Creator Q&A: Frank Stack
After reading this interesting interview with Frank Stack, one of Harvey Pekar's pitch-perfect collaborators on American Splendor and the award-winning Our Cancer Year, published late last month in the Columbia (Mo.) Tribune, I'm glad Texas University wouldn't bend on its scholarship pledge to the native Houstonian, and you should be too. That is, if you like good comics.
Seems Texas extended Stack a journalism scholarship back in the day, an offer he refused after learning art classes weren't covered in the deal, according to the Tribune. Stack never regretted the decision, and who could blame him considering his studies would take him to New York, Chicago and Paris or that his modern career in comics would be so intertwinned with Cleveland, the home of Pekar.
In addition to his work on American Splendor and The Adventures of Jesus (considered by some to be the first true underground comic), Stack enjoyed a four decade-long tenure as a professor of art at the University of Missouri-Columbia before retiring in 2003. And, more recently, a painting he created of the Missouri River was chosen as the commemorative poster for the 2007 Columbia Festival of the Arts, even though he never considered entering it into the competition. Never quite learning how to "hustle" his art, his daughter, Joan, a curator at the State Historical Society of Missouri, did...
You'll also want to read this interesting two-part interview conducted earlier this year by the Daily Cross Hatch in which Stack discusses his complicated love/hate relationship with the Lone Star State ("I think there is a perverse kind of sentimentality-a killer sentimentality in Texas, and it's absolutely despicable. In a way I loved to despise them. I also knew that it was dangerous to live amongst them.) and his satirical take on religion (It was partly -the idea of satire is that, if you hold a mirror up to foolishness, that some people looking in the mirror will recognize the foolishness. I though their attitudes toward religion were just about the most vulnerable parts of this thoughtless philosophy. I was not trying to mock the gospels themselves so much what people thought of them.).