“BURNS: So how did Meathaus begin, and what was your part in its inception?
(Brandon) GRAHAM: Basically, pre-Meathaus: I had moved to New York, I had 50 bucks on me. I was dating a girl who was moving to New York and was just casually like, “You want to come with?” And we showed up there together and promptly broke up soon after.
BURNS: (Laughs.) Fuck.
GRAHAM: I think that’s what everyone does (laughs) going to New York. So I went there, and I had this idea of New York as this kind of art metropolis where I could just find anything really easily, but I just had a really hard time running into artists. Anything that I liked, I even had a hard time finding comic stores out there. I think Jim Hanley’s I ran into pretty easily. But I remember being really frustrated by not running into a bunch of artists, or the myth not seeming quite true. Then I went into a Starbucks, I think my first week or two there, and there was a guy drawing. He was incredibly good. I just went up to him, and this guy was LeSean Thomas who later went and worked on the Boondocks cartoon. He did all the character designs, and he was actually doing flash animation back then. He was incredibly friendly, and we started hanging out a lot. He helped me get some of my first art jobs out there. It was kind of at the time of the internet boom. He got me a job at this place called Urban Box Office, which was this kind of Afro-centric web/flash animation site, and they were hiring a bunch of art school students at the same time, so I met Chris McDonald and Farel (Dalrymple). They were both working there as well. I remember I called them the “Island of White” because it was mostly black cartoonists there, and there was one show they were working on where the whole staff was white.
Meeting Farel was really great, because what LeSean was doing, his focus was really animation even though he was kind of dabbling in comics, but Farel was the first person I’d met in New York who had published comics. He had put out a Xeric book. Popgun War #1 might have even been out then. But I remember meeting him and just being really excited and saying, “You’re the first real real cartoonist I’ve met here.” I think he and Chris, they just decided to do an SVA [School of Visual Arts] based … it was going to be like a 24-hour comic where they were going to get all their friends together and just have a party and everyone’s going to draw a comic and they’re going to publish it. I remember being like, “I don’t want to do a 24-hour comic and publish them! Mine will look horrible.” But I went to one of early parties and I remember somebody giving me a big crate of comic books they didn’t want, and I was taking it back on the train really excited with all these bad Aquaman comics. My attitude was, “Oh, I’ll hang out with you guys at these things, but I don’t want to draw a comic for it.” And only until like issue four or three did I actually even draw a comic in it. But Meathaus was really fun. One of the guys, Stardog, who had a hand in the early issues had a big loft warehouse in Williamsburg, and we would go out there, everyone would meet up. I met Tom Herpich there which was really a big deal for me. I always regard him, he’s almost like a Pat McEwin type artist. He’s this fantastic artist who’s doing comic books above and beyond most people, but it’s so hard to find his work. Are familiar with his stuff at all?
BURNS: I’m not, no.
GRAHAM: He works on the Adventure Time cartoon now. He did a back up in one of the King City books.
BURNS: Ok, yeah. He did the old cat master.
GRAHAM: Yeah. The guy with the beard who was basically using his cat to go on the internet.
BURNS: Yeah that was really good.””
I stumbled upon this 2011 "Comics Journal" article last night, interviewing Comic Phenom, talent and creator, Brandon graham (Prophet, King City, Multiple Warheads anthology) and his detailing his early beginnings in comics and his quest to move to NYC to build a career back at the turn of the century. I remember it like it was yesterday, but reading his version of it brings a smile to my face. It was only 2 weeks after he moved to NYC when he decided to walk into that Starbucks on Astor Place near St Marks. I was just a snot-nosed 24 year old then, too. I was just happy to meet another artist back then, as well. I was working hard on my Battle seed web cartoon character designs. Through that one meeting we would later meet and work with others through my employer UBO, meeting Darel Farymple (Pop Gun War, Omega The Unknown) animator/Cartoonist Chris McDonell ( MeatHaus), "Filthy" Rich Miller and the infamous Becky Cloonan (Demo, East Coast Rising, American Virgin, The Mire) who, ironically, I’d hired fresh out of college to help me on my web cartoon as well (digital inks) at the time.
Considering how we were all fresh, baby-twenty-somethings, It’s awesome & inspiring to see them all become luminaries in their respective fields 14 years later. By the way, If you haven’t seen it already, please catch Image comic’s "Prophet," written by Brandon & drawn by Simon Roy. it’s one of the best things happening in comics right now. The most recent issue features work by none other than Ronald WImberley (Prince of Cats, Sentences:The Life of MF Grim), another NYC alumni and homie.
Ahhh this is soooo cool! I love hearing these humble beginning-type stories. Keep moving forward, guys! You’re a huge inspiration to me!
Oooh I just saw King City at the Barnes and Nobles and read like half of it! :o its so good!