I know it’s weird to use the phrase “living legend” to refer to someone that you’ve never heard of, but it makes sense. People can be legends in their fields but unknown to the general population. What makes this especially odd in this case, though, is that Tim Corrigan is a comics legend and you’ve probably never heard of him.
The reason for that is that Tim works in the small-press world rather than in mainstream comics. Fanzines, in other words. For decades, he’s published work in the ultra small press, where 1000 copies are a major print run and in which work is done for the love of the work rather than for a paycheck or whatever small glory a comic creator can reasonably hope to receive.
Through his many years of wonderful and dedicated work, Tim has become a living legend in his chosen field, winning a lifetime achievement award at the SPACE convention for his terrific comics.
What makes Tim so interesting is that he probably could make a buck or two in mainstream comics – his comics are terrifically fun and interesting, and he has lots of recurring characters who really grow on the reader with repeated exposure. But Tim obviously enjoys his freedom in the small press. He can produce the comics that he enjoys without any editorial intervention whatsoever.
Tim has exploited that freedom in the pages of his eponymous monthly zine, which he has delivered to mailboxes every 30 days without fail for nearly 3½ years now. The pages of Tim Corrigan’s Comics and Stories have been devoted to essays on everyday life and wonderful children’s stories. But they have been mainly devoted to two series that Tim has been presenting for years.
The first, and my favorite, is “Tyran,” which has been appearing off and on in TCCAS over the last few years. It’s the story of a future world civilization in which the dregs of society are exiled to a terraformed moon that contains bizarre monsters and some very complicated human relationships.
Each story brings interesting twists and turns to the story – the latest story, in TCCAS 40, explains much of the background of this fictional world while bringing up more questions than it resolves. This issue brings the whole idea of social strata directly to the surface of the story, in the most thoughtful sort of way.
“Tyran” is obviously a story that Tim has thought long and hard about, because he is continually delivering new elements to the story which reflect a tremendous amount of consideration. The politics of the situation are fascinating, and I’m thoroughly intrigued by the way that violence is portrayed in these stories as the wrong way to achieve goals – nearly everyone who uses violence ends up having that choice hurt them in the end.
The better-known of the two series is Tim’s famous Mightyguy, the stories of an utterly inept super-hero who in his civilian identity of Mike McZiltcho works as a cartoonist at a fifth-rate comics publisher. Mightyguy has had a whole series of zany adventures through the years. He’s the perfect guy for zany adventures, really; with his giant, bulbous nose, poor control over his super-powers and lack of intelligence, Mightyguy is the perfect character for both long-form and short comics stories.
TCCAS 41 begins a new Mightyguy story, as an alien spaceship – aww heck, let’s let Fred Schmurt, Mike’s boss, explain it: “Great simmering snotbuckets!! It’s that alien spaceship-critter that had the hots for McZiltcho a few years ago!!” Yes, as you can see from the cover above, a kind of UFO with tentacles has come to Earth to ask Mightyguy to help her marry her true love.
It’s a bizarre setup for a story, but that’s a big part of the charm on it. After such a wacky beginning, there’s no way to know what to expect from this comic – so Tim lays on scene after scene of silliness. The story is liberally peppered with one-liners and sight gags that make the story giddily lighthearted. I love how the UFO girl’s planet “is made out of worthless diamonds,” as she says, and how Schmurt goes crazy, like Daffy Duck in Ali Baba’s cave, over the diamonds. Moments like that had me cracking up all the way through the story. Oh, and dig the story title: “I Want to Hold Your Tentacles.” That might be the weirdest Beatles reference I’ve heard in a long time!
What’s great about a comic like this is that Tim Corrigan really is a living legend, and has a great command over every element of his comics page. He knows what he’s doing, and how to use his skills to get himself to his destination. So in reading a comic like Tim Corrgan’s Comics and Stories we get to watch a master at work, continually playing and experimenting to deliver stories that are always fresh, surprising and a hell of a lot of fun.
Ordering information for this zine is available at Tim’s website. I can’t recommend his comics highly enough.