A comics collage meets critical essay, Failure Biographies remakes 1940s horror and science fiction comic books into a book-length biography of artistic failure.


Johnny Damm

Johnny Damm is the author of The Science of Things Familiar (The Operating System), named by the Publishers Weekly Critics Poll as one of the best graphic novels of 2017. His comics, essays, and visual poetry have appeared in Guernica, Poetry, The Offing, and elsewhere. He lives in Santa Cruz, CA and teaches at San José State University. See more of his work at

Funny, irreverent and urgent, Failure Biographies’ method is best described as creative mayhem. Immerse yourself in this tribute to failure and embrace all it has to offer. Magnificent!

Jack Halberstam, Author of The Queer Art of Failure

Praise for Johnny Damm: [S]ophisticated and delightfully bizarre... Damm’s ideal reader is an open-minded culture junkie and fan of poetry, high art, and comics, someone with a penchant for everything from Dada to Derrida.

Publishers Weekly


Damm’s distinctive style of collage transforms 1950s horror comics into true stories of artistic failure. 

One artist’s quixotic quest to clone Martin Luther King, Jr. A pioneering silent film director pushed from the industry by her controlling husband. A writer who tries to write popular fiction but ends up in the avant-garde.

Featuring radical Argentinian art collective Tucumán Arde, conceptual artists Pope L. and Marta Minujín, filmmakers Alice Guy Blaché and Pere Portabella, Mexican superhero Superbarrio Gómez, and more, Failure Biographies celebrates the struggles of great 20th and 21st century innovators who attempted — and failed — to change the world.

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