Jay Lynch helped to start the underground comix movement. He is a big deal to me as I came out of Chicago and when I started to publish a zine in Chicago, everywhere I’d go I was told of Jay and his comix, and art… So Jay is a legend to me and he is part of history, in my eyes, that is truly success, if your art and expression makes the history books… Yes, you can do something during a historic moment and, by default be attached to history, or you can help define that historic moment, Jay helped to define a historic moment.
He answered these questions very fast, like same day turn around… This was early on in my quest, so his quick and definitive reply really helped spark me and made me think, hell, maybe others will answer, maybe others will take these questions as serious as I do.
What is underground art?
Underground art was a way to sell satire to the hippies. So at the beginning…the original underground comix were satirical…and more or less an outgrowth of, or a post Free-speech movement version of Kurtzman’s MAD.
Are there rules or a set of ethics to the underground?
There is no sense of ethics to the so-called underground I don’t think. I mean…there were hundreds of artists…some were nice guys who did good stuff…some were assholes who did asshole stuff.
What is selling out?
Selling out would be doing an ad for some company that exploits its employees or kills people…or does something evil in the opinion of the cartoonist. Or doing something against one’s beliefs for dough… Like doing a “vote for Hitler” poster just to get the dough to buy some stuff…
Can underground go above ground and still be underground?
I don’t think there was a real underground…Maybe in France during the Nazi occupation…but not here, really.
Have you ever sold out?
I’ve sold out to the extent that I often draw dumbed-down crap, as that is what publishers want. But nothing major…I never did a Coke ad or a Vote for Hitler poster.
Is it possible to steal an idea?
Ideas are not copyrightable. There are probably no original ideas. If there are, probably nobody would understand ‘em. If an idea is in the wind, somebody is gonna pick it up. Mickey Mantle with his foot up a horses behind…and he’s playing a banjo and singing the French National Anthem. This is perhaps an original idea. But so what? It’s stupid.
Your biggest artistic regret?
I have no artistic regrets. I don’t really care much about most art. If the comix had paid more, they coulda been better, though.
Your biggest artistic inspiration?
My biggest inspiration would be Kurtzman and the original Mad artists and Paul Krassner and Lenny Bruce.
What is dangerous art?
Dangerous art is art with sharp edges that you could injure yourself on. But I think when we speak of dangerous comics we mean comix that threaten the real evils of the power structure.
Bonus question… Nature or nurture?
Nurture. I think if you took pretty much anybody, and said you’d give them a 7 million dollars to do the best comic strip ever done, they would find a way to do it.