Acid Heroes

October 28, 2013

More of old B. N. Duncan

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 10:41 pm
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B.N. Duncan as Letter Hack

by Jeet Heer

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

(coming to a theater near you)

B.N. Duncan.

There are many reasons to regret the death of B.N. Duncan, who passed away last year. Among other losses, we’ll no longer see his letters, which used to adorn many alternative comic books, notably Weirdo, Hate, and Eightball. Duncan was a passionate, involved reader and his letters were quirky and personal, to an extent that made them almost painful to read. In Eightball #21, Daniel Clowes devoted the entire letters column to Duncan, described as the issue’s “featured correspondent.”The letters in that issue dealt with the David Boring storyline, then being serialized in Eightball. “I hate that mother of David Boring!” Dunan wrote. “I myself had a castrating, slimy, hypocritical dictator-mother who was always against me.” Who responds to comics with this level of naked emotion anymore? Perhaps Duncan shared too much of himself, gave us too much information (as the saying goes) but still his letters reminded us how personal our response to art can be. The internet has supposedly unleashed a torrent of personal voices but too many of them seem to be poseurs of one sort or another, people who adopt a stance because it makes them look cool. Voices like Duncan, so honest as to be embarrassing, are all too rare. Time moves on. B.N. Duncan is dead and the pamphlet-form alternative comic book also seems to be on the way out.  There is no point in lingering too much on the past since new voices and new comics are all around us.  Still, I’d like to take a measure, briefly and inadequately, of how special Duncan was.

 

 

 

 

  1. Tony Remple

    Thanks Jeet. Not to get too nostalgic either, but I’ll miss this aspect of the comic magazine. As books become more and more the norm we miss the ephemera, the spice, of the publication. HATE in particular, and especially in the latter 15 issues the back up stories (the “b-side” of comics?), columns and letters became as important to me as the main feature. Duncan’s correspondence were often there to amuse and frighten. I only later discovered his comics work, which is certainly interesting in its own right, but I’ll always remember him for those letters.

  2. vollsticks

    Here, here. I first became aware of Duncan through that piece he did on Sophie Crumb in an old issue of the Comics Journal, the one with the Mike Ploog cover…..guy had a Crumb (senior) endorsement, that was the main reason I sought out his comics, if truth be told…I was glad I did. A worthy remembrance, Jeet.

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