Panel from the 'Motion Picture Purgatory' review of the film 'In Dreams' (1999).

Rick Trembles is a Canadian illustrator, post-underground cartoonist, writer, filmmaker and musician. Active in Montreal's alternative comics scene since the 1970s, he is known for his open-hearted and raunchy autobiographical comics, as well as his comic-format movie review series 'Motion Picture Purgatory' in The Montreal Mirror and on (1985-1988, 1998-2021). He is also the longtime singer and guitarist with the post-punk band American Devices.

Early life and influences
Richard Tremblay was born in 1961 in Montreal as the son of Canadian Golden Age comic book artist Jack Tremblay. His father fuelled his son's interest in comics, which started with British comics, newspaper strips of the 1930s and 1940s and the work of stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen. During his teenage years, Rick got invested in underground comix - particularly the autobiographical work of Robert Crumb and Aline Kominsky - punk music and trashy movie genres. Throughout his career, these interests remained interwoven in his many artistic projects, which have included work as cartoonist, animator, illustrator, (song)writer, musician, radio DJ, make up/special effects artist, movie reviewer, actor, sculptor, designer and photographer.

From: Sugar Diet #2 (1992).

Comics and illustrations
Active as a freelance illustrator, cartoonist, animator and writer since 1977, Trembles first made his mark in the field of alternative comics with contributions to the punk magazine Surfin' Bird and his self-published zines Spoit and Sugar Diet. Besides comics, the 1984 first issue of Sugar Diet also contained interviews with local bands and reviews. Trembles sent a copy to U.S. underground comix legend Robert Crumb, who gave him some practical tips and ran one of its comic stories in issue #11 of his Weirdo comic book. The second issue of Sugar Diet appeared in 1992, and was completely filled with comics. In 1995, a third and final issue of Sugar Diet was published. In addition, comics and illustrations by Trembles have been published in internationally distributed comic anthologies, such as 'Pictopia Volume Four' (1993) by Fantagraphics Books, Russ Kick's 'The Graphic Canon: From Heart of Darkness to Hemingway to Infinite Jest' (Seven Stories Press, 2013) and the French 'Hopital Brut' series by Le Dernier Cri.

Between 1994 and 1998, Trembles additionally had a monthly comic strip in Vice Magazine, and subsequently a four-year stint as illustrator for the Toronto literary magazine Broken Pencil (1999-2003). Further illustrations by him appeared in several books covering pop culture history, such as Darius James' 'That's Blaxploitation! - Roots of the Baadasssss 'Tude' (St. Martin's Griffin, 1995), Tom Waugh and Jason Garrison's 'Montreal Main' (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2010) and Kier-La Janisse's pop culture books at Spectacular Optical, including 'Kid Power' (2014) 'Satanic Panic: Pop-Cultural Paranoia in the 1980s' (2015) and 'Yuletide Terror: Christmas Horror on Film and Television' (2017).

Cows by Rick Trembles
Motion Picture Purgatory review of 'American Psycho' (2000).

Motion Picture Purgatory
In 1985, Trembles landed a regular spot in free alternative news weekly The Montreal Mirror with a series of horror movie reviews in comic format. Covering both classic and recent slasher films, the original run of 'Motion Picture Purgatory' lasted until 1988. By then, Trembles was fired because his work was deemed misogynistic since he was reviewing films that were preoccuppied with themes of sex and violence. When in July 1998 the Mirror had a new editor, Trembles and his 'Motion Picture Purgatory' were brought back into the magazine's pages, and this time the cartoonist hardly encountered any censorship. The feature - a mix of experimental graphics and heavy text captions - kept its weekly presence until in June 2012, the paper went out of print. Between November 2012 and December 2021, Trembles continued his feature on a monthly base at the website. Two books of the 'Motion Picture Purgatory' comics have been published by the UK publisher FAB Press.

From 'Represented Immobilized'.

Autobiographical comics
Throughout his cartooning career, Trembles has regularly made autobiographical comics, inspired by the joint works of Robert Crumb and Aline Kominsky. His initial output focused on themes like debauchery, masturbation, bodily secretions and analingus. His later comics are more varied in subject matter. When in the 1990s Trembles moved  apartments, he went through his childhood belongings, which triggered memories. Worried about them fading from memory as time wore on, he took the opportunity to document them in comic stories them before they could vanish. The resulting series of autobiographical comics - created during the late 1990s and early 2000s - covered his early years in Montreal, and saw publication in the influential local zine Fish Piss, edited by the cartoonist's roommate Louis Rastelli. In 2021, these early stories were compiled into the book 'Represented Immobilized' (Conundrum Press, 2021), with an intro by renowned Canadian novelist Heather O'Neill.

By then, Trembles was already working on a new series of online autobiographical comics, this time covering his present-day life and appearing under the title 'The Weakly Dispatch' (2020- ). He had just finished his first set of new diary comics, including one celebrating charges being dropped on a garbage infraction, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and Quebec went into lockdown. What followed was a series of diary comics dealing with life during lockdown and the resulting social upheaval. In later episodes, Trembles also tackled subjects like (self)cancel-culture, gentrification, cartoonist eulogies, crappy landlords, arrested development, dystopian speculative sci-fi, noisy neighbors, cockroaches, "Karens", gated communities, and many more. A first book collection was published in 2022 by Conundrum Press under the title 'The Rick Trembles Weakly Dispatch'. In his foreword for the book, Robert Crumb described Rick Trembles as "an inscrutable character buried under dense layers of irony, self-deprecation, social alienation, conceptual-art comedy & what-not".

'The Weakly Dispatch'.

Music & movies
During the 1970s, Trembles was part of the Montreal punk scene, playing the guitar in local bands like The Electric Vomit. In 1980, he co-founded the post-punk band American Devices, of which he is the singer and guitarist and with whom he self-released several mini-albums and singles. During the early 1980s, he also had his start in the movie industry, working as special effects artist, animator and actor with indie filmmaker Demetrios Estdelacropolis on the comedy-drama cult films 'Mother's Meat & Freud's Flesh' (1984) and 'Shirley Pimple' (1985). Trembles also worked as freelance animator, inbetweener, assistant camera operator and colorist for Honey Nut Cheerios, Orville Redenbacher and Diet Coke commercials through Studio Pascal Blais. He was also stop motion animator for the documentaries 'Dragon Bones' (1990), 'Clive Barker: The Art of Horror' (1991) and 'S.P.I.T.: Squeegee Punks In Traffic' (2001), as well as colorist on the Cinar/Hanna-Barbera TV series 'Young Robin Hood' (1991).

Personal animation projects
Trembles later worked on more personal projects, like writing, directing, animating and composing music for the short 16mm animated film 'Business Lunch' (1998), 'Expletive Deleted' (2005), 'Decensortized' (2006), 'Building 108' (2016) and 'Building 108: Barnacle Bill the Tailor' (2018), which screened at underground film festivals in Montreal, New York City, Boston and Chicago. With a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, Trembles adapted one of his autobiographical comic stories, 'How Did I Get So Anal?', into the animation/live-action short film 'Rick Trembles' Goopy Spasms Live Cartoon Show' (2004), co-produced by Mitch Davis. The film premiered at Montreal's Fantasia Film Festival and had subsequent screenings at the Sitges Film Festival in Spain, the Philadelphia World Film Festival, the Lausanne Underground Film Festival in Switzerland and the Cinemuerte Film Festival in Vancouver. It won awards from the Calgary Underground Film Festival and the Boston Underground Film Festival.

'Motion Picture Purgatory' advertisement.

Series and books by Rick Trembles you can order today:


If you want to help us continue and improve our ever- expanding database, we would appreciate your donation through Paypal.