1995: Father & Son

Father & Son (1995) #1-4 by Jeff Nicholson

The end is in sight!!!

That is, I can now fit the remaining Kitchen Sink books I’m covering in one window! I’ve got less than one shortbox left, and then I’m free! Free I tells ya!

Fascinating, I’m sure.

Oh, OK, Father & Son…

I’m not a Jeff Nicholson fan. I know that he’s got a solid fan base and everything, but his stuff has never been my thing, so I’m dreading reading this series (even if it’s just four 24 page issues).

So this might turn into one of those Old Man Shouts At Old Comic Book kind of things? But let’s go.

OK, so this is one of those slacker comics that popped up after Peter Bagge’s Hate turned out to be extremely successful?

It’s basically a sitcom, but with jokes so obvious that even a 90s sitcom wouldn’t want to do them.

But it’s pretty professionally done?

I think my general irrational antipathy towards Nicholson’s comics (and I’ve somehow ended up reading hundreds of pages of them over the years) is that I just find his cartooning a bit creepy. There’s something about the sheen coupled with the relentlessly ugly features all his characters have that’s rubbing me the wrong way.

OK, that’s a pretty good joke.

When you’re doing a slacker comic book, if you want to be successful, I think you have to identify with the slacker character, I think? Nicholson identifies more with the tight-ass father character: Whenever he’s spouting something like this, you feel that Nicholson really means it.

I found the book to be incredibly tedious.

I guess Nicholson did, too, because he introduces a new character, Peggy, who’s an overachiever and a comic book artist, so I guess she’s a stand-in for Nicholson himself?

Is that the normal way to shorten “refrigerator”? “Frig”? Or is Nicholson making fun of Kids These Days And Their Slang? Or trying to coin a new one?

Hm… Oh! Perhaps he’s one of those people who has a pet peeve that the short version is “fridge” since there’s no “d” in “refrigerator”? That Nicholson would peeve on something like that fits with my insane prejudices towards Nicholson, I guess.

And I guess what he’s describing here is also something Nicholson would do?

I mean, it’s nice to have a hobby — who am I to criticise people for being obsessive?


Anyway, the book is even less funny than I expected.

But that may be just me! Perhaps millions of people adored the book! I don’t know!

Eric Reynolds includes the book in the Shit List in The Comics Journal #188, page 151:

As a 25.year-
old male, I am
almost incensed at how stupid and calculated Fa-
ther & Son is, because I think I’m sumxsed to IY de-
rncvaphically friendly to ülis Wpe of material. Welconr
to mid-’90s, where alternative comic book com-
panies publish comics for targeted demographics.
In Father & Son. never have so many blatantcom-
mercial considerations been made in an altemative
comic. Of course, this could be excused if the bcx»k
were any good.

OK, the OCR didn’t work well here, so I’m just including the page:

“Father & Son is a new low.”

I’m not 100% sure whether Reynolds is being facetious here — this might be an in-joke of some kind? Even I liked the book more than that.

There aren’t many reviews of it on dar intertubes, but here’s one:

The main drawback to FATHER & SON is Nicholson’s drawing style. While it has grown on me over the years, I still find Nicholson’s style to be a bit odd. It’s a weird mishmash of elaborately cross-hatched inkwork over rather amateurishly rendered pencils; it’s cartoony with aspirations toward realism. The characters all look vaguely like Muppets and the backgrounds are uniformly drab. Regardless, the goofy drawing style suits the goofy storytelling of FATHER & SON, so I guess it’s not much to complain about.

While I wouldn’t recommend FATHER & SON as an on-going series, it’s a fun little diversion perfect for the limited series and one-shot formats. The over-the-top antics are best taken in small doses, and those doses can be hilarious.

Grade: B-

You can buy a page of original art for… er… man, that’s cheap. I read “$299” first, but I see I was wrong.

But It’s Alive released an omnibus in 2019!

I’m unable to find any reviews of that book, which is odd. Was it really published?

Nicholson writes:

I landed a four issue contract with Kitchen Sink Press (a well established publisher going back to the underground days), for what I believe was their last original humor series. It sold well initially (nearly 4,000 copies) but not well enough to weather the constantly dwindling market and distributor consolidation wars going on at the time (from which Kitchen Sink ultimately did not survive past 1997).

This is the one hundred and eighty-fifth post in the Entire Kitchen Sink blog series.

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