NARD N' PAT
Jay Lynch, Jayzey Lynch, Jayzee, Ray Finch (7 January 1945 - 5 March 2017, USA) is best known as a pioneer of the 1960s underground comix movement. As co-editor of the influential magazine Bijou Funnies (1968-1973) he provided a platform for various iconic artists in the field, as well as his own best-known work, Nard 'n' Pat (1967-1973). He also worked as a writer for more mainstream comics, such as Phoebe and the Pigeon People (1979-1996) and Bazooka Joe (1967-1990). Lynch was closely involved with the Wacky Packages and Garbage Pails trading cards franchise and, in the dawn of his career, reinvented himself a final time as a children's book author.
Jay Lynch was born in 1945 in Orange, New Jersey. His early influences were George Herriman's 'Krazy Kat', Bud Fisher's 'Mutt and Jeff' and Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder's early issues of Mad. He had a lifelong interest in comics, but also satirical media, which he collected his entire life. When he discovered Paul Krassner's satirical magazine The Realist in 1958 Lynch finally knew what he wanted to do with his life: 'I knew my cause, I knew my role in the scheme of things'. Lynch published his first cartoons for his high school paper but looked for more professional magazines too. In an issue of Cracked he discovered that its editor had just published a fanzine, Smudge, which offered information about all kinds of satirical magazines in the country. Lynch sent for a copy and was eventually hired as a cartoonist. Other future cartoon legends like Skip Williamson and Art Spiegelman also discovered Smudge through that same Cracked issue and became close friends of Lynch. Through the fanzine network Lynch got in touch with the still unknown Gilbert Shelton, Robert Crumb, Joel Beck and Jaxon. It didn't take long before his work was published in magazines like Wild! Thor, Sick, Prep, Squire, Cracked and Harvey Kurtzman's short-lived satirical magazine Help!
In 1963, the 17-year old Lynch moved to Chicago where he found a job as the member of the improvisational comedy team 'The Second City'. He worked as a stock boy in Wieboldts department store, while still writing gags and stories for various humor magazines in his spare time. After trying out performing stand-up comedy he got in touch with Jeff Begun and Howie Cohen, two college students who had just been thrown off Roosevelt University for publishing an offensive college magazine named Aardvark. Begun and Cohen decided to continue their publication under a different name, Charlatan, where Lynch found a new audience for his work. Unfortunately, it didn't last long either. In 1967 Lynch found a job at an advertising agency, which provided him not only with a steady income but enough time at work to draw. His bosses felt that their customers ought to have the impression that their employees were continuously hard at work and thus Lynch and his friends were allowed to draw comics in between assignments.
In the mid1960s mainstream media didn't really appeal to young people. To provide a counterweight several hippies founded their own magazines. Because of their subversive content these publications couldn't be sold in regular stores and thus had to go 'underground' by being distributed through stores specializing in hippie fashions, gadgets and drugs: the so-called 'head shops'. Lynch's earliest comics were published in underground magazines like the Chicago Seed and the Chicago Kaleidoscope, but he felt that they still were too frightened to offend their readers. He found more pleasing venues in The Berkeley Barb, Fifth Estate, Nexus, Gothic Blimp Works, Purple Cat, Radical America and The East Village Other. Eventually he and Skip Williamson decided to create their own underground newspaper, The Chicago Mirror. It featured a lot of satirical articles, which unfortunately weren't always recognized as such. One day Lynch invented a story how smoking dog excrement could be used as a substitute for marihuana. To his concern some hippies actually came forward to congratulate him for giving them this tip. Even when Lynch explained it was satire the men still didn't believe it was all meant as a joke. This made them decide to change the format into a comics magazine, because then at least their satire would be a lot clearer. Inspired by Robert Crumb's groundbreaking Zap Comix, Bijou Funnies hit the market in the summer of 1968.
Bijou Funnies featured satirical comics aiming at a mature audience. Lynch functioned as its main editor and personally corresponded with various underground artists and fans across America and Europe. The magazine offered a spot for his own work, but also comics by Williamson, Gilbert Shelton, Jay Kinney, Kim Deitch, Art Spiegelman, Dave Herring, Jim Osborne, John Thompson, Rory Hayes, Paul David Simon, Roger Brand, Dan Clyne, William Stout, Denis Kitchen, Pat Daley, Willy Murphy, Ralph Reese, Evert Geradts and Justin Green. To tighten his network, he even made a map which located all other underground comics publications in the country. It was printed on the back cover of each issue. Lynch furthermore increased Bijou Funnies' national notability by advertising it whenever he was interviewed in the press and on television. It was distributed through Print Mint until 1970 and then taken over by Denis Kitchen's Kitchen Sink Press for the next three years. At the time Bijou Funnies' had considerable influence on other underground comics magazines. Denis Kitchen actually founded his own Mom's Homemade Comics (1969), after reading just one issue of Bijou Funnies.
One of Bijou Funnies' regular features was Jay Lynch's comic strip 'Nard 'n' Pat', which had made its debut in the Chicago Mirror in 1967. The underground comic dealt with a bald-headed moustached man with ultra-conservative values, Nard, and Pat, his left-wing anarchistic cat. In terms of design they looked like a typical early 1900s newspaper comic, but the content was far more subversive. Nard and Pat always bickered about politics and social issues, ranging from Maoism to the Vietnam War. Lynch based their names and personalities on two friends he knew. Just like their comic book counterparts they had opposing political viewpoints and always argued, but never listened to one another. While Lynch was a staunch left-wing progressive idealist himself, he didn't hesitate to satirize his own ideology with the same waspishness. During 'Nard 'n' Pat' 's final years the comic strip also took a lot of inspiration from discussions he had with his own wife. Lynch also drew more personal and dramatic comics around this time, such as 'Child Martyr' (Bijou Funnies, issue 7), which told the tale of a boy at his Catholic school who was bullied by older kids for believing in God. Crumb and Lynch also visited 'Dick Tracy' creator Chester Gould in 1968, which inspired Lynch to draw a two-page comic book story about this memorable event, published in Funny Animals.
In the spring of 1969 Lynch and Spiegelman resurrected the mascot of their previous publication Wild! Projunior, who was originally created by Don Dohler. They brought in all their underground comix friends to create stories about the character, which were then published as 'Don Dohler's Projunior' (1969) by Kitchen Sink. Lynch also designed the cover. The same year he edited Conspiracy Capers, a benefit comic book to raise funds for the legal defense of the upcoming trial against the Chicago Seven. These were seven anti-Vietnam war activists who were charged with conspiracy and public disturbance, among them Abbie Hoffman – famous for the subversive work 'Steal This Book' (1971). The case was controversial, and Lynch had to go through great lengths to find anybody in Chicago willing to cash the check with the benefit money. He was forced to sign it over and send it off to Washington D.C. to more kindred spirits. By the time he received everything back in the mail two months had passed by. Even worse: his letter had been opened and inspected. It turned out that the printing shop he had in mind for the job had been visited by two men in suits who'd threatened to put the owner out of business if he dared to published Conspiracy Capers. Such threats were not uncommon in the day for Lynch. People sometimes threw in his windows because of his political views. As a result, he started signing his work with the pseudonyms Jayzee, Jayzey and Ray Finch. Nevertheless, 'Conspiracy Capers' did get published and featured graphic contributions by Skip Williamson (who designed the cover), Jay Lynch, Jim Osborne, Baron, Daniel Clyne, Paul David Simon, Jay Kinney, Ralph Reese, Gary Arlington, Rory Hayes, Charles Winans and Art Spiegelman. The trial itself originally resulted in only five 'guilty' verdicts, but these too would later be overturned in a federal court of appeals.
Censorship got worse when the court case Miller vs. California in 1973 resulted in an official decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to broaden prosecution of 'obscene material'. It made it nearly impossible to publish underground magazines with the same amount of freedom, left alone distribute them. Lynch reacted to the court decision in an editorial, 'Um Tut Smut', published in the eighth and final issue of Bijou Funnies. As a farewell occasion the entire issue spoofed Mad Magazine, particularly the early issues by Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder, which had influenced him and his fellow underground buddies so much. He and his friends each drew parodies of their own comics. Lynch took it upon him to spoof Gilbert Shelton's 'Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers', while his own 'Nard 'n' Pat' received the honor of being parodied by none other than Robert Crumb.