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excellent writing
exceptional art
historical bonus 3
total score 9
deviant slice 1 _ deviant slice 2
Deviant Slice #1
Deviant Slice #2
Deviant Slice Funnies

1972-1973 / The Print Mint
Artist Greg Irons and writer Tom Veitch were quite the dynamic duo in the underground comic book era; their collaborations represent what may be the most productive partnership between any underground writer and artist (Harvey Pekar's work with his stable of artists, especially Robert Crumb, Greg Budgett and Gary Dumm, were also prolific partnerships, but their collaborations were spread out over many years). Irons and Veitch produced many high-quality comic books and stories together in the early 1970s, including Death Rattle, Grunt Comix, Skull, Dr. Wirtham's Comix and Stories, Slow Death, and The Legion of Charlies. They also produced Deviant Slice Funnies, a two-issue set thatlike most of their comicsfeatures plenty of gruesome violence and gore mixed with a very dark sense of humor.

The Irons/Veitch collaborations are notable for Veitch's exceptional writing, which features gritty, smart and often frightening scripts, and the accompanying illustrations from Irons, which pulls no punches in its depictions of gut-wrenching and gut-spilling violence. Deviant Slice Funnies #1 is one of their best comic books, distinguished by its extraordinary 18-page opening story, "Last Rights," a post-apocalyptic drama with overt political commentary that rings all too true decades after it was written. "Last Rights" is a shining example of comic creators exploiting the new freedoms earned by the underground comics revolution, as it delivers a blistering appraisal of society and politics with explicit graphics and acerbic prose that would never—and could never—have been printed before the revolution.

The second issue of Deviant Slice features a story that is not quite as epic as "Last Rights" but may be every bit as powerful. "Gettin' Back From Nam" exposes us to the inner demons of a drug-crazed Vietnam war veteran and the callous stupidity of his worthless, jingoist father. All of the comics in both issues of Deviant Slice present enjoyably disturbing tales, each unique from the other.

Sometime in the mid '70s, Greg Irons and Tom Veitch went their separate ways. Irons continued working in underground comics and began mixing in political protest diatribes with more autobiographical stories featuring his continually broke, baboon-like alter ego, Gregor. Irons also worked briefly in children's illustration and earned a significant reputation as a tattoo artist. Veitch went on to write for a variety of projects, including a few experimental novels and books of poetry. He also continued writing for comics, but his career shifted into mainstream comic books, where he wrote scripts for Dark Horse Comics (Dark Empire) and collaborated with other artists on a handful of creator-owned comic book series.

In November, 1984, Greg Irons was on the streets of Bangkok, Thailand, during a working vacation when he was struck and killed by a bus. He was only 37 years old. Decades after his death, his work began to garner well-deserved critical acclaim (I often think, "of course he was amazing, you fools! Why couldn't you recognize that 30 years ago!"). Several of his collaborations with Veitch were years ahead of their time, especially the stories that explored the psychological impact of the Vietnam war on American soldiers. Irons' untimely death was tragic in many ways, including the simple fact that he was too young to die. It was also a great loss to the world of comics and storytelling. It's hard to say whether Irons would have returned full force to comics, as he was enjoying ample success as a masterful tattoo artist, but his considerable writing skills were just gathering dust in the tattoo world, while his ability to draw sequential art with convincing, living, breathing characters was useless for tattoos.

I believe Irons might have returned to comics during the swell of alternative comic publications in the late '80s and early '90s, where he would have enjoyed the kind of financial success that allowed artist/writer creators with his reputation and talent level to build comfy nest eggs and retirement portfolios (as was the case with several of his peers). Irons was a unique, often brilliant voice in the underground comix movement, and deserving of an endless supply of soap boxes to tell his stories.