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Lucretia Reflects: An interview with Patricia Morrison, the Gothmother of Punk
07.06.2016
11:23 am

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Music
Punk

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Patricia Morrison could very well be considered the gothmother—she’s certainly one of them—of punk. Growing up in Los Angeles, Morrison—at the tender age of fourteen—started playing bass in The Bags. She was in the best incarnation of Gun Club—along with Kid Congo Powers and the mercurial junkie bluesman Jeffrey Lee Pierce—and this was followed by a fabled stint in The Sisters of Mercy (that ended in court and a non-disclosure agreement between Morrison and Sisters frontman Andrew Eldritch). In 1994 she released a solo album Reflect on This and in 1996 Morrison joined The Damned, marrying the group’s lead singer, Dave Vanian the following year. Her iconic long black hair, dramatic makeup and frilly antique dresses set the precedent for the classic goth look—that is the elegant sophisticated, goth look, not the goofy Hot Topic mall goth look. She is like a dark unicorn that has been in the coolest bands. 

Morrison is now retired as a musician and lives in England with her husband and their daughter, Emily. The following interview was conducted via email

Dangerous Minds: How did you get your start playing music?

Patricia Morrison: I always loved music, was music mad in school with my friends and spent many an hour in my room pretending to be in a band. David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Queen, etc. Many of the LA punks who I became friends with later listened to the same bands in the 70’s. I also liked country music as my mother listened to it and I grew up with hearing it on the radio in the kitchen on a daily basis. When punk came along it opened up opportunities with like minded people deciding to give it a go and I was one of those people. I found two other girls (most boys wouldn’t consider playing with girls back then unless they were the singer or on keyboards), and we started playing with cheap drug store bought instruments. It was all so exciting between ‘being in a band’ and going to see concerts of old and new bands.
 

As “Pat Bag” in 1977 courtesy of Alice Bag Flickr archive

Dangerous Minds: Who was your earliest influence in music and fashion?

Patricia Morrison: Music: The Sixties, 1967-69 in particular. I still listen to and love music from that time. Fashion is harder as there were not that many people creating the style I became known for and in LA that was especially true. Back then it was all blue-eyed blonde beauty that was celebrated. My pale and pasty look was not yet appreciated! Film stars I suppose. I loved the glamor, and transferred it to punk as quite a few of us did.

Dangerous Minds: How did you develop your personal style?

Patricia Morrison: Thrift shops and just wearing what I liked. There was an amazing dress shop in Pasadena called Lila’s and a dress there was a massive 10 or 15 dollars but they were gorgeous. Dresses with unusual designs and fabrics from the 1930’s onwards. We also found warehouses in downtown LA that had old stock and it was a goldmine to us. I just wore what I liked. There were no rules or directives. I refused to cut my hair and some people had a go at me for that but I ignored them. Now punk has a defined look but then it was individual. People took cues from the NY and London punk scenes but LA had a strangeness they didn’t and that I loved.
 

The Bags play Portland in 1979

Dangerous Minds: Early on you played with the Bags and Legal Weapon. What was it like playing with other female musicians versus joining the all-male bands you played with after?

Patricia Morrison: Any females I have played with have been strong characters and in some ways more single-minded than the men. Also, back then you had to try harder if you were a girl. As I started playing with women first, it never seemed odd or different to me—it was down to the individual’s personality so not much difference looking back on it. Male and female, we all had the same problems, issues, camaraderie and egos.

Dangerous Minds: Who was your favorite band in the late 70s/early 80s to play shows with (as peers)?

Patricia Morrison: In the punk days there were so many! New bands popped up each week. The biggest band in the beginning was The Weirdos.The LA scene seemed to mix and match and sooner or later you played with everyone. LA had a friendly rivalry with San Francisco playing with bands up there as well. There were some great bands whose music still holds up today.

Much more after the jump…

Posted by Izzi Krombholz | Leave a comment
Bad Brains live at Max’s Kansas City, 1979
07.05.2016
12:18 pm

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Music
Punk

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Max’s Kansas City is famous for hosting acts like the Velvet Underground, Patti Smith, Television, Suicide, and the whole downtown punk scene of the mid-1970s, but it also was the venue for an early gig by Bad Brains, the legends of DC hardcore. The original location of Max’s Kansas City on Park Avenue South and 18th St. closed in 1981. It’s said that Bad Brains and the Beastie Boys played the final gig at that location, but the evidence is mixed: this exhaustive page on the venue states that that lineup was scheduled but cancelled.

Bad Brains were there two years earlier, however, and fortunately for us the gig was exhaustively documented. The date for the show is commonly listed as February 1979, but that’s not correct. The date of the show was Sunday, December 16, 1979, a fact that is corroborated by two pieces of information, the poster above and the comment by H.R. during the show that it was drummer Earl Hudson’s birthday that day. (Also H.R.‘s younger brother, Hudson turned 22 in 1979.)

Bad Brains opened for The Mad, an interesting band fronted by a native of Osaka, Japan, who used the name Screaming Mad George. The Mad only put out a couple of singles at the time, but there retrospective CDs were released later on. Screaming Mad George did the poster for the gig. He also transitioned out of punk music into special effects for Hollywood movies, working on such 1980s classics as Big Trouble in Little China, Predator, and A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Johnny Ramone compares the Clash to Joan Baez on Minneapolis TV, 1978
07.05.2016
10:00 am

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Music
Punk
Television

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Local news stories about underground music can always be counted on to cluelessly pander to the paranoid grandparent demographic, which makes this 1978 Minneapolis public TV segment on the Ramones such a gem—it takes punk’s aesthetic merits seriously and keeps to a minimum the then-typical hysterics about audience violence. An announcer calls punk “the theory of minimal art applied to rock ‘n’ roll,” right there much more gravitas than the subject usually got from hinterlands journos.

The interview segment sees the band talking about the punk bands in England (the voice-over announcer misidentifies England as punk’s “ancestral homeland,” apparently not knowing the Ramones were Ur-punks who beat the Brits to the punch by a couple of years). Dee Dee dismisses them with a blanket “they stink,” and Tommy downplays that scene’s vaunted political engagement, singling out the Clash & Sex Pistols as exceptions, while heavily qualifying the latter group. Johnny handwaving the British punks’ political leanings as “a bore” and lumping them in with Joan Baez is funny in hindsight, as most of us know by now what an arch-conservative he turned out to be.

Watch this fun 11-minute feature after the jump…

 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Dub visionary Adrian Sherwood talks about his legendary career in music
06.30.2016
08:54 am

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Music
Punk
Reggae

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The ongoing series of Sherwood at the Controls releases surveys the recording career of Adrian Sherwood, the visionary dub producer and founder of On-U Sound. Volume One, released last year, covers 1979 to 1984, while the brand-new Volume Two takes us from 1985 to 1990.

As these discs demonstrate, Sherwood’s talents were too great to be contained by any genre. During the decade-long period under examination, his work connects everyone from Prince Far I, Lee “Scratch” Perry, and the Slits to Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, and Ministry. (“Al [Jourgensen] would go to the toilet and copy down the studio settings Adrian used for his effects on toilet paper and put them in his trousers,” Revolting Cock Luc Van Acker remembers from the Twitch sessions.) As I mention below, I think On-U must be the only point at which the discographies of Sugar Hill and Crass Records intersect. These comps also contain a sampling of the pathbreaking records Sherwood made with On-U outfits African Head Charge, Tackhead, and Dub Syndicate, which redefined what dub was and could be.

I spoke to Sherwood on June 24, the day after the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union.

Dangerous Minds: I spent yesterday listening to Don’t Call Us Immigrants as I was watching the Brexit votes come in

Adrian Sherwood: [laughs]

—I feel I have to ask you about that. What are your thoughts?

Well, we would like to have stayed. There’s lots of reasons I would stay in Europe, and I’m sad, really. Europe’s done a lot, really, for each other. Apart from keeping a lot of peace and stability, the farming lobby in France and the farming lobby in Italy’s very strong, Germany’s got the biggest Green Party membership in Europe, they’re very advanced in renewable energy, and the farming lobby makes sure that we’re not victim of any of the terrible things that happen in the States with the poisoning of the food chain. So they’re very, very good; they ensure the standard of organic food, et cetera et cetera, and they also fight for workers’ rights. So I could go on and on about it, but I firmly would have liked to have seen a strong EU that we were part of.

You know, if they’re worried about immigration, they could have a united policy, but it was all panic, panic, panic, and to be honest with you, it was more like the ignorant masses that wanted to get out, thinking “Oh, let’s stop immigration,” but there’s no such thing as an indigenous English person. Every last person in this country is of an immigrant extraction. Everybody.
 

Lee Perry and Adrian Sherwood, photographed by Kishi Yamamoto
 
I wonder if I could go back to the beginning of your career. What was the relationship like between the Jamaican roots artists and the UK scene? It seems like you were in a special position to observe their interaction. Was that a competitive relationship?

No, not in the least. It was very hard for the English artists to get credibility, because everybody was looking to Jamaica, as though there’s the great thing, like the British bands always looking to the great American bands. The situation was always the exciting new star coming from Jamaica, and everybody really wanted to see him or her—mainly males, but a lot of female artists as well—and people didn’t think they could get the sound. So it took quite a long time for the English… you know, that album Don’t Call Us Immigrants, it’s interesting that you mention that, ‘cause I’m proud of that album. But that reflected the development of the English reggae sound.

We developed a sound of our own in England, with bands like Steel Pulse and Aswad and Creation Rebel, et cetera, and, you know, Black Slate, Dennis Bovell, obviously, and then eventually the lovers rock scene and our own dub scene. But Jamaica led the way, so everybody in England was like “Oh wow, here’s the new hip hero coming from Jamaica.” It wasn’t really like competing as such, it was more “Bring on the new star,” really, and everyone in England was keen to see the new star. And a few of the really good bands in England got to back the stars, like Aswad did one of the most famous ever gigs backing a young Burning Spear in ‘76 or ‘77 or something.

Since you mentioned Creation Rebel, can you tell me a bit about Prince Far I? I’ve listened to a lot of Prince Far I but I have almost no sense of what he was like as a person.

Far I was a bit of a joker. He would stand on the table and do Elvis Presley impersonations. He had a very mad sense of humor. But his background was quite serious. He was friends with Claudie Massop who was a political gunman, and he himself had been like a security man at Joe Gibbs’ studio, the doorman. He’d worked on a bauxite factory, producing aluminum, where Claudie Massop was the foreman, and because of the politics, he was like a “big friend,” as Joe Higgs said, like a big friend to Far I. But Far I was a character, quite a complex character as well. He looked much older and seemed much older than he actually was.

Did he seem like a wise person? Was that part of it?

Yeah, he definitely had a lot of depth to him, was interested in things and read quite a bit. But he was a joker and a character, and I remember him being full of jokes and fun and stuff. Although he had a darker side as well, which was more one of feeling that people were working voodoo on him, y’know, things like that. So there was kind of a strange underbelly there as well.

From the little I know, it seems like the reality was pretty heavy for a lot of those guys. Tapper Zukie was involved in some violence… it seems like that was just part of life for a lot of those guys.

Well, I knew Tapper Zukie from that period. My friend, Clem Bushay, he lives about 200 meters from me; he actually produced the Man Ah Warrior album.

No way.

Yeah, the producer lives on the same road as I’m speaking to you from now. I knew Tapper Zukie for a long time.

They were all affiliated with politics, that was the thing. And in the seventies, in Jamaica, obviously, the CIA were moving in, trying to destabilize the country, because they didn’t want them to slip towards the Cuban model and affiliate with Russia, and have another Russian ally so close to the United States. So a lot of arms were put in to Seaga, who was affiliated with the Americans, where Manley wanted to stay with the Cubans and work more to a socialist state. That’s why there’s so many arms and, to this day, so much trouble for Jamaica.

It was a crazy election—I think it was ‘76—and I was eighteen at the time, and Far I was with us in England. It was mad. Phoning home and, you know, ten, 20 people shot a day in the political violence. And Far I obviously was close with Claudie Massop, who was one of the main enforcers, like his father Jack Massop had been. But we met a lot of those gunmen: Take Life[?], Bucky Marshall, Tapper Zukie, Horsie—not Horsemouth Wallace, another one called Horsie. Were some quite dark characters, really, but if you met them, you’d have thought they were really charming. But then what they actually got up to was a whole different thing.
 
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Incredible NEWLY UNCOVERED 1977 footage of UK punk bands: Damned! Generation X! Adverts! Rich Kids!
06.26.2016
07:15 am

Topics:
Punk
Television

Tags:


 
With the steady influx of punk rock documentaries, books, and all manner of info (and YouTube fare) coming in from all directions—thankfully eyes are opening to all the wild stuff from the 1920s to the 1950s as much as to 70s punk and other recent upheavals—something like this still truly amazes me, especially since this accidentally seldom-seen footage captures a couple of extra special treasures for the jaded and world-weary punk connoisseur/freak/snob.
 
drtfj
 
The footage is from an apparently unaired UK TV show called Impact and was filmed December 21st 1977 by one Mike Mansfield. Mansfield was a producer, most importantly to us of the UK TV show Supersonic which started in 1975 and was a much hipper version of Top Of The Pops. Supersonic featured great performances of glam rockers like T.Rex and others colliding with the punk movement.
 
gfnv
 
One of the great surprises here is the only known footage of the five-piece version of The Damned with second guitarist Lu (who is currently playing in PiL, strangely enough) and Jon Moss, later of Culture Club fame, on drums! Also featured are The Rich Kids, former Sex Pistol Glen Matlock’s post-Pistols band with Steve New, Midge Ure (Ultravox) and Rusty Egan (Visage); the amazing Adverts are here and so the great Generation X with vocalist Billy Idol, bassist Tony James (later of Sigue Sigue Sputnik) and Bob “Derwood” Andrews, considered by many (myself included) to be the single best guitarist to come out of the punk rock era.

No sense in waiting—watch this treat after the jump! Enjoy!

Posted by Howie Pyro | Leave a comment
Kill the f*ckers: ‘White Man,’ Suicide’s BRUTAL sonic attack on white supremacy
06.23.2016
10:17 am

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Music
Punk
Race

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Alan Vega, 70s, photo by Paul Zone

I plan to stand behind my front door clutching a baseball bat for the duration of this year’s Republican National Convention, but if I were headed to one of the “First Amendment zones” in Cleveland next month, I would carry a ghetto blaster that played nothing but Suicide’s “White Man.”

Born Boruch Alan Bermowitz in 1938 and married to a Holocaust survivor during the sixties, Alan Vega knows whereof he sings on “White Man,” an obscure late-period Suicide track that deserves a wider hearing. While Vega denounces the legacy of white supremacy in the barest language there is, Martin Rev’s music—drums, a single guitar chord through a tremolo effect and a three-note bassline, punctuated by keyboard noises—corresponds to an inner state between trance and fury.

So far, “White Man” has only been officially released on the DVD One Day + Live at La Loco / Paris, a pro-shot live show from January 2005 supplemented with interviews. (A used copy from Amazon will set you back about $5.) Though Suicide has been playing the song since ‘98 (according to this fan’s timeline), they left it off their last album to date, 2002’s merciless post-9/11 nightmare American Supreme.
 

 
It just so happens there’s video of Suicide playing “White Man” in Manhattan right after the 2004 RNC. The performance falls flat, but Vega’s ad-libbed tirade is much clearer than on the Paris tape:

White man
HRRRRAARUUGHGH white man
Goin’ ‘round the world
Killin’ everybody with a different color skin
Yeah, it’s the American race
Yeah, kill the fuckers

White man
You’re a fucking diseased fucker
You’re a fucking cancer
White man
HUH!

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Makeup artist transforms young woman into an old fart punk rocker
06.21.2016
11:24 am

Topics:
Art
Pop Culture
Punk

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Makeup and prosthetics artist Neill Gorton recently showed off his mad skills at the International Makeup Artists Trade Show (IMATS) in London by turning a young woman into an old punk. The young female model, Kelsey-Leigh Walker became totally unrecognizable when the makeup was completed. It’s pretty impressive, eh?

“This was done to promote my make up school Neill Gorton Prosthetics Studio,” said Gorton.

In my opinion, the makeup is just as good or maybe even better than Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa which was nominated for an Oscar in 2014 for Best Makeup and Hairstyling. So I guess what I’m trying to say is this is Oscar-worthy work! Well done!


 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Watch early footage of the Jam kicking ALL THE ASS, Manchester, 1977
06.21.2016
09:48 am

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Music
Punk

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Though due to to time, place, and sound, the Jam are closely associated with the London punk explosion of the late ‘70s, their musical and extra-musical ethos were often directly contrary to punk’s year-zero outlook, paying open obeisance to ‘60s groups that punk sought to outright reject. Though they shared punk’s focused anger and political engagement, the band embraced the posh fashions, R&B influence, and speed-freak energy of the mod movement which, having peaked and ebbed a dozen years earlier, was tremendously passé even to non-cognoscenti, and singer/guitarist Paul Weller’s schoolgirl crush on the Who couldn’t have been more blatant.
 

Case in point.

So unpunk were the Jam considered in some circles that no less a Godhead than Joe Strummer of the Clash called them out as frauds in one of his band’s greatest songs, “White Man in Hammersmith Palais.” In the song’s second half, Strummer addresses disillusionment with punk’s direction, and the verse

The new groups are not concerned
with what there is to be learned
They got Burton suits, you think it’s funny
turning rebellion into money

has long been considered a direct stab at the Jam, who at the time had recently made a point of proclaiming a baffling loyalty to the Tories. (In later years, Weller would refer to Margaret Thatcher as “absolute fucking scum” and “a traitor to the people,” so don’t hold that early Conservative support against him.) Strummer demurely claimed he was taking aim at power-pop more generally, but the “Burton suits” line seemed mighty specific.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘I Don’t Wanna Grow Up’: Comix god Daniel Clowes’ cartoony video for the Ramones’ Tom Waits cover
06.17.2016
11:03 am

Topics:
Animation
Art
Music
Punk

Tags:


 
On a recent episode of WTF, Marc Maron had an expansive chat with the renowned comix artist Daniel Clowes, the mind responsible for Eightball, Ghost World, Wilson, and the 2016 release Patience.

I learned a lot I didn’t know about Clowes—I hadn’t realized, for instance, that as a Pratt student who was born in 1961, Clowes was actually bouncing around New York City the same time that Blondie, Lydia Lunch etc. were making Manhattan such a vital artistic locale.

Clowes’ unbridled hostility towards the hippies that came before him and their arena-ready rock and roll (think Led Zeppelin) actually made him an ideal audience for the seething musical forms percolating right around that time. As he told Maron, “I was like the guy punk was made for, because it was destructive of all the stuff I hated.” And of all the punk bands in the world to choose from, one stood out:
 

Maron: Do you remember the first punk record [you bought]?
Clowes: It was the first Ramones record. ... The trouble was, that’s still my favorite one. Like, I never found anything I liked as much as that. I spent like five years like, OK, there’s gonna be another one—No, they were the best, and nobody else came close to that.


 
Clowes saw the Ramones play at Irving Plaza after they’d gotten a little too big for CBGB—most likely the March 4, 1980, show.

Fast-forward to the mid-1990s. The Ramones were putting out ¡Adios Amigos!, which would be their last studio album, and Clowes was a well-known figure in the comix scene who had released Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron a couple of years earlier. The single for the album was a cover of a Tom Waits song off of 1992’s Bone Machine called “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up.”
 

 
If the video hadn’t been for Clowes’ favorite band, he probably wouldn’t have considered the sacrifices he had to make in order to finish the project. Clowes told the AV Club in 2008:
 

I got the phone call about that project on the first of June 1995, and it was on TV the first of July. It was a month from knowing about it to it being so done it was on TV. It was insane. I would stay up all night drawing pictures for it. At 6 in the morning, this bleary-eyed messenger would come to my door and pick up the latest drawings, take them to an animation studio in Mill Valley, and then come back later and pick up more. I had to postpone my wedding to do that.

The greatest moment of my life was, somebody sent me a cable-access show from Chicago that had Joey Ramone on it showing that video. And he was talking about, like, [imitates Queens accent] “This guy Dan Clowes postponed his wedding for us. He’s a great guy.”

 
Check out the video after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The entire print run of classic SF punk magazine ‘Damage’ is now online!
06.13.2016
09:25 am

Topics:
Art
Literature
Punk

Tags:


 
Ryan Richardson is one of the United States’ foremost collectors, archivists, and dealers of punk rock records and ephemera, as well as being the Internet saint who created free online archives of StarRock Scene, and Slash magazines. He also runs Fanzinefaves.com, a repository of various early punk zines as well as the exhaustive punk info blog Break My Face.

We’ve written about Richardson’s punk altruism before here at Dangerous Minds. The last time was when he uploaded the entire print run of the seminal transgressive LA artpunk publication, NO MAG, over at his site CirculationZero.com.

Richardson has done his Good Samaritan work once again, this time with the upload of the complete print run of the Bay Area’s Damage magazine which was published between July 1979 and June 1981. Damage concentrated its coverage on the San Francisco and LA punk scenes, but also covered underground music scenes worldwide. Richardson calls it “a definite contender in a state crowded with fanzine heavyweights.”

Thirteen issues were published including a freebie special edition released between the 9th and 10th issue for the Western Front festival which Damage co-sponsored.

The newsprint zine featured bold graphics, photography, and loads of writing and interviews of great historical importance to anyone following the early California punk scene. Your mileage may vary, but the San Francisco scene between 1978-1983 is perhaps my personal favorite all-time music scene, so these issues are absolute gold to me. For my money, nothing beats the aesthetic of arty punk fanzines prior to the age of desktop publishing, and Damage is as fine an example of the form as any you care to name.

Publisher Brad Lapin spoke of Damage’s importance as a historical record in a 2010 statement to the San Francisco Zine Fest:

While I trust that the magazine speaks for itself, both for good and ill, I suppose I could say by way of explanation that, beyond all the sex, drugs and rock’n’roll, that is, beyond the pure visceral FUN of punk and life in the underground, there were also deeply serious issues of politics, of social justice and, above all, of aesthetics that connected and inspired the many people involved in the Damage project. Because these concerns were particularly articulated in the scene as it existed in San Francisco three decades ago, Damage’s importance today, like that of the other zines, is as a kind of constant witness to an unique time, place and circumstance; one that spoke and one hopes still speaks to the immanent primacy of youthful idealism and to the notion that there is a deep and abiding value in a radical, even desperate rejection of the commonplace, the accepted, the normal. Conformity and regimentation then, as now, are the foresworn enemies of the creative energy that is the essence and the wellspring of youth. That stance of absolute defiance to which the punk aesthetic aspires and which, in fact, is it’s raison d’etre is no less a viable ideal today than it was 30 years ago. If anything, it is more necessary and more important.


The download of the complete set is free, but Richardson asks that those taking advantage make a charitable donation to Electronic Frontier Foundation, Doctors Without Borders, or Austin Pets Alive. Donations to these charities make the project worthwhile for Richardson, so it would be, you know, the cool thing to do to toss a few bucks that way, considering the amazing gift being provided here. Richardson has placed donation links on CirculationZero.com—go there now to download Damage, and while you’re waiting on that file transfer, scroll through this gallery of covers and pages from Damage‘s history:
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
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