Wherever leather-clad S&M fetishists ride the subway besidemulti-eyed aliens and wherever giant, angry chickens rise upagainst their human oppressors, odds are, Jimbo has been there. Formore than 25 years, the flat-topped everydude of underground comicshas roamed the hallucinogenic dreamscapes of artist Gary Panter,wearing little more than a loincloth and a perpetually blankexpression.
“Incomics,” says Panter, 53, from his messy studio in Brooklyn, “you’realways trying to take people somewhere and convince them they’re therefor a moment.” So far, it’s a trip that’s taken him and hissquare-jawed protagonist from the pages of the seminal Los Angeles punkzine Slash to the alternative comics anthology Raw toJimbo’s own self-titled series, published by Matt Groening’s ZongoComics. “When I started the Zongo series,” says Panter, “the stripswere super simple. But each issue I made it a little more detailed thanthe last.” By the end of Jimbo’s seven-issue run, the hero hadprogressed from surreal urban settings to Dante’s Inferno, and Panter(who won three Emmys as head set designer for Pee-Wee’s Playhouse) haddeveloped an intricate illustration style filled with obscurereferences and even footnotes. “I was reading a lot of James Joyce,” hesays, “and I decided to do a comic that was really over-the-top interms of complexity.”