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Remembering Tom Crites


Headpress recently published an incredibly beautiful work by the late Tom Crites, Crites' Coloring Book (available in special edition hardback here). Tom isn’t around to tell us about his own work, because he tragically took his own life in 2013. In tribute to Tom, and in celebration of his art, Headpress commissioned a short series of interviews with some of those who knew him best, including friends and family members. First of all is fellow artist and pal Joseph Salamanca.

Thanks for the beautiful colouring-in, supplied by Jen (aged 10).

Image crites coloring book coloring in
  Headpress: Hi Joseph. How did you get to know Tom Crites?

Joseph Salamanca: I believe that I met Tom around 1989 or 1990 while we were both washed up old-fart punk rockers that enjoyed drawing as well as tipping the bottle. At that time Tom was producing small-format zines like Pulpo and Spya at his job at a copy shop in Berkeley. Whenever we hung out we tended to drink a bit too much as well as play cards, but comics, bad films, and art were always topics of discussion. If by some miracle we didn't get into drunken misadventures we somehow would accomplish brainstorming comic ideas that every now and again would actually get finished. I contributed a bit to Spya which we just gave out for laughs and we did a couple of comics that we would sell through local comic stores on consignment.
Image crites coloring book coloring in Image crites coloring book coloring in
  What were your main shared inspirations?

We were both avid horror and science fiction geeks as well as comic book fans when we were kids. As teenagers we were influenced by the Punk scene but with residual influences from our early fanboy years. At one point I did some tattoo work on him in trade for some of his childhood comics and toys which were the same as ones that I had owned as a kid.
Image crites coloring book coloring in
  When you look back on that zine culture now, in 2016, how insane does it look, and sound? What do you make of it, in retrospect?

It's a very different scene than it used to be. It's amazing how easy it is to get in touch with other likeminded creative types since the internet has linked so many by way of sites like Instagram and Facebook. The days of Xerox copied zines or the even earlier mimeographed ones are gone as there are much more impressive publishing format choices available.

Image crites coloring book coloring in Image crites coloring book coloring in
  What do you think made Tom stand out as artist?

To me the main thing that made Tom's art stand out was his style of black & white realistic drawing. He preferred the look of black & white, rarely delving into colour, but he did a great job with that as well. Of course his subject matter ranged from beautiful to downright hideous but all meticulously rendered.

How did the relationship change over time?

I moved back to Southern California and ended up tattooing, which kind of burned me out on drawing for fun, but Tom stuck with it. He would call and later email with updates about zines he was doing like Jesus Piñata, Malefact and Paniscus Revue. Eventually Tom moved to Long Beach and we hung out again like in the old days but by that point the years of boozing had caught up with him. After a few physical setbacks the alcohol had finally impacted his art which I think hurt him more than what was going on with his health. He cleaned up his act for a year but was still not happy with how things had ended up and decided that he was done.
Image crites coloring book coloring in
  What do you think he would have made of this posthumous collection, Crites' Coloring Book?

After going through the book I can honestly say that he would be quite proud of it. He always wanted to have a book of his work published and the format is a great way to showcase his work.

Finally, what is your favourite memory of Tom?

The part of Tom that I think I miss the most was his biting wit. From the late night drunken humorous insult-fests while we played cards, to the constant remarks about some of the terrible films that he would bring by for us to watch/suffer through.

Joe Salamanca lives in Southern California where he and his wife Bonnie are dealers in Tribal Artifacts and Antiquarian Books.
Click <here> for free Crites' Coloring Book art for you to download and colour in.

Image cover crites coloring book paperback thumbnail
Buy the paperback»
Crites' Coloring Book by Tom Crites. A talented artist, Tom Crites self-published zines and contributed to the small press for over two decades. He also created art simply because he loved to do it, often leaving his work in public places for others to find. More about this item» Image cover crites coloring book hardback thumbnail
Buy the special edition»

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