CHRIS YAMBAR - AMERICAN ARTIST, WRITER, PUBLISHER, SPEAKER - 1961 - 2021
In this section you’ll find a comprehensive listing of all the comics written, drawn, or painted by the creator from both mainline and independent publishers. The list is in order from most recent to the earliest and includes year marks, footnotes, and full-color cover scans for easy check listing identification. Click on the comics by year button below and go there now!
CHRIS YAMBAR grew up in an environment filled with sugary cereal premiums, SOAKY bath toys, SINCLAIR dinosaurs, TV’s BANANA SPLITS, FUNNY FACE drink mix, STICKER FUN books, and, of course, COMIC BOOKS.
His first introduction to comic books came in the form of bribes from his father who used them to keep CHRIS remotely still during haircuts, which he received from a ‘weekend barber’ who cut hair in the side window of G.C.MURPHY’S, a local five and dime department store in Youngstown, Ohio. The comic book rack was conveniently located next to the clipping stall and provided a colorful array of eye candy for anyone under 4' tall.
The very first comic book that CHRIS ever read was CASPER THE FRIENDLY GHOST. This was soon followed by TARZAN, BATMAN, and the infamous HOT STUFF. It may have been CASPER that got him hooked, but it was HOT STUFF (the little devil kid) that made him realize that there was a perceived ‘dark side’ to the artform.
“When my mom saw HOT STUFF, she immediately grabbed it out of my hands and tore it to pieces,” YAMBAR laughs. “She was a SHREDDER ! I remember her talking about it with my dad and hearing him say, ‘But the little devil’s wearing a diaper! How dangerous can he be?!’ Right then and there I had a clear understanding that 12 cents could get you into a whole heap of trouble - if you bought the right thing! So as I got older, I continued to do so!”
YAMBAR’s love for comics carried him throughout his school days and even led him to start his first ‘company’ in the 6th grade.
“We called it YAMBAR COMICS and drew every issue by hand on notebook paper, carefully trimming off the spiral-cut edges so we’d look professional,” YAMBAR explains. “ I would write the stories and make up the characters while another classmate drew the panels and another stapled the pages and sold them during class. For awhile there we even hand-tinted the pages with watercolors. I had ‘lifetime’ contracts and everything! At the end of the year we took all the money we’d made and spent it on ice cream bars which we ate until we were sick. Sadly, the ‘company’ folded due to summer vacation and by 7th grade it was ancient history.” In 2005, a copy of one of these handmade comics, ‘MAD BOMBER’S COMICS FAIR’, sold for $296.56 on E-Bay. (To read more on this story click here.)
During the 1970s, CHRIS became a MARVEL COMICS junkie and a huge SPIDER-MAN groupie. He poured all of his energy and focus into becoming a comics professional. Every day after school he spent hours upon hours writing, drawing, and reading books about the history of the comics medium and the printing business. It was his ‘not so secret’ obsession - one that his father, a machinist in the steel industry, did not understand or agree with. His father’s violent disapproval drove a painful wedge between father and son that proved to be a sore spot for decades. It wasn’t until the late 1990s that the two were able to find a common ground again. “My father came from a generation that lived by the program created for them without questioning it. They went into the service straight out of school (which many of them did not finish), got married and started a family as soon as they got out, and disappeared into the mills with a metal lunch box until they emerged 30-40 years later. They were spent, bruised, and goalless. Any dreams they may have had before going into the mills were extracted long before they ever got out. I was not about to let that happen to me... and told him so. While I appreciated the work ethic these people had adopted, I did not want to lose the goals that I had in my heart. It was very difficult and even painful at times, but it was a price I was willing to pay to be true to myself.”
During the last two years of high school, CHRIS enrolled at the MAHONING COUNTY JOINT VOCATIONAL SCHOOL’s commercial art program. There his eyes were opened to the possibilities of hands-on mass production and a lifetime career in the arts.
“Suddenly, everything I had ever hoped for and read about was possible. Vocational School provided the missing puzzle pieces in my education. I realized for the first time, in a concrete way, that I could do anything if I understood how things worked. I will forever be thankful for the education and endurance of my two instructors, AL LUCENTE and GEORGE CUMMINGS. I wouldn’t have the opportunities that I have today if it weren’t for their insight and the opportunities I had at the MCJVS.”
Upon graduating in 1979, CHRIS was accepted into several art schools, including the JOE KUBERT SCHOOL OF CARTOON AND GRAPHIC ART but found he was unable to attend any of them because there wasn’t enough money available to do so, even with limited financial aid. This propelled the artist deeper into the commercial art field where he freelanced until taking on the identity of a pop artist in 1987.
During the 1980s, YAMBAR established MANNA UNDERGROUND PRESS and published an international underground paper called THE ACTIVIST - Radical Truth Through Art, Music And Social Commentary. MUP also published a progressive arts tabloid called REBEL GRAPHICS. Together the publications had a steady reader base in 13 countries. The 1980s also yielded GRAPHIC GRAPHIX, which published two 64-page anthology issues of SAFE COMIX . The first issue included work by YAMBAR, IVAR TORGRIMSON, BOB COX, and other Christian artists. It also printed a controversial story by underground cartoonist ROBERT CRUMB. This fact alone caused the book to be shunned by some folks in the popular Reagan- era religious right and sought after by hardcore comic collectors. Printing controversial comic work was the norm for YAMBAR, who was getting used to rocking the boat with uptight fundamentalist believers with his own characters, DOODY AND DITTO (an outspoken frog and a cosmic guitar pic), in the pages of each issue of THE ACTIVIST.
In 1994 YAMBAR and GARY A. SMITH founded SUBSTANCE COMICS. The little two- man company produced three 64-page issues of SUBSTANCE QUARTERLY, but the science fiction and fantasy title died before its first birthday due to the national collapse of the comic book direct market distributor network that year. It was this collapse that ushered in the darkest period in modern comics history. Nothing this bad had happened to American comics since the WERTHAM pre-Comics Code period in the 1950s.
1994 also marked the birth of one of the most popular characters in independent comics. The character was created as a single panel gag cartoon by YAMBAR at THE BEAT COFFEEHOUSE in Youngstown, Ohio. The character was then put on coffee mugs and T-shirts by TWO FUN, a business CHRIS and ad specialist, MARIANNE EARNEST, formed to take advantage of the exploding national interest in the coffeehouse scene. But fads are often fickle. When TWO FUN dissolved a few years later, YAMBAR regained his character rights, gave the little beatnik a name, a limited-edition ashcan comic, and took the show on the road. And in early 1997 the first MOORDAM COMICS issue of MR. BEAT ADVENTURES hit comic shelves across America... and promptly sold out! It was trend that he would have to get used to. (For more Mr. Beat historical information click here.)
MOORDAM COMICS set the stage for the emergence of some of the most memorable cult favorite comics, and YAMBAR attracted some of the best humor talents in the business. The core of the MOORDAM family included YAMBAR (MR.BEAT & BAMBEANO BOY), GEORGE BRODERICK, JR.(COURAGEOUS MAN ADVENTURES), LEVI KRAUSE (LEVI’S WORLD), and CAYETANO GARZA (MAGIC INKWELL COMIC STRIP THEATER). Other ‘extended family members’ included appearances from creators and their characters like BILL MORRISON (ROSWELL - LITTLE GREEN MAN), SCOTT ROBERTS (PATTY CAKE), ART BALTAZAR (CRAYBABY ADVENTURES & GYRO-MAN), MIKE BOCIANOWSKI (CHUCK - THE UGLY AMERICAN), KEN WHEATON (BURGER BOMB), HAROLD BUCHHOLZ (APATHY CAT & SUBURBAN SPACE PETS), DOUG BARON (SUGAR RAY FINHEAD), FRANCO AURELIANI (WEIRDSVILLE), STEVE STEGELIN (BOONDOGGLE), KEVIN THOMAS (SPY GIRLS), and RICHARD PINI (who loaned CHRIS his cast from ELFQUEST so they could run amok with MR.BEAT). In addition to the flagship titles by the ‘core members,’ MOORDAM COMICS published a few softbound trades like CERTIFIED COOL, MOORDAM CHRISTMAS COMICS and the legendary COMICS ARE DEAD ! Some of these trade editions were co-published under the short lived SLAP HAPPY imprint.
The company morphed into COMIC LIBRARY INTERNATIONAL in late 1999 when Diamond Distributors began pulling the rug out from beneath many small independent imprints. It was all a numbers game now...so YAMBAR turned the publisher hat over to BRODERICK and the two co-published 10 softbound COMIC LIBRARY INTERNATIONAL anthologies and 26 collected SOLO-VISIONS titles. The average page count for a CLI book was 152 pages. CHRIS and GEORGE not only beat the distributor’s dollars and cents point spread, they kept themselves and other creators alive and in the public eye where they had a fighting chance for success and a company platform to stand on.
In 2006, Yambar and Broderick, Jr. decided that the original model for Comic Library International had more than served its purpose. Together they had helped empower many independent creators with the knowledge and ability to self-publish while at the same time encouraging them to promote themselves smarter and more professionally. That year, Comic Library International changed its name to CLI 2.0 and began to solely publish and promote Yambar and Broderick’s many creator- owned intellectual properties and those co-created with others, including Levi Krause, Layne Toth, and EDISON’S FRANKENSTEIN 1910 artist Robb Bihun. (For a full listing of COMIC LIBRARY INTERNATIONAL books, creators, and the new CLI 2.0 direction simply click here)
To illustrate the importance of MOORDAM COMICS , COMIC LIBRARY INTERNATIONAL, and the creators whose work appeared there, one has only to look at the 2001 BIG AMEBA NETWORK INDI-COMIC AWARDS statistics. The awards were based on actual ballots filled out by fans of independent comics and were presented at the CAPTAIN BLUE HEN COMICS-hosted ACME SHOW held in Newark, Delaware. YAMBAR took the lion’s share by placing 21 times in 29 categories and winning 8 TOP HONORS, including: BEST WRITER, BEST CHARACTER (MR.BEAT), BEST PUBLISHER (MOORDAM COMICS), BEST ONE-SHOT (COMICS ARE DEAD!), BEST SEASONAL COMIC (MOORDAM CHRISTMAS COMICS), and BEST COMIC ANTHOLOGY (COMIC LIBRARY INTERNATIONAL) an award he shared with BRODERICK. GEORGE took 9 awards, including BEST PENCILER, while LEVI KRAUSE gathered 3 awards, including BEST MANGA STYLED CHARACTER and SCOTT ROBERTS took TOP HONORS for BEST ALL AGES GIRL CHARACTER for PATTY CAKE. When the dust settled, more than half of the awards went to MOORDAM and CLI creators. We rest our case.
It should also be mentioned that YAMBAR was instrumental in pulling together the first independent comic anthologies in 1997 entitled RAMPAGE with the second being entitled SON OF RAMPAGE in 1998. He co-created the title with BRIAN CLOPPER and HAROLD BUCHHOLZ. “All I could see was a whole bunch of creative loners that were in need of some solidarity. I always believed that networking and collaboration yielded the best of opportunities. We all needed to get some recognition for our efforts and we sure got it - for all of us! RAMPAGE set the stage for a great ‘independent community.’ I was proud to have been a part of it!”
Chris painted covers, wrote scripts, and published the manic ITSI KITSI - HAPPY ADVENTURE CAT #1 and the 2 FUN FLIPBOOK under the short-lived FUNNY BOOK INSTITUTE (FBI) logo in 2000. He has also contributed stories and art to many other companies, including YOUNG AMERICAN COMICS, TEACHER'S DISCOVERY, BLINDWOLF, COMICOSLEY, SHANDA FANTASY ARTS, SLAP HAPPY, BEHEMOTH BOOKS, NEW CREATION PUBLICATIONS, WARP GRAPHICS, CUSTOM COMICS OF AMERICA, CRYPTIC PRESS, AIRWAVE COMICS / ENTERTAINMENT, SSS COMICS, BONGO COMICS, AMAZE INK / SLG PUBLICATIONS, CBLDF, AIT PLANET LAR, and HARPER COLLINS BOOKS. .
In MORRISON’s EISNER-nominated title, ROSWELL - LITTLE GREEN MAN # 5, the name “YAMBAR” was given to an alien underwater space creature who actually eats the main character but later barfs him up again so that the series can continue. YAMBAR’s name again surfaces in SIMPSONS COMICS #39 where he was grouped with a list of powerful, mythological monsters during a courtroom hearing on censorship. But it was the third BONGO COMICS association that proved to be the charm!
“I’ve always loved the SIMPSONS since day one, so when the people at BONGO COMICS called and asked me to write for their new all-ages BART SIMPSON COMICS title, I jumped at the chance!”
It was a marriage made in Springfield! When the first issue rolled off the presses in 2000 and he found himself with the lead story, CHRIS was more than excited! Since then, he has written numerous stories for BONGO COMICS and has contributed to nearly every title the company produces including RADIOACTIVE MAN, THE SIMPSONS COMICS, BART SIMPSON’S TREE HOUSE OF HORROR and, of course, BART SIMPSON COMICS. He has even been included in the 2002 SIMPSONS MANIA card set where his painted Ralphy Wiggum card can be found in the Bart Gallery subset!
Being an invited writer for THE SIMPSONS comic line has opened many doors for Yambar to speak in schools and on college campuses and to do special work for charities around the world, but it has closed other doors that he didn’t expect. After returning home from a week-long business trip in California in 2002, CHRIS found out that some people in his church, where he worked as an Associate Pastor had rallied to have him removed from his position because of his work with those “disgusting SIMPSONS people.” It seems that a few of them didn’t like the SIMPSONS Interactive Church Scene on his desk featuring all of the characters in the service with hands and “Good Books” lifted skyward to God. They also had problems with the AIDS AWARENESS paintings on this website, too ( Please feel free to enjoy them in our PAINTING GALLERY section!). What was he thinking?!! CHRIS resigned right then and there. “I never thought that some people could be so petty and judgmental,” YAMBAR states. “It’s weird to see how many bridges have been built as a result of my working with these characters and the open lines of communication it has afforded me to spread a bit of goodwill to absolute strangers. It’s weirder yet to see other people who should understand the value in all of this trying to set those bridges on fire. I guess sometimes truth is dumber than fiction!”
YAMBAR soon after began to be asked to contribute his scripts to the new I DREAM OF JEANNIE title from AIRWAVE COMICS and to the 40th anniversary comic adaptation of NBC-TV’s animated holiday classic MISTER MAGOO’S CHRISTMAS CAROL, where he penned the added “behind the scenes” and “after the show”skits. He even got to write the official recipe for RAZZLEBERRY DRESSING with GERALD McBOING BOING and his mom!
It looks like there’s no end in sight for YAMBAR’s comic book career... And that’s a cliff hanger that we don’t mind ending on! See you in the funny pages!