John
Porcellino
cartoonist
“To me, the process of writing isn't complete until this zine is in somebody else's hands.”


Biography
Porcellino's self-published, photocopied, mostly autobiographical series King-Cat Comics & Stories is among the best-known and longest-running minicomics ever produced, begun in 1989 and still going strong today.

His simple line drawings, usually without any attempts at shading or anatomical realism, have been highly influential to alternative comics. Content-wise Porcellino's work has evolved considerably over the years: through the mid-'90s his comics were much more angry and humorous, with a punk rock sensibility. A popular, ongoing feature was "Trail Watch", where Porcellino affectionately criticized the various drawing and story peculiarities in the syndicated Mark Trail comic strip. Porcellino also did an entire issue chronicling his (fictional) romantic relationship with Madonna, and did a series of strips following the adventures of Racky Racoon, a slacker-ish animal who works at a series of dead-end jobs and likes to get drunk. But mixed in with these stories there were always more quiet, melancholy or philosophical stories, and as the years went on these stories increasingly took over the book. Porcellino developed a strong interest in zen, and he began creating stories reflecting on the transient nature of life and sometimes recounting tales of various zen masters or illustrating ancient zen koans. These stories alienated Porcellino's old fans who had enjoyed the humorous elements of his work, but they won him a new audience.

For several years Porcellino had his own music and comics distribution company, Grinding Wheels Enterprises (evolving later into Spit and a Half), but he eventually abandoned it and went back to just publishing his own work. In the '90s Porcellino did some stories about his struggles to find a publisher for his work, and reprinted several of the rejection letters that criticized his drawing skills. He was briefly in negotiations to do an entire Trail Watch book, but that project fell through. Porcellino still mostly publishes himself, although now this is apparently mostly by choice. In recent years other publishers have been publishing his work, including the graphic novel Perfect Example, chronicling his teenage struggles with depression. La Mano, Zak Sally's publishing venture, released Porcellino's Diary of a Mosquito Abatement Man, collecting various King-Cat stories about Porcellino's experiences as a pest control worker. Drawn & Quarterly has published 3 collections from work from King-Cat: King-Cat Classix, Map of My Heart, Perfect Example, with a fourth book on the way.

See more at King-Cat.net.

comics


Bibliography
Selected Interviews
AV Club: John Porcellino
by Jason Heller
UTNE reader: Doing King-Cat
by Brendan Mackie
20 Questions
by Austin English
The Walrus, Q&A
by Sean Rogers