Vermont is notable for not only being one of our greenest states, and the home of the Center for Cartoon Studies, but also for being the only one that has a Comics Laureate. The post, similar to the Poet Laureate position of several countries, is a honor that recognizes an artist who captures the spirit of the very independent state.
And in some welcome good news, Rick Veitch has just been named Vermont’s fourth Comics Laureate. The West Townsend, VT resident is profiled here by local media The Reformer, but if you know your comics history you know that after collaborating with Alan Moore and Steve Bissette on their seminal Swamp Thing run, Veitch continued to write the book and later his own dark superhero universe, The Heroica. His works include Heartburst, The One, Bratpack, Maximortal, Can’t Get No, Army@Love, and The Big Lie and trust me, he is truly a hall-of-famer. If you haven’t read these, you should.
(Also, in the spirit of disclosure, The Beat started as part of The Pulse, a news site run on Veitch’s Comicon.com – he was also truly ahead of the pack where the internet and comics were concerned.)
According to The Reformer:
“I can remember teaching my little fingers to hold a pencil and try to make drawings even before I was in school,” he said in an interview. “But the problem with growing up in Vermont was there was very little art education. In fact, there was a lot of resistance from pretty much all of the adults to pursue the arts in a serious way.”
Although Veitch was told he couldn’t make a living as an artist, he set out on his own path. Around fourth or five grade, he started learning how to draw comic books.
The art form was considered “imbecilic” at the time, Veitch said.
“Anybody who read comics was a moron,” he said, recalling “a big national crisis” in the mid 1960s [sic] where comics were thought to cause juvenile delinquency.
Still, he began copying panels and ended up creating his own “pretend” comic book company with his own cast of heroes. He considered his older brother Tom an inspiration as he also made comics.
Veitch succeeds previous Laureates and Vermont residents James Kochalka, Edward Karen and Alison Bechdel.
Far from resting on his Laureate, Veitch is still making lots of comics, including a new graphic novel, Boy Maximortal Book 2, available now on Amazon. According to the blurb:
The startling saga of young True-Man accelerates faster than a speeding bullet. What happens when the most powerful creature on Earth reaches puberty? What secret truth running through history has led to his manifestation? If the military catches him can he be contained? Rick Veitch continues his Eisner nominated superhero deconstruction in this highly anticipated new installment of the King Hell Heroica series.
Definitely worth checking out.