Acid Heroes: the Legends of LSD

September 19, 2013

Is there anything sadder than ending up as a Whatever-Happened-To?

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 7:47 pm
Tags: ,

Talk about has-been city.  I came across three different web pages where people were wondering what ever happened to that Ace Backwords fellow.  Sheesh.


January 11, 2013

Does anyone else remember Ace Backwords?  His strip Twisted Image was in just about every zine I saw in the late 80’s and early 90’s.  Apparently he’s now homeless and going blind, so you should support him by buying his book about homelessness.

Does anyone else remember Ace Backwords?  His strip Twisted Image was in just about every zine I saw in the late 80’s and early 90’s.  Apparently he’s now homeless and going blind, so you should support him by buying his book about homelessness.


Whatever happened to…Ace Backwords?

Ace Backwords ,
whose comic strip “Twisted Image” ran in alternative papers
during the 1990s has had a run of bad luck.

The San Francisco Chronicle tells the tale of his life of late:

For samples of his Twisted Image comic strip go to



Now here is a thread for the older underdogs to introduce some once very well known artists that haven’t made it into the younger generations. This can be artists who wrote in a foreign language and weren’t translated much or at all or deceased artists whose heirs take great care to protect their copyright but do not produce any reprints, which is the safest way to annihilate their heritage.

So I would like everybody to participate, but please follow these simple rules.

1. No web-comic artists. Only artist who had their golden age before the introduction of www.

2. Well known artist means that you should find at once people of your own agegroup that recognize the name of the artist without telling them, while the younger ones haven’t heard the name ever before.

3. No nine-day-wonder. The artist should have been active for a longer time (at least a decade).

4. It is not strictly limited to comic, it can be cartoons/caricatures as well, if there is at least some relation to comic.

5. No artists of mainstream-serials that are just defunct or replaced with others. The artist should have a distintive, personal style or his very own characters. No matter if simple or elaborated art. But you should recognize the work of the artist by the style, not familiar characters.

6. If you post, just make a short statement about the artists you introduce; saying who they are and why they should be here. Please no pictures, links and additional info in your first post. If anyone here asks you for examples, links, etc., go ahead. But I think everybody here who is interested in some artist will use google/wikipedia/etc. anyway. They just might not have come over the name yet.


Chez Addams. I think everybody will know the Addams family by the late movies (I did only watch the first two, and lost interest), but sadly only few people are aware that Chez created this characters around 1941/42, and made a lot of other very funny cartoons. Some of you might know them first by the black an white-1960ies television show (like me), that was certainly better then the later versions or the Hannah-Barbera cartoon version. I tried to get some of his books (he did quite some collections), but as far as I know they are not reprinted any more and the ones I found over internet were quite expensive originals. There are also very few of his drawings found in the internet; his heirs run a homepage under his name, but there are hardly any example of his works shown.

Gilbert Shelton
The creator of The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers was largely derided as a purveyor stoner humor. In reality he was a skilled satirist who made pointed observations about the decline of the hippie subculture, sex, politics and the rise of punk subculture and American conservatism through the eyes of freaks. His sense of timing is absolutely amazing in both his writing and drawings.

Steven A. Gallacci

Largely unknown in modern mainstream circles, Gallacci could easily be considered to be one one of the forefathers of the furry fandom. Gallacci’s extraordinarily beautiful airbrushed drawings, had a major influence in many of the anthropomorphic art conventions that creatives in that genre employ today. His comic Albedo was largely responsible for launching Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo. This comic eventually overshadowed Albedo and became a mainstream staple in the 80’s and 90’s by way of its frequent crossovers with Eastman and Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Gallacci’s richly-complex hard science fiction writing also had a major though largely unsung influence on modern science fiction film and television.

Ace Backwords

Born in 1956, Backwords was one of the most prolific and influential gutter punk-scene underground comic creatives of the 80’s and 90’s. His comics were unflinching in their social observation and absolutely hysterical yet illustrated with disarming charm. His innovative guerrilla marketing practices had a huge impact on modern comics promotions. His works were critically acclaimed and widely published, but now largely forgotten. In 2010, Backwords ended up homeless, but support from the San Francisco community at large helped stabilize his situation.

March 29, 2013

Telegraph Avenue Street Calendar 2000

on my cheap-ass cellphone.

Photo: Drug Free Zone

Bruce Mintal and Harold

Photo: Peoples Park

Ray Winters

Photo: Crash



Photo: Gutter punks.  Literally.

Gutter punks, literally


Photo: "How do you like it?   RARE!!!"

“How do you like it? RARE!!!”




Mysterious homeless girl on Shattuck Ave.

Photo: Hate Drums

Hate Man and Gypsy at the drum circle


March 6, 2013

“Dead Flowers” by Ace Backwords

acebackwords has shared a video with you on YouTube
Come Together
Ace Backwords jams out a quick version of “Come Together” on his cheap-ass 60 dollar cellphone.
©2013 YouTube, LLC 901 Cherry Ave, San Bruno, CA 94066
acebackwords has shared a video with you on YouTube
“Dead Flowers” Rolling Stones
Ace Backwords hacks out a quick version of a Stones song on his cheap-ass cellphone.

March 5, 2013

A tour of Telegraph Avenue with Ace Backwords

acebackwords has shared a video with you on YouTube
A tour of Telegraph Avenue with Ace Backwords
Take a guided tour of the world famous Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley with your host the relatively obscure Ace Backwords
©2013 YouTube, LLC 901 Cherry Ave, San Bruno, CA 94066

February 27, 2013

The Naked Guy

TM (Pen is Central trademark) Another quality page linked to Jim’s Pen is Central!

Photos ofThe Naked Guy,Andrew Martinezappearing in theTelegraph Avenue Street Calendar 1994As Andrew and some of his naturist liberation friends walked nude around the streets of Berkeley, California, they attracted a lot of attention. Many people, no doubt, grabbed their cameras and took pictures of him doing his thing. One of the photographers was Ace Backwords, who took the photos on this page. There are several more in the calendar itself.

Want to get a copy of this calendar? It’s probably out of print by now, but who knows? The address listed on it was:

Twisted Image
PO Box 12642 Berkeley, CA 94712

The price was listed at $10. We have no idea if the calendar is still available — and if it is, whether the price has changed. Obvously, don’t send any money to that address without first confirming these details! We’ve been trying to contact Twisted Image to find out.

Do you happen to know how we can contact Ace Backwords? We’d like to put his address on this page so that collectors can obtain original prints of the photos he has of Andrew. If you know Ace’s whereabouts, please let us know! Thanks.

Click on a photo to be taken to a larger size.
The larger sizes are plagued by so-called “moiré” patterns which do not appear in the original calendar; they are an artefact of the scanning process.

5 naked demonstrators

<----Here are Andrew and some of his fellow activists demonstrating for the right of nonsexual public nudity.  
    Andrew leaning against pole

--->Here Andrew is earning some extra money by selling bumper stickers (saying “HEY MAN, IT’S JUST A DICK”).

Andrew sitting down

<----Andrew, again, relaxing a bit while selling more of the bumper stickers. You can read the slogan better here.  

Photos on this page copyright © 1994 Ace Backwords.


--->Back to the main page.

January 24, 2013

Ace Backwords

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 11:28 pm
Tags: , ,

I don’t know who put this page together but they got me pegged pretty good. Ha ha.

Ace Backwords ——————————————————————————–

Surviving on the Streets: How to Go Down Without Going Out, Twisted Image! See complete bibliography (2)
Legal name: Ace Backwords
Birthdate: 1956 (age 57)
Birthplace: swamps of New Jersey,
Nationality: Half Italian, quarter American Indian, quarter English
Gender: Male
Official Website:
Genres: underground comics, psychedelics, the streets, homeless, authors, crazy artists

Ace Backwords was born in 1956. He started out as an underground cartoonist, sold his first cartoon to the Berkeley Barb in 1977. Was published in R. Crumb’s WEIRDO comicbook and hundreds of other publications including HIGH TIMES magazine and MAXIMUMROCKNROLL. Co-published the popular TELEGRAPH AVENUE STREET CALENDAR with B.N. Duncan for 15 issues from 1990 to 2004. Had two books published by Loompanics. His third book — “ACID HEROES: The Psychedelic ’60s & its Aftermath” was self-published in 2009. Backwords is presently burned out and was last seen wandering among the bushes of the Berkeley hills, talking to his feral cats and generally acting weird.!

December 11, 2012

Twisted Image by Ace Backwords

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 7:29 pm
Tags: , ,

Ace Backwords

Ace Backwords is/was a San Francisco Bay Area cartoonist whose drugged-out strip ‘Twisted Image’ was well-distributed throughout the early zine world because it was freeware and because it was good. He used to have a zine of his own, but it seems to have sunk in a sea of bad investments. Oh well. If anyone knows of Ace’s current whereabouts please contact us, and we’ll put his address here for proper recognition.

Comix Index | Paranoia/drugs | Users Guide

Somebody posted some of my old comics on line so I’m reposting them here for old time’s sake.

August 11, 2012

The Strange Case of Maximum Rocknroll

Filed under: Random Archives — Ace Backwords @ 7:52 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,
(originally published May 20, 2008)                                                                                  

For years now, there’s been these clumps of  “gutter punks” flopped out on the sidewalks of Berkeley.   They sit there spare-changing and getting drunk and stoned and fighting.  But mostly they just sit there.  They remind me of a bunch of beached flounders.  They seem like some kind of stunted organism that has stopped developing.  When I look at them, I often get this strange acid flashback . .

@                            @                               @

I saw the Sex Pistols last concert at Winterland in January of 1978.  I remember saying to a friend during the ride home:  “When punk rock hits the high schools, its gonna catch on like wild-fire.”  And then  . . . .   nothing happened.  So I figured I was wrong about Punk Rock like I was wrong about most everything else.

Then, in the summer of 1982, when I was living in quiet Humboldt County, I got an excited phone call from my friend Mary Mayhem.  “Its unbelievable!”  said Mary.  “There’s been all these punk rock shows with all these kids with mohawks slam-dancing and stage-diving and bouncing off walls!  Its wild!”

I was madly in love with Mary at the time, so I dragged my ass back to San Francisco and checked out a punk band called Fear at the Elite Club (formerly the Filmore West).  It was indeed wild.  And I decided to start an underground punk rock newspaper to capture the energy of this emerging youth culture.  I interviewed Fear and that was the big feature for what became TWISTED IMAGE # 1.  Around the exact same time, MAXIMUM ROCKROLL # 1 was published, with somewhat similar intentions.

So I’d always feel a weird connection with MAXIMUM ROCKROLL.  Like two seeds that were spawned from the same soil, but developed in quite different directions.  From the beginning, the differences were clear.  MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL saw the punk rock movement as a progressive social force.  They were constantly proseletyzing on behalf of “the scene” and urging kids to join up and get involved with “the punk rock community.”  I, on the other hand, could sum up my feelings by a review I wrote for the record “Punk & Disorderly” in TWISTED IMAGE # 1.   “Punk rock is the perfect soundtrack for the Apocalypse.”  Like a war reporter, I looked at punk as a fascinating, but ultimately dark and destructive, historical movement.  Join up at your own risk, kiddies.

So TWISTED IMAGE and MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL mostly existed as two seperate parrallel universes.  But then in the late-80s I was working as a free-lance cartoonist and writer and my stuff was getting published in hundreds of zines, mags, comics and newspapers.  So MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL started running a column and comics by me every month.  We were co-existing fine until one issue when the publisher of MRR, Tim Yohannon, published a glowing eulogy for the just-deceased Huey Newton, the former Black Panther leader, along with a glowing book  review of fellow Panther George Jackson’s prison diaries.

Well, this slightly irritated me.  Because, in fact, Huey Newton was a violent, crack-dealing, murdering lunatic.  No hero in my book.  And the same goes for George Jackson.  In fact, Jackson’s book was actually ghost-written by Fay Stender (a Berkeley activist), who later repudiated her own bullshit after she got shot and paralyzed for life by one of Jackson’s thugs for, allegedly “betraying the revolution.”

So I submitted a column for the next issue of MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL, mildly chiding them for glorifying this thug Huey Newton, and laying out the real story about Jackson’s book.

Before the issue went to press, I got a phone call from Tim Yohannon telling me they had decided to drop my column.  “It has nothing to do with your politics, of course,” he assured me.  “But the MRR collective has decided that you’re a bad writer that nobody wants to read.”

Now, I may not be Shakespeare, but my writing has been read by millions of readers, so it was mildly annoying to be told that my work was no longer up to the high literary standards set by a magazine that was mostly written and read by 17-year-old boys (and chronological adults who still had the minds of 17-year-old boys).  And plus, Yohannon was full of shit. And he knew it, and he knew that I knew it.  So I told him to get fucked, and I told him they couldn’t run my comics either (the only publication I ever denied my comics to, so there’s another MRR claim to fame).  It wasn’t like my ego was bruised or anything  —  hell, as a free-lancer, I’d had my work rejected and accepted by hundreds of editors, it went with the territory. But something about the whole deal stunk.

TIm Yohannon  —  the MRR co-founder  — was an interesting character.  He was one of those guys who talked like a lawyer.  Virtually everything that came out of his mouth (in my experience) was a lie, or double-talk, or purposefully misleading (then he could defend himself by saying TECHNICALLY he hadn’t been lying).  Just one of those types.   A little weasel who was endlessly described as “manipulative.”

This manipulative quality was a trait that came in good stead when, for example, he was working through all the buerocratic red-tape that it took to get the Gilman Street Project going.  And he was the driving force behind that thing.  I remember as early as 1983, when I was still a San Francisco bike messenger, Yohannon coming up to me and talking up the Gilman Street project.  And its still going today, perhaps the possitive side of Yo’s legacy.  For the East Bay youth now have a place where they can blast out punk rock power chords and scream and yell at ear-splitting volume.  As well as learn valuable life-skills such as how to publish a fan-zine and design rad band logos.  By all accounts, Yohannon was a hard worker, with excellent organizational skills.

I’m not sure what exactly irked me the most about Tim Yohannon.  For he was a man who inspired many, many irkesome reactions.  As well as many of the possitive variety, too.  He had been a radical, campus activist in the late-60s.  And now here he was in the ’80s, proseletyzing that same failed bullshit to another generation of naive youth.  He was always railing against “the multi-national corporations,” of course.  Which was odd, considering that Yohannon worked for one of the biggest corporations in the state —  the University of California  — with full health  benefits and retirement plan.  Something I doubt many of the punk kids who bought into his dead-end vision of anti-corporate rhetoric, would enjoy.

And, of course, anyone who came into the Maxi pad with a record from one of those “evil corporate record companies”  —  for instance, fake punks like the Sex Pistols, Clash, Ramones, etc  — was  instantly banned from the Maxi kingdom as a hopeless poseur.  Ahh, the evil corporate media.   But even odder, Yohannon would then turn on his television set and watch “Perry Mason” and all the other corporate junk that spewed from his TV set.  But somehow, that was different.

Probably nobody railed more than Tim Yohannon  against those “sell-outs” who exploited the sacred punk rock movement for personal gain.  But, oddly, probably nobody reaped more benefits from the Bay Area punk scene than Tim Yohannon himself.  Like the house he was able to buy for himself (oh, excuse me, it was owned by “the Maximum Rocknroll collective”).  And Yohannon decided who could live there and who got kicked out and what the ground rules of the house were (one of his odd rules were “no boyfriends and girlfriends allowed”  — which I guess meant that all the chicks were open season for the host).  Or the little metal box stuffed with $20 grand that he kept under his bed, and he decided who would or wouldn’t get chunks of the dough, as well as who would be beholden to him.

But Yohannon  — selfless saint that he was  — did this all for The Greater Good of the Punk Rock Movement.  So it was cool.  It probably all came down to the fact that he was a 50-year-old geezer who liked to hit on teenage chicks.  It usually comes down to that, doesn’t it.  But I’m sure he did this for the greater glory of punkdom also.

In truth, he reminded me of the nerd who never got to hang out with the cool clique in high school.  So now he was living  out his fantasy as a middle-age man, the head of the coolest clique of high school punks.  Weird when you think of it.

Yohannon called all the shots at MRR from beginning to end.  Then, the stooges and yes-men that made up “the Maximum Rockroll collective” would rubber-stamp whatever decision Yohannon had come up with.  So it was held up as a sterling example of socialism in action.  And here’s to the new punks, same as the old punks.

Finally, he ended up getting cancer and died at age 52.  I suspect, as it often is the case with these things, that his own body got sick of hanging out with him and checked out. Just as so many of his former friends and associates came to the same conclusion.  For his last request, as he lay on his death bed, he requested from his huge and legendary record collection, “The Ha Ha Song” by Flipper, those legendary nihilistic burn-outs.   And, on that note, he faded into eternity.

MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL, the magazine, still lives on today.  I stumbled upon a copy a couple years ago.  And it looks remarkably the same as it did in 1982.  It was a strange sight.  Like discovering a petrified fossil under a rock  — this dead thing, frozen in time, where nothing new can ever grow and develop.

@                              @                        @

Ahh, these weird nostalgic musings as I pass the gutter punks flopped out on the sidewalk.  Its a long way from 1982.  Perhaps these gutter punks need yet another “anti-corporate” lecture from the political geniuses at MRR.  Or perhaps they need to get a job.

March 2, 2012

The Beatles live

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 11:41 pm
Tags: , ,
Feb 29, 2012, 6:37pm, beatlesattheirbest wrote:
This image is reduced by 62%, click it to view full size.

This image is reduced by 62%, click it to view full size.

Somehow, to me these two photos really show the before-and-after power of the Beatles live music. One crushing power chord from John and the chick is ready to nibble her date’s ear off. While the guy in the bottom righthand corner is ready to go berzerk!

Read more:

August 23, 2009

2002_10_08 Homeless in Berkeley

Filed under: Random Archives — Ace Backwords @ 3:39 am
Tags: , , , ,

Random Archives Banner

I was thinking: virtually every day thoughts and feelings and opinions come spewing forth from the inner regions of my very brain. I thought: How selfish of me to keep these personal brain spasms to myself when I could be sharing them with you, my cyber-audience. So, from that humble thought came what has become known as THE ACE BACKWORDS REPORT. And it was good. Or, barring that, it was awful. Or, possibly, something in between. But it was something. And here it t’was, whatever it wuz………………….

Its 10:30PM, Berkeley time, I’m on the UC Berkeley campus typing this gibberish. Outside, on Sproul Plaza, Hate Man (a Berkeley legend), Scooter, Tantrum, and the other street-freaks and denizens of Hate Camp are munching from a bag of leftover pizza (compliments of Greg’s Pizza at closing time). I’ve been a part of the street scene here pretty much since 1995 when I lost my apartment due to a trivial thing like non-payment of rent. You can find out all about my tender and hideous feelings regarding “the streets” in my hit new book, “SURVIVING ON THE STREETS: How to Go Down Without Going Out” available for about $14.95 from, or check out the site on — there’s about 5 reviews, all 5-star raves. The book truly is great. Which is why it pisses me off that I’m not selling hundreds of thousands of copies and living a life of luxury and/or decadence instead of hanging out with all these other losers and bums and eating cold pizza on a cold night. But I digress…….

What else is new? Maybe some of you remember me from before I ended up sleeping in the bushes. Back in 1991, ’92 I was semi-famous in a minor league sort of way, mostly from my comic strip “Twisted Image” which was being published in hundreds of pubs both great and small. From those humble origins I went on to not exactly bigger and better things, but to sleeping in the dirt in a sleeping bag and eating out of garbage cans. Its sort of the Great American Novel written backwards. Um.. But you know what they say: That which doesn’t kill me will fuck me up very badly for a very long time. So here I am lo these years later, bloody but un-bowed. Whatever the fuck that means. “Un-bowed”? I guess I haven’t been feeling very bowed lately. The other old saw that gets me is: “He wants to have his cake and eat it, too.” Like, is that REALLY asking too much. Yes, I want the cake, and I want to eat it too. What, I should be grateful that I can have the cake but I CAN’T eat it? “Why, there’s no pleasing that bitch, Ace Backwords! He’s got the cake, but that’s not enough for him, he also wants to EAT it!” Like what am I suppose to do? Just LOOK at the damn cake? Of course i want to eat it. Sheesh! Well, this is my first attempt to set up a web page. Is anybody actually out there reading this cyber-gibberish? If so, please drop me a line via my email address. More later ………..Ace in Cyberspace

The Rubric Theme. Blog at


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