Do not go gentle into that good night. Why should you? And don’t just rage. Get yourself a whole new body like in Pete Toms‘s comic, “The Dupe,” in the latest (special 3D) issue of Study Group Magazine. This piece certainly sets the tone and then some for a magazine full of ebullient work featuring in-depth essays, interviews, and a variety of work by talented cartoonists who tend toward the underground. Come in and sample everything and be sure not to miss the 3D because it is out of this world.
Tag Archives: Underground Comics
We learn a lot from Dan Stafford’s documentary on cartoonist John Porcellino. “Root Hog or Die” provides us with some basic truths that resonate as we explore the life of someone both unique and, by his own account, just an average guy trying to make a life. The whole point here is to embrace the average. As Porcellino states at one point, he’s concerned to see an erosion of “the middle ground, when a person can live without an elaborate ambition and yet not be sleeping by some dumpster.”
Anyone who digs deeper already knows that comics are fully capable of being as elastic, ambiguous, and fluid as any other art medium. Just like fiction, film, and painting, the comics medium can reveal as much as it hides. There’s an annual anthology, “The Best American Comics,” that showcases a wide range of North American comics and addresses the familiar and peculiar in what amounts to a particular branch of contemporary comics. Or, perhaps the best way to put it is to say this book showcases the best in comics as an art form. The 2014 edition is now available. Let’s take a look.
There is a stark beauty to be found in the 320 pages of this full-color special collection of comics, “World War 3 Illustrated 1979-2014,” published by PM Press and set for release this July. I call it a stark beauty for good reason. I think it is the most economical way to express the urgency and the severity of the issues being confronted. It’s also a quick way to say that this is thoughtful and vital art that you’ll find in this collection of some of the best work to appear in the semi-annual anthology, “World War 3 Illustrated.”
Puck Magazine, an impressive collection of some of the leading comix artists and much more, launches its crowd funding campaign today. This is truly an international collection. If you are a fan of offbeat humor and you’d like a taste of it from around the world, then this is for you. Join the campaign here. It runs from November 26, 2013 thru January 4, 2014.
What follows is an informative essay on the Apocalypse, the history of alternative comics, and how that relates to Puck Magazine:
Welcome to the Apocalypse
Historically speaking, the Apocalypse is always now. By that I mean that at every period in human history, someone somewhere was certain that the world was about to end. Whether it was the author of the Biblical “Book of Revelation” (or “Revelation to John”) — surely one of the most mischievous tracts ever written — or some Vedic bard predicting the Kali Yuga, or urban street corner prophets ranting that “The End is Nigh,” the human imagination has repeatedly fixated on the end of the universe and the end of life as we know it.
It is not difficult to figure out why this is. At some undetermined point in time, for each of us, the universe will end. Death awaits us all, whether in a sudden accident or heart attack, or in a long lingering illness. That this is so seems like a monstrous joke, and so we repress the thought or, for many of us, we project it upon the world at large, finding solace in the thought that if we must die, so must everyone else, preferably all at the same time.
And yet, life goes on. Every prophecy of the End Times is, in some sense, a false prophecy. Predicted dates come and go, and true believers’ expectations fizzle out, only to be succeeded by new expectations which will eventually fizzle out as well.
Much of this apocalyptic fervor has been driven by religion, especially fundamentalist Christianity and Islam, which share similar scenarios of a Final Judgment. But there are no lack of secular apocalypses to choose from: catastrophic climate change, nuclear war, the end of Capitalism (a particularly elusive apocalypse), an impending police state, and the list goes on.
All of which brings us to the volume you hold in your hands, a smorgasboard of personal apocalypses conjured up by a stellar crew of cartoonists from around the world. For most comic artists, apocalypse looms as the rent comes due at the end of each month, so this theme was one that the assembled artists could really get their teeth into. As you will discover, some took the challenge lightly, producing humorous strips (including the inevitable Mother In Law joke), while others dove into full-fledged horror and paranoia.
The result is a well-balanced collection of unique visions that you will not find anywhere else. The locations change from strip to strip, usually manifesting the apocalypse in the artists’ own locales. If you’ve ever dreamed of making an Around the World Tour, but know you never will, this volume is a suitable substitute, albeit with rather more demons, cannibals, black holes, and Avenging Angels than you would likely encounter in hopping from country to country.
Sadly, I am told that this is likely the last PUCK volume for years to come, so it represents an apocalypse of sorts for the whole PUCK enterprise. PUCK’s staff has beat all odds in uniting cartoonists from numerous countries in its group projects that are done for the love of free and uncensored cartooning.
The Underground Comix movement was launched in the U.S. during the Sixties and spread its influence to England, the Netherlands, Spain, France, and Italy (among others), in the following decades. PUCK has been one of the most energetic recent manifestations of the underground impulse and Ivan and the rest of the PUCK gang deserve a round of applause for keeping the torch held high.
The Apocalypse is always now. Enjoy it while you can.
Jay Kinney was a participant in the Underground Comix movement of the 1960s and 1970s. He edited and co-edited Young Lust, Occult Laff-Parade, Cover-up Lowdown, and Anarchy Comics, and contributed to many others.
He has since been a magazine publisher, book author, and antiquarian bookseller. Recently published is: Anarchy Comics: the Complete Collection (PM Press), a retrospective anthology of the hard-to-find four originals issues, plus never before published strips and sketchbook pages.
Caption for Mavrides-Kinney Armageddon panels…
The “End Times” erupt in “Armageddon Outtahere” by Paul Mavrides and Jay Kinney in Anarchy Comics #4. This story and all others from the comic series can be found in Anarchy Comics: the Complete Collection (PM Press).
Press release follows:
“Short Run” is a gathering of small press in Seattle with some added attractions this year. There’s the main event, the Short Run Small Press Festival at Washington Hall on Saturday, November 30, 2013. But, for those who want more, there’s plenty more starting with an event on November 1. Check out the Short Run website for details here.
Press release follows:
Brandon Graham is something of a hero in the world of comics. He seems to have a magic touch that allows him to create stories with the most loopy plots full of the most absurd puns. Sometimes his art appears to function at the level of the most basic signifier, however, those basic elements have a way of building into glorious heroic structures.
Take in Brandon Graham’s work piece by piece. Let it roll around in your mouth. Savor each morsel.
“Multiple Warheads” has just completed a four-issue run with Image Comics, with a promise of more to come. In this first run, we follow the adventures of Sexica and Nikoli as they make their way to the Impossible City. Threaded throughout this road trip tale is a parallel tale of an organ smuggler in pursuit of the ultimate magical organ. For a comic that has all the signs of being made up as it goes along, this is a nicely balanced layered plot.
This is a good time to look back at Issue Four, the whole shooting match, and consider what it all means. Let’s start with a top ten list, a highlight of some of the beautiful treats found in this last and most recent issue.
1. Mysterious Books. Ah, a portal to something more or is it mostly to use on your bum?
2. Feet. Oh, so much to say about peds, a beautiful subject in its own right.
3. Maps. Maps inside of fruit, no less.
4. Whales. When in doubt, a floating whale.
5. Another arresting isolated image: The bird becomes an instant piece of art.
6. Faced with Faces: One of a variety of possible paths for our hero.
7. Another odd bit of word play that deserves a closer look.
8. More details not to be missed. Would this work as a real game? Sure.
9. Heart dissected for your pleasure.
10. Motorcycle diaries.
And then take that motorcycle sequence and add it to this complexity:
For those new to Graham’s work, or even for those with already some passing interest, the key lies in the details, the parts and the whole, on a page by page basis. Graham’s comics tend to add up more like an experience than just as a work with a driven narrative flow. It brings to mind such dreamy stuff as the films of Terry Gilliam that, for the most part, seem to be best digested as a series of compelling sequences instead of a traditional story. It works in the hands of Gilliam because he’s a master of the visual and the same can be said of Graham. And, with that in mind, there is a story, a big story, to follow in “Multiple Warheads.”
Graham reunites two of his favorite characters, two young lovers by the names of Sexica and Nikoli. The last time we saw these two, Sexica was an organ smuggler. As a last hurrah, Sexica sewed a wolf’s penis on to her boyfriend, Nikoli. It was a birthday present, you understand, and Nikoli was pleased and so was Sexica. Howwever, this fun did not come without complications. Nikoli is now sort of a werewolf. Only sort of, so that’s not too bad. He’s mostly a mechanic and a good guy. There’s also Lenin, Nikoli’s car. And there’s Pumpkin Patch, Sexica former organ smuggling boss. Our story begins shortly after everything has been blown to bits. Nikoli and Sexica must leave their destroyed Red City and head to the Impossible City.
Along the way, Sexica tries to relax on her impromptu vacation but there are lingering regrets over having retired from organ smuggling. To contrast that with what she’s missing, we have this other story going on about another smuggler who has been assigned to find the most magical and powerful organs yet to be smuggled! What is magical and powerful is sort of relative in this world but it’s best to just keep moving toward the next big thing until further notice.
It’s at the first chance to get back into the game that Sexica takes the bait. Some weird little penguin-like creature is in search of a wizard’s larder and that’s good enough for Sexica. She admits that once an organ smuggler, always an organ smuggler: “I’ve always been like this. I need to see what I can get away with to feel like I’ve got freedom.”
That pretty much sums it all up. We all would like to see what we can get away with so we can feel like we have freedom!
Brandon Graham and “Multiple Warheads” will stir up your subversive side and inspire you to pursue your own freedom. Okay, so that takes care of this first batch, “Multiple Warheads: Alphabet to Infinity.” The next batch is to be entitled, “Multiple Warheads: Ghost Town.”
You have to hand it to Dark Horse Comics for always being prepared for the unexpected and offering one surprise treat after another. Here they go again with “Sacrifice.”