He has been called one of the most controversial figures in comics. He was the "villain" on Sally Jesse Raphael, Larry King and Jerry Springer. There was also a protest march against him, just for publishing a comic book.
We talked with Hart D. Fisher, about his career and what he is up to today.
The Big Bad Wolf: What made you want to start the comic book publishing company, Boneyard Press?
Hart D. Fisher: How did Boneyard Press start? Mark Beachum.
Everyone who wishes I never published a single book can point their finger at Mark Beachum. He was working for Dan Madsen and living out of the Northstar Offices in the summer of 1990. The last week of the summer I lost my job at the mosquito abatement company driving a spray truck, that job alone is worth a book of short stories, and spent the last two weeks of the summer hanging out with Mark.
Chowing down on a fistful of popcorn at the movies he asked me "Why would you want to work on Spiderman, who somebody else owns, when you could be working on your own Spiderman creation?"
Mark's question put the spark in my brain to self publish, but to be truthful, I'd been writing/drawing and publishing my own comics since I was a little kid. My mother had a government job, which meant she had access to a Xerox machine. I would draw my comics at home, my mother would copy them up at work, and I would sell them at school. Notice I didn't give them away, I fucking sold them, and I had plenty of kids who couldn't wait to get my next book even then.
I loved comics. I lived and breathed comics growing up. Whenever there were chores, and there were plenty, my mother knew where to find me every Saturday afternoon, on the couch reading my new books. My dad brought me home books from his trips to the local garage sales and flea markets. Me, and my buddies, all drew our own comics featuring ourselves as super heroes. Super Steve, Super Hart, Super Flop, for a while there all I drew were these comics featuring super guys racing on skateboards down mountains, fighting each other to win. Silly stuff but we had a lot of fun.
I drew cartoons for the high school newspaper. I wrote an opinions column in college at the Daily Illini but was fired after one semester for being too controversial. In fact, it was when I was attending college at The University of Illinois that I started Boneyard Press. I was living in this shitty basement apartment that was so cold in the winter I had to duct tape newspaper to the walls to keep it warm in there.
I'd outgrown my old drafting table and by this point it was up on blocks to raise it high enough off the ground for me to get my legs under it. I wrote and drew my first book, Dark Angel (with a Bill the Bull back up story), on that table at the end of 1990, beginning of 1991. The publisher at Northstar, Dan Madsen, was a childhood friend, so I pumped him for information on how to do the publishing thing, but it was the man himself, Big B Mark Bernal who steered me through the publishing game. Mark was an amazing talent who walked me through the entire solicitation and production end of publishing comics, Mark really helped me get things up and running including lettering on a couple of books.
My original idea was to publish a few issues of Dark Angel and see how things turned out, but I soon realized that you couldn't figure out anything that way, comics were an ongoing serial storytelling market. I would have to publish more than one book. To do that, I approached my grandfather Elmer Cutler. He loaned me the money to start Boneyard Press but he never lived to see the first issue hit the streets. At this stage of the game, I was hooked. I'd been dreaming of doing comics since I was 5 years old, I'd had several false starts, but now, now I was going to hit this with everything I had.
The Big Bad Wolf: What's it like being the villain of a talk show like Sally Jesse Raphael or Jerry Springer?
Hart D. Fisher: Flat out, it sucks. It sucks balls.
The only reason you're on the show at all is so the audience has someone to point their finger at and hate. You're the reason their daughter got pregnant at 14, you're the reason their son won't take out the garbage when he's told, you're the reason their kids are questioning their authority and they don't like it.
Before you ever make it near a camera the show's producers do a pre-interview with you to get a feel for what they can expect on the show. The host of the show generally doesn't know anything about the guests on the show except for what's on their cue cards. When you roll up to the show, you're put in a green room with the other bad guys of the show. They keep the players separate backstage. The producers do another prescreening question session, you go into make up, then you're back in the green room with a tv set showing the show as it's being taped.
The shows are run as if they were live, right down to taking commercial breaks. That's when things get really tense, on those breaks. You're sitting in the green room watching the host of the show pump up the audience to hate you. The villain never comes on in the beginning, we come out 20 minutes into the show and the moment you step onto that stage it's a wave of hatred. You truly are the villain and these people HATE you. It's a sea of bright lights and hard eyeballs looking at you like they'd want to scrape you off of the bottom of their shoe.
After the first time through the gauntlet I learned some lessons. The first? You have to keep your head at all times. These people want you to stutter, to trip over your argument, to sweat and lose your cool. Don't. I went into each show like I was fighting a mental street brawl. This meant that I would fake out the producers and not provide the answers I gave them in the pre-interview. This fucked up the hosts pretty bad, especially Sally Jesse Raphael. I hit that moron within my first five minutes on the show, check it out on my youtube channel at www.youtube.com/crimepayshart. I took her out over her exploitation of the Dahmer victims families that were on her show, how she was exploiting those people right there, right on her show. The stuttering moron never regained her composure (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zbh40scTd8). She said it was okay for her show to exploit the victims families suffering on camera because sometimes Sally's show did good things for the public and they were a corporation. I'm not making this crap up, it's too good. You have to laugh.
When I was brought on, I would sit in my seat and stare down every single person who was throwing their hate at me. One by one I roved the audience with my eyes and stared them all down. As I did more and more shows, things heated up. There were several members of the Dahmer victims families that would sit in the front row of the talk shows and taunt me about my girlfriend Michelle's brutal murder. They would tell me she deserved to die. She should have been raped twice. They would do this on the "commercial breaks" to shake me up, they got really bold on the Jerry Springer show. There was a guy in the audience who said he was an ex-con and he'd like to show me what it was like to be in prison. I eye balled him and made sure to memorize his face. At this time I had two stalkers and death threats were a daily thing. This guy on Springer, he made sure to repeat his threats, even doing so on the air. Nice. You can check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_PLXEabcmY&feature=related.
I was never paid one thin dime to appear on those shows, but I was waging a war in the court of public opinion. Going on the talk shows they couldn't edit out my answers. They couldn't take an answer to one question and match it up in the edit bay as if I was answering a different question.
Everything you see on television news is manipulated. Every story you read in the newspaper has an angle and an agenda to sell. I learned a lot from my journey down the rabbit hole. On a talk show, my answers would be heard as I spoke them. That is why I did those shows. Period. On Entertainment Tonight and on CNN the producers of those shows would edit my answers from one question as if it was the answer to another question. Total manipulation of the truth. Remember that when you're watching the news, or reading the paper.
The Big Bad Wolf: Can you talk a bit about the protest march that was held against you?
Hart D. Fisher: Well, I'm not sure what to say about that one.
The entire media circus behind the Dahmer comic was an intense pressure cooker that was sink or swim in the middle of the ocean while sharks took off your toes. The whole mess kept getting bigger and bigger. When I got sued by a group of the Jeffrey Dahmer victim's families, I never imagined I would be cannon fodder for the talk shows, let alone a villain.
But what people have found out about me, the last place you want me is backed into a corner. You want me to be the bad guy, I'll be the fucking bad guy. I'll carve out your skull and lick it clean in front of your mom. I gathered like minded people around me, guys that could think on their feet and fed on fear. Since I was a bad guy on the talk shows we decided when in Rome, do as the Romans do. My crew and I sought to maximize the circus for our own benefit. I tried talking to the victims families away from the lawyers and parasites that had been manipulating them to further their own political ends, but they weren't hearing me. They were angry. People don't think straight when they're angry. So I gave up and went with it full force.
To kick it up a notch, and goad these idiots into doing a protest march on my house in Champaign, Illinois, we planned a booby trap. It was easy. We had already been watching my talk show appearances and analyzing them, looking for what I did right, what I did wrong. We talked about what I should say to on one of these talk shows to get them into action. I read my lines nearly word for word, like a script, during the Jerry Springer episode to Jeannetta Robinson and she went off like a bomb.
"You guys have been blowing smoke about this march for a year, you're never going to march on my house, you're full of it. Just smoke and hot air."
It was easy.
The reality of it set in when the #2 cop in Champaign showed up at my house in full dress blues and an assistant in tow. The FBI's informants within the KKK said that they had been planning a counter march on my behalf and the cops were expecting heavy violence. They wanted me to leave town for the weekend. I had an answering machine full of death threats, I didn't need these guys to tell me shit could get out of hand. I also wasn't running away from anyone or anything. I didn't care who wanted me gone. I'll go fist to fist, tooth to tooth, bat to bat, word for word, and I may go down bleeding, but I'll go down fighting.
I called up all of my buddies who I was bouncing with at Mabel's (a local rock club you can see in The Garbage Man), a bunch of the guys from my Tae Kwan Do club, some freaky nutty buddies who just like to raise hell, then I got a keg, some watermelon, some raw meat, a party fence to surround my property with, and had my buddies in Third Stone set up their gear in my living room. They wanted to scare me? I threw a fucking party.
The news crews showed up early. They were hungry for it. I gave it to them.
There was a black lady news reporter who kept insisting I spent all of my "riches" on my "expensive" dog Veil, a little black chow mutt. I told her I got the dog from my roommate's family dog, but she kept insisting that dog was too expensive for that. Whenever the camera was on she had the lilly white voice, but went ghetto when the camera wasn't on her. The shit was hilarious, but not. The media inflated how many people actually came down from Milwakee to march depending on their slant. Tops they had 40 folks come down the street to my house. If you read about it in Milwaukee it was 120. I learned just how the press shaded stories any way they wanted to.
But all of that new coverage missed the most important details. Like when the city of Champaign found out I was throwing a barbecue in response to the protest, they spent TAX PAYERS MONEY to throw a barbecue for the families at a local park without asking any tax payers about it. This was an illegal march. These people didn't have a permit to march down the middle of the street. There was a SWAT truck parked up next to my house. I had cops surrounding the keg reading comics to see what the fuck all the fuss was about. All paid for with public money. Yeah, how do you like that one. And not one reporter mentioned that this was an illegal march on a private citizen where threats of violence were made against me in front of police authorities on camera, yet none of this was mentioned in the coverage, nor was any law enforced that didn't involve sticking it to me or the people who showed up to support me.
The protesters yelled at me with a bullhorn from the street yet when I had my band start to play the police shut US down for a noise violation. Apparently any noise that could be heard six feet from the sidewalk was too loud. Yeah, fucking right. One of my neighbors from across the street was forced to poor out his beer while he was standing in front of his own fucking house, you know, open alcohol and all that. Selective enforcement of the law kids, get used to it and make sure you get your asses in the voting booth if you want it to change.
The protestors were upset that a few of my black friends were there. Apparently it's easier for them to believe I was a racist. Morons. They had nothing going for them but raw emotion. That's not enough. What they did helped me sell a lot more books than if they'd just chilled at home and done something good for their neighborhood or something constructive.
The Big Bad Wolf: Can you list some of the other talent that worked on Boneyard Press titles?
Hart D. Fisher: Wizard Top Ten artist John Cassaday had his first published work at Boneyard Press. He drew a Nicholas Stone solo story "Justine" and then went on to draw the Dark Angel movie adaptation for Flowers on the Razorwire starting in issue #5. John's a good guy. We had a lot of fun together over the years. Me, John, and our other Texan, John Lucas used to really tear it up on San Diego. Poor John Lucas got his big break drawing a horrendous nightmare of a story called Flickering Flesh. He soldiered through it, drawing the most horrible stuff he'd ever draw in his life, and we've been good running buddies ever since too. You won't see that book listed on his Wikipedia page lemme tellya.
Duncan "The Nightmarist" Rouleau got his start drawing Bill the Bull: Burnt Cain. I had a great working relationship with him and it was Duncan who invited me up to Stan Lee's studios when he was putting out that web entertainment company financed by mob money. Hilarious. Duncan was smart, he and I went to the same college, just he was a bit older than me.
Top Cow author William "Impaler" Harms got his start at Boneyard Press with Tears and work in Flowers on the Razorwire. He was another go to part of the Boneyard Press team. William got better with every story he wrote. I loved working with him.
The only cartoonist in America to go to jail and be convicted for drawing "obscene" artwork, Michael Dianna, did some work for Flowers on the Razorwire. Mike crashed on my couch several times over the years too. I had put together a full on outlaw network, we tried to give each cover when we could. When you have police at your house on a regular basis for publishing god damn comic books, the outlaw tag is no joke, then one of your guys goes to fucking jail for it, it's really no fucking joke then.
The logo for Flowers on the Razorwire was designed by Burk Sauls, the same guy who designed the logo for Blade Runner, and a prominent player behind the WM3.org movement. I've been lucky to work with so many talented bastards lemme tellya.
Dimitri Patelis (he's worked for 20th Century Fox & Hasbro just to name a few after working with me) had his first published work in America with the covers for the first three issues of Flowers on the Razorwire. Flowers broke a great deal of talent, guys like Albert "Razor/Threshold" Holaso started at FOTRW. Dimitri and I were great buddies though. I miss the hell out of that guy.
Critically acclaimed author Stephen Elliott (Looking Forward To It named Best of the Year by The Village Voice) had his poetry published there along with a great short story called Sunlight. I haven't seen him in awhile, but Steve's a good buddy. We've lived together, we've hit the fetish clubs together in Chicago, San Francisco and LA, we've had a lot of good times together. Steve is a party fucking monster and a smart SOB. I'm telling you, a lot of great folks worked on Flowers.
Ex-Marvel artist and Ex-pro wrestler Pat Gabriel found a home at Boneyard with Billy the Kid, True Gein and the Space Giants before the guy ripped off almost 2,000 books from me. That was the end of that.
My Chemical Romance front man Gerard Way (I was Mr. Way's first mentor in comics, publishing the young creators first comic book series, "On Raven's Wings", staying in touch with the young artist through his art shool days and his time at DC Comics) got his start under my wing. When no one else was there believing in that kid, I was on the phone with him telling him he was worth a shit and he was going to go somewhere. I'd say I told him the right shit, look where he's at now.
Musician and cat lover Sandy Spreitz had a great run in Flowers on the Razorwire. Last year his cat saved his life, awakening him from his burning house. Skin of your teeth luck has always favored the Boneyard Crew.
Prominent anti-drug company activist Ju Gomez has been a Boneyard Press creator for his entire career with his creation Psycho Hunter. I helped talk Ju through his dealings with the press and the courts after his wife's death from direct complications of her prescribed birth control. Now he's a talk show veteran (who's been on Oprah 3 times) and one of my most loyal soldiers still pounding the streets under a Boneyard Press flag.
Fantasy artists Greg Louden and Rob Bazilewicz started out at Boneyard Press (Vampires Lust, Flowers on the Razorwire, and GodFlesh covers). I was on the phone taking to Rob a month back playing catch up. I catch hell in the comics press but I forged a serious team that never got it's proper due. I think by chewing through this list it's clear that your average comics fan isn't getting the full picture about Boneyard Press or what we accomplished in the industry. Go check out Comicbookdb.com and ask yourself why not one single item comes up under "Boneyard Press" in their search engines?
Thomas "Countdown" Derenick doesn't have the entire five issue fucking run of Babylon Crush listed anywhere in his credits on his pages either, but he did a great job on that series with killer wraparound covers by Michael Bair. This series sold very well for me and has movie people sniffing around. It's funny how as the series progressed I grew to really love the characters and then Ginger Hill came into the picture and stole the show for awhile.
Spooky artist Aaron "Kreeky Playground" Bordner got his start at Boneyard Press with Gothic Red and was one of the few artists to ink my pencils (Night Cry #4). Aaron was a very close member of the Boneyard family. Joe Monks and I had a great time crashing at his pad one time during the Straight to Hell tour in 1995.
Something that was different about Boneyard Press was that we truly were like a ragtag band of brothers, we were living lean and all trying to pool our resources and take care of each other. We were damaged people that had all come together to provide some shelter for each other, some comfort under all that intense backlash that is still going on to this day.
It's been a lot of years though, I don't know what's happened to all the guys, and some of them are dead now, but the Boneyard Press of legend would never have existed if it wasn't for my fellow pirates. It was a group effort that I paid the price to lead.
The Big Bad Wolf: What were some interesting experiences you had at the Boneyard Press booth at conventions?
Hart D. Fisher:
Straight up, there's too many to remember or even begin to write down here. I lived and breathed comics most of my life, loved them. I went nuts at these shows. When I started touring around with the Boneyard Bitches, things started to get really interesting.
I could tell you the time a drunk Tim Vigil slapped me in the face at the Detroit Motor City Con (I've known Tim since his very first book, Faust, came out at the Chicago Con and we were splitting a hotel with Dan Madsen). Or when I rode John Lucas around his hotel lobby like a pony in San Diego. Or getting locked out of my Detroit Ghetto hotel room at 3 am in the winter and having to sleep on the floor until the night manager showed up. How about getting pictures sent to you from a show where you're holding some guy's 4 year old boy upside down with one hand around his ankles, and you have NO recollection of it at all because I was on a 3 day drunk with that maniac Buzz. I mean, the road stories are all actually crazier than anything you've ever heard. The bondage photo shoot with "Butterbean" in Detroit was amazing. Nearly losing a tire on the Pennsylvania Turnpike while driving through a blizzard with Dimitri riding shotgun was not fun. Sleeping in a pay by the hour whorehouse in our clothes because the room's heat didn't work was not fun.
I can't believe a beautiful young hottie would be the winner of our slave raffle in Chicago a few years back, and that my Japanese hottie wife would be the one to select her! I mean, who lives that life? Right? The party that night was off the damn hook, with a booze fueled debacle going on upstairs in another boneyard thug's room, we were downstairs putting Girls Gone Wild the acid test.
My adventures down in Mexico with Christa Faust and Joe Monks while on a book lecture tour through the universities and conventions down there, I mean, Jesus Jumping Christ did shit get hairy down there. The goth club that turned into Knife Fight Club at 3 am every night was damn hairy but a fucking blast, awesome music, awesome drinks, hot throbbing goth chicks piled high on the dance floor, it's good to the fucking outlaw king!
The Big Bad Wolf: What other publishers were you friendly with?
Hart D. Fisher: I was big on networking and felt there was plenty of room in comics for us all to get to where we wanted to be. I worked with Brad Moore and Tim Tyler, I had a short association with Everette at London Knight. I mean, I have to say now, looking back, some of those days were pretty hazy for me, I was dealing with a lot heavy, heavy shit in my private life and thereís some names that should be coming to me now, arenít. If Iím missing someone on this question, please donít take it personal, but you know, I was power drinkiní back then, all right? But later on I was friendly with the guys at Dead Dog, I thought they were giving it a good shot, they even hired me to write a series, but I flaked on them. I really regret flaking on those guys. But it was the same old story, I had some bad shit go down in my personal life and it effected my work. Thatís kind of been the 10,000 lb Gorilla for me and fuels a great deal of my work.
I had a really great relationship with Brian Pullido at Chaos. Brian and I were friends at the conventions and out, we both spoke pretty opening with each other about our work and what we were doing in a real no bullshit kind of way. I had a great time writing for Chaos and only wish that my Evil Ernie run had come out. It would have blown minds and changed my career. The writing was really top notch. Not many people know this but I almost moved my whole operation to phoenix and started working with Chaos in a full time capacity.
Will at Avatar, thatís a guy I owe one to, weíre old friends. I was buying comics from his shop when he was 18. He knew Michelle. Heís put up with a lot of nutty shit from me, and weíve had a lot fun together also. I consider him a straight ahead, no messing around, go for the throat business man. I like the honest hunger in Will. He does not fuck around when it comes to money, and out of all the business men in comics, I think Will is right there at the top. Heís one of the most unsung players in this game, a very sharp individual. If I get a chance to put him on my team in film, Iím going to seize that moment and let his pitbull tendencies run wild. Fucking WILD.
I actually had a great relationship with the guys at The Comics Journal. I had a lot of fun doing interviews for them, interviewing Frank Miller for Hero Illustrated. Hell, interviewing Glenn Danzig for Hero was instrumental in me getting that job. Writing my publishers survival guide for Fan Magazine was a blast too.
I loved networking and trying to unite the dark publishers under one banner. Iím going to take those same networking abilities and experiences and apply it to what Iím doing in television and film now. Thatís why I find myself working with Glenn Danzig again, kind of almost where we left off, but in a different medium. We had a great time when I was pirating around under the Verotik flag, he definitely helped me out on the Boneyard side of things, he did a lot of cool things and really opened up my eyes to a different level of the business than I had previously encountered. This was priceless experience that has served me well ever since.
But I have to end this question by saying that the most important alliance I forged, is the one I made with Joe Monks so many years ago when I was one crazy SOB. Itís the most fulfilling relationship Iíve ever had with another publisher. I mean, weíve been running buddies for over fifteen years now. Thatís a long damn time and weíve really been through the grinder together. Now weíve done the impossible and successfully produced a film written and directed by a blind man, The Bunker, and itís going to be the pilot episode of Flowers on the Razorwire the television show. You got your scoop right here on Comic Monsters, Weíre in the final stages of the sound mix for Flowers on the Razorwire: The Bunker, a feature length television debut. The movie has got Glen Matisoff, a twenty year industry vet, doing the sound design and clean up and heís blown away with what weíve done. Thatís amazing, itís a testament to Joeís passion and drive.
Thatís the kind of friend you canít afford to lose.
The Big Bad Wolf: What other publishers did you hate and for what reason?
Hart D. Fisher: For the most part, I don't wish to give my enemies any power by naming them. Let them suck up the gravy from some other fool's plate. I will say that if you've got a guy who says he's my best buddy and we are working together to this day. Check this person out with me. I've had a lot of scumbags use their association with me to rip off other people. There are plenty of con men out there who "claim" a relationship, but email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll set the record straight.
But I will say this, I hated rapist publishers, assholes that stole characters and work from young creators because they could get away with it. Any fucking company that had an association with Andrew Rev, the cunt prick bought up Northstar from Dan and then ran it into the ground. He bought Comico also. I hated that fucking guy. He and his ilk fucked over a lot of really great young guys, turned off a whole wave of talent to the industry right before the collapse. I've got some good stories about dealing with this guy, and others like them, but those are stories better told in the back of a bar over a few cold ones.
The Big Bad Wolf: What made you sell the Marvel Can Suck My Cock t-shirts?
Hart D. Fisher: The Marvel shirts were a political reaction to their business policies of the time, which were designed to drive the small publisher, me, out of business. Most fans out don't know that the very first domino that fell, leading to the sorry state of comics today, was pushed by Marvel Comics.
The initial reason I pressed the shirts had to do with a Marvel Comics company policy they formed that hurt the entire industry, but no one ever really held their feet to the fire over this. They specifically planned on publishing so many monthly titles that the shear weight of their numbers would drive the new upstarts, Image, Dark Horse and all the other guys like me, right off of the shelf. They published a crushing wave of crap, we're taking well over sixty or seventy titles a month here, of utter dreck, designed to drive under the indie publisher, and in a way, today, they're ideas have been carried out. Most of the shops I've dropped into the last few years have had NO black & white indies, hell, an Image comic was indie to the counter guys.
Well, after Marvel dumped this mountain of pulp, many retailers got stuck holding the bag with a lot of crappy comics that no one could sell. Stupid of them to stock these bad titles, but they put their lot in with the number 1 publisher, Marvel, and they paid for it. A lot of stores went under after that, then Marvel started the distribution wars with it's purchase of Heroes World and no one has ever held their feet to the fire for the results of that debacle.
I grew up on Marvel. There is no one more angry than a disappointed fan. Or a businessman being pushed around by a big bully.
Hence, the Marvel Can Suck My Cock t-shirts.
The San Diego Comicon was almost sued by Marvel when I first let the shirts fly at their show. I sold out of all of my shirts in one day. Even the one I was wearing on my back got sold. Everyone marched on the booth with glee. The fat little Romita jr artist jumped a skinny Fantagraphics guy who was wearing the shirt at the Marvel booth. I made sure to visit and shake the hands of every guy I knew around Marvel's booth. No one jumped at me. I hate fucking bullies. Shit like that gets my blood up like any fight dog scenting fear.
San Diego changed their vendor contracts because of the shirts. I did battle at conventions for years after this, even having my mother selling the shirts with duct tape over the "Cock" portion of the shirt. Just because someone tries to censor you doesn't mean they will succeed. You have to fight for your rights to free expression.
And I will fight.
The Big Bad Wolf: Moving ahead a few years, you were made managing editor of Glenn Danzig's publishing company, Verotik. How did you hook up with him?
Hart D. Fisher: I first met Glenn at the San Diego Comic Convention, he was wondering around the floor, I was a big fan, so I walked up to talk to him. I bumped into him a few more times like that and when he got into publishing Hero Illustrated hired me to interview him. Glenn and I hit it off right away. We were both comic book psychos, we both were way into the martial arts, we did the most extreme horror comics in the business, why wouldn't we hit it off?
After the interview Glenn and I kept in touch. I had just moved to Los Angeles and things weren't going so good for me. One of my right hand guys turned into a douchebag, not paying his share of the rent, not getting a job, not paying any bills, running up the phone bill so high we had to have it turned off. After sponging off of me for 3 months he moved back to Chicago and used my reputation to rip off all of our mutual acquaintances. With my insane reputation you could tell a sucker any bullshit story about me and they'd buy it.
It was December of 1994 and I was two months behind on the rent, now we were going for three. I'm pulling out my hair. My little brother is working at a chop shop to pay for food. Now that douche "The Death Poet" has just skipped town and I'm flat busted. Sunday morning, the phone rings. It's Glenn, his voice shot from the road. He asked me if I thought I could take on the managing editor position for Verotik.
Like a dumbass I told him I'd have to think about it. After hanging up the phone with him, about five minutes passed and I sort of had a spasm and said out loud, "What the fuck is wrong with you, Glenn fucking Danzig just called up to offer you a job and you told him you had to think about it."
I called him right back and took the job.
The Big Bad Wolf: Can you give a synopsis of "A Taste of Cherry"?
Hart D. Fisher: A Taste of Cherry was a nasty piece of business that started out as a story for a Boneyard Press book called Rough Trade. It was originally written by Christian Moore, and when Glenn asked me to bring him something nasty for Verotika I thought of this story. I dusted it off, rewrote the story's dialogue, tweaked it a little bit, gave it a new ending, a new title, Voila, A Taste of Cherry is born. Who knew that a short story about a high school cheerleader being tortured and gang raped for a snuff film would cause so much trouble?
After reading the script he made sure the artist didn't draw the cheerleader young looking, he gave her an adult body, and Glenn stressed this. I knew people would be upset that the bad guys aren't punished in the end, that the true villain of the piece is the family icon father, but I didn't know the entire industry would have a stroke over this book.
I'm from the south side of Chicago with more bars than any other city in America, the most violent gangsters and gangs in America. I saw plenty of horrible things growing up, this story didn't stand out that much to me. I was shocked when the Planet Comics raid hit.
When the same district attorney that took out Planet Comics went after the Tin Drum, including illegally seizing customer rental records from Blockbuster Video and marching up to an ACLU lawyer's house, he got bitch slapped. But the guys at Planet Comics lost their nerve and copped a plea. I was vilified for this wonderful little bit of business also. Like it was my fault some asshole attorney looking for a political career would use one of my books to further his goals. But it happened. It illustrated for me pointedly that I could not depend on my government to protect my rights, nor the rights of other artists, if it was of the wrong political spectrum.
Every American out there should be afraid of what happens if the wrong group gets into the white house and pretty soon you'll see your internet pornography habits posted on a religious whack job's "Sex Offender" list.
The Big Bad Wolf: What do you consider your highest point in comics?
Hart D. Fisher: That's a really tough question to answer.
I grew up on comics. I've read them since I was 5 years old, and working in comics was a dream come true. I got to beer down with Stephen Bissette at my first comic convention sharing a hotel room with Tim Vigil & Dan Madsen psyched up for the release of their first edition of FAUST. I've partied or fought with all of my comics heroes. I got to duke it out with Marvel Comics over a trademark violation (Dark Angel/Hells Angel) and won. I shook the halls of power and had them change the rules to contain me.
Was it waking up John Cassaday with a used double jelly dong (From the set of This Cunt's For You!) after a night of drinking at Sinamatic? Was it working side by side with Glenn Danzig and Simon Bisely on Death Dealer? Was it riding out my April Fool's Death prank in 1998, expecting to see people pissing on my grave only to find out I was a hero to some of my favorite artists and creators? Was it going from being a huge Cry for Dawn fan to being the best man at Joseph M. Monks wedding in Florida after almost a decade of partnership in publishing? Was it being called the Most Loved Debtor in Comics by Michael Bair while we were hoisting beers together in Detroit? Was it Partying at the slave auction with a very naked Ginger Hill, my wife, Mistress Leyla and the wonderfully hot little lady that actually won the slave raffle? Was it all those awesome fans that kept me going with their hand shakes and free shots at the bar, even when my hands where shaking and my eyes were jumpy? Was it working with artists and pushing them to do their best, book after book? Was it for the nutty cons or the whiff of new book smell when you open your first box from the printer?
Boneyard Press was a mean mother fuckin' machine with a madman at the helm barely holding it together and running as fast as his demons could chase him, with wing nuts and bolts and pieces of hell flying off in all directions.
It was all of it man, all of it and more.
The Big Bad Wolf: What do you consider your lowest point?
Hart D. Fisher: The year right after Michelle's murder was probably the lowest point in my comics career. From July 1993 until August 1994 I was an insane man who's lucky to still be alive. You find out who your real friends are when you go through something like that. Take that several notches further when you're under the kind of media shitstorm that hit town after her murder was pretty brutal when you're known for work like mine.
I had stalkers, I had death threats on a regular basis, I was starving and barely able to keep a roof over my head. That year, that was my lowest point in comics. Pick up a copy of Poems for the Dead and check the dates on those poems. Those are all real. I lived them.
I had to go about my day getting pummeled by the press about what a douche bag I was for doing some comics about a serial killer without apologizing to the world for my books while I'm getting ready to testify in open court about my girlfriend's murder. Nothing like doing a talk show with the audience members telling you your girlfriend deserved to die during the commercial breaks.
That year was a real mile of shit punctuated with some really great people that helped save my life.
I remember everyone who was there, and everyone who wasn't.
The Big Bad Wolf: Do you plan on releasing any more comic material?
Hart D. Fisher: Right now my focus is on film, but there are several projects I'm not finished with. I'm shopping around for a new publisher for Poems for the Dead. I've had some interest in it from some bigger publishers and I want to give them a crack at it, but we'll see. So many times there's just so much damn talk, nothing but talk. But look for a new expanded version of Poems, something that's more personal with more of my own artwork in the book.
I want to bring Bill the Bull back for an animated film and as a comic series. He was always my favorite comic character to write, but he had a trouble publishing history. Weird shit happened around that character. Art lost in the mail, disappearing scripts, weird stuff. I've been putting together the materials to do some trade paperbacks but my wife's illness put the kibosh on anything that doesn't bring us cold hard cash.
When I get my film projects settled I'm coming back to comics like Damian Thorn came back to America from England. Darker, stronger, and even more fucked up. When I've got enough "Fuck You" money put together in my war chest, then I'll be back.
And I'll break all the new rules.
The Big Bad Wolf: What are you currently working on?
Hart D. Fisher: I don't know how many comics fans know about this, because much of the comics media has put a blackout on me, but I've been directing music videos. The last two were for Dark Funeral and Obituary. That's some heavy dudes to work with. Glenn and I have been working together again also. You didn't read about it over at the competition, but you'll read it right here that Glenn is adapting his Verotika comics series into film. I'm cutting his first short "She Only Likes Men" from Verotika #9. I've been having an awesome time working with Glenn again.
Then there's the matter of my tv shows. That's right. I've got a deal to produce tv shows for some new broadcast companies over seas. One of them will be Flowers on the Razorwire and our very first episode will be supplied by the blind master of suspense, Joseph M. Monks. Yeah, that's right. A blind comics creator has written and directed a feature length horror film. I mean, dude, that's serious fucking news, but you won't read about it in your local comics newsrag. Why not? I don't know. Kind of weird though, Joe's a legend, and what's he done with his movie, The Bunker, is even more legendary.
Right now all of my time is being eaten up by my new television show, American Horrors. I'm producing and hosting. It's going to debut on European television, but I plan on bringing the show to the entire world. It focuses on all things American Horror, specifically indie creators. I want to give exposure to all the guys out there killing themselves to make a kick ass movie, video, or comic, that would never otherwise get seen by the public at large. Just because you dumped your video on youtube doesn't mean anyone is going to see it.
You have a friend with a cool five minute horror short? Send him to me. When I'm not showing the coolest new talent to the world I'll be interviewing creators ala Dinner for Five. I plan on digging deeply into the subject of horror with creators like John Skipp, Kenneth J. Hall, Glenn Danzig, Christopher M. Downs, and more.
The Big Bad Wolf: Where can fans find out more info about you and Boneyard Press?
Hart D. Fisher: Thanks to the internet, fans can check out what I'm up to with my online journal. I've laid out my guts on that thing and I've been writing it for nearly 8 years now.
There's the new tv show website, the test version anyway, at this link:
And if you've got a band and you're looking for a director, I'm a hired gun that comes with his own army. You can find me at this link for that business:
The Big Bad Wolf: In closing, what would you like to say to our readers?
Hart D. Fisher: At the end of the day, no matter what anyone else tells you, you can do it. If you set your mind to it, work hard, and stick to your guts no matter what, you got a shot. If you listen to the doubters who tell you it's all just so hard.
Well where are they?
"Hart is one of the most controversial figures ever in the medium."
The Big Bad Wolf: Thank
you for your time, Hart! Best of luck with American Horrors!
Mr. Fisher is an underground horror legend with a worldwide following who's work has been featured on MTV's HeadBangers Ball, ABC's DayOne, CNN's Murder By Numbers documentary, Entertainment Tonight, Larry King Live, The Jerry Springer Show, The Sally Jesse Raphael Show, CNN Headline News, A&E's Biography, and in magazines such as Time, Tattoo Savage, Hero Illustrated, People, The Comics Journal, the non-fiction best seller The A-Z Guide to Serial Killers and many more.
Mr. Fisher has always had a keen eye for talent, having discovered political author Stephen Elliott (Looking Forward To It named best of the year by The Village Voice), Wizard Top Ten artist John Cassaday and My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way (Mr. Fisher was Mr. Way's first mentor in comics, publishing the young creators first comic book series, "On Raven's Wings", staying in touch with the young artist through his art shool days and his time at DC Comics) and is looking forward to bringing that eye to the filmmaking talent pool.
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