King Adbeck of Rebel Dog comics sent me an email about the Underground Comix scene today. I will post some of it here to start the dialog. Anyone with insight or first hand knowledge is invited to speak out on the subject going forward. Here goes.........
I actually did see that post about Jay and the Ramones, but what really occurred to me was how little is known about a lot of the underground work of the era. I mean, most people know Crumb and have maybe some sort of passing acquaintance with some other names like Spain Rodriguez or Vaughn Bode, but the majority of the whole 'comix' scene has gone largely unrecognized and uncelebrated. A lot of this work, by its very nature, has never been reprinted or seen any kind of large-scale distribution and most of these young cats don't have a freakin' clue. I'm no slouch when it comes to comics and consider myself an avid student of its history, but I'll admit to not knowing too terribly much about the underground scene. Like, Skip Williamson is a name not unknown to me, but I couldn't necessarily point to anything specific. The internet offers the possibility of rectifying that. I was always keen to see a copy of like, say, Air Pirates Funnies, but those kind of things will probably never see the light of day again. Obviously.
My real point, if indeed I have one, is that as someone who was there and directly involved, you're in a great position to give some insight to all of us young turks about what went down. And maybe champion the cause and reacquaint people with names they should know. So I hope you will keep posting and remember that there are a bunch of folks out there that are genuinely interested - though they may have a hard time finding you. What may seem like old news to you is probably all-new territory to a whole new generation of cartoonists and upstarts.AdBeck
Well, here is where the rubber meets the road, as they say, and yes I was there, and yes I have this blog and yes I will keep on posting but there will need to be others willing to speak their minds on the subject who were either doing it themselves or knew those doing it personally or something because my connection was in Chicago with Skip Williamson and Jay Lynch. I met several artists that came through Chicago at the Chicago Comic Con or I met them at Skip's apartment on the North Side. So for the West Coast School we will need some help. I met Denis Kitchen of Kitchen Sink Press out of Wisconsin at the Conrad Hilton version of the Chicago Comic Con as well as Will Eisner but I was never formally introduced. Denis was there in the Dealer's room selling Kitchen Sink and a whole host of Underground Comix even after the bubble had burst. Denis is currently doing fabulous work promoting and publishing major Artists and Books as well as handling several Artist Estates. I hope he would connect up here or start his own blog, he has so much more to say then I on more things related. But he is very busy as well. You can go to his website and follow the links to the store to make purchases at www.deniskitchen.com. R. Crumb's family has a website as well, that is another good place. I am not sure of the exact url but you could do a search and find it easy enough.
Skip Williamson has a blog called My Bitter Agenda which is in fact his autobiography that is a wealth of stories, episodes, adventures and just plain fun you can check out. There are a number of comic dealers specializing in Underground Comix, that one can access through a Google search. Some things are very expensive some works are not. I saw a number of Vaugh Bode's stuff that seemed affordable. Air Pirates (No.1 $199) are probably there. Spain Rodriguez comics are online, and anyone truly interested needs to check out Spain's work. S. Clay Wilson OMG...........I saw Robert Williams on TV last fall at some big Custom Car show on the Speed channel, they interviewed him, but never said who he really was. I am sitting on thc couch and Robert Williams (Zap Comics), comes on TV being asked what he thought of the World's Biggest Classic Car Show on Earth, I am thinking what kind of dumb question is that? Robert says "Awesome, fabulous machines" and walks off.......Duh? What was that? I am guessing, one of the producers must be a friend of Williams and says let's put Robert Williams on, famous for soft porn art in Zap Comics but we wont mention that, AND see if anyone gets it? Yeah I got it Man............you need to check out Robert Williams, it was all in brush. Throw away your art pens and get a brush and a bottle of India Ink, it will change the way you have sex.
Of course there is Art Spiegelman who actually got his "Maus" comic into the public schools in South Carolina? Probably everywhere. My daughter read it in 5th grade, she was not even born yet when we were getting every new issue of RAW magazine that had the comic Maus insert inside. RAW, brainchild of Art's wife, Francoise Mouly, was just the real Avant Garde in the 1980's America, hands down. Artists like Gary Panter and a whole host of folks that went on from there. That will have to be another post. All great seminal work, all in our Cornerstone Staff resource library that I should have taken when I left Chicago, but would never have made it out the door with, I was fortunate to be able to just take my own works out.
Ok the cows are out of the barn so let all start celebrating this uniquely American Heritage of American Art, before we die, thanks King, you know as an artist you just want someone to read your work, if they arent going to pay you, then at least read the stuff, we know they are collecting it.