I first saw the work of Hunt Emerson on an album cover (I think) owned by my grandfather, with episodes of the 1950s radio show The Goons. I fell in love with his interpretations of the characters, as well as his use of line, his lettering and his mad Tex Avery-style poses of the characters. I was about six.
I didn’t see his work again for about ten years, when I came across, well lets call them “naughty” comic books, Firkin The Cat. Now, I’m not saying I got my sex education from Hunt Emerson, but let’s just say it planted a few ideas for later.
The Comic Relief Comic, 1991.
Another ten years would probably pass before I came across Hunt’s work in a serious way again, now on longer form work, graphic novellas and adaptations such as Lady Chatterley’s Lover, the Outrageous Tales Of The Old Testament and his work for DC’s Big Books line. I started to delve into his larger body of work, in the US and UK undergrounds. Often sexual, always funny, he was the UK’s Robert Crumb, though with an attitude and self awareness closer to that of Roger Langridge.
And of late, this rapscallion of sexual depravity has been working for British kids comic mainstay, on strips such as Little Plum and Ratz. Which, we naturally love but there’s still the draw of his earlier, adult-aimed work. Such as the also-recent adaptation of Dante’s Inferno…
Which is why much of that is being revived. Such as Calculus Cat, an eighties creation for Don and Maggie Thompson’s mini-comics, being revived and reprinted by Knockabout – that’s if Hunt can get the Kickstarter together to help fund the restoration and creation of new work.
Calculus Cat’s home life is locked in an intense, argumentative relationship with his TV set, which bedevils him with commercials for Skweeky Weets – the world’s most asinine breakfast cereal. His “job” is no better. He is forced to run through the streets sporting his famous Grin as The Public shout and throw rubbish. His world is graphic, black and white, jagged, full on, weird, speedy and loud – everything a comic should be!
Hunt Emerson is one of the most important comic book creators. He also happens to be one of the best as well, which is a happy confluence. He’s about half way towards his Kickstarter goal with two weeks to go, I’m going to pledge an amount right now, I’d love it if you could join me… I’ve gone for the hardcover signed Kickstarter edition of the book. Though the rather more expensive “4-page colour story; Calculus Cat drawing featuring YOURSELF, which will be hand coloured with watercolour” is very very tempting…