The first Gen X Comic Strip was created by Douglas Coupland and Paul Rivoche in the late 1980s. Read on to learn more.
In September 1987, two-and-a-half years before the publication of Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, Douglas Coupland wrote about Generation X for the Vancouver Sun. Paul Rivoche was the illustrator. Here is a copy of the article.
“They are better educated than those before them, but the jobs are mundane. They are excellent conversationalists, but no one wants to listen to them. They have taste, but those in the power positions have German cars. They wore black, but trend-hungry Baby Boomers drove them to color. They didn’t march for peace, and they don’t remember the Jack Kennedy assassination.” — Douglas Coupland, 1987
Please note the drawings behind the main character in the illustration. They include Generation X and Baby Boomer icons. The Boomer icons are obvious and include a Davy Crockett hat and a Vietnam soldier. The Gen X icon that stands out most is the girl in the red bikini. It is a depiction of Phoebe Cates from the 1982 film Fast Times At Ridgemont High.
Gen X Comic Strip
In 1988 or 1989, the Coupland and Rivoche teamed upon a regular, Gen X comic strip. It was featured in a short-lived, Toronto-based magazine called Vista. It should not be confused with the Generation X comics created by Marvel in 1994.
Here are some copies of the comic strip, which I discovered on an antiquated Tripod.com site. Tripod sites or communities were popular in the 1990s and forged the frontier of user-generated content. I’m re-posting these pictures for posterity. Another source for some of the images is Rivoche’s old Blogspot site.
Scott 9000 Computer System
The Raise Part 1
The Raise Part 2
Seoul Korea Part 1
Seoul Korea Part 2
Seoul Korea Part 3
A few days ago I wrote about the 25th anniversary of Douglas Coupland’s seminal Gen-X novel. One of the things the Tripod site published was a list of the writer’s neo-logisms (new terms or phrases), which appeared in the margins of the book. I’d forgotten how much I loved some of these. Here is a small sample of some of my favorites. The books is full of many more.
Black Holes: (page 135)
An X generation subgroup best known for their possession of almost entirely black wardrobes.
Bradyism: (page 134)
A multisibling sensibility derived from having grown up in large families. A rarity in those born after approximately 1965, symptoms of Bradyism include a facility for mind games, emotional withdrawal in situations of overcrowding, and a deeply felt need for well-defined personal space.
Brazilification: (page 11)
The widening gulf between the rich and the poor and the accompanying disappearance of the middle classes.
Café Minimalism: (page 107)
To espouse a philosophy of minimalism without actually putting into practice any of its tenets.
Clique Management: (page 21)
The need of one generation to see the generation following it as deficient so as to bolster its own collective ego: “Kids today do nothing. They’re so apathetic. We used to go out and protest. All they do is shop and complain.”
Consensus Terrorism: (page 21)
The process that decides in-office attitudes and behavior.
Cult of Aloneness: (page 69)
The need for autonomy at all costs, usually at the expense of long-term relationships. Often brought about by overly high expectations of others.
Derision Preemption: (page 150)
A life-style tactic; the refusal to go out on any sort of emotional limb so as to avoid mockery from peers. Derision Preemption is the main goal of Knee-Jerk Irony.
Dorian Graying: (page 164)
The unwillingness to gracefully allow one’s body to show the signs of aging.
Down-Nesting: (page 144)
The tendency of parent to move to smaller, guest-room-free houses after their children have moved away so as to avoid children aged 20 to 30 who have boomeranged home.
Emotional Ketchup Burst: (page 21)
The Bottling up opinions and emotions inside oneself so that they explosively burst forth all at once, shocking and confusing employers and friends — most of whom thought things were fine.
Ethnomagnetism: (page 26)
The tendency of young people to live in emotionally demonstrative, more unrestrained ethnic neighborhoods: “You wouldn’t understand it there, mother — they hug where I live now.”
Historical Overdosing: (page 8)
To live in a period of time when too much seems to happen. Major symptoms include addiction to newspapers, magazines and TV news broadcasts.
Historical Slumming: (page 11)
The act of visiting locations such as diners, smokestack industrial sites, rural villages — locations where time has been frozen many years back — so as to experience relief when one returns back to “the present.”
Historical Underdosing: (page 7)
To live in a period of time when nothing seems to happen. Major symptoms include addiction to newspapers, magazines and TV news broadcasts.
Homeowner Envy: (page 144)
Feelings of jealousy generated by the young and the disenfranchised when faced with gruesome housing statistics.
Legislated Nostalgia: (page 41)
To force a body of people to have memories that do not actually possess: “How can I be a part of the 1960s generation when I don’t even remember any of it?”
McJob: (page 5)
A low-pay, low-prestige, low-dignity, low-benefit, no-future job in the service sector. Frequently considered a satisfying career choice by people who have never held one.
Now Denial: (page 41)
To tell oneself that the only time worth living in is the past and that the only time that may ever be interesting again is the future.
Obscurism: (page 165)
The practice of peppering daily life with obscure references (forgotten films, dead TV stars, unpopular book, defunct countries, etc.) as a subliminal means of showcasing one’s education and one’s wish to disassociate from the world of mass culture.
Ozmosis: (page 25)
The inability of one’s job to live up to one’s self-image.
Poor Buoyancy: (page 82)
The realization that one was a better person when one had less money.
Poorochondria: (page 74)
Hypochondria derived from not having medical insurance.
Poverty Lurks: (137)
Financial paranoia instilled in offspring by depression-era parents.
Rebellion Postponement: (page 106)
The tendency in one’s youth to avoid traditionally youthful activities and artistic experiences in order to obtain serious career goals. Sometimes results in the mourning for lost youth at about age thirty, followed by silly haircuts and joke-inducing wardrobes.
Sick Building Migration: (page 24)
The tendency of younger workers to leave or avoid jobs in unhealthy office environments or workplaces affected by Sick Building Syndrome.
Squires: (page 135)
The most common X generation subgroup and the only subgroup given to breeding. Squires exist almost exclusively in couples and are recognizable by their frantic attempts to recreate a semblance of Eisenhower-era plenitude and their daily lives in the face of exorbitant housing prices and two-job life-styles. Squires tend to be continually exhausted from voraciously acquisitive pursuit of furniture and knickknacks.
Successophobia: (page 30)
The fear that if one is successful, then one’s personal needs will be forgotten and one will no longer have one’s childish needs catered to.
Ultra Short Term Nostalgia: (page 96)
Homesickness for the extremely recent past: “God, things seemed so much better in the world last week.”
Underdogging: (page 137)
The tendency to almost invariably side with the underdog in a given situation. The consumer expression of the this trait is the purchasing of less successful, “sad,” or failing products: “I know these Vienna franks are heart failure in a stick, but they were so sad looking up against all the other yuppie food items that I just had to buy them.”
Virgin Runway: (page 172)
A travel destination chosen in the hopes that no one else has ever chosen it.
Yuppie Wannabe’s: (page 91)
An X generation subgroup that believes the myth of a yuppie life-style being both satisfying and viable. Tend to be high in debt, involved in some form of substance abuse, and show a willingness to talk about Armageddon after three drinks.
Optioned For Film
Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture was optioned for film by Chris and Roberta Hanley of Muse Prods along with Robert Sulichen of Blacklist Prods in 2001 for one year. Unfortunately, nothing ever came of it. I sent a message to the Hanleys via Facebook as I would love to hear the scoop on why the movie was never made and more importantly, what Gen X actors did they imagine in key roles? According to a 2001 article in the Hollywood Reporter, the terms of the deal were not available, but Coupland stood to make around six figures.
A Cultural Guide To Generation X
Did you know St. Martin’s Press, which published Coupland’s bestselling novel, originally hired him to write a cultural guide to Gen-X? They wanted something along the lines of the 1984 Yuppie Handbook. Instead, Coupland moved to Palm Springs and wrote the seminal work about over-educated 20-somethings who were disillusioned with corporate culture and entertained themselves with fantasies about a nuclear Armageddon.
The book made Coupland a huge success. Nevertheless, he doesn’t like being called the spokesperson for his generation. In 1995, he declared the death of Generation X and called for a moratorium on the term. Also, it seem worth mentioning that Coupland was born in December 1961. The birth years for Generation X, by broadest definition, are 1961 to 1981.
What do you think of the Gen X comic strip?