Cartoonist, writer, editor, publisher and
entrepreneur DENIS KITCHEN began his professional career
in 1968, creating Mom's Homemade Comics as a self-published
underground cartoonist in Milwaukee WI. The success of this venture
led in 1969 to his formation of Krupp Comic Works, Inc.,
a small hippie empire which encompassed: Kitchen Sink Press,
the comix publishing company; Strickly Uppa Crust, a head
shop; The Cartoon Factory, a commercial art studio; Ordinary
Records; Krupp Mail Order and Krupp Distribution.
In 1970 he separately co-founded The Bugle-American, a
Wisconsin-based alternative weekly newspaper that lasted seven
years. In 1976 he co-founded The Fox River Patriot, a
weekly alternative rural newspaper. But Kitchen's main focus
over three decades was publishing comics and books.
As a Publisher: For thirty years (1969-1999) Kitchen published
a variety of classic and underground artists alike. Among the
highlights: Will Eisner (twenty graphic novels, over a
hundred Spirit comics, Will Eisner Quarterly),
Harvey Kurtzman (Jungle Book, Hey Look!, Goodman Beaver,
with Will Elder, and others), Milton Caniff (Male
Call, two volumes of Terry & the Pirates, twenty-four
volumes of Steve Canyon), Al Capp (twenty-seven
hard and softcover volumes of Li'l Abner), George Herriman
(two volumes of Krazy Kat), R. Crumb (The R.
Crumb Coffee Table Art Book, Kafka, Carload o' Comics, Waiting
For Food, and other books, comix and merchandise), Jack
Jackson (Secret of San Saba, Lost Cause), R.F.
Outcault (Yellow Kid), Scott McCloud (Understanding
Comics, three volumes of Zot!), V.T. Hamlin
(three volumes of Alley Oop), Alex Raymond (six
volumes of Flash Gordon, Secret Agent X-9), Dave McKean
(Violent Cases with Neil Gaiman, and Cages),
Art Spiegelman (various undergrounds), Cliff Sterrett
(two volumes of Polly & Her Pals), Reed Waller
& Kate Worley (over twenty comix and five collections
of Omaha the Cat Dancer), James Vance & Dan Burr
(Kings in Disguise, Owlhoots), Mark Schultz (Xenozoic
Tales/Cadillacs & Dinosaurs), Bill Sienkiewicz
(Voodoo Child), Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell
(From Hell) Howard Cruse (Gay Comix, Barefootz,
Dancin' Nekkid with the Angels), Frank Frazetta (Small
Wonders, Pillow Book), Joe Shuster & Jerry Siegel
(four volumes of Superman strips), Bob Kane (four
volumes of Batman strips), Joe Matt (Peep Show),
and Charles Burns (Molemen, Blood Club, Sketchbook,
Black Hole 1-4). He also published numerous anthologies including
Blab 1-8, Snarf 1-15, Dope Comix 1-5, Bizarre
Sex 1-10, Twist 1-3, Buzz 1-3, Twisted Sisters
1-3, Blue Loco, Mona and others; plus histories such as
the 2-volume Comic Strip Century. Additional comic books,
magazines and graphic novels are too extensive to list here.
A 1994 illustrated history, Kitchen
Sink Press: The First 25 Years, by Dave Schreiner, provides
the best primer to this era.
Awards: Kitchen Sink Press over the years won a
disproportionate number of the comics industry's most prestigious
awards, sometimes dominating the awards despite a market share
hovering around 1%. In 1989 Kitchen Sink Press led all
publishers with 13 Eisner nominations, edging giant DC Comics,
with eleven. In 1993 Kitchen Sink won six Harveys, more
than any other company and nearly 40% of the total awarded. In
1994 Kitchen Sink won five Harveys and two Eisners. The
company won another five Eisners and Harveys combined in 1995.
In 1997 Chris Staros (now heading Top Shelf) surveyed
the entire field of comics for his independent Staros Report.
The issue cited numerous KSP publications for outstanding
merit and concluded by presenting Kitchen Sink Press with
its first and only Best Publisher Award.
Volunteer work: In 1986 Denis Kitchen
founded and continues to serve as President of the Comic
Book Legal Defense Fund, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit corporation
dedicated to defending the industry's First Amendment rights
2000 Kitchen has also chaired the Harvey Awards Committee,
which oversees the annual industry award program for excellence,
named after Harvey
In 2002 Kitchen became a member of the Board of Advisers of MOCCA
(Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art) in New York City (www.moccany.org).
Current businesses: Since 1999 he has
been a partner with Judith Hansen in Kitchen &
Hansen Agency LLC Inc., a literary agency representing leading
comic artists and writers (www.kitchenandhansen.com).
Since 1990, a separate entity, Denis
Kitchen Art Agency (www.deniskitchenartagency.com)
has been exclusively selling original cartoon art for clients
such as Will Eisner, and both selling art for and representing
the Harvey Kurtzman estate, the Russell Keaton estate
and Peter Poplaski, as well as representing Capp
Enterprises, Inc., among others.
Kitchen still publishes a small number
of new books each year as a sideline, under the imprint Denis
Kitchen Publishing Co. Recent DKP titles by Kurtzman and
Crumb and sneak previews of upcoming books can be viewed at www.deniskitchenpublishing.com.
Current creative activities: As a "book
packager" Kitchen is currently writing the annotations and
introductions and providing the source material for four full-color
volumes, Li'l Abner: The Frazetta Sundays for Dark
Horse Comics, covering the years 1954 to 1961. He earlier contributed
similar introductions and extensive annotations for Dark Horse's
2-volume Little Annie Fanny collections.
As an artist, Kitchen has recently come
full circle to draw new comics again. A recent six-page story
called "My 5 Minutes with God," which he insists is
a true story, can be viewed at the following link...
In 2002, Editor Shannon Wheeler of Too
Much Coffee Man Magazine interviewd Denis. The unexpurgated version appears here.
An article and interview with Denis appeared
in the RiverWest Currents (The Community Voice of Milwaukee's
Left Bank) online and print mag in July of 2003. Read it online here.
Kitchen recently donated an Alan Moore
tribute page to a comic book raising funds to fight Alzheimer's
disease. An oft-delayed collection of his work, The Oddly
Compelling Art of Denis Kitchen, is finally in the design
Denis also allegedly at work on a children's
book, which he hopes will be finished while his daughter Alexa
is still a child. Two other daughters, Sheena and Scarlet,
are fully grown, no longer live at home and now must now pay
for their own comic books.
Denis's wife Stacey built and operates the online store:
Steve Krupp's Gallery & Curio Shoppe.