THROW UP YOUR GOATS
Road tripping and rock and roll. Turbo charged classic cars. Snakeskin boots. Switchblades and electric guitars. High-profile tattooed trouble making a mark on heavy metal history. Sell out shows and slot machine payouts in Paradise City. Shell-shocked, cranked up and ready to kick a little ass on a world-wide rampage. Livin' fast and dyin' young.
No wait… maybe dying young isn't such a good idea.
But that's how the hard rock legacy of New Zealand artist Martin Emond ended this last Monday… with his untimely death.
"Throw up your goats," his character Switchblade was fond of telling people, and I can think of no more appropriate slogan around which Martin Emond's life centered because he was a throw up your goats kind of guy. Constantly rushing headlong into project after project, continually traveling the world searching for inspiration, and always producing an incredible amount of work in a very short period of time. He was a living symbol of the throw up your goats lifestyle.
Marty was an unbelievably talented artist whose work graced the comic industry only briefly, but while he was here he worked with some of the industry's greatest (Garth Ennis, Alan Grant, Kevin Eastman, and Pat Mills to name a few). His work made an impact on all those who saw it. Responsible for comics from Marvel, DC, Tundra, Dark Horse, Heavy Metal, Verotik, Toxic, and 2000ad in the form of numerous "Lobo" one-shots, co-creating "Accident Man" with Pat Mills which was optioned by Universal Pictures, giving Verotik comics their distinctive look with four years of intense covers and conic art and even a completed 48-page "Punisher" one-shot with Gordon Rennie that has yet to see the light of day… no amount of diminished responsibility is going to keep us from holding Martin Emond accountable for what he left behind.
And he left behind something truly special.
Because an unpublished "Punisher" comic is not the only comic Martin did with Gordon Rennie. They also teamed up to make one of the most kick ass heavy metal comic books ever made in the history of kiss ass heavy metal comic books. Martin Emond and Gordon Rennie gave us "White Trash." And it's a book that I think is so much fucking fun and so dammed good that it made Guns and Roses fans out of even my most staunchly heavy metal-hating, punk rock friends.
Published by Heroes for Sale
"White Trash" is a rock and roll Americana roadtrip that celebrates hero worship, mindless violence, cool kitsch, low-rent celebrity, and the generation gap with guns, grenades and gore. "White Trash" is the only comic ever made that is equal parts "Welcome to the Jungle," "Bubba Ho-Tep," "Apocalypse Now," "Deliverance," "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," and "Natural Born Killers." It is truly a one of a kind comic reading experience.
Dean, a simple-minded, skateboarding, trash talking, Axl Rose worshipping heavy metal wannabe decides to hitchhike across the country so that he can become a rock and roll star like his heroes. When he's picked up by a heavily armed, pill-popping, psychotic madman in a pink Cadillac who happens to be none other than the King of Rock and Roll himself, nothing short of the wildest, rock and roll road trip, buddy movie ensues. Chased halfway across the country by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, crazy Vietnam vets, the Klu Klux Klan, drunken hillbillies, local police, and evil evangelists our completely unheroic heroes lay waste to everything in their path on their way to the King's comeback show in Las Vegas. A comeback that is glorious indeed… almost as much so as the utter destruction of the city of sin when these forces collide for one night under the spotlight.
"White Trash" doesn't mind being pointless, offensive and completely unsubtle, in fact it revels in being everything that smarter comics are not. And it's also pure, gorgeous, genius fun, thanks to Gordon Rennie's over the top writing and Martin Emond's spectacular painted art.
But talking about Marty's comic art just barely scratches the surface of the body of work that this self-made creative juggernaut brought to life while he was with us. From his popular Auckland cowboy thrash band Flamejob, to the eleven episode badass girl gang cartoon Rolling Redknuckles which he created in conjunction with the animators at PirateNet.com a production company affiliated with Fox, to his album cover work for dozens of rock bands from all over the world, to his sold-out gallery shows featuring his hand painted helmets, to his recent gig doing videogame design for bands like Korn, Limp Bizkit and Marilyn Manson, to the indelible mark he made on the New Zealand fashion scene by co-founding the clothing company Illicit Streetwear Martin Emond certainly made his mark on the world.
And on mine.
I brought my appreciation of his work with me when I crossed over from comic fan to comic professional a few short years ago. Thankfully the timing of a new printing of "White Trash" couldn't have been better. I took the opportunity to introduce this wild and irreverent funnybook to a new audience of readers and in the process I helped create a new wave of Martin Emond diehards here in the city of San Francisco. At the Isotope, Marty's work is always featured, and the number of people who appreciate his unique talent grows perpetually.
While I never got the chance to talk to him in real life, we emailed back and forth several times. I sent him my first email soon after becoming a comic retailer and found his email in return to be a genuinely friendly and exceptionally enthusiastic. Of course, being me, I mentioned that if he ever needed an excuse to come to San Francisco that I was happy to help provide him one, and was pleased to hear he was moving from New Zealand to LA (a mere five hours away). Although he's not exactly considered a superstar here in America, at the Isotope he has a very loyal following and we were both interested in doing an event together when we could coordinate our schedules.
With the insane pace of events at the Isotope since last December my staff and I were all looking forward to just a little time off from the madness of doing anywhere from two to eight events in a month, so I had intentionally kept the summer schedule pretty open. However, try as I might, I'm not particularly good at leaving my schedule relaxed or slow paced and I started thinking about who I wanted to do events with this summer. And one of the first names that popped into my head was Martin F. Emond.
Yeah, I thought. I should drop him an email and we should schedule something. Whatever he wanted to do, I was up for. If he wanted to do a gallery show with painted ceramics and helmets, I was up for it. If he wanted to get his band up here and playing, I was up for it. Hell, he could paint the hood of my '65 Mustang if he wanted to.
But with all the usual chaos that goes down when you spend your day at a place like the Isotope, sometimes getting to doing things like sending out friendly emails to cool creators just doesn't happen. Usually it's because I'm entertaining people from out of town, or talking comic books with one of the regulars, or helping someone find just the right graphic novel for them, or giving the tour to some new folks who I haven't seen before. But with a small business it could be any number of different things that keep me from finding the time to send that kind of email out. On this particular weekend, I found myself dealing with an asshole with an Internet connection who thought I was born yesterday. So, though I intended to write to Marty that day, by the time I had finished dealing with the situation, the Internet was the last place I wanted to be. And sometimes it's easy to wave a hand at the computer screen and think "I can get to that later" when there's a million other things all battling for your attention, so I never got around to sending that email on Saturday. Or Sunday. Or Monday…
On Tuesday I heard the terrible news, Martin Emond had commited suicide. His career and his life had come to the most final of all endings. This kind, funny, friendly and immensely talented young man who had brought so much joy and happiness into my life with nothing more than his artwork was gone and he wasn't coming back.
I will always regret not having sent that email.
I recently received an email from a mini-comic creator telling me how lonely it is making comics, and how much he appreciated knowing that someone appreciated what he was doing… and I wish I could have done the same for Marty. I'm not kidding myself by thinking that one email would have made him change his choices, he was obviously a man pursued by his own inner demons and haunted by something that no letter could hope to erase. But I would have liked to have made the time to tell him one last time how much he meant to a complete stranger who grew up half the world away from where he did, who thought his comics and his helmets and his tattoo art kicked ass, who would have liked to help the people celebrate his work, who would have just liked to buy the guy a beer sometime.
In this time of sadness for Martin's family, his friends, and for those who, like myself, loved him for the beauty he brought to our world, let's remember the important things in life. Take the time to think about what really matters to you. And let this tragedy serve as a reminder to us all. Don't wait, because there may not be a later.
Do it now because time is short.
Throw up your goats.
A memorial service for Marty will be held on Sunday, March 28th at Alleyluya Caf, St Kevins Arcade, Karangahape Road. Auckland, New Zealand. 4:44pm all are welcome to attend.
For more information on the memorial service or to see more of Martin Emond's work visit the website of Illicit Streetwear:
Share your appreciation for Martin Emond's work on the Comic Pimp Forum.