Montreal native Rick Trembles
is a world-renowned underground comic artist who is hailed for his obsessively detailed drawings and film-related obsessions. Trembles's weekly comic, Motion Picture Purgatory
, appears in The Montreal Mirror
. The strip has also been compiled into a handsome volume, also titled Motion Picture Purgatory
, by top-flight British publisher FAB Press
Trembles has been published in numerous anthologies that include Robert Crumb
, Fantagraphics Books' Pictopia
, Danny Hellman
's Legal Action Comix
, Mutate & Survive
, La Monstruese
, and the massive hardbound volume Comix 2000
In addition to writing and drawing comics, Trembles has also worked at commercial animation studios, created his own cartoon shorts, acted in several independent films, and fronts his twenty-five-year-old band, The American Devices. Check out his website Snubdom
So what does Rick Trembles do for a good time?
I like watching fucked-up films, sometimes over a couple of beers with my gay drinking buddy. I like to play with my girlfriend's lizards. I like cooking for my girlfriend. My favorite porn station these days is The Food Network. It's all about unrequited hunger and watching other people perform expensive superhuman feats you couldn't possibly do on your own. I also like playing rock music and riding my bicycle in the summertime. I fucking hate winter.
Tell us about Motion Picture Purgatory. How do you choose what movies to review?
It's been coming out in The Montreal Mirror
every week since 1998, and they let me pick pretty much whatever I want.
They get me into whichever exclusive advance press screenings I want, but when there's nothing I'm interested in coming out of Tinseltown, I just pick whatever obscure grindhouse or arthouse flick strikes my fancy, even if it's not readily available to the average reader.
The nice thing about handwriting your text inside comic-strip captions and speech balloons is that nobody can edit you because it's inked and locked into the artwork so I can get away with anything--except spelling mistakes.
Who are some of your favorite female performers? And which movies did they do that made the biggest impression on you?
I was blown away by the gorgeous Jane Birkin
in Je t'aime, moi non plus
(Picture: 1 - 2
) because the title of the movie came from the old hit pop ballad she sings with Serge Gainsbourg
. Both the song and the movie are all about anal sex! The breathy tune comes on as she's screaming in pain being cornholed by Joe Dallesandro
. Only in the '70s!
Another ode to anal sex was the '80s super-8 underground film Fingered
starring Lydia Lunch
. That one was important to me because it was part of the NYC school of so-called "Cinema of Transgression." They took the punk-rock aesthetic and put it to film. The zero-budget D.I.Y. nature of it all was very inspiring to my aspirations.
Lydia Lunch really was the covergirl of that raw, angry '80s punk mindset. Have you ever met her or done any comics about her?
As a matter of fact, she was partly the reason why my Motion Picture Purgatories
got banned from The Montreal Mirror
in the mid-'80s when I first started doing them.
She explained to me how her ultimate special-effects film fantasy would be to have "a six-year-old boy gobbling her cunt, spurting maggot-inducing impregnation splinters!" Her wish was my command, but, much to The Mirror
's dismay, I chose the more sensibly budgeted avenue of publishable cartoon ink on paper over film!
Already anticipating opposition from them by now, I adorned the borders of said strip with book-burning topless women--their nipples covered with censorship banners--brandishing "censored by The Mirror
" rubber stamps!
Not only did they refuse to print it, but they permanently relieved me of my duties and stopped taking my calls!
I met Lydia backstage on several occasions whenever she'd come to Montreal to perform, and I sometimes got so over enthusiastic it would scare her off. But I couldn't help it; she was at the forefront of trying to get the coolest, most fucked-up XXX horror-punk underground film projects off the ground.
At one point Lydia was trying to drum up interest in a film project she was going to work on with legendary underground cartoonist Robert Williams
. She said it would be like an X-rated Roger Rabbit
. I'd do anything to see preproduction remnants from that if it ever got that far.
What other starlets make your jaw drop?
, Parker Posey
), Sylvia Kristel
), Karen Black
), Milla Jovovich
), Isabelle Adjani
), Charlotte Rampling
), Mary Woronov
), Alicia Witt
), Dana Plato
), Lynn Lowry
), Traci Lords
), and Niagara Detroit
Do you remember the first time you saw a nude scene or an explicit love scene in a movie?
My first orgasm ever was jacking off to a hint of tit on late-night TV while my parents were asleep upstairs. In Montreal, late at night, they would show saucy softcore '70s Euro-trash movies on French TV. They used to show early Sylvia Kristel and foreign vampire lesbian flicks on TV that made a big impression too.
Did you ever have that experience where you found porn in the woods as a kid?
I drew a comic about that too. The first pictures of naked ladies me and my pals ever saw were blurred teeny-weeny clippings someone cut out of a magazine that we found in some bushes. The only difference between boys and girls we could figure from these pics was the breasts and the fact that they had a big bushy muff of hair between their legs. We didn't know vaginas existed, let alone what they looked like.
The closest "thing with tits" to our own age that we knew of was a young girl who'd walk home from school every day. We'd chase her down the street yelling "hairy cock, hairy cock" until she ran away mortified. I guess the fact that we knew her cock was hairy was too much for her.
Robert Crumb once called your art even more "twisted and weird" than his own. Please explain for me the aesthetic you're trying to achieve in your work.
Well before punk rock came out I was into '60s counterculture like acid rock and underground comics.
Some early punk cartoonists I admired were John Holmstrom
, who did Ramones LP covers. Peter Bagge
came out of the same milieu, as did J.D. King
. Joe Coleman
was in an early punk band.
As a kid I was always obsessed with monster movies. When I got into punk I started playing what I hoped was the equivalent of monster music, and I thought the same aesthetic could be applied to comics and film.
Film, comics, and rock 'n' roll all share underground and/or garage predecessors and counterparts predating punk, so it's an endless mine of inspiration tracing back their histories. I wanted it all. As a result, I'm a walking, talking catastrophe. So besides being a childhood dream, drawing comics is therapeutic.
Was your girlfriend in a Troma movie?
My girlfriend was dubbed Isabelle "Necrophilia" Stephen
) by Troma's Lloyd Kaufman
. She was part of his entourage a few years ago at various film festivals and horror-movie conventions.
She ended up in his Tales from the Crapper
getting butt fucked and impaled by a giant penis monster that pops through her mouth.
Also, because of a Motion Picture Purgatory
review of Alien Factor
I did a few years ago, we got to correspond with director Don Dohler
, who it turns out is still making movies straight to DVD.
Isabelle asked if she could be in one of Don's movies. He said yes, so I had the pleasure of accompanying her to Baltimore for an on-the-set report about the making of Vampire Sisters
--she gets sexually impaled in that one too. She makes her own digital tease-a-rama-type horror movies from scratch too.
Isabelle is awesome. So what crazy sexy movies have you seen lately that you wanna tell people about?
Well, besides my girlfriend's sexy pictures, I recently acquired a Long Jean Silver
compilation that was quite an eye-opener, but that was more of an oddity and a period piece than arousing, even though she's incredibly pretty.
The last sexy thing I saw was quite soft but intense; it was a music clip inside of an insipid '60s beach movie called It's a Bikini World
. The Castaways, who look like a bunch of fourteen-year-old kids, are playing their garage classic "Liar Liar" inside a funhouse monster mouth when, suddenly, in comes this confused-looking scantily clad burlesque girl smiling ear to ear, twitching and gyrating to the music in front of the band.
She looked like she'd just been plucked out of the local tit bar at the last minute. But the way she go-go danced was so genuine, raw, spontaneous, and infectious, and the music was so great and minimal, it really felt like the sexual revolution was right about to blow its lid.
Everything's all about big fat fake boobs these days. After recently watching a bunch of old beach movies it dawned on me how much more ass obsessed they were back then with all those constant gratuitous lingering close-ups of gorgeous teenaged butts doing the twist. No wonder parents were in an uproar about the "rock 'n' roll menace." It's downright obscene! I like it.
all illustrations courtesy of Rick Trembles' Snubdom website