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KIRBY: He was as tough as anybody else, but he was young. My mother wanted my brother to wear nice clothes and be a big style kid. KIRBY: A climb-out fight is where you climb a building.
I’d say, “What happens to this guy while Cap fights the other four? You became a gangster depending upon how fast you wanted a suit. Yet his mother would come out and slap him around for not going to church on Sunday. GROTH: Do you feel that your immersion in this violent world as a kid shaped these themes in your drawing and moved you in that direction? GROTH: I mean, do you think it affected the way you drew and the way you... So I was drawing reality, and if you look through all my drawings. I think you can be looked up to out of fear just as much as you in look up to a man because of his ability or his promise. GROTH: Did you yourself get in a lot of fights when you were a kid?
Adolf Hitler took all of Europe, and my generation had to confront Adolf Hitler. ROZ KIRBY: And your brother got into a lot of fights. Out of a class of 27, just me and another fellow graduated. GROTH: Now, what do you mean by a “climb-out fight”? You fight on the roof, and you fight all the way down again. GROTH: Now these fights in your neighborhood — these were serious, knock-down, drag-out fights. For all I know, the may still be on Suffolk Street. And in order for my mother not to be shocked they readjusted my clothes and they saw that nothing was rumpled and I looked very comfortable next to the apartment door, so when my mother would open the door it wouldn’t be that much of a shock. When I visited New York, somebody thought it would give me a big thrill if he took me down there where I grew up, and I’d be thrilled by the sight of my humble origins, and I hated the place. And the place for all immigrants was the factories. You know, the punches were real, and the anger was real, and we’d chase each other up and down fire escapes, over rooftops, and we’d climb across clotheslines, and there were real injuries. Bad things would come out of it because some guys are in a hurry, but that doesn’t mean they’re evil or anything, it just means they fall into bad grace somehow. A friend of mine was going to go out to get a job because his mother told him to get a job, so he said, I’ll go out and draw pictures and they’ll pay me for them. GROTH: Can you describe the social context a little more? There were a lot of ethnic slurs, there had to be, and I think in that respect that through the fighting, through the adversity, we began to know each other. We used to hop from monument to monument chasing each other. If the other guy wants to fight and you knocked him out, you did your best for him. There was one time they knocked me out and laid me in front of my mother’s door.