Images copyright 2020 Christopher Wayne Griffin / That Darn Head Studio
Thanks for having a look at my web site. My name is Christopher Wayne Griffin and I am a cartoonist currently residing in Seattle. Born a Navy brat, I got bounced from my birthplace in the high desert town of Ridgecrest California to the southernmost tip of Texas, to the island of Guam, landing at age eleven, in Coronado, California, across the bay from San Diego where I began to try to figure it all out. Among my early influences were Charles Schulz, Tom K. Ryan, Russell Myers and especially Tom Hatten, the KTLA television host who taught us all to sketch the characters on his cartoon show, where he featured Popeye, Super Chicken, Tom Slick and George Of The Jungle. Hatten would demonstrate, during breaks between animated cartoon features, how to draw, using charcoal and chalk pastels on his big newsprint paper pad.
I had already had the spin put on my brain while on Guam, as shopping trips with my mom meant getting to buy comics, particularly the Warren publications like The Spirit, Eerie and Creepy, as well as Famous Monsters Of Filmland and, of course, Mad.
The ads in the backs of these magazines were my tiny lifeline to the larger world of graphic art, Science Fiction and what the older kids were into. I was permitted a small allowance to order from these ads. The wait was excruciating since Post Office deliveries to Guam were very slow in those days.
One day I noticed an ad for a book by Les Daniels, titled, simply, COMIX. I was struck by the spelling of the word, with the x at the end, and with the oddly crude and unsettling cover image of a man in a yellow suit with a banana image printed on his back, punching a pig in the face. This was obviously not the typical drugstore comic book spinner fare and I had to get a closer look. Mind you, I was ten years old at this time.
Upon receiving the book in the mail, I was not surprised to find reprints of superhero stories in this "Outerbridge & Dienstfrey" publication.
I was surprised by the eighth chapter which is devoted to Underground Comix, which I had never come across before. Stories and samples of cartoons by Spain Rodriguez, Kim Deitch, Gilbert Shelton (I did recognize Shelton's character Freewheelin' Franklin. An older sibling had a poster on his wall, featuring the character. I was already connecting some dots!), Justin Green, Robert Crumb, Jay Lynch and others put the buzz on my brain and made me realize there was an entire world out there I needed to learn about, beyond the watered down television programming constantly on display in the living room and my little bedroom sanctuary. As Henry Gibson would say, "Veeeeerrrrrry Interesting!"
'Ultimately time would prove that nobody could clean up the comics. The unclean kept cropping up like fungus. Even code-approved comics soon evolved new ways of symbolizing Dr. Wertham's trilogy - sex, violence and anarchy. Every art form is always expressing these concepts, for it is a duty as well as a curse. When we call these concepts by their respectable titles of "love", "death" and "freedom" we recognize their true significance as our most meaningful triad of spiritual mysteries." - Les Daniels