Miraculously, most of the great underground comix artists of the late ’60s are still alive and kicking. Compared to the burnt-out, drug-slain rock stars of the same era, their unscathed record is rather amazing. Now in their late 50s and early 60s, many are also doing their best work. Along with R. Crumb, Art Spiegelman and Bill Griffith, Kim Deitch is one such exemplar of the art of underground “funnies,” an author and illustrator who transcended his beginnings in the age of sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll to become a mature comics storyteller.
Currently, his collection Shadowland (Fantagraphics) is earning critical acclaim, and anticipation is high for Alias the Cat (Pantheon Books), due out in April. We caught up with Deitch to discuss the longevity of comics, the dubious term “graphic novel” and his constant growth as an artist.