An individual exhibiting such uniqueness or individuality that he or she will cause a roomful of bar cronies to exclaim, "That's one interesting motherfucker!" Actual sexual relations with one's mother are not required.
Attention, Thrill Seekers! Those of us with an insatiable appetite for cartoon craziness, cheap laffs, and anything guaranteed to make your Dad go "Get that garbage outta my house!!" ( The Ultimate Pop Culture Seal Of Approval ) are in for a rare treat this summer when Eye Ball Man Press publishes the complete works of the legendary cartoonist Pete Bondurant for the very first time since the late seventies. Although not as well known as R. Crumb, Gilbert Shelton, or Rick Flannagan, Pete Bondurant was one of the essential artists of the late sixties Underground Comix movement without whom the work of such current cartoonists as Matt Groenig, Gary Larson, and Dennis Lyndon would never have been possible.
Pete Bondurant was a comic genius who created an insane world in which turkeys know the cure for cancer but won't share it with us until we stop eating them for Thanksgiving, men are heartbroken to find their wives in bed with brown paper bags full of pistachio shells, and LBJ keeps pulling submarine sandwiches out of the surgical scar on his stomach. Because of Pete's surly personality his work has long gone unseen and is only viewed by an exclusive circle of rabid devotees and collectors (I almost used the word "cult" there. Goddam, I'm tired of that word. That and "diva". "Kitsch", too. Stop saying that shit!)
Pete Bondurant was born in 1936 in Goat Castle, Mississippi, the only child of the Chief of Police and a waitress at the Awful Waffle Diner. Not long after Pete's birth his father was killed while trying to coax an alligator out of a little old lady's back yard (Actually Chief Bondurant thought he was trying to pull a stray dog from out of the lady's bushes until his arm was suddenly pulled off.) As horrific as this incident was to Pete and his mother and the rest of Goat Castle, Chief Bondurant's demise between the crushing jaws of the rampaging reptile was a source of great amusement and merriment - A hard won insight into the Humor of the Common People that Pete would deploy to maximum effect in his future career.
Like many sensitive children Pete turned to art for consolation, doing crayon caricatures of his mother's customers at the Awful Waffle until one took offense at how big Pete presented his nose and tried to stuff a paper napkin dispenser down the Young Artist's throat. But Pete had found his calling and, after graduating from High School, Pete spent the next decade attempting to sell a daily comic strip called "Silly Kitty" to the newspaper syndicates.
Years later, whenever asked about "Silly Kitty" Bondurant would snap "It was about a silly kitty, goddammit!!" and stomp around mumbling to himself for a couple of hours. This was a regular source of entertainment to Bondurant's acquaintances who would tell those less familiar with Bondurant's problems "Watch this . . . Get a load of this . . . Hey, Bondurant, what's the deal with that freakin' 'Silly Kitty' comic strip you've wasted your whole life on?" and then laugh cruelly while Bondurant picked up the nearest piece of furniture, threw it against the wall, and stomp off to mumble to himself for a couple of hours. Eventually Pete became so accustomed to this relentless ridicule he took to smashing furniture up and stomping around talking to himself whether anyone had asked him about "Silly Kitty" or not.
Finally one Sunday morning in 1965 Pete just lost it and ignited a tremendous bonfire of every copy of his "Silly Kitty" comic strips in front of a church full of cheerfully distracted Baptists, hopped into his 1956 Chevy Kitty mobile and disappeared into the quagmire of the Freak Counterculture. A few years later when Bondurant's Underground Comix exploded on an unsuspecting world, the same Baptist Preacher whose service had been disrupted by Pete's conflagration lamented "My God! If they had only let him do that 'Silly Kitty' ten years ago the world would have been spared this nightmarish vision of a universe deprived of Our Lord And Savior's Love And Redemption!"
Bondurant's first comic book "Rednecks Conquer The Earth" caused an immediate sensation with it's vivid and hilarious portrayal of a happy future in which every man in America is married to his Mom until getting a divorce for a second marriage to his daughter. This was soon followed by "Gigantic Chink Cocks" in which the White Men of the world are let in on what white women have known all along - Those little Chinese Guys are the most unbelievably well endowed men on Earth! No less an authority than Richard Pryor himself as cited "Gigantic Chink Cocks" as "The funniest comic book ever" and Rodney Dangerfield was known to hand out copies to other comedians. By the time Bondurant released "She Had Nipples on Her Kneecaps" he was one of the hottest comic artists on the Underground scene. Harvey Kurtzman, the legendary genius who created "Mad" and "Help!" praised Bondurant's work as "Brilliant" in an interview with The Village Voice to which Bondurant replied "Oh yeah? Well, only assholes read the Village Voice and only pussies give interviews to The Village Voice. No wait, let's make that 'Only pussies read The Village Voice and only assholes give interviews to The Village Voice.' Yeah, that's better."
By the time Bondurant released "Hammerhead Homos" he had been written off by publishing insiders as an unpleasant creep who was strictly to be avoided. Since he never had any friends to provide any insight into his personal life we'll never know if his behavior was due to booze, drugs, or psychosis. Although, since I haven't needed booze or drugs to earn my current reputation as an unpleasant creep, I'd have to go with "psychosis". Pete seemed to spend his life drifting from cheap hotel room to cheap hotel room drawing his crazy comix and undoubtedly mumbling about ". . . goddam Silly Cat . . .Goddammit . . ."
After "Hammerhead Homos" Pete swore off the comic book biz and showed up in Hollywood determined to break into animation by following Ralph Bakshi around town yelling "Hey, Bakshi! I can make better cartoons than you with one hand tied behind my back and the other one tickling your dead grandmother's ass! Haw haw haw!" Bakshi did his best to ignore this but occasionally lost his patience long enough to beg Pete to please come up with a new line or two, to which Pete would angrily retort "Hey, Bakshi! I can make better cartoons than you with one hand tied behind my back and the other one tickling your dead grandmother's ass! Haw haw haw!" Pete's dreams of becoming the next Disney were dashed when he showed up at the Hanna - Barbera Studio one day with 27,000 scraps of paper with a dancing cat drawn on them and found out there was a lot more to animation than he thought there was.
Since then Bondurant has dropped out of sight, which isn't hard when no one can stand the sight of you. Fellow cartoonists attempted to boost his reputation with vague hints of a luxurious retirement in such bohemian stomping grounds as Tangier and Paris, but when Ralph Bakshi found him working behind the counter of a Kentucky Fried Chicken in West Hollywood that was the end of Pete's image as a romantic expatriate.
So, until Eye Ball Man gets out that coffee table compilation and the guy finally makes enough moolah to retire from the Fast Food biz, that's The End Of The Pete Bondurant Story.
What do you think America? Leave your comments on the Guestbook!
John Saleeby wrote for The National Lampoon while he was in high school, was a stand up comic in New York, and has contributed to the net humor zines Schmuck.com, Campaign Central, and the legendary American Jerk. He's on medication now so he's probably a little nicer now than he was when you met him earlier. Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
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