DENIS KITCHEN BIOGRAPHY
Denis Kitchen (1946-) was an original member of the "Underground Comix" movement in the late '60s and 1970s, perhaps equally well known as the founder and publisher of the pioneering publishing house Kitchen Sink Press (1969-99). He also founded the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (1986-), is the author or co-author of several books, a literary and art agent, a longtime editor, and a curator of comic art exhibitions in America and overseas. A monograph of Kitchen's artistic career, The Oddly Compelling Art of Denis Kitchen, was published by Dark Horse in 2010. With partner John Lind he created the Kitchen Sink Books imprint in partnership with Dark Horse Comics in 2013. He was elected to the Will Eisner Hall of Fame in San Diego in 2015.
Early career: Kitchen wrote,
illustrated, self-published and hawked an irreverent mimeo
zine called Kleptomaniac while still in grade
school, continuing it for twenty-five issues as Klepto
into high school. (William Horlick H.S., Racine WI).
Despite its irreverence Horlick gave him a Distinguished
Graduate Award in 2017. The creative and entrepreneurial
experience proved addictive. At the University of
Wisconsin—Milwaukee (UWM) in 1967, he co-founded Snide,
the campus's first humor magazine, and also drew a weekly
strip, "Sheepshead U," for the UWM Post while
majoring in Journalism. After graduation and a brief army
stint, his professional cartooning career began in 1968
when he created and self-published Mom's
Homemade Comics #1
during the tumult of a burgeoning counterculture. The
publication of Mom's #1 coincided with the birth
of the underground comix movement and Kitchen quickly
networked with like-minded colleagues in the Midwest and
The success of his self-published Mom's
Homemade Comics #1 in 1969 led to Kitchen's
formation of Krupp
Comic Works, Inc. in Milwaukee, which
soon developed into a small "hippie empire" encompassing Kitchen
Sink Enterprises (later Kitchen Sink Press),
the long-running publishing imprint (1969-99); Strickly
Uppa Crust, a Milwaukee comics and head
Cartoon Factory, an offbeat commercial
art studio; Ordinary
Records (which produced a 10-inch disc
by R. Crumb & His Keep-on-Truckin'
Orchestra, the 1st 78 rpm record issued in over twenty
years); Krupp Cards (irreverent Xmas and
all-season greeting cards); Krupp
Mail Order (spun off to partner Tyler
Lantzy in 1975); and Krupp Distribution, which
distributed comics and related items internationally (sold
in 1980 to Capital City Distribution). He separately
co-founded the Bugle-American
(later simply the Bugle) a Wisconsin-based
alternative weekly newspaper that lasted seven years
(1970-77). In 1976 he also co-founded the Fox
River Patriot, a weekly
alternative rural newspaper (parting from it in 1980). For
both newspapers he regularly contributed color covers,
comic strips, illustrations and custom ads. But Kitchen's
primary focus over nearly five decades has been publishing
comic books, graphic novels and related items, first as
Krupp / Kitchen
Sink Press then to a much smaller degree,
Kitchen Publishing, and currently Kitchen
AS AN ARTIST
own comics have appeared in anthologies such as Blab!,
Blabworld, Twist, Bijou Funnies,
Consumer Comix, Mom's Homemade Comics,
Mondo Snarfo, Arcade, The Spirit
Magazine, and Dark Horse Maverick Anthology.
He contributed covers and/or stories to Snarf, Dope
Comix, Bizarre Sex, Energy Comics, Quarter Moon, Weird
Trips, The Great Marijuana Debate, The Badger, Nard n'
Pat, Alcohomics, Comix Book, Krupp
Mail Order Catalog, The Bugle, and The Fox
His surreal cover for the late Jim Spencer's "Major
Arcana" album has been called a psychedelic classic. He
provided illustrations for several issues of the
Milwaukee Journal's Insight magazine and strips
for national magazines such as Head, High Times
In recent years a 2-page story "That Vexing Thing Upstairs" appeared in Blabworld #2 (Last Gasp, 2014); he's in the gigantic Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream (Locust Moon, 2015); and his 5-page graphic biography of Dr. Seuss, featured in Masterful Marks (Simon & Schuster, 2015), was highlighted in The Huffington Post:
Another sample story, the 6-page "My 5 Minutes with God" (semi-autobiographical, he insists), can be viewed at:
Current projects include a 3-D chipboard portfolio for Beehive Books (2019). Work available in Steve Krupp's Curio Shoppe web store includes:
The Oddly Compelling Art of Denis Kitchen (Dark Horse)
Denis Kitchen's Chipboard Sketchbook (Boom/DKP)
2015. Will Eisner Hall of Fame. Elected by peers and presented at Comic-Con International, San Diego.
2014. Lifetime Achievement Award “In recognition of a career dedicated to promoting and defending the culture of comics.” Presented in Asbury Park, NJ.
2012. Visual Art Lifetime Achievement Award. Presented by the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters and Wisconsin Museum of Art.
2010. Eisner Award for Best Comics-Related Book: The Art of Harvey Kurtzman. Comic-Con International, San Diego.
2010. Harvey Award for Best Biographical, Historical or Journalistic work: The Art of Harvey Kurtzman - Harvey Award banquet, Baltimore MD.
2009. Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award. Presented at the Eisner Awards ceremony, Comic-Con International, San Diego.
2005. Defender of Liberty Award. Presented by the C.B.L.D.F. at Eisner Awards ceremony, Comic-Con International, San Diego CA
1999. Special Harvey Award “In commemoration of Leadership and Service.” Presented at MoCCA Fest, New York City.
1997. Small Press Pioneer Award. A "Barkster" statue presentedDiamond/Gemstone comics industry event, Baltimore MD.
1996. Comics Publisher of the Year. The first and only such award presented by Staros Reports, Atlanta.
1991. Underground Comix Hall of Fame. Charter inductee. Chicago.
1986. Inkpot Award for “Outstanding Achievements in Comic Art” by San Diego Comic Convention.
Both Kitchen Sink Press and Kitchen
Sink Books over the years have received a
disproportionate number of the comics industry's Eisner
and Harvey Awards and nominations,
occasionally even dominating the awards, despite a market
share generally under 1%. In 1989 Kitchen Sink Press led
all publishers with 13 Eisner nominations, edging DC
Comics, which had eleven. In 1993 Kitchen Sink won six
Harveys, more than any other company. In 1994 Kitchen Sink
won five Harveys and two Eisners. The company won another
five Eisners and Harveys combined in 1995. In addition to
nominations and awards for published titles, Denis Kitchen
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF). Kitchen founded the 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization in 1986, dedicated to defending the comics industry's First Amendment rights, after one of his company's titles, Omaha the Cat Dancer, was busted in Lansing IL and the store's manager faced serious charges. Kitchen served as the CBLDF's President and board Chairman for the organization's first eighteen years (1986-2004). http://www.cbldf.org
Awards Committee. Following the
dissolution of Kitchen Sink Press in 1999, when there was
no conflict of interest, Kitchen chaired this committee
of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA), Board
of Advisers (2002-2005). New York City. Now at www.societyillustrators.org
National Cartoon Museum / The Center for Cartoon Studies (2005-06), Board of Advisors.
2017. "Will Eisner: A Centennial Celebration." Le Musée de la Bande Dessinée, Angouleme, France. The accompanying catalogue, Will Eisner: The Centennial Celebration (in English and French) was published by Kitchen Sink Books/Dark Horse, 2017.
2017. "Will Eisner: The Centennial Celebration." Society of Illustrators, New York, and traveling to Amador, Portugal. Co-curated with John Lind and different from the simultaneously running exhibit in France. The accompanying catalogue, Will Eisner: The Centennial Celebration (in English and French), was published by Kitchen Sink Books/Dark Horse, 2017.
2015. "Will Eisner: 75 Years of The Spirit." Jewish Museum, Munich, Germany.
2015. "Will Eisner: A Brief Retrospective." Geppi's Entertainment Museum, Baltimore MD.
2013. "Robert Crumb and the Underground." Kunstmuseum, Lucerne, Switzerland. Co-curated with James Danky.
2013. "The Art of Harvey Kurtzman." Society of Illustrators, New York. Co-curated with Monte Beauchamp.
2009. "Underground Classics: The Transformation of Comics to Comix." Chazen Museum of Art, Madison, WI. Co-curated with James Danky. The accompanying catalogue, Underground Classics, was published by Harry N. Abrams, 2009.
2005-06. "Will Eisner: A Retrospective" (2005-06). Originating at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, New York City and travelling to Utah Valley State College, Orem, UT; and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst MA.
2004. "Harvey Kurtzman" exhibition. Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, New York City.
1995. "Harvey Kurtzman: Retrospective of a MAD Genius." Cartoon Art Museum, San Francisco.
Kitchen, Lind & Associates, LLC (2005-present). Partners John Lind and Kitchen represent talent, package books, and oversee the Kitchen Sink Books imprint at Dark Horse Comics. Clients include the Harvey Kurtzman estate, the Al Capp estate (Capp Enterprises, Inc.), the Jerry Robinson estate, Eleanor Davis (Secret Science Alliance), Todd Hignite (The Art of Jaime Hernandez), Howard Cruse (Stuck Rubber Baby, Wendel), Bill Stout (Legends of the Blues), Liniers (Macanudo, Big Wet Balloon) and others. Kitchen Sink Books include Frank Miller's Sin City Curator's Collection, Harvey Kurtzman's Jungle Book and Complete Trump, Tony DiTerlizzi's Realms; The Best of Comix Book; Will Eisner: The Centennial Celebration, Monte Beauchamp's Popular Skullture, and others.
Kitchen & Hansen Agency, LLC (1999-present). This agency no longer accepts new clients, but Denis Kitchen and partner Judith Hansen placed numerous high-profile graphic novel properties, including The Book of Genesis by R. Crumb (W. W. Norton), Will Eisner's library of graphic novels and his textbook trilogy (W. W. Norton) and The Spirit (DC Comics); Mark Schultz's Xenozoic Tales (Dark Horse and Flesk), Alissa Torres' American Widow (Random House); James O'Barr's The Crow (Pocketbooks), the ElfQuest library (DC Comics); and Kings in Disguise and its sequel On the Ropes by James Vance and Dan Burr (W. W. Norton).
Denis Kitchen Publishing Co., LLC (1999-present). Though nothing approaching the scale of Kitchen Sink Press (1969-99), Kitchen still publishes a small number of carefully chosen books, art prints and boxed trading cards. DKP published Will Eisner's final serigraph,"River of Crime"; Harvey Kurtzman's The Grasshopper and The Ant; Robert Crumb's Mr. Natural Postcard Book and his four boxed card sets: perennials Heroes of the Blues, Early Jazz Greats, Pioneers of Country Music and the R. Crumb Trading Cards; The Sketchbook Adventures of Peter Poplaski (with intro by R. Crumb); Capitol Hell by Pete Von Sholly, and the Reading Comics postcard book. DKP also published several 3-D posters: Kitchen's own Little Nemo and Major Arcana, as well as Harrison Cady's Road to Wealth.
Kitchen Art Agency
(1990-present). DKAA (a division of Denis Kitchen
Publishing Co., LLC), exclusively sells original blue
chip cartoon art for clients such as the Will
Eisner estate, the Harvey
Kurtzman estate, Howard
Hallgren, and others, samples of whom can
be seen in web gallery.
Krupp's Gallery & Curio Shoppe
(1999-present). Also a division of Denis Kitchen
Publishing Co., LLC. The Curio Shoppe offers out-of-print
and rare graphic novels, underground comix, posters,
underground newspapers, pinback buttons and related comics
merchandise, most of which you'll find no where else.
Steve Krupp and Stacey
Kitchen operate the webstore of curious comix
Complete Trump (Kitchen Sink Books/Dark Horse, 2016). Compilation, essay, and annotations to the first-ever collection of Harvey Kurtzman's noble but ill-fated satire magazine with an all-star cast for Hugh Hefner's early Playboy empire in 1956-57.
Li'l Abner: The Frazetta Years (4 volumes for Dark Horse Comics, 2003-2004). The Eisner-nominated series collected for the 1st time the Sunday "Li'l Abner" strips (1954-1961) that Frank Frazetta penciled and/or inked for Al Capp's studio. Compilation, Introductions, and extensive annotations.
Little Annie Fanny (2 volumes for Dark Horse Comics, 2000-2001). The first complete collection of the ribald and gorgeous satire series by Harvey Kurtzman & Will Elder (and sometimes Russ Heath, Al Jaffee, Arnold Roth, and Frank Frazetta). Compilation, Introductions and extensive annotations.
The Best of Comix Book (Kitchen Sink Books/Dark Horse, 2013). Introduction and art.
In 2005 Denis Kitchen wrote "Man, I'm Beat!,"
an illustrated article about Harvey Kurtzman's difficult
post-Trump freelance years, for the 7th
issue of Todd Hignite's Comic Art magazine.