for underground cartoonists”. After that, he worked for Fred Wolf Films, the animation studio, “for the next 30 years. I’ve worked at every major animation studio in Los Angeles over the years, on both TV shows and movies. I worked on Justice League for Warner Brothers this year, and a few years ago I worked on the final season of brickleberry.”

Recently, Warner decided to return to its underground comix roots by reviving The pizza guy for the medical cannabis generation. “I wanted it to reflect new and changing attitudes towards marijuana,” Warner said. “As a joke, which I probably understand on my own, the strip now looks less like underground comics and more like comics from the Sunday LA Times. In my mind, the first Pizza Fella from the 70s was my age, and this new one is not the same guy, but rather his son. Pizza Fella now spends a lot more time with girlfriends, and I think that’s because he’s not just a pizza delivery guy, but the son of the man who now owns the pizza business, and he thinks that one day everything will be his. ”

cartoon pizza guyWarner, who lives in Valencia, Calif., with his wife and three sons, is surprisingly unconvinced by the legalization of marijuana, which Californians will have the opportunity to vote for in November. “I feel like the genie is out of the bottle, and even if legalization fails, it’s not like I won’t be able to get high like I’ve been doing since I was 17 – when I felt that one day baby boomers will be in charge and then we’ll legalize marijuana,” he remarks wryly. “Once we took over, we still didn’t want it to be legal because we We were raising our children and didn’t want them to have easy access to them, but now our children are adults, we are getting older and one day soon it will be too difficult for us to go out on the streets to score. Getting old, sick and dying is not something we want to do directly.

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