Reckless Life: Pop Art

Updated: Feb 4, 2021

Ladies and gentlemen, after a decade in the vault RECKLESS LIFE is back online! (Don't know what I'm talking about? Start here.)

Before you read anything below, please enjoy the VERY first Reckless Life mini-comic, POP ART:


Okay, welcome back.

Pop Art was indeed the first Reckless Life story and the only story that was intended primarily for print. (Hence the zipatone look. That wasn’t an artistic choice. Not here anyway.)

Regardless, Pop Art existed in two formats:

The first was as an ashcan mini comic that I gave away at the first ever Free Comic Book day in 2002.

I was still in college then and camped out all day at (my still all-time favorite comic book store) Capital City Comics in Madison, WI. I gave away copies of Pop Art that I printed using the University of Wisconsin’s art department printer. (Which I probably shouldn’t have done but I was college kid and broke. The other choice was to print them at the copy shop I worked at after my boss left so amorality was the only option on the table.) That was a fun day and I’ll always remember it fondly. The Comics Journal even showed up and took my picture:

Me: circa 2002
Young Tim gets a taste of fame and says: “I WANT SOME MORE.”

The second, and even more exciting printing of Pop Art was as my very first published work. On the strength of a portfolio review at Chicago Comicon (I will not call it WizardWorld) I had been offered four pages in an upcoming indie anthology called Untitled Tales.

I knew nothing about the business of the business at the time and I was ELATED. I’d been hired the year before by Acclaim/Valiant to work on a reboot of Kevin McGuire’s Trinity Angels. That project never happened and it broke my heart. (Though Acclaim DID pay me $200 for some unused character designs.) Anyway, the idea of finding a new publishing opportunity and one that wanted me to use my own characters was amazing. I got straight to work.

I honestly don’t recall how this story came to me. I’d been writing crime fiction for years and it kept getting lighter and lighter. At some point I decided, “wouldn’t it be funny to have this super-serious heist set up but then he’s just stealing a chia pet?” I felt like it worked for a short gag of a story and it really ended up informing a LOT of the rest of RL.

The creativity stops there, folks. These four pages are jam-packed with pop culture references. The museum is obviously an ode to Kevin Smith, the museum curator is loosely based on the toy collector from the Gray Ghost episode of Batman: The Animated Series (who is, himself, based on Bruce Timm) and the security guard is the comic book guy from The Simpsons. (Though the ‘worst beating ever” joke did get a chuckle out of me on re-read.)

All in all it’s a fun little story and the art isn’t as hard for me to look at as I thought it would be given the proto-RL story that it is.

It did not, say it with me, ever see print for real. The books WERE printed and I got a stack of them but they never found their way into comic book stores beyond consignment.

This would become a recurring theme in the coming years. If you’re tuned into these commentaries to find out how to get rich making independent comics even when they ARE successful you’re in for some disappointing tales ahead, dear reader.

However, if you want to hear how this goofy little story about a chia pet kicked off a subsequent 375+ pages that over 10,000 people found worth their time to read and, turned into my full time job for a while, then stay with me. We’re just getting started and there’s a lot of fun stuff ahead!

NOTE: I did make ONE change to these pages and I tried to make it obvious. I added the address to the end as not to send any of you to my old url which is now a business coaching agency. 🤮

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