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Artist, writer, musician, computer whiz and a pretty good short-order cook in days gone by, Reed is best known as the creator of the groundbreaking comics series Omaha the Cat Dancer in the late 1970s.
After co-founding (with Ken Fletcher) the Minnesota cartoonists’ magazine collective Vootie in 1976, Reed began to explore the storytelling possibilities in adding frank sexuality to the previously chaste funny animal genre. The deliberately outrageous strips that resulted polarized the Vootie membership. As Reed’s efforts continued, one sexy kitty broke out of his nameless cast of randy critters and became the star of a serial that satirized blue laws in the Twin Cities. Omaha had stepped onto the stage.
Publisher Denis Kitchen, impressed with those stories, suggested that Reed take a second pass at the material with an eye toward professional publication. Kitchen Sink Press’ bestselling underground title Bizarre Sex was chosen to launch the series. Omaha’s debut in the big time was a 42-page story that filled issue #9 of that title from cover to cover.
An ongoing Omaha the Cat Dancer series followed from Minneapolis publisher Steeldragon Press. (It would later move back to Kitchen Sink and eventually to Fantagraphics.) While working on the second issue, Reed came down with a case of writer’s block. Fortunately, by this time he’d met and set up housekeeping with writer Kate Worley, who he’d met while performing on the eclectic radio series “Shockwave.” It was clear that Kate had just the combination of sensitivity, boldness and talent to take over the scripting. Working together, they transformed Omaha into a story of sex, relationships and political intrigue that was beloved by an international audience and respected for its lushly rendered artwork and intelligent writing.
In 1991, Reed was diagnosed with colon cancer. His fellow comics pros – including some of the best-known comics artists and writers in the world - stepped up and contributed art and stories to the two-part benefit comic Images of Omaha. The outpouring of affection and respect by professionals and fans alike made Images of Omaha a success, defraying Reed’s considerable medical expenses. When those expensive procedures saved his life, it was a double victory for all.
Omaha ceased publication in 1995 as the creators went their separate ways. Reed added to his body of work by writing and drawing the one-shot Tumbling Boxes comic and a continuing feature, Grlz-R-Us, for Larry Flynt Publications. He also began to experiment with computer-generated music, releasing several albums under the nom de keyboard “Nellie and the Drummers.”
Ostensibly retired from comics in recent years, Reed is currently doing the work of three people as the production manager, circulation manager and occasional staff writer of the New Richland Star Eagle weekly newspaper. He’s never completely left the world of Omaha behind, however; fan demand has kept him busy turning out sketches and finished drawings of his beloved characters ever since the series ended.

In 2003, Reed and Kate agreed to complete the story of Omaha. Kate’s death in 2004 was a blow on both professional and personal levels. But – now collaborating with her husband James Vance, who is editing and fleshing out Kate’s scripts for the final chapters – Reed is back at work on his critically acclaimed and sorely missed masterpiece, Omaha the Cat Dancer.
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      Reed Waller Photo by Wayne Modjeski.  All Art on this page by Reed Waller   

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