In this bi-weekly column, we highlight doodlers, scribblers and scrawlers from the Seattle area. If you have any comics or animations you think we should know about, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
When I picked up The Intruder for the first time, I had a hard time believing it was real. There, on the counter at Bluebird Ice Cream, lay a free newspaper full of nothing but high quality, disfigured looking alternative comix. All local, all hilarious.
Somewhere at a Seattle coffee shop, comic store or café right now, The Intruder is waiting for you to discover the fantastic local art inside of it too (unless you are an underaged child, in which case you should probably steer clear).
The recipe for the paper is simple:
1) Take a group of 12 or so comic artist friends who all share the same dark, twisted sense of humor. Gather them together at a house party.
2) Get them hammered.
3) Have them draw up a full page comic.
4) Get each artist to pay $40 for their own page, and use that money to publish them all as a free quarterly newsprint collection.
5) Give each artist 100 copies, and then distribute the 500 leftover copies to taste.
The result is The Intruder, a publication that makes me feel lucky to live in Seattle.
"Seattle has this history of great comics, but it was like, 'where the fuck are they?'" Marc Palm says, the mustachioed unofficial leader of The Intruder gang, as well as one of its contributors. "We wanted to get the great art happening here out there for free."
And just in time too. The first copy of The Intruder was published on a day of cosmic happenstance—the same day The Stranger stopped running their comics last year. Once the comics in the newspapers were gone, the only entry point left for readers were expensive graphic novels or the endless abyss of Tumblr.
"The PI had just closed too, so we thought now was the opportune time. We just thought there needed to be a tactile newspaper out there full of these local comics," Palm says. "I mean, newspapers were the origin of comics. Really though, we're just a bunch of nobodies busting our ass, hoping to put ourselves out there."
While the crew that assembles The Intruder may not be star studded comix celebrities—It's not hard to see them becoming so sometime soon. For a free publication eight issues in, the content in the paper is astoundingly consistent and deep. Whether its Tom VanDeusen's backpage regular "Scorched Earth" following the exploits of a clueless sex-crazed nerd, Aidan Fitzgerald's highly stylized and frequently poignant dream-like panels, or Max Clotfelter's "Red Eye" following the misadventures of a hobo baby with questionable parents, The Intruder is packed to the brim with amazing work. Also among The Intruder ranks is Darin Schuler, who I profiled for what was essentially Squiggles #0.
One of my favorite reoccuring characters in The Intruder is a strange figure that I call "The Beak Man," a creation of Palm's. If someone took the mask from a Renaissance plague doctor, turned it into a foam mascot head, and placed it on the body of naked dude, then "The Beak Man" is what you would get. His pages in The Intruder start and end with absolutely no context—surreal, sometimes grotesque, but always incredibly drawn scenes that are hilarious because of how little they have to do with anything.
Palm works at Scarecrow Video when he's not drawing, Seattle's veritable film library packed full of cinematic odds and ends. He loves David Lynch—the darkness and the unanswered questions that linger after his films. The panel above literally came to Palm in a dream.
"At the Intruder we all have this mutual dark comedy to us, it’s just really organic," Palm says. "There’s no need for an editor. Now it’s a weird transition because I’m trying to cultivate it and grow it—but keep it the same as well."
One of the recruiting grounds for new talent has been Dune, the monthly drawing event at Cafe Racer that invites everyone from pros to novices to draw up a comic in one night that gets compiled into a zine exclusively for its contributors. Because the event by nature dredges up talent out of the woodworks, Palm keeps his eye out for promising new artists whom might be Intruder material.
Even though all The Intruder folk are new to the scene, they found out they were actually part of a Seattle contiuum they weren't even aware of.
Max Clotfelter sent one of The Intruders to Michael Dowers on a whim, the man behind Seattle's Starhead Comix publisher in the 90s, responsible for releasing the work of local classics like Pete Bagge, Jim Blanchard and J.R. Williams. In response, Dowers sent Clotfelter and Palm something back.
"We got these copies of this alt-comix, two color newspaper that Starhead put out like twenty years ago full of work from our heroes. We had no idea those even existed, it was amazing," Palm says.
If you're interested in The Intruder, you can pick it up for free at random spots around town, or you can subscribe to get it quarterly for $12 by PayPal'ing email@example.com. More Intruder info here.