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Rand Holmes is widely regarded as Canada’s most irreverent and accomplished underground cartoonist. Unlike many alternative artists who just cranked out crude drawings, Holmes created images that were meticulously designed and rendered. Even when sexually explicit, they smoothly complemented his incisive, uproarious and scatological storylines and his savage political wit. Their inspiration and vitality arose, to a large degree, from the finely textured and detailed EC Comics work of Wally Wood.
Born in Truro, Nova Scotia, Holmes grew up in Edmonton where he developed an interest in comics while supporting himself as a sign painter. At 22, he even sold two cartoons to Harvey Kurtzman’s magazine, Help! But Holmes had yet to find himself artistically. Finally, in 1968, after turning on to drugs and the counterculture, he moved to Vancouver and began to get his strips --- starring hippie Harold Hedd --- published in the Georgia Straight, the city’s legendary underground newspaper.
A trip to San Francisco in 1973 firmly established Holmes’ ties to the American scene with the publication of Harold Hedd #2 by Last Gasp Eco-Funnies. However, Holmes kept his base in Canada, where he drew dozens of covers for the Georgia Straight and contributed to such comix titles as All Canadian Beaver Comics, White Lunch Comix, Slow Death and Fog City Comics.
In the 1980s, Holmes moved to an island he had bought off the coast of British Columbia. There he continued to draw and paint while living off the land --- a seemingly idyllic life that actually demanded enormous physical and emotional stamina. In 2002, he died while undergoing treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Biography compiled by Henry Mietkiewicz for the Joe Shuster Awards
Date of Birth: February 22nd, 1942
Birthplace: Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada
Date of death: March 15th, 2002
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Rand Holmes was inducted into the Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Fame in 2005. He was also inducted into the "Giants of the North" Canadian Cartooning Hall of Fame in 2007.
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