As I’ve documented in my autobiography, From Wah-Peesh to “Wha Happen?”, I certainly did plenty to bring on the early demise of Hard Cheap Knock back in the 90s. That book does a stellar job of detailing the misfortune that I brought on myself.
To a lesser extent, or perhaps as a consequence, plenty of misfortune came our way, through me, but beyond my control.
Little Dookie Snacks Comics
For example, in early 1994, I brokered a deal with the Little Dookie company for one-page comics featuring popular celebrity icons, our characters, and of course, delicious savory snacks. I did not choose the celebs, but it was up to me to write and draw their adventures. The premise was that each star would be a bit of a villain, caught in the act by our characters, and then shown the error of their ways via the irresistible taste of Little Dookie.
Never creators to “sell out”, and with keen eyes for potential disaster, the rest of the HCK team distanced themselves from the project. They saw right through me, let me know I was on my own, to use my own characters, and that none of these one-pagers would ever actually be seen in the pages of Hard Cheap Knock. I was desperate for cash and my inhalant-crazed brain could barely be concerned with throwing our working relationship under the bus.
The conversation went like this:
Me: Don’t you guys get it? <sniff> It’s time we followed the Fat Cash!
Flippy: <face squished in his trademark “I-can’t-believe-you-talked-me-into-trying-this-cheese” (minus the actual spitting out of said cheese) frown and shaking his head slowly> Yeahhhhhhhhh… No.
Me: Carson! Come on! <sniff> That Stumps McGraw movie… It ain’t gonna happen, dude! <sniff> THIS is the big payoff!
Carson: <laughing nervously> I don’t know…
Wetz: Can I just say… I had one of those Little Doobie panzarottis with a slice of Tito Puente over the top the other day… I took one bite and then BOOP! Right in the trash! <gesturing with his tiny hands toward an imaginary garbage can>
Me: WHAT THE FUCK! You guys are such dicks!
Savory Snack Squad Logo
This is around the time that I went back and forth with the Little Dookie execs about the logo for the Savory Snack Squad. What I designed was the familiar superhero team shield/crest, but made of a flaky pastry crust. The execs seemed displeased at first. Eventually, they suggested that blood be “oozing from the logo”. Not one to shy away from gore, I was taken aback by this request.
In an attempt to appease them, I added the drops of oozing liquid emanating from behind but made it appear more gravy- or filling-like. They were enthralled.
Later, an exec would compliment me for taking it in a direction they hadn’t thought of. “It was a stroke of brilliance that we can sell our products, display our support for our troops, and our hatred of America’s enemies, all in one glorious image!” It was only later that I realized that what I had rendered as savory pie crust, they believed to be the camouflage pattern of Operation Desert Storm.
Since the budget was Little Dookie’s primary concern, most of the talent we approached were well-known but were suffering a lull in their career. Of course, Nirvana was not in any need of self-promotion, but apparently Little Dookie snacks were such a favorite of the lead singer, he practically begged the company to be in the first one-page comic.
In early 1994, Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain shot himself in the head in an apparent suicide. His “‘Come As You Are’ Party” comic, in which the lead man is attempting to serve party-goers a bleach cocktail, never saw print. As it turns out, I had completely lifted most of the idea from a 1960 Carl Barks Donald Duck story, “Donald’s Party”, without even realizing it. I was so proud of the phrase “come-as-you-weren’ters”, but even that was stolen from my childhood reading.
Any attempt I made to use the remaining members of the band were met with stern opposition. Little Dookie was convinced that Dave Grohl’s career was over without Cobain.
I sold the original art for a case of WD-40 cans. Estimated loss to Little Dookie, $1.4 mil.
The film and original art have been destroyed. Estimated loss to Little Dookie, $2.2 mil.
Having released their hit single, “No Rain”, in September of 1992, hippy grunge rockers Blind Melon were looking to shake off their “one hit wonder” status. In early Summer of 1995, I was hard at work on their one-pager before the ink was even dry on the contract.
The story features Hoon as a supervillain with his “Bee Girls” as flying minions. It is also the first and only appearance of the skiff, an air vehicle The Savory Snack Squad would presumably use to get around.
Having completed the page and receiving the approval of Little Dookie, I again implored my fellow Hard Cheap Knockers to include it in an issue. They had our lawyers from Hart, Chapman, & Knox on me like stink on a metally-challenged sloth. It was a “no go”.
Before the lead singer, Shannon Hoon, could overdose on cocaine in October of that year, the first and only Little Dookie/Hard Cheap Knock comics advertising collaboration made it to print.
The lead singer of Sublime, Bradley Nowell, died of a heroin overdose. Luckily, I never had to create a one-pager featuring him or that band. Their music is terrible. As it is, I needed a horse feed bag of antifreeze strapped to my head for a full week to get “No Rain” out of my head. I shudder to think how awful an ear worm “Santeria” would have inflicted upon me.