“My early career was like stages of grieving,“ award-winning comic and graphic novel creator Bob Fingerman told the crowd at the July 10 launch of his exhibit at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art Gallery at the Society of Illustrators. “It was denial, bitterness, pornography…teenage mutant Ninja Turtles [which] as I drew them, turned into middle-aged Ninja turtles with bags under their eyes.”
Interviewed by comic/writer Frank Conniff, the Fingerman fan audience roared at repartees that were R-rated plus and would never pass muster on network TV. As images of his characters — zombies, working stiffs, nudes — were projected on a wall-sized screen behind him, Fingerman — whose most recent offering is the semi-autobiographical updated version of “Maximum Minimum Wage” released by Image Comics — recalled teachers telling him “don’t follow that path,” kids telling him “you draw good,” and taking verbal beatings and being called “Finger f…k.” He smiled: “It was all uphill from there.”
Influenced by Paul Klee, Jean Giraud (aka Moebius) and Will Eisner (“The Spirit”) with whom he studied, he recalled his [SVA] teacher Harvey Kurtzman offering him a job. “I learned everything from him as an editor. He paid me an insultingly low fee… A brutal editor, but as a teacher he was gentle.” Most influential was “The Man in the Cannibal Pot” gag cartoon book by Gahan Wilson.