The Comic Exotic: RUB THE BLOOD

A semi-regular column about great comics you probably don’t know about. These could be Indie comics, comics with small print runs, or foreign comics. As a reader and lover of comics for over 35 years, I’ve accumulated a huge collection and this collection runs deep with the weird and the esoteric.

This time around I want to talk about a strange anthology that I picked up a couple of years ago. It’s called RUB THE BLOOD and it’s meant to be “a tribute to the speculator comics of the 90’s”. The incredible, assembled talent takes that car crash of a concept and elevates it to something approaching art. Contributors include Heather Benjamin, Victor Cayro, Benjamin Marra, Keenan Marshall Keller, Jim Rugg, and Josh Bayer among others.

It’s printed in a large format, and the over-sized pages are so full of detail that the art seems like it’s about to burst off the page. I mean, just look at that cover by Bald Eagles! You know you’re getting a face-full with this slim volume, a face-full of something that is maybe both terrible and beautiful at the same time.

rubcover-cayro_original         front-cover

RUB THE BLOOD was funded on Kickstarter and printed for the 2011 Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Fest. I love how they described the book; “An Art Comix tabloid that explores the lasting influence (for better or worse) of the Early 90’s Collector Boom comics of Rob Liefeld, Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane, etc.” It’s named after a strange cover gimmick for Bloodstrike #1, where the reader is invited to “rub the blood” off the cover. Jesus, how’s that for creepy?!


Pat Aulisio and Ian Harker work as co-editors here and they also edit SECRET PRISON, so some of the same names show up in both anthologies. For all intents and purposes, this is like a special “theme” issue of SECRET PRISON. {As an aside, SECRET PRISON is awesome and I’m sure will be featured here on The Comic Exotic in the near future.}

There are lots of fun one and two-pagers in here, more illustrations than comics.

crazy-one-pager  deadpool-page

I love Heather Benjamin. Her work straddles the line between gross and decorative in a way that is both disturbing and appealing. She never does super-hero stuff, so this is a very unusual piece for her and it’s fun to see her take on these characters.


Benjamin Marra does a fun one-pager. I’ve always appreciated Marra’s approach to making comics, sometimes more than the actual comics he makes. In short, Marra does what he does and “fuck you” if you don’t like it. Most times that works, sometimes it doesn’t, but for this little short-story, he almost leaves you wanting more.


An amazing three-pager ends the book and it’s a story that seems a bit out of place at first blush. It’s really a beautiful piece, surreal and delicate, all about the last days of Herb Trimpe’s career.  It’s by Josh Bayer and it’s called “Trimpe Loses”. It opens with an elderly Trimpe, wearing a Godzilla costume from the neck down, lamenting the fact he can no longer find work. He is chased by 90’s character favorites like Cable and Prophet, who call him old and finally bring him down and seemingly kill him. Cut-to: Trimpe sitting in a cave that’s overlooking his death scene. He is desperate for work, he needs money for his family, and he thinks about all the insults people hurled at his art over the years. He does his best to “suck it up” and work in a new style. It ends with a kid picking up a Fantastic Four comic from a newsstand. It’s the same comic we saw Trimpe working on in the last scene. The kid looks it over and exclaims, “This is the saddest comic ever made!” And as you end the story, you think, “No kid, this is the saddest comic ever made”.

Trimpe-001         Trimpe-002

All in all, this is an outstanding collection, and one-hell of a final comment on 90’s comics.

It seems copies are somehow still available at Yeah Dude Comics, so get on that before they’re all gone.

Next time, we’ll talk about a nearly-forgotten anthology of Japanese comics that just about killed me.

Jon Vinson is the writer of the graphic novel Edge of the Unknown and recently launched the new comics series Nightingale and the Finch. He is the Founder & Publisher of DUB Comics.