The Friedman Brothers: Forerunners of SCTV, Release Comic Collection

friedman East Village.jpg
courtesy of Josh Alan and Drew Friedman
Drew (L) and Josh Alan Friedman, looking for trouble in the East Village, New York City, late '70s
The sons of writer/comic genius Bruce J. Friedman and model/writer/acting coach Ginger Howard, Josh Alan and Drew Friedman were raised in the artistic bowels of New York City. Josh Alan, a longtime contributor to the Dallas Observer, has a long and varied career as a writer and musician. He first appeared in Screw magazine, and eventually became the editor. Many of his pieces for Screw were gathered for his first book, Tales of Times Square (1986).

Friedman has gone on to publish several acclaimed works, most notably Black Cracker, an "autobiographical novel" looking back at what it was like to be the only white child in an all-black Long Island elementary school prior to the Civil Rights Movement and integration, Tell the Truth Until They Bleed (2008), a fabulous collection of Friedman's music journalism, and When Sex Was Dirty (2005). He also wrote extensively for National Lampoon and served as managing editor of High Times (1983).

The Friedman brothers joined forces in 1978 and began producing comic strips about second-tier celebrities like Wayne Newton, Ernest Borgnine, Tor Johnson, and the Three Stooges' Shemp Howard for Heavy Metal and Screw.

They would go on to place strips in National Lampoon, High Times, and RAW. Their success and influence led to the following description from Wikipedia: "The Friedman Bros. became the most-feared names in satirical cartooning. Their comics had a discernible influence on SCTV."

In 1986, Fantagraphic Books published Any Similarity To Persons Living or Dead Is Purely Coincidental, a collection of the Friedman brothers' work from 1979-1985. Fantagraphic has just released the fifth edition of the volume with new material selected by both brothers.

We caught up with Josh Alan Friedman, who resides in Dallas, in New York City.

Art Attack: What was the impetus for putting the book out again?

Josh Alan Friedman: The collection originally came out in 1985, and was about the past. They now say you have to be 45 years old to get our references. Do kids today recognize Fred Mertz from I Love Lucy, or Gomer Pyle, or Wayne Newton? Is it necessary for them to learn about Shemp Howard? Well, we think it is critically important for young people to understand Shemp.

AA: How long had it been out of print?

JAF: This is the fifth edition. But the last was 20 years ago.

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