Mike Gonad meets the Berkeley Barb


For years I told the story about how I got my first cartoon published on the auspicious date of 7-7-77. But when I found out the Barb had archived all of their past issues I got a little nervous. What if it turned out the date was just a cute story that I made up, and then told and re-told so many times over the years I actually started to believe it? I’ve done that before. But when I looked it up, it was exactly like I remembered it.

This is the first cartoon I ever sold. Age 20, 1977.  Published in the Berkeley Barb on the date of 7-7-77, oddly enough. Exactly 40 years ago.

I was homeless and living on the Fremont St. offramp in San Francisco. And that’s were I drew it, sitting there on top of my sleepingbag at my campsite. I had this pathetic, and completely unrealistic, dream of making a living as an underground cartoonist. And this was my first shot at it.

Actually, it’s one of the first cartoons I ever drew. And one of the reasons I did a parody of other cartoon characters is because I wanted to study how they were drawn, and how the cartoonists fit them into the cartoon panels.  The Checkered Demon, Zippy the Pinhead, and E.Z. Wolff were the three regular comic strips that ran in the Berkeley Barb every week. And my goal was to get my own strip running along side them. Egomaniac that I was, I felt I could do a comic strip that was just as good as theirs.  And eventually I would (in my opinion).

Mike Gonad was a parody of Mike Nomad, a somewhat forgotten cartoon character that used to run in the San Francisco Chronicle.

The strip is a little hard to read, because it was scanned directly from an old newsprint copy of the Barb.  But you get the basic picture.


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