Ed The Happy Clown, 1992: Back cover.
Born 16 May 1960, in Châteauguay a suburb of Montréal.
When growing up he was a fan of the television series Batman, Superman and Tarzan. The film Dr. Dolittle impressed him and he read several of the books. Among the periodicals, during his preteen years he favoured DC publications but shifted to Marvel when he was in his teens. He was impressed by Carl Barks’ duck stories. The influences for his own material came from the television series and films of “Monty Python” a British surreal comedy group while Wallace Fowlie’s Age of Surrealism, introduced him to surrealist theory.
Over 1977 to 1978, he studied art at Dawson College Montréal, but left because the program didn’t suit his goals.
He moved to Toronto in 1979. After his work was rejected by several publishers, Kris, his girlfriend suggested he use the mini comic format. She obtained printing samples and price quotes. In 1983 Chester debuted Yummy Fur. He self distributed, the approximately 300 copies he printed, for the first three years after which it was published by Vortex Comics. It was a work that ranged from the surreal, scatological series “Ed the Happy Clown” – the title character had Ronald Regan’s head attached to his penis – to cartoon adaptions of New Testament passages. It won a number of industry awards as well as accolades from Rolling Stone and The Village Voice.
His involvement with Bill Marks and Vortex Comics Inc. was a long delayed process. Bill first asked him to do a story for his anthology Vortex, but Chester didn’t follow through. At the same time Gregory Gallant (Seth) (Gregory and Chester were not yet acquainted) was urging Bill to publish “Yummy Fur”. Still nothing happened. Then Comics Journal in its 1996 issue published a glowing review of Yummy Fur, no. 7. Gregory again urged Bill to publish “Yummy Fur”. On May 16th, Chester’s birthday, Bill telephoned him and offered to publish “Yummy Fur. The first issue appeared December 1986.
The switch to Drawn & Quarterly, began when Chris Oliveros said he’d like to take over publishing Yummy Fur, and offered Chester a higher royalty rate, but Chester was still under contract to Bill Marks.
Some time later as the contract approached its end, Gregory (he and Chester were now close friends) became aware of this and unknown to Chester, told Chris of this development. Chris telephoned Chester again and a deal was made. The Vortex involvement ended with Yummy Fur 24, April 1991, and the Drawn & Quarterly involvement began with Yummy Fur 25, July 1991.
Chester began moving into autobiography. He had joined in this movement with his two friends and associates Gregory Gallant (Seth) and Joe Matt. The Playboy recorded the cartoonist’s adolescent reactions to Playboy magazine. My Mom Was a Schizophrenic dealt with his mother’s mental illness. Although the comic books of these three sold in small quantities per issue (3000 – 7000) They attracted mail from across North America, Europe and Asia.
The next step took him away from the autobiographic confessional so common in the early 1990’s to Louis Riel a history aimed at a serious adult audience. He began the series in 1869 with the sale of Rupert’s Land by the Hudson’s Bay Co. to Canada.
Content biography & Cover book front:
Louis Riel. Drawn and Quarterly Publications, Sept. 2003.
Content memoir & Cover dust jacket front:
I Never Liked You. Drawn and Quarterly Publications, Nov.1994.
The Playboy. Drawn and Quarterly Publications, Dec.1992.
Paying For It. Drawn & Quarterly, May 2011.
Content novel & Cover book front:
Mary Wept Over The Feet Of Jesus. Drawn and Quarterly Publications, April 2016.
BOOK GRAPHIC COLLECTION:
Content story & Cover book front:
A Yummy Fur Book: Ed The Happy Clown. Vortex Comics Inc., Aug.1989.
The Definitive Ed Book: Ed the Happy Clown. Vortex Comics Inc., May 1992.
The Little Man. Drawn and Quarterly Publications, Apr.1998.
BOOK TEXT & GRAPHIC ANTHOLOGY:
Content cartoon jam:
Drawn and Quarterly: Twenty-Five Years …. Drawn & Quarterly, May 2015: “The Lucky Bastard”: 635. A jam session: Panels 1, 4, 7, by Joe Matt; panels 2, 5, 8, by Chester Brown; panels 3, 6, 9, by Gregory Gallant (Seth). “50 Years down the road”: 750. Previously appeared in Comics Journal, 162, October 1993: 53. Self portraits by Joe Matt, Chester Brown, Gregory Gallant (Seth). See below.
Drawn and Quarterly: Twenty-Five Years …. Drawn & Quarterly, May 2015: “A History of Drawn & Quarterly In Six Panels”: 12. “The Zombie Who liked The Arts”: 117-129. Originally appeared in Now Magazine, October. 4 to November.8 2007. “ “Notes From Chester Brown On The Zombie Who Liked The Arts”: 146. “The Hymn of the pearl’: 138-145. “Notes From Chester Brown On The Hymn Of The Pearl”: 146.
Content title page:
Comic Book Confidential. 1988: 1.
PERIODICAL GRAPHIC ANTHOLOGY
Taboo, 1, Fall 1988: “Dirk the Gerbil”: 104-106. Previously published in British fanzine Escape, 7. “A Late Night Snack”:107-111.
Cover book front:
Comic Book Confidential. 1988. Promotional booklet.
PERIODICAL GRAPHIC ANTHOLOGY
Canadian Comics Cavalcade, 1-1, Summer 1986: “Art School.” Co-car., Gideon Steinberg.: 15.
Chester Brown: Conversations. Ed., Dominick Grace & Eric Hoffman. University Press of Mississippi, 2013.
Ed vs. Yummy Fur: or what happens when a serial comic becomes a graphic novel. Writ., Brian Evenson. Uncivilized Books, May 2014.
Canadian Alternatives: Cartoonists Comics & Graphic Novels. Ed., D. Grace & E. Hoffman. University Press of Mississippi, 2018: “Louis Riel, Super-History Hero.” Writ., Jordan Bolay: 62-175.
Drawn and Quarterly: Twenty-Five Years …. Drawn & Quarterly, May 2015: “A Furtive Exchange: An appreciation.” Writ., Jonathon Lethem: 131-135. “Louis Riel : An Appreciation.” Writ., Candida Rifkind: 136-137.
Hero Illustrated, 1-10, Apr. 1994: “On The Edge: Chester Brown’s Yummy Fur Comes To An End.” Writ., Steve Darnell: 50-52.
Comics Interview, 93, 1991: “Chester Brown.” Interviewer, Jay Torres: 24-35.
Comics Journal, 162, October 1993: “Seth, Brown, Matt.” Interviewers, Mark Daly & Rich Kreiner: 51-56. “Good Ol’ Chester Brown: “A … Exploration of Yummy Fur.” Writ., B. Levin: 45- 49.
Taboo, 1, Fall 1988: “Dirk The Gerbil Introduction”: 104.
This Magazine July/Aug. 2011: “Love for sale”. Writ., Paul McLaughlin: 5-6.
Globe and Mail 11 Sept. 1993?: “Drawing on painful experience.” Writ., Alan Echenberg.
Globe and Mail 9 Oct.1999: “Comic actor.” Writ., Cathal Kelly: C20.
Globe and Mail, 9 Apr. 2016: “Chester Brown’s new testament.” Writ., Mark Medley: R1, R5.
Toronto Star 27 Feb.1987: “Here’s your guide to superheroes of Canadian comics”: D6.
Globe and Mail 9 Oct. 1999: “Team Cartoon Canada: Rebel Rag.” Writ., Shawn Conner: C20.
A telephone interview by Mel Taylor (not published) 31 March 2018.
Left to right: Joe Matt, Chester Brown, Gregory Gallant (Seth) A jam cartoon in which each artist did a self portrait as he expected to be at “50 years down the road”. Comics Journal, 162, October 1993: 53