"Chris Perguidi: Herotown Interview"
By Allan AngelTweet
(April 1, 2013)
(Note: I left the interview un-edited. It was before I graduated from San Jose State University in Business Administration in Finance and with a higher degree of vocabulary and I want this interview to be as close to the original source as possible.)
I’m here with Chris Perguidi, who just got finished with wrestling class on a nice spring afternoon. I met Chris at Wondercon when it used to be located at The Moscone Center in San Francisco, California back in 2008 and we’ve been collaborators on all things Comics since.
I remember Chris as this scrawny kid who just sat on my chair during Wondercon and started selling my comics. “Who is this kid?”, I thought. “What nerve!” But then as sales kept pouring in, it was like go ahead take the wheel.
Chris has a thinly veiled scar on his left cheek from a fist fight with a bully in elementary school. He talks incessantly about things he has read. Although a drop out, he can cite Shakespeare, the Bible and Moby Dick with ease. Misunderstood, demonized and adored by female and male suitors alike, Chris Perguidi has been a man of mystery. No one quite knows who he is. Like I said, I’ve known the guy since 2008 but I know him like a stranger I would meet in the street or someone who takes over your artist table without your permission. Yes, I like everybody else: Know nothing.
Who is Chris Perguidi: The Man, The Myth, The Legend.
IC: So how did you get into the comic book business?
Chris: Originally I was a publisher. I started at 16 publishing an anthology book called ‘Zombie Comics’. We made mad money with that book. Me and my sister would set up booths at conventions and I swear we could sell to anyone. I wasn’t used to having so much of my own money. It was good times. Eventually, I teamed with sci-fi writer David Ben to put out ‘Dino Tykes’.
IC: You grew up in Gilroy?
Chris: Somewhat. I spent most of my time in Morgan Hill. The more laid back kids hung out in Morgan Hill, artsy types, the thugs in Gilroy. My family on the Thomas end owned lots of land in Gilroy and had a street named for them. My grandfather on the Perguidi side owned a restaurant nearby. I’m glad to be from a city that produced such great athletes as Jerry Rice and Robert Guererro. Being an athlete myself I also spent a lot of time at my uncle’s resort in Toulome.
IC: What was it like living in Gilroy?
Chris: I love Gilroy. Unfortunately, being one of the only white kids at my school I was often the target of gang violence. It was so bad that I had to be removed from school. The teachers blamed me for being too flamboyant and said I brought things on myself. Lucky for me I was a pretty tough scrapper and usually came up on top. I had a gay friend who was constantly jumped on and I had to walk him home from school. (This was after I had been removed from school). One day a gang member just walked up and assaulted him. I pulled him off and when I turned to check on my friend, the gang banger sucker punched me in the back of the head. I had martial art experience so I was able to retaliate in kind and leave with the upper hand. It started a huge feud with the gang bangers and our group. That accumulated with about ten men jumping me for being in their words a ‘fag lover’. They beat me unconscious and busted a brick or rock over my head and dumped me in a water filled ditch. I awoke and thought my neck was broken. I had to be pulled out on a gearing and hospitalized. They tried to stab me with something but I knocked it away and it tore into my knee. I had stitches and I still have neck injuries to this day. I was basically a popular and well liked teenager other than the gangs and was well known for my large and grandiose parties.
IC: Some would say you were making things up, but I’ve known people (including me without elaborating too much) experience the same thing.
Chris: Fact is stranger than fiction.
IC: What was you’re childhood like.
Chris: My child hood was a mixture of joyous exuberance and twisted tragedy. My mom had me at a very young age and struggled with a lot of demons. I didn’t see her while I was growing up very often. She had lots of run ins with the law. She has since overcome (those demons) and is now a successful promoter. (pause, Chris begins to waver a little bit but continues) She is a very strong woman and an artist in her own right and (is) motorcycle enthusiast. I think it’s from her I gained an appreciation of strong female characters in comic books. I was mostly raised by my grandparents, who were the best grandparents a kid could ask for. They were like The Kents from Superman. They taught me good old fashioned American values that unfortunately most kids of my generation don’t have. A lot of the people I grew up with ended up addicted to meth and these were rich kids from good families. I remember going by meth labs as a kid and they would burn tires in front to cover the smell. Or maybe they were just tweaking. I never tried to solve my problems with drug use or drinking. Not that I am one to judge those who do. It’s just not my thing. I never met my biological father nor do I know anything about him. My best friend growing up was my kid sister and I guess in a way she still is.
IC: You once mentioned you’re the biggest star in Gilroy, only bested by Robert Guerrero.
Chris: Some have said that about me. I hope to be as big a name as The Ghost worldwide soon.
IC: How do you feel about the recent reports of Robert getting arrested and charged with gun possession?
Chris: New York has unfair and unconstitutional laws. How can they hold a man who is a hero to so many for expressing one of his constitutional rights? Truly unfair.
IC: You’ve created an alter ego. Who is Topher Thomas?
I thought it was a split personality you invented to cope with a turbulent childhood.
Chris: This is a possibility for not even this is my true face, it is the closest thing and when I choose to show it, I call it Chris Perguidi. I have many faces. Topher Thomas is one of them. He is possibly my cousin whose identity I borrow from time to time when it fits my purpose. I am whoever I need to be to survive. Or perhaps Topher Thomas is real and he stole Chris Perguidi’s identity?
IC: What is your perception of the industry?
Chris: The comic book industry is a shell game. It’s a sick joke. I love the people in it but the business is tawdry. There are a lot of, shall I say ...indecent gentlemen, in it. I’ve been physically accosted by other artists. I’ve seen people buy the art of their rivals just to place it in the urinals. I had an artist call one of my girlfriends the N-word behind her back. We (referring to our trip at a Sacramento Con) had our tires popped at a convention by a jealous vendor. We had a big name publisher send us a letter saying that we suck hand written and all. It’s hard to keep your soul. Comics themselves are my favorite medium. They have such potential for money making that’s not even been closely tapped. That being said I love all of my comic book friends and thank everyone who has helped me on the way up.
IC: What kind of comic books do you read?
Chris: I read Marvel’s Avengers, it’s commercial and sells to the masses and Archie. I relate to Archie. I also like the work of Jose Angeles. He’s an unrecognized genius mostly I read books from Integrity Comics Crimelords and Baby Warriors that sort of thing.
IC: Who in the comic book industry has been your inspiration?
Chris: Rob Liefeld, Todd Mcfarlane, Stan Lee. Basically, anyone who causes controversy and chaos.
IC: Why is it so hard to break into the industry?
Chris: Because the smaller and medium sized publishers publish what they like rather than what sells. They have no modern commercial understanding of what the people want. They use comic books to shove their outdated aesthetic down our faces rather than giving actually skilled and talented people a leg up. They also fear that if you are too good that you’ll become competition. Marvel just wants people to draw their characters so if you don’t like super heroes you're screwed and if you don’t like edgy stuff but have no ideas for Marvel and DC you are left out by everyone. Mostly old men with outdated ideas hold every one down and they use their sales as proof of being superior in taste but really it’s because they are the only thing being offered through distribution.
IC: Has it all been worth it? Has it been a good/bad thing that you decided to involve yourself with an industry that cares so little for its fans and its talent?
Chris: When you put it like that maybe not. I basically sacrificed my whole existence for comic books. All I wanted was to entertain people and make them smile and be able to escape the darkness of the world. Instead it dragged me into that darkness and destroyed my life leaving me without friends or family. Alienating me from the world.
IC: If you could talk to Jim Lee, Rob Leifeld, what would you say to them?
Chris: Hire me and Allan and we will make you millions.
IC: In your opinion, should an editor/publisher who doesn’t know George Perez be allowed to give criticism on your work.
Chris: Probably not. That’s like a painting teacher not knowing Picasso, Warhol or da Vinci. Comic books are an art form of their own. You have to know the masters of the medium, many editors do not. They know classical art or maybe not even that and they know nothing of comic book history and form. That’s why comic books are so hard to read for many people today. They lack any sense of storytelling or theme they just look ‘cool’. Know the masters!
IC: I just feel sometimes that the people hired to validate portfolios are full of shit. Do you feel the same. Or is there a benefit on getting some feedback from idiots who don’t know shit.
Chris: Those are just interns that sucked the right dicks. The real check signer(s) are not spending twelve hours talking to nerds upstairs at Wondercon. They’re off in some secret corner far away.
IC: You’ve been attacked for your political beliefs. Where does Chris stand on issues?
Chris: I believe in freedom. It makes me so sad that so few people believe in morals or freedom any more. I believe you should be able to marry who you want and make as much money as you want and live your life free from the harassment of the state.
IC: You love women and also guns. Why Guns? Why women?
Chris: Probably because I love life so much. Women are the givers of life and guns are the protectors of life. I’ll give up my guns when the tyrants of the world give up their’s. That being said everyone has a right to their opinion and I’ll fight for that right. It’s unfortunate so many people think that women shouldn’t be able to protect themselves with the use of a gun. If it wasn’t for all the great women in my life I’d be a shambling mess.
IC: So what are you up to right now?
Chris: Training to be a wrestler at P.W.R. The wrestlers are the nicest people I have ever met. I also have some secrets I’ve yet to reveal.
IC: Will you be attending shows?
Chris: If the big players let me. My outspokenness often gains the anger of the ‘Big Players.’
IC: Biggest misconception about you?
Chris: That I’ve been with thousands of women. It’s probably only been hundreds.
IC: Republicans aren’t known to be giving to charity etc. But you being one, it’s kind of strange that you’re the first person I know who would take time to talk to the homeless people etc.
Chris: Because I genuinely love and believe in the human race and know all that is capable of. I hate to see it’s enthusiasm be squashed by the fascism of the state and hive mind mentality. I believe in all of your dreams and the potential in all of you. I wish everyone could see what I see. Maybe they wouldn’t be so afraid. The world is beautiful. I still believe in right and wrong and that the individual must help his fellow man, yet it must be his own choice, not that of liberal fat cats representing a tyrannical government.
IC: Is being Republican just a facade to appeal to those masses?
Chris: I think I always stand on the side that will gain the anger of the masses. If you always follow the status qou you forget to think for you self. I say and do things to make people think and question the world around them. I don’t necessarily believe them. After all, I am whoever I need to be to survive. I am not a Republican though I’m a registered Democrat but the Democratic Party no longer represents the idea of men like JFK who I greatly admired. Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.
IC: If life is a test. What’s death?
Chris: Life isn't a test it's a joke and death is the punchline.