S CLAY WILSON…The night that changed his life….

S Clay Wilson was trying to get home from a friend’s house November 1, 2008, the night his life changed forever. We will never be certain if he fell or was attacked, since he has no memory of it. The numerous injuries on his face and head made him look like he was beat up. Two good samaritans found him unconscious between parked cars, face down in the rain, and called an ambulance. (I have tried to find them in order to express my gratitude for saving his life, but have had no success.) He’d suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury, bleeding in three hemispheres of his brain. He spent three weeks in a coma, and we had no idea how severely impaired he was for many months. Once he began to speak again we realized he hadn’t just “awakened” to resume life as it had been before.

We’d been flirting since we met in 1968. I have been living with him since June 2000, visited him every day for the year he was in the hospital, and brought him home November 10, 2009. Taking care of him 24 hours a day is a daunting task, but one I am devoted to. He cannot go out on his own or he would get lost immediately, nor can he be left alone in the house. He cannot problem-solve, nor do anything for himself. Yet somehow he is aware of this loss of freedom, and some days I can tell it saddens him.

The days he spent drawing were his happiest, but after the first year at home, he stopped doing it. He did about 15 drawings the first summer he was home, but by the next Christmas he would no longer go in his studio. Yet he thinks about drawing all the time, and frequently brings piles of his art supplies onto the bed. I continue to hope this means one day he will resume drawing. He loves movies, so we haunt the libraries, renting up to 20 at a time.  We exercise every day, take walks, and friends sometimes take him to lunch, museums, or art shows.

He is very quiet now after being a motor mouth all his life. But he is not a blank slate. His short term memory is shot, and with increasing aphasia, often has trouble expressing himself. (I frequently “put words in his mouth” to help him, and he’s usually able to tell me if I got it wrong.) He is more sensitive now, and needs reassurance every day. He’s always asking if I still love him, and reaches for my hand when we’re walking or watching a movie.
I have put together a Special Needs Trust for him since he is no longer capable of earning a living. He will need 24 hour care from now on since the little details of daily life are a mystery to him now, and he is easily confused. This gifted artist worked as hard as he partied and was a playful, brilliant person.  Although he is still capable of worrying about the future, he does not fully understand what has happened to alter it. He is now in need of  help. This is a tragic turn of events for a proud man.
The Trust is set up so it can only be spent on him. We pool our meager resources for basic expenses. I hope people will find a way to donate what they can to give him a better quality of life and assist in his ongoing care.
Donations can be made here by clicking on the yellow PayPal button.
Or mail to PO Box 14854 San Francisco CA 94114
Look for his Facebook page at S Clay Wilson.
Thank you!
Lorraine Chamberlain

69 Responses to “S CLAY WILSON…The night that changed his life….”

  1. Mark Dalton Says:

    Wilson had such an impact on my generation, and by extension, on American culture. A brilliant artist with a rapidograph, a great friend to us and to our children, and a true topical and comic bluesman in art and in life. All good wishes to you both, Lorraine!

    Mark and Katha, Johanna and David Dalton, Seattle

  2. Marianne McCarty Says:

    Happy Birthday Wilson, I happy to see you are home and doing well.

    Love to you,
    Marianne

  3. a passerby Says:

    God bless you Lorraine. I loved this man’s wild work years ago and still do.

  4. Lorraine Chamberlain Says:

    So glad you took a look at this updated version. Glad to hear from you! xoxo L

  5. Dennis Dread Says:

    Hello Lorraine,
    Thanks for updating the site and for taking care of S. Clay. You’re a tough lady and I salute! Love to you both.
    ~Dennis

  6. Lorraine Chamberlain Says:

    Dennis, Thanks for your post! Wilson and I were married on Tuesday, Aug 10th. I’m going to try to upload some photos on here. It was truly a happy day.

  7. Jason Willis Says:

    Very, very glad to find this info. I’m 41 now but I’ve been a fan of S. Clay Wilson’s work ever since I was 10 & stumbled across a copy of Zap #4 (I know, I know — perhaps growing up in Lawrence KS (where I later learned Wilson spent some time in the 60’s) helps in terms of context?). It’s safe to say that I had never seen anything so undiluted & visceral, and I can claim w/o exaggeration that his brilliantly contorted & densely-packed art has remained deeply etched into my poor brain ever since. Hooray!

    So yeah — thanks so much for posting this update and I sincerely extend all of my best to you for the care you’re giving him. Good stuff.

  8. Karin (Green) Moss Says:

    Congrats to you and Wilson, Lorraine. He is lucky to have you by his side!

    Sending all sweet thoughts –

    Karin (Green) Moss

  9. Joe Noce Says:

    Great to see triumph over tragedy! One of the unique talents of this age. All the best to you both.

    Love the shot of the old fellas at the hospital. And those socks…

    Peace!

  10. Pam Cobb Says:

    Lorraine: Wilson has a lot of friends and I happily have been one of them since Kansas days. As you know we shared the Leo spirit and spirits for many years. And yet today, amongst us all, there was no one capable or willing to take care of him 24/7 (understandable of course). And so I am truly appreciative that you are doing this for our friend, as I’m sure are all his other good friends and family. Gracias for doing this. Pam

  11. Lorraine Chamberlain Says:

    Pammy…Thanks so much for your words of appreciation as well as your INCREDIBLY generous donation to his Trust! It means the world to have the support of his true friends. He needs so much care and attention, I would be adrift without your loyalty and love. Thank you again. xoxoxo Lorraine

  12. Sue Grant Says:

    Lorraine, you are a beautiful bride! That fellow you married is really cute too. Only wish we could have been at the ceremony to wish the two of you every happiness. I agree with Pam that you have taken on what so many of would never be able or willing to do. Keep doing exactly what you are doing, and enjoy every minute the two of you share.

  13. Marlene Feinholz Says:

    Doug and I are very happy for the two of you!!!! We wish we could have been with you on your special day…….celebrate each and every day with your love and devotion to one another. It’s the simplest things in life that will bring you the most happiness……revel in each and every moment. Le joie de vivre!!!!!!! Love, Duz and Doug

  14. Bill Stewart Says:

    Congratulations! Thanks for taking such good care of him.

  15. Swan Skubus Says:

    Lorraine, you appear ever more beautiful, & Wilson looks like a visiting ambassador. I wish you all happiness. I know the past few years have been incredibly taxing for both of you, but leave it to you to find a happy “beginning”. When it comes to daunting circumstances, you have never flagged once in the years I have known you, & I can’t tell you how many times I have held you as an example to myself, & it’s kept me going. I’m a happier, better person for knowing you. I keep you & Wilson in my devotion everyday – gentle sea & full sails & wonderful days all your journey together. All my love, Swan

  16. Jan Stolz Says:

    I was one of those who never quite understood Wilson’s art, but read his stories in Zap and other places just the same. His influence on the underground comics scene is just now being understood. Good luck to the both of you.

  17. Ethan W. Says:

    Lorraine, may I suggest offering a signed “benefit” art print of some type on this site? I know how expensive medical bills can be. I’ve bought a few signed Wilson prints on Ebay, which may be another good outlet for them.

  18. Lorraine Chamberlain Says:

    Thanks Ethan. I may do something like that in the future. Please look at the drawings I am posting on here today. MOCA in LA wants to include the originals in an exhibition next year, and we can’t find who owns them. Maybe you would know? Or suggest whom to contact?

  19. Ethan Walker Says:

    Hi Lorraine, I can’t say I know who has those, but I would suggest contacting John Pochna of the 01 Gallery in LA. S. Clay may even know him. He may be willing to help and hosted shows for Robert Williams years ago. If you do contact John, you can tell him his old Friend Luci D. suggested it.

  20. Skip Rizzo Says:

    Congrats on the marriage and thanks for being there for my favorite artist and father to the most inspirational Checkered Demon! Fight On!
    Skip

  21. Shaun Shader Says:

    Heard about this site from my friend. He pointed me here and told me I’d find what I need. He was right! I got all the questions I had, answered. Didn’t even take long to find it. Love the fact that you made it so easy for people like me. More power

  22. Mike Arnold Says:

    I participated in S. Clay’s Needs Benefit held here at Low Key Studio, after his incident. Always extremely enjoyed his work & can easily see Crumb’s liberation of style due to his influence. Much Respect and Love to S. Clay, from a fellow comic artist as well as long-term comatosis survivor.

  23. Mike Johnson Says:

    Just wated you to know, Mike Johnson passed away. He was a big follower of Wilson and started the Underground Hall of Fame with me (Christine Palmer) at the Bucktown Pub.

  24. Mike Johnson Says:

    Mike passed

  25. Lorraine Chamberlain Says:

    I was so sorry to hear of Big Mike’s passing. He was always such a character, and called often in the past ten years (until recently)…Wilson loved talking to him and making big plans. I was fond of him even though we hadn’t met in person. RIP Big Mike….

  26. kenny webber Says:

    lorraine ,We have never met But I Wish to Express My Love for the man & his Work Back in 1993 i Sent him an airbrush Shirt [I called myself AIRSTART back then] He was Kind enought o Send me a Poster fromthe Museum of the Surreal As a Form of Gratitude….I Have a number of letters from him that I Treasure Greatly ….Unfortunately I Am on Disability [Lymphoma & Neuropathy ] or I Would send some sort of Monetary gift to help out ….Just thought i would send My Thoughts out to You & Let you know YOU ARE GREATLY APPRECIATED …..MUCHLOVE to you Both ….Kenny Webber ……Webber[every]Wear …:0)

  27. Lorraine Chamberlain Says:

    Kenny, thanks so much for your kind thoughts. I wish you the best, as well! I’ll take a look on FB…I have no objection, since if it’s out there already, why not!
    Best,
    Lorraine

  28. kenny webber Says:

    Thanx so much Lorraine …I Will confine my Scribblings to FB Now We are Friends ….A nice Surprize By the Way :0)

  29. richard hall Says:

    Dear Lorraine , I’ve known the lad since Dick’s Cafe days and was a member of the Art Squad that met on thurs nights for cartoon jams. I still have some of our artwork .
    Thank you for everything you are doing.
    Much love, Hall

  30. david russell Says:

    Dear Lorraine,
    I’m a long-time fan of Clay’s work, having stumbled across it in 1970. His powerful drawings had a huge impact on me. We finally met in Seattle in the late 70’s. I have a signed poster that is one of my treasures.
    He’s very lucky to have you near.
    Best Regards,
    David

  31. Andy Baylor Says:

    Lorraine-

    Please send me another e-mail address so I can donate $.
    I’m having a tough time with the buttons on this page…won’t let me log in.
    Thanks-
    Andy

  32. Murv Jaciob Says:

    Steve and I met in Lawrence—when he first arrived there from Lincoln– and we have been friends for 45 years now. I am so happy to hear that he is recovering from his tragic injuries and would one day like to come visit you both. As a kid I lived in SF from ’65-67 and at twenty designed posters for McClure Ginsburg the Dead and such. His has been a life to marvel at —an artist of the very first magnitude– his drawing/ cartooning skills simply unequaled by anyone ever. His between-character-dialogue is the best— the best yet written. If you’ll help me to gather up a few photos, pictures and such we shall write a bio of this fellow that will win Pulitzers…..
    He’s a living treasure— he is to art what burroughs ‘n’ balzac are to literature. I live with my family here in Tahlequah— the old cherokee capital in Oklahoma— I paint and write every day— you can easily peruse my work on line– Take care of the ol’ boy and let me know what you need— only too happy to help–

  33. Surely Fox Says:

    I was Wayne Macura’s girl during the early 70’s and met Steve several times at many Big Eats in Lawrence. He and Wayne were good friends and I believe I have several originals by S Clay Wilson…Wayne was the man with the belt buckle pulled to the side… and was frequently quoted saying “Bite me crank, matey!” I am in the process of moving, however, will look through my pen and inks by Wilson, and will see if you are interested in having them on loan to the museum. These are drawings that are definitely unknown and have never been seen but by a few people. I will see if I can find them.

  34. Gordon Wierschen Says:

    This post was very nicely written, and it also contains a lot of useful facts. I appreciated your professional way of writing this post. Thanks, you have made it very easy for me to understand.

  35. Antti Avarre Says:

    I hope things will turn for the better. I cried when i read about this.
    I was not even born when these guys ruled, but from early own i really loved his art and that was not something to come by as i live in Finland.
    I hope all the best. I understand how he must feel, i was mugged a year and a half ago myself, and i am having a “minor” brain injury. I own my life to the witness who called the police. But even today as with those people caught its still no fun.
    I wish i could in anyways help, but alas i am broke as i am trying to be an artist myself.

  36. Chuck Dubman Says:

    Hell with Crumb, S. Clay Wilson should have done that illustrated bible.

  37. Paul Wilson Says:

    I’ve read his stories – nothing that I ever could show my parents ! And the characters were totally nasty ! Still, I was surprized to find that he is dealing with brain damage from an unexplainable trauma (Accident ? Attacked ?), but can still draw, tho he now can’t care for himself.

    He’s older than I am…

  38. bill s Says:

    Perhaps Pissgums and Fatima came to some conclusions before they went down with the ship.

  39. Gary Willoughby Says:

    Lorraine,
    I am glad to see the update, though sad to see the latest. I am sure many people have thanked you for the wonderful care you have give Steven. I am hoping that at some point in the future he will be able to venture out into the world of his adoring fans. I have a few posters and many Zaps and have enjoyed them all. I am still very sad about this whole thing I am hoping there are not too many people trying to take advantage of him, I am sure you will protect him.
    All my best
    Gary Willoughby

  40. Daniel Wasil Says:

    Hi. Zap was a critical influence on me, and a lot of other Akron, Ohio folk. I’ve done mostly fundraising and grantmaking for a lot of years. I’d be happy to help look into prospects like the Pollack/Krasner grants: http://www.pkf.org/foundation.html

    Fleishacker in SF may be receptive: http://www.fleishhackerfoundation.org/grants.html

    Gottlieb: http://gottliebfoundation.org/grants/

    There are likely more, but I don’t have a lot of information. Thank you for your efforts, and let me know if I can help.

    Dan

  41. jeaux janovsky Says:

    Hi Lorraine, very saddened to hear of what has happend to S. Clay! :( But very glad to hear he is still with us. that means alot. Can you please forward him this and show it to him? I would appreciate it, and think he will get a kick out of it!
    Dedicated to S. Clay!
    http://allofmyheroes.blogspot.com/2011/06/got-milk.html

    my lactating <3 letter to the underground cartoonists.

    Thanks S CLay!
    -Jeaux

  42. jeaux janovsky Says:

    Hi Lorraine! I received your message on my formspring, and here was my reply: http://www.formspring.me/JEAUX/q/220333830941212272 Thanks for taking the time to message me back, i appreciate it. Please say hi to S Clay for me, and give him a hug too.
    Thanks again.
    -Jx

  43. Tina Collins Says:

    Lorraine,

    I happened upon this wonderful website by accident and recognized your name and picture. I have not seen you for many years since Essex. It’s been a long time and I’m glad to see you doing well. Congratulation on your marriage to S. Clay Wilson, I do remember his work. You have not changed at all. Just in case you don’t remember me, I was married to Billy Collins. Your doing great things, good luck to you. Tina Collins

  44. Lorraine Chamberlain Says:

    Tina! So glad to hear from you. I will email you soon. xoxoLorraine

  45. matt murphy Says:

    i am really saddened by what has happend to mr. wilson i have admired his work all my life and knew nothing of this brutal happening…i have no money to send but i’ve got him in my mind beyond words….thanks to you for helping him….

  46. R.I.P. Bill Blackbeard | deadpaintersgallery Says:

    […] […]

  47. mark laux Says:

    Hello, I have been a fan of Mr. Wilson’s artwork for (can it really be?) almost 40 years, since I first discovered ZAP and the other “underground”comix while in college. I always eagerly sought out any further publications over the years featuring his work. I am sorry to hear about his injury, and hopefully his health will continue to improve. I will forward a check, after all the wild, fascinating art, characters and stories he’s given us all its a small way of saying thanks, S.Clay. All the best, and continue to recover. Mark.

  48. Jim Foglio Says:

    All love and regards to the father of that unforgettable Martian Popeye, The Checkered Demon. I see in S. Clay’s balls-to-the-wall and utterly uninhibited style more than a revolution: his drawings continue to teach me that there is a Lascaux in the pit of every human stomach, filled with our secret scribble-story, and that for whatever anybody else might say, the most perfect thing anyone can do is to be true to that.

  49. robert ferrigno Says:

    I just found out about Wilson’s condition when his biographer emailed me a request for some history. I’m pained as all of us are. Wilson and I started corresponding 35 years ago when I sent him a short twisted piece of fiction and he wrote back with a water color illustrating the piece. I commissioned him to illustrate a piece by william burroughs i was publishing in a seattle punk magazine i edited a few years later. “The Popcorn Kid.” We met a few times in SF, Seattle and LA. I used to send him my current crime novel – he loved freebies as much as I did – and he sent me homemade postcards and posters of his latest show. Please tell Wilson that Ferrigno has nothing but admiration and best wishes for him. I don’t know if he’s reading or capable of following what you read to him, but I’d be happy to send him one. email me with a mailing address.
    Robert Ferrigno

  50. Rick Oliver Says:

    Somewhere I have a limited edition print lovingly signed “Fuck you. S. Clay Wilson”.

  51. 6 Pack Shortcuts Says:

    This is Awesome…

    I Really Enjoy Your Site…

  52. George Cowie Says:

    Wilson and his art. It was so challenging and fundamentally different from all the comix art I had ever seen (and I grew up in the era when the Comics Code Authority banned grisly drawings) that I began to seriously reconsider what I had thought about art and the free expression of the creative process. The result was my being freed from unconsidered restrictions of my own thinking, the ideas I would permit myself to have. Thank you, S Clay Wilson. Would that I had the money to donate, as I most certainly would send some this very moment. Happiness that I chanced upon this site! Your creations opened the world for me again so many years ago. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  53. Paul Wilson Says:

    I am not a relative, and I am not a fan of his work (characters, subject matter …), but I hate what happened to this man. And especially that the knucklewalkers who did this to him, are, as far as we know, still out there, posing a threat to others.
    It should be a felony to not voluntarily turn oneself in within a week after committing a serious crime.

  54. brian ofsie Says:

    I every time spent my half an hour to read this blog’s posts every day along with a cup of coffee.

  55. Wesley Stephen Reynolds Says:

    Wesley Stephen Reynolds Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    August 25th, 2012 at 4:56 am
    S.Clay Wilson, I’m in hopes this finds you well. I would like to thank you for your inspiration. I too purchased a stack of underground comix as a youngster (14 yrs old) in a head shop in Old Town section of Chicago. I’ve spent endless hours drawing with pen and ink. I had dreams of being an illustrator. I wish there was a happy ending to that story but there is not. I still have that stack of 25 cent comix, dog eared an yellowed. I still make reference to Star Eyed Stella, Checkered Demon, and Captain Piss Gums. Get Well my friend I’ve never met. I love the picture of you with my other heros Crumb, Spain, and Paul Mavrides. Your Truly Wes Reynolds

  56. Thomacide Says:

    Awrrrr … Bite me crank, mate!

  57. Snaggle Tooth Says:

    Hi Clay and Lorraine, I just wanted to say I love your work, I walked by your house many years ago and tried to buy you the “perfect pint” before we kicked it at Joe’s. But nay no never this time around… Don’t let the struggle get in your way. It’s all Black and White anyway.

  58. Catherine McAteer Says:

    I met C through my good friend John Murphy back in 1989 . John recently passed 8/30/12 hope Clay is doing OK

  59. David Moritz Says:

    For a short time, I sold Zapp Comics when I was living on the streets of San Francisco in the late 60s. From the meager profit I made, I was able to buy something to eat. A couple of years later in Lawrence Kansas, I came across a painting of his entitled Gunfight at the OK corral which was later stolen from my house.

    I have loved his work and I hope he is someday able to return to it…

  60. Don Paul Says:

    Thank you, Lorraine! Please pass along my high regard and warm affection to Good
    Old Clay. Salt of the Clay, we used to say, as he picked one 6-inch incisor with a
    Bowie switch-blade preparatory to flinging Babe the Blue Fox to Joshua Slocum among the savage Fuegeans.

    Please also let me know any way I can help. I owe Clay for many moments–one being those Buddy Guy and Junior Wells tracks at 4:00 in the morning while overlooking Dolores Park. Also let him know that I was never the ‘Travelin’ Assassin’ he imagined. Blessings to you both. Don Paul.

  61. Montague Says:

    OMG – I had not heard of this. One of the greatest satirists of our generation, laid low by cruelty, rescued by humanitarians, and now sustained by love… Ms. Chamberlain, you deserve the gratitude of countless people who may never realize what happened to this brilliant man, and I hope you can take some small but crucial comfort in the knowledge that he is still aware of and wants your love, and that you have his. I so regret that all I can donate are words and wishes.

  62. David Key Says:

    I’m at a loss for something to say that hasn’t already been said. I’ll go for honesty. I’m very sad about this. Shocked. Angry. Frustrated because I want to help but cant. Wilson was a major influence on my own artwork and a huge inspiration. God bless you for helping him. I hope he starts to draw again even if it is just for himself.

  63. Rosse Says:

    Damn. can’t find the right place to send S.Clay my best wishes for his birthday. So there: from Stéphane Rosse from France. Happy Birthday S.Clay! I remember when I was a teen, reading all the franco-belgian comics, and feeling then their limits already. Started to study english in school and was able very soon to read and comprehend it. Bought “Zap” one day. And I was blown away, instantly . You’re still to this day one of the artist I feel closest to. I have a regular correspondence with Justin Green, an other sulfurous and essential creator.. Love the work you’ve done, it changed a lot of minds- believe me! Hooray for you!

  64. K.Monzon Says:

    How can I go about mailing you guys a package ?

  65. Lorraine Chamberlain Says:

    The address is POBox 14854 San Francisco CA 94114

  66. On S. Clay Wilson and Bourgeois Morality - Comics Bulletin Says:

    […] of everyday life. Read more about Wilson’s injury and the S. Clay Wilson Special Needs Trust here, and please consider contributing. Anybody who loves comics owes a debt to this incredible creator, […]

  67. Penny Says:

    Grew up in the 60’s and 70’s and remember the 1st time encountering S Clays artwork and have been a fan of his ever since. Years later moved to SF on Dolores St. and found out that S Clay lived just 1 block away! Remember checks drawn in the concrete outside his door as I passed on my way to Dicks Bar in the Castro, (one of the only straight bars in the area). Your art definitely impacts me!

  68. S. Clay Wilson and the Wild, Weird, (Small) World | Miles To Go Says:

    […] The three clear winners of underground comics who changed my perceptions as the ’60s became the ’70s were Robert Crumb, Gilbert Shelton and S. Clay Wilson. Wilson is permanently down for the count these days and you can get a mini-intro to him and his work in this place and this other place here (Kansas) and this spot as well (current situation). […]

  69. F.B. Parkhurst Says:

    Used to live on the houseboats in Sausalito. Was a huge S. Clay fan. Captain Crank my fave. Very Sorry to hear of his traumatic injury. I will be buying his published works hope it benefits his special needs trust.

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