He describes himself as a “peripatetic patriarch of the free press,” and so he may be. John Wilcock, a British ex-pat who helped found the Village Voice in 1955 went to work as the New York Times’ travel editor. His Europe on $5 a Day was seminal in the travel guidebook publishing world. His subsequent Mexico on $5 a Day was a trailblazer.
Wilcock, who lives in California and publishes the online Ojai Orange, was the ultimate gadfly. His 1971 Autobiography and Sex Life of Andy Warhol included interviews with Nico, Lou Reed and other associates of the enigmatic artist. Wilcock was also a founding editor, with Warhol, of Interview Magazine in 1969. He accompanied Warhol out the night that the Velvet Underground played its first gig and wrote liner notes for Nico.
Published online in graphic novel form, John Wilcock: The New York Years chronicles this period in Wilcock’s life with an extensive interview and sumptuous cartoon illustrations by artists Ethan Persoff and Scott Marshall. Chapters one and two are deliciously fun reading, as Wilcock recounts his arrival in New York City from England and his early interviews with Leonard Bernstein, Rock Hudson and Milton Berle and launching the Village Voice.
It’s an impressive site that captures the Bohemian circles Wilcock moved in. Persoff and Marshall have just released chapter three, which includes Wilcock’s time editing Norman Mailer and his interviews with actor Jean Shepherd and Marilyn Monroe. Stay tuned for more. Chapter three brings us up to 1957 so there should be plenty more to share.
Kate Rix is freelance writer. Find more of her work at katerixwriter.com