Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Mutilation Graphics

Starlog 1993...
Whoa! Here's another gem from the archives of embarrassment! An interview I did back in 1993 while I was silkscreening for Mutilation Graphics in New York. At the time it was my good friend (and MG founder) Neil O'leary's policy to send a free t-shirt to any zine, no matter how small or obscure, that ran an ad for Mutilation Graphics. This led to the following interview which appeared in a tiny unknown xerox cartoon zine out of Fall River, Massachusetts called 'Charette's Eye View'. Yeah it's pretty stupid, but what were YOU doing in 1993?

Jim Charette: For those unfortunate few who've never heard of Mutilation Graphics could you explain just what it is and what you do?

Dennis Dread: Mutilation Graphics represents the cold slimy underbelly of modern civilization. Specifically, but not exclusively, American society. We stir up all the filth, rotting debris, flotsam, and jetsom that sinks straight to the bottom of the sea of humankind and throw it back in our own faces for the delight and disgust of all the world. Our specialty is T-shirts however, thanks to the persistent and generous support of our infernal bredren & sistren, we are expanding our line of uncompromisingly bizare high/low quality & inexpensive products. Our newest catalog is our biggest and ugliest yet and includes lots of new designs, color and glow-in-the-dark shirts, the 'World's Most Bizare Collector Card Sets', books, videos, jewelery, and 100% legal drugs. We also love to receive and promote zines so send us what you got!

How many folks are involved?

Hundreds, thousands, millions. When we go down it'll be bigger than Jonestown...bigger than Waco!
[Actually, in 1993 it was just 2 of us. 4 if you counted Neil's mom and dad. 5 if you counted his dog, Nitro. And we did.]

When did you start Mutilation and what made you start it?

Neil "Butch" O'leary is the father of Mutilation Graphics. He started it over 12 years ago, possibly for the same reasons stated above but most likely because he was bored and had way too much time on his hands. He's regretted it ever since.

Does Mutilation actually put food on the table or is it another one of your hairbrained schemes that takes up all of your free time? Is Mutilation keeping you folks from having to be part of "the working world"?

All of us have other projects going on all the time. Mutilation is beginning to feed's festering. But right now it simply can't support our drug addictions and overwhelming phone bills from 1-900-USA-FUCK and 1-900-HOT-LICK.

I've noticed that you carry the work of a few artists [such as] Spider Webb, Big Daddy Roth. Are you looking to add more folks to that list? Is there anyone you're actively pursuing and are you interested in receiving submissions?

We're actually very selective with the artists we seek out. In addition to Ed Roth and Spider Webb, we also print work by Jeff Gaither (the busiest cartoonist on the planet?!) R.K. Sloane, Teri Corben, Hans Holbein (the 'Dance of Death' woodcuts), William Blake, and John Gacy (who drew the skull logo for Bloody Mess & The Scabs from prison). We have to be selective because for some unexplainable reason the original art designs haven't been our best sellers. We would love to hear from Robert Williams, who has greatly inspired and influenced Mutilation, however he's already printing his work on full color shirts. Everyone should check out his 'Visual Addiction' book or a gallery showing if possible. Also, Joe Coleman's 'Cosmic Retribution' which was recently released by Fantagraphics. Charles Manson has called Joe Coleman "a caveman in a spaceship" and he's just that! Coleman is one of the most introspective, frightening, and competent artists to ever emerge from the underground.

I recently read that if you see a psychotic shirt on one of your favorite famous types, chances are it's one of Mutilation Graphics. How true is that?? You have a lot of well-known customers? Ever get a photo of Hillary Clinton wearing a 'Women of the SS' shirt??

Nobody famous would stoop so low.
[Actually people used to send us magazine clippings of "famous types" wearing our shirts like Vio-lence, The Butthole Surfers, Guns 'N' Roses, Kreator, The Dwarves, Impetigo, and John Waters. We had a huge mailing list of customers including the names of some of you reading this right now!]

One thing I really like about your shirts is the number of images that are sure to offend ('Manson Christ', 'I've Had 21 Abortions', etc) My question is, what would you consider too offensive to be printed?? Where do you draw the line??

All of our designs are chosen for their ability to affect a specific reaction. Most of them are humorous to some degree but most people don't really seem to know if they should laugh or cry. Our designs are almost archetypal in their sheer imbecility so they're great for revealing the strange values and beliefs and taboos of modern society. For that reason it's not a matter of "too offensive" or "too controversial". It's a matter of intentions and it's a question of what our society "is", "was" , and "is becoming". Does that answer your question?

Yup. Your catalog comes complete with a postal warning. Is that a just-in-case sort of thing or the result of some previous hassle you've had?

The postal warning is an attempt to warn people who might be unaware of what's inside. Occasionally we ship out our mailing list to find that people have moved and our catalog falls into the hands of a minister or four year old child. We serve a specific group of people and we don't feel we need to assault everyone with an unwanted catalog. Therefore we suggest they throw it away if it doesn't interest them. In terms of hassles, we've had relatively few. We've gotten our share of hate mail, which we encourage and of which we are very proud, but as of yet we've had no death threats. Just some serious recommendations for therapy.

Are there side projects that the Mutilation staff would like to tell us about? Anything you might be doing collectively or solo efforts that aren't necessarily Mutilation projects?

We hope to continue expanding as I've mentioned. We'll do just about anything for cash. In fact, Neil is available on weekends and he has an incredible foot fetish, so if you've got the $$ give him a call.

Any idea where you'd like Mutilation Graphics to be in, say, 10 years?


Anything you'd like to say to 'C.E.V' readers? Advice for successful living, favorite parlor games, blatant self-advertisment, anything?

This entire interview is a blatant self-advertisment! Send for a catalog. Check out our friends at Netherworld of Mt. Vernon, New York. They're great people. Stay away from heroin. Use condoms. Satan loves you. We do too.


Ryan S. said...

Very cool interview.
Can you introduce me to GNR?

Crankenstien said...

I still have a catalog from back then and wore alot of their t-shirts in high school.They were really awesome and I think today rotten cotton has stolen most of their designs and repackaged them.I like the t-shirt fit better for mutilation graphics though.Very cool interview post!