Comix Legend Craig Yoe Returns After 50 Years With WOMAN & MAN+

Craig Yoe Woman and Man Plus interview

Craig Yoe is a legend in the industry. Back in the 1970s, he published the lauded comix work Sammy Saved and Al Most, and then went on to work for everyone from the Jim Henson Company to Disney, to Nickelodeon. Lately, he’s probably best known for Yoe Books, an essential archive of comic book history and original stories that has garnered him and the company multiple awards.

And now, after five decades, he’s back in comics with the Kickstarter for WOMAN & MAN + from Clover Books, a transgressive work that encompasses the entirety of Yoe’s career, life, and history with comics and pop culture.

“I wanted to tackle love, life, the soul, the meaning of existence—little things like that,” Yoe told Comic Book Club over email. “If readers have also ever considered those things and they dig deep into the complete surrealism that I use to convey my own thoughts on those subjects, they might find those thoughts amusing.”

The book is live for pledging on Kickstarter today, and having sneaked a peek (you can see some of the adults-only pages below), it’s a powerful work that goes in personal and surprising directions.

To find out more for the rarely serious Yoe, read on.

Comic Book Club: You’re probably aware of this, but 50 years is a pretty long time between comics works… Why now, and why WOMAN & MAN+?

Craig Yoe: I got distracted with loser jobs like being a Creative Director/Vice President General Manager for Jim Henson and his Muppets, and the same kind of thing for Disney, and as a Creative Director for Nickelodeon. Thank God I now have a respectable job as an underground cartoonist again!

The impetus for this story was self art therapy by doing a surreal comix diary to treat life destroying heartbreak. Clover Press, kicking a man while he was down, hurtingly decided to embarrass me by leaking my private diary and its story of my messed-up life to the public. Curses!

Given the long gestation period, how much has been going back and revising earlier bits? How much has changed over the decades on this project?

Nothing. Woman… man—it will never work out. But, am I bitter?

Woman and Man Plus page 6

It’s pretty clear this is at least in part an evaluation of yourself and your life’s work. But talk to me about the themes in general. What did you want to tackle here? Or do you prefer readers discover for themselves?

I wanted to tackle love, life, the soul, the meaning of existence—little things like that. If readers have also ever considered those things and they dig deep into the complete surrealism that I use to convey my own thoughts on those subjects, they might find those thoughts amusing.

Speaking of readers, this is for the most part wordless, forcing us to concentrate on the images to piece together the story (or stories) you’re telling. Why was that important?

It was important because I don’t know how to write, I was too busy chewing gum and doodling in my notebook during English class. My approach to all school subjects was the same and when I barely graduated (or this hippie troublemaker was conveniently pushed out), with no marketable skills, I couldn’t land a job. I had to invent a bullshit career of “professional doodling.” So, like a primitive caveman, I tell my story with pictures and a few ugh’s here and there.

You’ve got a number of cultural icons littered throughout here, but none more so than Mickey Mouse. Why Disney as a target? Are they still the cultural monolith they once were in 2024?

Yeah. Did you like that in the book I littered (as you put it) Paris Hilton? While I was with the Muppets I had a dinner with her parents for some damn business reason. They wanted to meet with Jim, of course, but he was busy Kermit-ing. So they were stuck with me. During our banter they told me they had two little girls so afterwards I sent their pre-iconic, snot-nosed kiddos a big box of Muppet toys. Paris sweetly sent me a crayoned thank you note. Of course Paris is all grown up now. When I was illustrating urban slang words for lady parts for the “Woman & Man +” book I learned “Paris Hilton” is one. So I couldn’t resist including a drawing of her and her little dog in the mix. I hope she writes to thank me. This time I won’t throw her note away, but will put it on eBay.

Woman and Man Plus page 7

As not just a student of pop culture history, but someone who has helped guide it at numerous companies, do you think there’s any aspect that’s off-limits for parody/satire? Or is it all fair game?

All us underground cartoonists don’t shy away from parody. The creator of Mad Magazine, Harvey Kurtzman, is a god to us and our inspiration. Harvey was also my friend, though I hate name dropping as I was just telling Madonna the other day.

Similarly, as someone who has a clear view through your work and book line, things are in a very different place now than they were in the heady comix days of the ’80s and ’90s. Where do you see WOMAN & MAN+ fitting into the scope of comics history?

With their rule-busting content, and many surreal excursions, underground comix blew young Craig’s mind and the original underground cartoonists inspire me to this day. Woman & Man + is a pretentious fancy-schmancy hardback, but I hope it captures the sense of rebellion—and sense of wonder—that the underground comix guys and gals gifted to me through their iconoclastic work.

I don’t know my book’s place in history, only time will tell. But, for now, I hope it finds a place on the coffee tables, and maybe nightstands, of lots of weirdo comics fans and art lovers out there.

Now that this is done and getting out there, is this your final statement on comics and pop culture? Or will we have to wait another 50 years for your third comic book work?

I’ve started another book, but having just celebrated my 73rd birthday I’m beginning to slow down a bit. So this next book may take more than another 50 years to complete. Stay tooned.

Woman & Man + is now on Kickstarter from Clover Press. Check out some additional pages below, and click for a larger image.

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