Episode 212: Frank Stack


“I’m a Texan and I don’t dislike Texas,” Frank Stack explains. “But I don’t like those sons of bitches.” The artist’s first major work sums up his feelings toward attitudes in the Lone Star State. First published in the pages of University of Texas paper, The Texas Ranger, The Adventures of Jesus is often regarded as the first underground comic. The strip is seen through the eyes of a Jesus newly returned to Earth. It was, predictably, controversial subject matter in Stack’s backyard, as it tackled issues of religious hypocrisy. The stories were first collected by fellow UoT student and underground comics luminary Gilbert Shelton and decades later by Fantagraphics. Stack also found acclaim for his work with Harvey Pekar, both in the pages of American Splendor and in the groundbreaking book, Our Cancer Year, co-authored with Joyce Brabner. But his cartooning career has been sporadic, broken up by long comics droughts, due to struggles with publishers over the decades. The artist has, however, found success as a fine artist and had his most steady gig as a professor at the University of Missouri, from which he retired roughly a decade ago. Record on the show floor of Big Apple Comic Con, this conversation covers much of Stack’s long and fascinating career in and out of comics and manages to drop a wide range of references from Picasso to Mystery Men.