Ebon

Larry Fuller was an American underground comix artist who has several historical "firsts" attached to his name. Together with Grass Green he was one of only two African-American underground comic artists in the 1960s and 1970s and the only one who was a homosexual. His work 'Gay Hearthrobs' (1976) was even the first all-homosexual comic book in history. Fuller can furthermore take credit for creating the first superhero comic book with an African-American in a starring role, namely 'Ebon' (1970). This was also the first comic book completely written and drawn by an African-American man. Last but not least, Fuller was also the first African-American comics artist - together with Raye Horne - to gain commercial success as a distributor of adult comics. As an African-American gay man Fuller naturally stood out amidst the predominantly white and heterosexual underground comix movement. Being part of two minority groups who are often victim of discrimination, his comics often feature social commentary about race and sexuality.

Fuller loved superhero comics as a child, even though he often wondered why all the characters were white? In the mid-1960s he was drafted into the U.S. Air Force. He moved to San Francisco afterwards and still felt African-Americans needed a superhero of their own. He searched for an artist who could illustrate his script, but after a year he still hadn't found anyone willing to take the task. Inspired by the underground comix movement, who just published what they wanted through their own independent media, Fuller then decided to do the job himself, Fuller then decided to do the job himself. He took some art classes and contacted Gary Arlington, owner of the San Francisco Comic Book Company and main distributor of all underground comix around the area. Thus 'Ebon' (1970) hit the market. It was published in an untrimmed edition without a professional looking cover and remained quite obscure as a result. Still, the first African-American superhero comic had arrived. While it's true that Marvel had introduced African-American superheroes a few years earlier in the mainstream press characters like 'The Black Panther' (by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, 1966), 'The Falcon' (by Stan Lee and Gene Colan, 1969) and Luke Cage (by Stan Lee, Archie Goodwin and John Romita Sr., 1970) were at that point still side-characters who yet had to receive comic book titles of their own. In that regard 'Ebon' was definitely the first African-American superhero comic, and holds even more importance because it was the first comic book completely written and drawn by one single African-American artist.

Fuller made a contribution to 'Laugh in the Dark' (1971, Last Gasp), an anthology comic book where several underground comix artists like Kim Deitch, Rory Hayes, Spain Rodriguez, Bill Griffith, S. Clay Wilson, Justin Green, George Metzger, Michael McMillan and Willie Mendes drew humoristic horror stories. His comic story was an adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's short story 'The Ter'ble Old Man'.

After that it remained quiet around Fuller for a long while. He gave a sign of life in 1975 when he and Raye Horne founded Ful-Horne Productions, a company specializing in adult comics. Their first publication was 'The Funny Book' (1975), a black-and-white comic featuring a bizarre story by Gary Figari. It didn't sell well, but Ful-Horne's next entry, 'White Whore Funnies' (1975) did. It featured very explicit sex scenes, but also offered clever satire of interracial, social and political issues. Under the pseudonym "Wiley Spade", Fuller filled most of the first issue himself with characters like 'Kid Cunt' and 'Willie Lee Nogoodnik'. He also contributed stories to the second and third issues ('Draw!' and 'Some Tight White Ass', respectively). The book wasn't just a hit with black audiences, white readers liked and bought it too. Fuller and Horne followed it up with a genuine hole in the market: 'Gay Hearthrobs' (1976), which was the first comic book aiming at homosexual audiences. In 1977 Ful-Horne rebooted their first ever publication under the new name 'The New Funny Book'. The first issue, which offered comics by Gary Figari, Dan O'Neill, Alex Niño and Bob Vojtko once again sold poorly. A second issue was published and a "next issue" was promised too but never appeared. Despite contributions by artists like Ian Akin, Dennis Plumb Auad, Danny Bulanadi, R. Davies, Duane Bibby, Gary Figari, Yves François, Ray Garst, Raye Horne, Reggie Macabasco, Dan O'Neill, Nestor Redondo and Bob Vojtko, the 'New Funny Book' franchise was never a success, which even Fuller and Horne came to accept as they discontinued it soon after.

They didn't despair however, because 'White Whore Funnies' (three issues) and 'Gay Hearthrobs' (three issues) kept selling well. After establishing Fuller Inkwell the company brought out other succesful pornographic comics series, such as 'Adults Only!' (1979-1987) and 'HandJob Library' (1991). Ful-Horne invested a lot of time, effort and money in giving all their publications a slick, glossy look which helped their titles being taken seriously. Soon they were even one of the few underground comix distributed through porn shops. Their success story kept going throughout the 1980s and 1990s. While mostly a publisher and editor since the mid 1970s, Fuller did occasionally write and draw stories for his own titles as well. In 2007 he received the Pioneer Award at the Glyph Comics Awards.


The Full-Inkwell team

Series and books by Larry Fuller in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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