Nard 'n' Pat by Jay Lynch
'Nard 'n' Pat'. Bijou Funnies issue #7. 

Jay Lynch was a U.S. comics artist, 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' (1978-1996) 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.

Covers for 1970s underground comix like Bogeyman #2 and Dope Comix #3.

Early life and career
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', Basil Wolverton and Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder's early issues of Mad. His interest in comics and satirical media was such that he collected them his entire life. When he discovered Paul Krassner's satirical magazine The Realist in 1958, it was a revelation. Lynch: "I knew my cause, I knew my role in the scheme of things." The teenager 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 he 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 in his spare time still writing gags and stories for various humor magazines. 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 also enough time 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.

From Bijou Funnies #1 (1968). 

The Chicago Mirror
In the mid-1960s mainstream media didn't appeal to most young people. There were few magazines geared to their generational interests. To provide a counterweight, several counterculture publications saw the light. Because of their subversive content they couldn't be sold in regular stores and thus had to go "underground". They were distributed through stores specialized 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.

In the summer of 1967 Lynch 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 marijuana. To his concern some hippies actually congratulated him with this "useful tip". Even when Lynch explained it was satire, they still didn't believe it was all meant as a joke. Lynch therefore decided to change the format into a comic magazine, because at least their satire would be a lot clearer. After their fourth issue, The Chicago Mirror folded and was resurrected as Bijou Funnies. 

'Child Martyr', from Bijou Funnies #7 (November 1972). 

Bijou Funnies
In the summer of 1968, inspired by Robert Crumb's underground comix magazine Zap Comix, Lynch, Jay Kinney and Skip Williamson established a new magazine, Bijou Funnies. When Crumb visited Chicago during the Yippie Festival at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, he helped them put the first issue together. At that point Lynch worked at an art studio, where he designed medical magazine ads for Lomotil, a diarrhea suppressant. Bijou Funnies sold so well that he could quit his job and devote his career to comics. 

Bijou Funnies featured satirical comics aimed at a mature audience. Lynch was chief editor and personally corresponded with various underground artists and fans all 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 made a map which located all other underground comix publications in the country. It was printed on the back cover of each issue. Lynch increased Bijou Funnies' national notability by advertising it during press interviews. 

Bijou Funnies 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 the magazine had considerable influence on other underground comix publications. Denis Kitchen actually founded his own magazine, Mom's Homemade Comics (1969), after reading just one issue of Bijou Funnies.

Nard 'n' Pat from Bijou Funnies #5 (December 1970), with a guest appearance from Melvin Mole and the prison warden from Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder's comic strip 'Melvin Mole' from Mad #2.

Nard 'n' Pat
One of Bijou Funnies' regular features was Jay Lynch's comic strip 'Nard 'n' Pat'. The series originated in 1967 in The Chicago Mirror. Nard is a bald-headed man with a long nose and bushy moustache. Pat is his anthropomorphic cat. The characters look like they ran away from some early 20th-century newspaper comic, like Bud Fisher's 'Mutt & Jeff' or George Herriman's 'Krazy Kat'. Yet Lynch's storylines are far more subversive. Although Nard and Pat share a similar physical design, they differ in political-social opinions. Nard has ultra-conservative, right-wing values, while Pat is a left-wing, progressive anarchist. They frequently quarrel about everything, ranging from sex, the U.S. government, civil rights, Maoism to the Vietnam War. Lynch based their names and personalities on two of his friends. Just like their comic book counterparts, they always argued about politics, but never listened to one another. Although Lynch was a staunch left-wing idealist himself, he didn't hesitate to satirize his own ideology with the same waspishness. In his opinion both the right and the left were worthy of satirical criticism. During the final years of the series, Nard and Pat's arguments were also directly based on discussions Lynch had with his wife. 

Autobiographical comics
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Lynch also drew more personal and dramatic comics, such as 'Child Martyr' (Bijou Funnies, issue #7), about an urban legend he heard at his Catholic school about a boy bullied and eventually murdered for believing in God. He and Crumb 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 the one-shot underground comic book Funny Animals (1972).

The meaning behind 'Um Tut Sut'
One riddle that has puzzled many of Lynch's readers was the catchphrase "Um Tut Sut!", a running gag he kept going for decades. Many have pondered its meaning, but it actually meant nothing. Lynch intended it as a pun on "Om Tat Sat", a Hindu mantra which gained popularity in the West during the 1960s. "Um Tut Sut!" was even turned into a poem by the Finnish poet Markku Into in 1985, and a song by the children's rock 'n' roll band The Boogers in 2008.

Nard 'n' Pat by Jay Lynch
'Nard 'n' Pat', Bijou Funnies #4 (May 1970). 

Don Dohler's Projunior
In the spring of 1969 Lynch and Art Spiegelman resurrected Projunior, the mascot of their previous publication Wild!, originally created by Don Dohler. They brought in all their underground comix colleagues to create stories about the character, published as 'Don Dohler's Projunior' (1969) by Kitchen Sink Press. Lynch also designed the cover.

Conspiracy Capers
In 1969 Lynch 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 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 went 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. Two months passed by before he received everything back by mail. Even worse: his letter had been opened and inspected. Later he found out that the printing shop he considered had been visited by two men in suits. They had threatened the owner to not publish Conspiracy Capers, or else be put out of business. 

Threats like these weren't uncommon in Lynch's life and career. People sometimes threw in his windows and he received occasional death threats by mail. It motivated him to use more pseudonyms, like "Jayzee", "Jayzey" and "Ray Finch". Nevertheless, 'Conspiracy Capers' did get published, with  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. Originally five of the Chicago Seven were found "guilty", but these verdicts were later overturned in a federal court of appeals. 

Lynch's parody of the 'Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers' from Bijou Funnies #8 (November 1973). 

End of Bijou Funnies
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, let 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. The farewell issue was an ambitious and nostalgic spoof of Mad Magazine, particularly the early issues by Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder, which had influenced him and his fellow underground buddies so much. Every comic in the issue was a parody of one of their own underground series, presented in Kurtzmanian style. Lynch spoofed Gilbert Shelton's 'Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers', while his own 'Nard 'n' Pat' received the honour of being parodied by none other than Robert Crumb.

Ads, posters and album covers
Outside of Bijou Funnies, Lynch designed various advertisements and posters for the record label Curtom. Together with Skip Williamson he designed the album cover of 'The Genuine Imitation Life Gazette' (1969) by The Four Seasons. The cover was made to look like a newspaper, even featuring an eight-page newspaper-like booklet inside with an underground comic named 'High Frequency Funnies', drawn by Lynch and Williamson. While an obvious attempt to appear more hip to young listeners, the record cover was quite influential. Jethro Tull's 'Thick as a Brick' (1972), John Lennon's 'Some Time In New York City' (1973), Tom Waits' 'Heartattack and Vine' (1980) and Radiohead's 'The King of Limbs' (2011) also designed their album covers to look like a newspaper.

Lynch was also active for Hugh Hefner's Playboy, who came up with a comics section called 'Playboy Funnies'. Skip Williamson was given the task of bringing hip, young artists together, among them also Art Spiegelman, Jay Kinney, Randall Enos, Lou Brooks, Mark Alan Stamaty and Howard Cruse. Lynch also made a more grotesque version of the then-popular smiley buttons.

Smiley buttons by Jay Lynch
Lynch's subversion of the 'Smiley' buttons. 

Phoebe and the Pigeon People
In 1977 the Chicago Seed issued a juvenile supplement called Sidetracks. Lynch was asked to create a comic strip, but his preliminary sketches ended in an editor's drawer and were forgotten for about a year. While cleaning up one day, the editor rediscovered them, but simply returned them to sender. Lynch therefore sent the pages to a rival newspaper, The Chicago Reader. They were more enthusiastic and so, in April 1978 the first episode of 'Phoebe and the Pigeon People' ran in The Chicago Reader. The gag comic stars an old woman, Phoebe, who feeds pigeons in the park. However, the birds all have human heads and are satirical representations of certain people in society. For instance, one of them, Bix, is a beatnik who enjoys ranting. 

 At first Lynch drew everything personally, but he quickly got tired of it. Gary Whitney then took over the illustration work, while Lynch wrote the scripts.  'Phoebe and the Pigeon People' (1978-1996) ran for 18 years on a weekly basis. From 1990 on Jim Siergey was assistant-inker. The final episode was published in 1996. 'Phoebe and the Pigeon People' inspired a stage show, 'When Cultures Collide'. It was performed by the improvisational theater troupe The Practical Theater in collaboration with rock and new wave bands. Between 1979 and 1981 the best gags of 'Phoebe and the Pigeon People' were collected by Kitchen Sink in three comic books.

Jay Lynch and Gary Whitney

Wacky Packages
Another mainstream endeavour of Lynch was his work for the bubble gum and trading cards company Topps. Between 1967 and 1990 he was the anonymous gag writer for numerous 'Bazooka Joe' comics. Originally drawn by Wesley Morse, these were small-format gag comics hidden inside bubblegum wrappers. For the same company Lynch also contributed to the 'Wacky Packages' (1968) trading cards and stickers. These were parodies of iconic brands, often in combination with a pun. The artwork often imitated the original designs so perfectly that lawsuits were a genuine threat. However, since most companies would typically send a cease-and-desist letter to remove all copies within three months Topps never had a problem, because they came up with new ideas every month and the older trading cards only remained in roulation for a short while. The concept for 'Wacky Packages' was thought up by Art Spiegelman who was in his turn inspired by similar spoofs in Mad Magazine. Both he and Lynch made graphic contributions, taking turns with Kim Deitch, George Evans, Drew Friedman, Bill Griffith, Norman Saunders, Bhob Stewart and Tom Sutton. The franchise inspired posters, T-shirts, books, erasers, binders, but also five comic book issues with artwork by Lynch, Joe Simko, Neil Camera and Brent Engstrom. It provided many underground comix artists with a steady income, while still remaining true to their public image as anti-establishment artists.

In 1985 a similar trading cards series was created, 'Garbage Pail Kids', which featured eccentric children with grotesque faces. Spiegelman and Mark Newgarden came up with the intitial idea, while John Pound made the designs. Later Lynch also made some illustrations for these cards, along with Tom Bunk, Strephon Taylor, Layron DeJarnette, Brent Engstrom, Dave Gross, Mark Pingitore, Joe Simko, Colin Walton, Fred Wheaton, Jeff Zapata, John Czop, Don Perlin, Justin Green and James Warhola. Due to its reliance on gross-out humor, the cards were an immediate succes with children and  distributed in France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Brazil, Israel, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. In 1987 a movie adaptation was made, 'The Garbage Pail Kids Movie', which became one of the most notorious box office flops in motion picture history.

Artwork by Jay LynchArtwork by Jay Lynch
Posters by Jay Lynch. 

Mad Magazine
In the late 1990s Lynch was contributor to Mad Magazine for a while. He was involved with their merchandising, but also scripted three of their articles. He wrote the gag 'One Sunny Morning on Easter Island' (issue #368, April 1998), illustrated by Timothey Shamey. For 'One Fine Day at the Candy Store' (issue #375, November 1998) he was assisted by Monte Wolverton, while Leslie Sternbergh illustrated 'Products For Your Aging Hippie Parents' (issue #390, February 2000).

Other comics in the 1990s
Lynch, John Costanza and Gary Fields contributed artwork for Everett Peck's underground comic book  'Duckman' (Dark Horse, 1990), which later inspired the 1994-1997 animated TV series of the same name. Other popular comics titles Lynch worked for were 'Archie Comics' (with the characters created by Bob Montana), 'Zorro' and Matt Groening's 'The Simpsons'. He also once had the opportunity to work for Marvel Comics' adult comic magazine Comix Book, but turned the offer down when his contract stipulated that Marvel would own all his characters.

Children's books
In the 2008 Lynch was closely involved with Françoise Mouly's project to create more comic books appropriate for children. The Toon Books series featured various graphic novels created by well-known comic authors with appropriate educational value. Lynch wrote a book called 'Otto's Orange Day' (2008), illustrated by Frank Cammuso. It tells the tale of a young cat, Otto, who finds a magical genie who grants him one wish. Otto wishes the entire world looked orange, because it would make things more happy and bright. Slowly but surely he starts to regret his decision, but unfortunately he is out of wishes and needs to find a way to make everything return to normal.

The same year Lynch also published 'Mo and Jo Fighting Together Forever' (2008), illustrated by Dean Haspiel. This story revolves around Mighty Jojo, a superhero who tries to make two aggressive twins quit fighting each other. He gives them a costume that will provide them superpowers, but they simply rip it in half. Seeing that their town is under threat of the evil villain Saw-Jaw they need to come up with a solution fast.

Mineshaft cover by Jay Lynch
Cover for Mineshaft. 

Graphic and written contributions
Lynch made a graphic contribution to Marion Vidal's 'Monsieur Schulz et ses Peanuts’ (Albin Michel, 1976), an essay about Charles M. Schulz’ 'Peanuts’, illustrated with subversive parodies of the comic, that Schulz unsuccessfully tried to sue. Lynch also wrote a personal homage to Robert Crumb in Monte Beauchamp's book 'The Life and Times of R. Crumb. Comments From Contemporaries (St. Martin's Griffin, New York, 1998).

Final years and death
In the later years of his career Lynch worked as a teacher for the Chicago Institute. He also drew comics for the magazine Mineshaft. By 2016 he was in such ill health that he sold his entire personal collection of original comics, magazines, press files, correspondence and art to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum. He passed away from lung cancer in early 2017. He was an influence on Jay Kinney, Alan Hewetson, Alan Moore and Joost Swarte. His wife, Jane Lynch, was also active as a comic writer and journalist.

Jay Lynch

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