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February 1, 2011

Ink Stains 27: Mindworks

Brent Anderson did not only produce work for Venture, but his own fanzine as well. Welcome to Mindworks!

Mindworks 1: 1974

Horizon Zero Graphiques/Brent Anderson

I have a small confession to make.

There are several reasons why I am profiling Brent Anderson’s fanzine, Mindworks, in this installment. One, I like Brent’s work, and he has been very helpful and forthcoming in the past, and in particular recently with last month’s Venture column. Two, it seemed like a good fit to do it right after the aforementioned column. Three, Brent just sent me this copy, which I lost long ago…so, it was like seeing a buddy again after a long absence.

Also, my scanner broke and Mindworks is pretty short.

So, there you have it! I took the easy way out and hopefully next time I will have a new scanner and can do something large, like Phase One, for example. But for now, I am plenty satisfied to present you with Brent Anderson’s self-published fanzine, Mindworks 1 from way back in 1974, embellished by a few comments gleaned from email and Facebook conversations with Brent.

I am not going to add a boatload of hyperbole this time out…I think I might have tired a few of you out last time! This fanzine is composed almost entirely of Brent Anderson’s early work, including an eight-page story (written by Eric Toye, a frequent Anderson collaborator) called “Exile.” This story stars a character possessing the fearsome name Animas Slayman, who bears a striking resemblance to tough guy actor Charles Bronson. See what I mean below.

When I asked him how this came about, Brent told me via email:

Charles Bronson was one of my favorite movie celebrities in the day (as the deaf mute in House of Wax, countless uncredited cameo appearances in many early movies as Indians, gangsters, henchmen, laconic cowboys, etc.). I liked him even before I knew what his name was! I identified a little bit with his hard scrabble childhood and tried to model for myself a strong, silent, thoughtful, stoic male philosophy of life based on the person I thought Bronson was. As an aside, check out the Bronson Mandom commercial on YouTube. It’s hilarious, and a real treat for Bronson fans.

The pages you will see in this story are obviously done by a young Brent who is still learning the ins and outs of storytelling, anatomy, and other essentials of comic book making. But, if I am correct, he was only about 23 or so at this time (Venture 3 is mentioned inside as “still being available”). And Brent surely did not plan to make his living as a letterer! But there is an obvious love for the medium and care taken in all facets of the process.

There are several very nice passages in this parable about racism (or in this case, species-ism), such as the close up of the alien’s face seen above (complete with reflections in the creature’s eyes). All in all, it is a good exercise in the practice of making a comic book story.

Brent’s Venture buddies make a few appearances in the zine as well. Gary Winnick pencils a pin-up that Brent inks, and Frank Cirocco contributes a nice back cover (see both below).

Both artists contribute a few more pieces as well. Anderson’s humorous space character, Grimmley, also makes a few appearances. Check out one below.

A highlight for me (or a series of highlights) are the illustrations of Bruce Lee and David Carradine (from the Kung Fu TV series). Both Brent and I were/are huge Bruce Lee fans (as referenced in last month’s column). In fact, I did a large poster sized illustration long ago that, totally independent of Brent, looks very much like his Bruce Lee pin-up below.

When I asked Brent to expound on his love of all things Bruce and how he was introduced to the late superstar, he said:

I discovered Bruce Lee through a couple of friends in the early 70s who were enjoying the newly-imported “kung-fu” flicks from China (Five Fingers of Death and Hammer of God come most immediately to mind). I wasn’t much interested in these “chop-socky” films, but when my friends told me about The Big Boss and Chinese Connection they noticed something very different about this Bruce Lee guy. He was GOOD! I vaguely remembered Lee as the cool karate guy from The Green Hornet (Lee as Kato was the only reason I watched TGH, but there was never enough of him and too much Van Williams for my taste, so I wasn’t sad when the show died). I saw TBB and CC, then Enter the Dragon and I was big-time hooked. A week later, as I recall, Lee died, and I was crushed. But not deterred. I took up martial arts, began drawing a Kung Fu story starring Lee instead of David Carradine [see the end of the column for an Ink Stains exclusive of these pages!], did other unrealized comics projects, featured Lee in art projects and paintings and generally wanted to point out the lost potential of Lee’s immense talent. I believe he would have become as successful a filmmaker as Jackie Chan. Interesting side note: I unknowingly met Bruce Lee’s son Brandon at a Wonder-con in Oakland. Brandon was friends with Bill Mumy and Miguel Ferrer of Seduction of the Innocent, a band who frequently played the con. Miguel hadn’t brought his drums or something and had called Brandon to drive them up to him, which he did, but the deal was no one was to know who he was. Brush with greatness, indeed!

Below is one of the two portraits of David Carradine from this fanzine.

If you have ever been lucky enough to meet Brent Anderson at a convention or some other occasion, I am sure you will agree with me when I say that Brent is one of the nicest, most approachable guys you will ever meet. Humble in general, and filled with a love of comics and the process of making them. Brent is no aging Luddite, either. Recently he has started using the digital program Painter, to ink his Astro City work. Not too long ago I asked him how that was going and he told me he was very happy with it, noting how it helped him speed up considerably (and if you know his work, you know how detailed it can be).

Also, as I said earlier, Brent was kind enough to send me large scans of the “Bruce Lee as Kung Fu” pages. Brent told me that these pages were done five years before his Ka-zar comic in 1980, when he was living in the back of a comic book store in San Jose. A year later he took his first trip to the Big Apple. He also told me the pages were very large, about 12 x 18. So, get your first look at this oddity below!

Brent would most likely do much more dynamic fight scenes today, with his many years of experience, but there is certainly some very nice rendering going on here!

So, there you have it. Mindworks 1. I don’t think there ever was a number two. Maybe Brent can do a modern version? Brent? Can you hear me, buddy?

For now, though, you can download the pdf of Mindworks.

Ken Meyer Jr.




  1. Billy

    I think God Loves, Man Kills, was my first intro to Brent Anderson (fantastic book by the way). Great Bruce Lee sketches as well (Bruce was the greatest martial artist that ever lived)! Great column Ken.

  2. kenmeyerjr

    Billy, I remember that graphic novel really well…I remember there being several really emotional spots in that one. And as for Bruce, I remember going to the base theater when I was something like 6 with two of my best friends to see his films (one of them was into Tae Kwan Do, the other Kung Fu…I was just the skinny white artist kid).

  3. I think God Loves, Man Kills was my first introduction to Brent as well Billy great story and great art. He actually made the X-Men seem a bit more real and I think that’s why I liked his style. And those Bruce Lee pages are fantastic! Now that’s something I’d read on a regular 🙂

  4. Thanks for stopping by, Speech!

  5. Brent Anderson

    I was actually 19 or 20 when I did “Mindworks” and the Lee “Kung Fu” art. In the summer of ’75, the Jose Theater three doors down from the San Jose Comic Art Shop (Comics & Comix) showed “Enter the Dragon” every night for two weeks. The show started at 9:05. The comic shop closed at 9. I saw every showing of “Enter,” and was only late a couple of times when I couldn’t usher customers from the shop fast enough! Ah, the heady days of youth. (I always got a kick, if you’ll pardon the expression, out of the little kids coming out of the theater, punching and “kung-fu-ing” everything in sight; parking meters, car fenders, each other. What a hoot.)

  6. Heyyyyy, thanks for stopping by, Brent…looks like you figured out the logging in problem! I really appreciate you taking the time to comment.

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