Part of a comic strip made by D.J. Schiff for the 25th anniversary of comic shop Lambiek (1993).

Dan Schiff, who signs his works as D.J. Schiff, is an American cartoonist, writer and musician, based in Berkeley, California. The first, and possibly only "Joycean Cartoonologist", Schiff researches comic and cartoon references in the work of James Joyce, and often refers to Joyce in his own comics and writings. An English Major, Schiff has worked as a proofreader of academic journals for the UC Press and an editor of comic creator biographies for the Lambiek Comiclopedia.

Early life
Born in 1959 in Springfield, Ohio, Daniel Joseph Schiff spent most of his youth in the nearby village of Yellow Springs. He was introduced to the ins and outs of comic book sales at age ten, when he helped a neighbor bagging comics for conventions. Schiff spent much of his teenage years hanging around Elsewhere Books, a local science fiction and fantasy bookstore that also sold comics. At age 14, he landed his first job there, and was introduced to the top creators of American underground comix, such as Robert Crumb, Art Spiegelman, Victor Moscoso and Rick Griffin. In his spare time, he made his own cartoons, and in 1977 and 1978, his 'Possibilities' cartoon ran weekly in the Yellow Springs News.

'Possibilities' cartoon in reaction to the May 1978 publication of the Nixon memoirs, 'RN'.

Since 1980, Dan Schiff has lived in Berkeley, California, where in 1982 he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature from UC Berkeley. With his keen interest in arts, literature, comics, music and pop culture memorabilia, he has been involved in all sorts of artistic disciplines, both as an artist and a scholar. He makes comics and cartoons, writes palindrome poetry, creates music and does "gig drawings" of live musicians. As a scholar, he studies the work of the Irish writer James Joyce (1882-1941), and works for the University of California Press (UC Press) as a proofreader of academic journals. In the mid-1980s, Schiff produced three limited edition illustrations of James Joyce's 'Ulysses' with the assistance of Alastair Johnston of Berkeley's Poltroon Press. Between 1984 and 1997, Schiff was a cartoonist for The Ampersand, the quarterly magazine of the Pacific Center for Book Arts. Working for a niche magazine aimed at printers, graphic designers and publishers allowed him to experiment freely with type, bookmaking and printing humor. 

From: The Ampersand, Volume 10, Number 4 (Fall, 1990).

Joycean Cartoonologist
In 1988, Dan Schiff decided he was going to be a "Joycean Cartoonologist", studying the cartoon references in the work of James Joyce, the modernist avant-garde Irish writer of novels like 'Ulysses' (1922) and 'Finnegans Wake' (1939). In essays like 'James Joyce in Cartoons' - featured in 'Joyce in Context' (Cambridge University Press, 1992) - Schiff explored Joyce references to Bud Fisher's 'Mutt and Jeff', Marie Duval and other characters, but also fact-checked and debunked earlier research, for instance the assumption that Joyce referred to Mickey Mouse in a line of ‘Finnegans Wake’, when he actually wrote the words years before the 1928 debut of the first Mickey Mouse film, 'Steamboat Willie'. His research led to several sojourns to Europe, spending time in Dublin, Ireland and Zürich, Switzerland, doing research. Schiff has been part of a half-dozen San Francisco Bay Area Joyce reading groups, and is a founding member of the weekly Berkeley Tuesday Night Finnegans Wake group. In July 1989 and July 2001, this reading group organized major Joyce conferences, and D.J. Schiff lent his graphic art skills for logos, mailers, posters, programs, T-shirts and the 'James Joyce Metaphor' limited edition jigsaw puzzle.

In 1993, Schiff moved to Switzerland for a seven-month stint as visiting scholar at the Zürich James Joyce Foundation, where he designed book bags, postcards, beer labels, participated in workshops and weekly reading groups and did research on the visual in Joyce. He continues to help out the ZJJF by acquiring Joyce-related materials for their collection.

Comics in the writings of James Joyce” (Wonderworker Press, 2011).

Wonderworker Press
Since 1996, D.J. Schiff has been self-publishing his comics, writings and music under his Wonderworker Press imprint/label. His first DIY production was an edition of 200 copies of 'Let's All Chortle: A James Joyce Cartoonbook', a 56-page comic collection, intended to debut at the Fifteenth International James Joyce Symposium in Zürich. Wonderworker Press also released 'Comics in the Writings of James Joyce', a 14-page comic book inspired by Schiff's research as a Joycean Cartoonologist. Schiff's limited edition book series 'James Joyce for Wee Ones' contains illustrations inspired by segments of James Joyce novels, including the collage-based 'Wather Parted from The Say' (1998), 'The Ondt and the Gracehoper' (1998), followed by 'Raynbow' (2004), which was based on Photoshopped photography.

In addition to art books, Dan Schiff used his Wonderworker Press to release his prose and poetry. The second book appearing on the imprint was 'Senile Lines' (1996), a collection of long palindromes, featuring surreal imagistic poetry and a short play. In 2001, Schiff released 'Eugene Oregon: A Novel Inverse' (2001), an epic poem modeled after the sonnet format of Alexander Pushkin's 'Eugene Onegin: A Novel In Verse'.

Gig drawing of the Ted Nash Trio at Dizzy’s Club in The Lincoln Center, New York Dity (3 November 2021).

Music is another important part of Dan Schiff's career. Besides making live drawings of music performers in local venues, he has worked as a musician, composer and DJ himself. While at college in Middlebury, Vermont, in the late 1970s, he hosted the popular Radio Pancakes Trivia Hour and his late night Radio Pancakes Radio Show on WRMC radio. During the 1980s, he performed with the Berkeley garage band Girl-Scout Herring, singing and playing bass, drum machine and copious plastic children's toys through an Echoplex. As Joycean rap artist "Grandmaster Dan", Schiff performed 'The Odysseus Rap' with Girl-Scout Herring (San Francisco, 1986), 'The Finnegans Wake Rap' with the Wakettes and the Amazing Otto (Berkeley, 1989) and the 'James Joyce Birthday Rap' with DJ Shockee Sharon (Miami, 1991). On his KORG M1 synthesizer, Schiff wrote, sung, and recorded music for many musical parts of James Joyce's 'Finnegans Wake', which is also described in his article 'Synthesizing "The Ballad of Pierce O'Reilly"' in the Sebastian Knowles-edited book 'Bronze by Gold: The Music of Joyce' (Routledge, 1999). Through Wonderworker Press, he released compilations of his musical output, including the cassette tape 'The Best of Grandmaster Dan 1986-1996' (1996) and the CD 'James Joyce Raps' (2002).

A Lambiek Mail-O-Gram, collaborative mail art by Schiff and Joey De Vivre (Jeff Carlock), 1993.

Comic shop Lambiek
During his many trips to Europe, Dan Schiff always spends several weeks in The Netherlands. When he was still a child, the Schiff family spent one year living in this country, where Dan attended the American School in The Hague. During his 1993 scholarship with the Zürich James Joyce Foundation, Schiff took some time off to visit Amsterdam, and in particular the legendary comic shop Lambiek. He instantly hit it off with store managers Kees Kousemaker and Klaas Knol, who let him stay in the upstairs cartoonist apartment, and broadened his perspective on comic art by introducing him to the work of Joe Matt and the European artists Joost Swarte, Ever Meulen and Pierre Clément. When Kousemaker launched his online Comiclopedia project - an English-language encyclopedia of comic creators worldwide - Schiff volunteered as a proofreader. Between 2001 and 2005, he complemented his archivist dayjob with Sybex Books by looking at every entry for the Comiclopedia from A to Z three times, working in a steady collaboration with the original Comiclopedia editor Margreet de Heer. He made sure grammar and overall style of the biographies were consistent, and checked if all external links were still functional.

In the summer of 2020, Dan Schiff rejoined the Comiclopedia team as proofreader, editor and overall "West Coast Consultant". By then, the current editors Bas Schuddeboom and Kjell Knudde had implemented a "New Deal" of writing biographies, making them longer and more analytical (and, consequently, prone to more errors). During regular Zoom video calls, Schiff and Schuddeboom discuss Dan's changes, and make corrections, while also establishing a new styleguide. They also enhanced the 2018 article series 'The Story of Lambiek' by correcting style and grammar, making it more explanatory to non-Dutch readers and adding Schiff's personal knowledge about the Lambiek history.

Dan Schiff and Margreet de Heer appearing in a 2017 photo comic about proofreading, made for the NBM Publishing blog.

Other Dutch collaborations
Since her 2005 departure from Lambiek, Dan Schiff has kept in touch with Margreet de Heer. When she began her own cartooning career, Schiff continued to be her proofreader for the English translations of her celebrated educational 'Discoveries in Comics' series. He was an avid overseas supporter of De Heer's term as the first “Comic Artist Laureate of the Netherlands" (2017-2020), and contributed art to one of her "Bloto" photographs (nude photo augmented with cartoons) made to support the overview book of her Laureate period, 'Strip, Holland Strip' (2021). Through the Lambiek crew, Schiff was also introduced to Chad Bilyeu, an Amsterdam-based writer and art director from Cleveland, who chronicles his observations and experiences in the Netherlands in his comic book series 'Chad in Amsterdam'. In 2021, Schiff's 2001 epic poem 'Eugene Oregon' served as the inspiration for a story in the sixth issue of Bilyeu's series, 'Brad in Amsterdam' (script by Bilyeu, art by Sean van der Molen), which is set in Schiff's favorite Amsterdam coffeeshop, De Dampkring.

Drawing by Dan Schiff, depicting James Joyce, 1996. This particular image was also drawn by Schiff on the wall of the Lambiek store's former address in the Kerkstraat, 78. 

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