Rick Geary and The American Bystander

« You better watch out, you better not cry, better not pout, I’m telling you why —Santa Claus is coming to town. » — Haven Gillespie

Taking stock, I can’t help feeling that the singular Rick Geary (b. 1946) is a creative force that’s taken for granted. He’s been consistently chugging along at a dizzyingly high level of erudite inspiration and craft since the mid-70s. His work has been recompensed and saluted several times (an Inkpot from the San Diego Comic-Con in 1980; a Magazine and Book Illustration Award in 1994 and a Graphic Novel award in 2017, both from the prestigious National Cartoonists Society…) yet he’s remained kind of a well-kept secret, a cartoonist’s cartoonist. Even as he turned up in countless anthologies, in most cases, it felt as if he didn’t quite belong, didn’t exactly jibe with the respective audiences of, say, Dark Horse Presents or Pulse (on the other hand, High Times wasn’t a bad fit!).

Still, it’s fair to say that his following is one quite discrete from the comics mainstream. The Geary devotee must ever remain vigilant, for one never can anticipate his next move.

Which brings me to The American Bystander, which Newsweek deemed « The last great humor magazine », and to which Geary has been contributing since its second issue… and for once, it feels like home.

The Bystander, according to Wikipedia…

… features contributions from many notable comedy writers, illustrators and cartoonists. The Bystander is designed to provide a classic print humor magazine experience similar to that delivered by National Lampoon, SPY, Harold Hayes-era Esquire and many others in the pre-internet era. Yet according to The New York Times, The American Bystander “does not just belong to the tradition of defunct magazines like The National Lampoon and Spy. Its nostalgic, lightly witty style evokes influences that have been dead even longer, like the raconteur Jean Shepherd and the sophisticated stylist Robert Benchley.”

Mr. Geary’s magnificent cover for The American Bystander no. 9 (Fall, 2018). « Have Gun, Will Travel — Wire Santa, North Pole »

The Bystander‘s editor-publisher, Michael Gerber, exults: « In addition to his civilian fans, Rick Geary is one of those illustrators that other illustrators love, and I am with them all 100%. This drawing, entitled ‘New Mexico Christmas’, appeared in my inbox mere moments after I’d given Rick the assignment — which is why editors love him, too! »

While this ever-industrious auteur has produced graphic novels galore in the glorious Geary fashion, I remain fondest of his short-form pieces. Here’s a choice handful plucked from Bystander issues.

From The American Bystander no. 7 (Winter 2017).
From The American Bystander no. 8 (Summer 2018).
From The American Bystander no. 9 (Fall 2018).
From The American Bystander no. 10 (March 2019).

And while ’tis the Season, I would be remiss in neglecting to mention that TAB’s latest issue no. 18, is hot off the presses. More details here. And should you crave to sample the goods… gratis — that option’s on the table as well!

This is The American Bystander no. 18, boasting this festive cover by Rick Meyerowitz.

That said, Happy Holidays, everyone. Be merry but above all be safe!

-RG

3 thoughts on “Rick Geary and The American Bystander

  1. Barney Dannelke December 24, 2020 / 17:20

    It’s almost sad that this one is kind of pre-buried on Christmas Eve, despite the logic of posting it now because of the top illustration.

    Like

    • gasp65 December 24, 2020 / 20:39

      Oh, I certainly know what you mean, Barney.

      Fortunately, I’ve discovered that timing isn’t *that* crucial for a blog post, since the archives are easily accessible. Unlike, say, with Facebook. Time and again, we’ve seen ‘lost’ or seemingly-wasted posts take on unexpected life, with no apparent rhyme or reason.

      Thanks for chiming in, and happy holidays to you!

      Like

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