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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Cleaning up after the sixties elephants : Robert Crumb, Robert Williams and the genesis of Zap Comix Pederson, Amy Marie 2000

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C L E A N I N G U P A F T E R T H E S I X T I E S E L E P H A N T S : R O B E R T C R U M B , R O B E R T W I L L I A M S A N D T H E G E N E S I S O F TAP COMIX B y A M Y M A R I E P E D E R S O N B . A . H o n . , T h e U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a , 1998 A T H E S I S S U B M I T T E D I N P A R T I A L F U F I L M E N T O F T H E R E Q U I R E M E N T S F O R T H E D E G R E E O F M A S T E R O F A R T S In T H E F A C U L T Y O F G R A D U A T E S T U D I E S (Department of F i n e A r t s ) W e accept this thesis as c o n f o r m i n g to the required standard T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A A u g u s t 2 0 0 0 © A m y M a r i e Pederson, 2000 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date Cleaning Up After the Sixties Elephants:Robert Crumb, Robert Williams and the Genesis of Zap Comix Amy Pederson Any discussion of the underground comics of the sixties must be foreshadowed by a discussion of the censorship which preceded it. Paralleling anti-Communist purges, the anti-comics crusade of the 1950s can be seen as part of a larger and more encompassing battle against domestic subversion in all its varieties. Culminating in a series of senate subcommittee hearings to investigate links between comic readership and juvenile delinquency, anti-comics sentiment mushroomed in the postwar period as the American public struggled to find the cause for a spiraling divorce rate and a perceived fragmentation of the family as an institution. Unable to establish direct connections, the hearings spurred the comics publishing industry to self-censorship with the adoption of a hasty rewrite of the Motion Picture Association of America code, one which severely truncated the content of the comics and went far beyond the censoring sex and violence to ensure that the medium would reflect only mainstream values. Post-code, the comics were elevated into a supposedly morally pristine and ideologically secure environment, testifying to the monumentality of the fable of American Cold War propaganda of which they were a part. In my project, Zap Comix, emerging in the 1960s, and particularly the work of Robert Crumb and Robert Williams, will serve to articulate the antagonisms inherent within this monumental structure through their gleeful transgression of every code prohibition and countless societal taboos. Spanning the years 1967 to 1973 and issues #0 through #6, my thesis is limited to the years between the comic's inception and the point of Zap's excision from the Zeitgeist of its geographical and historical location. These books contain racist and graphically violent material, as well as sexual content which often ventures into the terrain of the perverse, the grotesque and the misogynist, and all are tempered by a strong element of fantasy. Fantasy in this case functions not only as imaginary wish fulfillment but also has psychoanalytic implications. In psychoanalysis, fantasy can provide a mediation between the domains of the formal symbolic structure and the positivity of objects we encounter within it. It can also operate as a phantasmic screen, obfuscating the true horror of a situation but at the same time revealing what it purports to conceal. In my study, I argue that Freudian psychological categories may be applied in a sociological manner because they have become in this instance political categories. Viet Nam, the Manson family, and numerous political assassinations all coloured Zap's appearance at the tail end of the doomed and fragile idealism engendered by the brief Edenic flash of the Summer of Love in the Haight. I wil l show that in Zap the unrepresentability of what was Lacan's notion of the Real merges with the horrific violence of the period. Zap's pages thus construct a phantasmic screen, simultaneously masking certain traumas and exposing others while providing insights into larger superstructures. This screen is grounded in a glorification of Bataillean unproductive expenditure tempered by humour. "Normative" notions of sexual economy are confounded through the provocative depictions of sexual violence, incestuous perversion, and bio-mechanical fetishism but at the expense of female bodies. Like the Surrealists, in Zap these bodies are subjugated sites for the vicarious exploration of boundary transgressions and are a focus for male bonding on the part of male artists and audiences. In his 1997 book The Plague of Fantasies, Slovene philosopher Slavoj Zizek discusses Emir Kusturica's film Underground and thus provides a model to begin looking at Zap's imagery. In the recent apocalyptic climate of the former Yugoslavia, Kusturica depicts not literal genocide but an alternate libidinal economy to Serbian ethnic slaughter. The actors of this economy are enveloped in a trance of pseudo-Bataillean excessive expenditure, performing to the constant rhythm of eat-drink-sing-fuck (but not kill), building a fragile border to block the entry of the inevitable. In the interwar period, a time of violent and Fascistic tendencies which has unnerving links to the 1960s, Georges Bataille turned to the Marquis de Sade's crimes as constituting the violence he saw at the foundation of civilization and of the experience of it. Sade's articulation of pathos and perversion challenged societal insistence that sex and violence stay outside of culture's definition, our delusions being exacerbated by the silence of the state and the institutionalization of violence. I conclude that Zap's value, like Sade's, lies in giving violence a voice, one that counters the simple enshrinement of Zap Comix within the mythology of "counter-culture" lore. 'Table of Contents Abstract ii List of Figures i i i Acknowledgements iv Introduction Thinking in Comics 1 Chapter I Home Invasions 9 1.1 The 'Marijuana of the Nursery': Censorship and Outrage 10 1.2 Battling Seduction: The Crusade of Fredric Wertham 12 1.3 Better Dead Than Re(a)d 16 Chapter II Down to the Underground 25 2.1 Mystical Enthusiasms 31 2.2 Pushing at the Margins: A n Introduction to Crumb and Williams 33 2.3 Zap on Trial 42 2.4 Parameters of Time 45 2.5 Zapping High Art 47 2.6 Zap's Displacement From the Centre 49 Chapter i n Unwholesome Fantasies 54 3.1 From the Psychic to the Social 56 3.2 From the Social to the Local 59 3.3 Behind the Phantasmic Screen: Part One, Sexuality 61 3.4 Opening the Books 64 3.5 Behind the Phantasmic Screen, Part Two: Race 75 Conclusion Save Your Fork, There's Pie (Or, To Conclude) 85 Bibliography 89 Appendix A "Understudies" 96 Appendix B "Fire Trap!" 103 Appendix C "Meatball" I l l Appendix D "Hike..." 115 Appendix E "Luna Toon" 119 Appendix F "Let's Talk Sense About This Here Modern America" 121 Appendix G "That's Li fe" 126 Appendix H "What Gives?" 131 Appendix I "Wonder Wart-Hog's Believe It or Leave! You Don't Know How Good You Got It Here in America, Bub 141 iii Appendix J "A Ball in the Bung-Hole: A Study in Decay" 145 Appendix K "Joe Blow" 147 Appendix L "The Supreme Constellation of Dormasintoria" 153 Appendix M "The City of the Future" 157 Appendix N "Mara, Mistress of the Void" 162 Appendix O "Lenore Goldberg and Her Girl Commandos" 165 Appendix P "Mr. Natural Takes A Vacation" 173 Appendix Q "Bludgeon Funnies: The Comic Strip That Doesn't Pull Any Punches" 177 Appendix R "Whiteman" 181 Appendix S "Angelfood McSpade" 185 Appendix T "When the Niggers Take Over America" 189 Appendix TJ "When the Goddamn Jews Take Over America" 192 Appendix V "Incident at Zwigoff s, academic title: Hyper-Sensitive Cartoonists Rend Their Garments Over Minor Bullshit" 195 iv List of Figures Fig.l Soba 6 Fig.2 Soba 7 Fig.3 Soba 7 Fig.4 Front cover of Zap Comix#l 26 Fig.5 Front cover of Zap Comix #2 26 Fig.6 "Keep On Truckin'" 29 Fig.7 "Beamin' Gleamer as ' A Flash in the Pan' 32 Fig. 8 "Model of the Universe Cut-Out (Mobusphere)" 34 Fig.9 Appetite for Destruction 37 Fig. 10 Oscar Wilde in Leadville, April 13th, 1882 39 Fig.l 1 "Mr. Peanut (front cover)" 43 Fig. 12 "Mr. Penis (back cover)" 44 Fig. 13 "Harlem: A Sketchbook Report" 50 Fig.14 "Bulgaria: A Sketchbook Report" 51 Fig. 15 "The Walkie Talkies" 57 Fig.16 The Portable War Memorial 58 Fig. 17 "Fritz the Cat in 'Fritz Comes On Strong'" 66 Fig. 18 "Masterpiece on the Shithouse Wall" 71 Fig. 19 "Come Fix: A Mind Fuck Folly" 76 Fig.20 Little Nemo in Slumberland . 77 Fig.21 Bringing Up Father 77 Fig.22 "Wildman Sam's Pure Nigger Hearts" 78 Fig.23 Mammy's L 'il Lamb 79 Fig.24 "OogaBooga 80 Fig.25 "Just One Word Make Me a Man" 81 Fig.26 "I've Had It!" • 85 Fig.27 "My Big Break" 86 v Acknowledgements I wish to acknowledge and offer my thanks for the support and guidance of my supervisors, John O'Brian and Maureen Ryan; the patience, love and assistance of Aaron Minjares, Lee, Margaret and Raymond Pederson; the generous knowledge and gracious donations of Ron Turner; the thoughtful editing of Marina Roy; the open participation of Robert Williams, Robert Crumb, and Walter Hopps, and the aid of Tyler Stallings, Chris Stewart, Darcey Machines and Cecile Whiting. vi Introduction: Thinking in Comics Perceived throughout their roughly centenarian American history as intrinsically 'commercial,' comic strips from their inception in daily newspapers were intended to be received by an imagined audience of what could be thought of as the culture's 'lowest-common denominators.'1 Whether composed of children or the illiterate urban poor, these consumers were targeted by magnates such as William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer with the hope that Sunday comic supplements and daily sections would provide purchasing incentives for what was for these groups a relatively useless product. Set apart from the theories mapped out within the latter half of the twentieth century in respect to the modern mass media, the comics have often been cloaked in shadow and relegated to the hinterlands of anonymous and mythographic "found objects" and "trash icons" a la Lichtenstein and Warhol. These perceptions have been compounded by the frequent categorization of comics as an unthinking, uncomplex form of entertainment and by a tendency to abandon the medium outside notions of the authentically 'artistic' But the urge to champion the legitimacy of this popular form as a bastion for the production of cultural meaning and a haven for the avant-garde laisser a la porte of high art is one which must also be checked. Rich veins of rot run deeply through comic history's yellowed pages, some originary and some opened by the violent amputations of censorship; all belie the truth of this history's body as composed in large part by that which is puerile, shoddy, and badly produced. As comic theorist Scott McCloud contends, "the comics' low self-esteem is self-perpetuating."2 Yet the language of comics as necessitated by their drastic economies of form has produced a unique syntax, grammar and conventions akin neither to literature nor to image production. It is a vocabulary, which contains the potential for a singular and immediate method of communication. Wi l l Eisner, creator of the long-running hard-boiled detective strip The Spirit, drew blueprints for an initial 1 As early as 1908, Richard Outcault began to license his "Buster Brown" strip to manufacturers of a wide variety of products as well as permitting the character's use as a marketing tool for other items, such as shoes. The histories of consumer culture and the comics are so intertwined that the first comic books produced in the US in 1934 were collections of reprints available only as promotional incentives offered by companies such as Gulf Oi l and Proctor & Gamble. (Ian Gordon. Comic Strips and Consumer Culture 1890-1945. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institute Press 1998: 48-49.) 2 Scott McCloud. Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. Northampton M A : Tundra Publishing 1993: 18. 1 American analysis of cartoon semiotics in his excellent 1985 how-to manual Comics and Sequential Art, but it was not until Scott McCloud's seminal Understanding Comics: The Invisible Arfwas published in 1993 that the discussion became of a more sustained (and ongoing) nature.3 Eisner's book developed out of a wealth of experience gained through years of experience as an art instructor. While his book functions as a primer for the medium's conventions as well as an instructional manual, the comics are approached by McCloud from a far more philosophical starting point and in a manner comic historian Roger Sabin describes as "...so confident in its claim that comics are capable of expressing anything that it was itself produced as a graphic novel." 4 Defined as "juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence, intended to convey information and/or to produce an aesthetic response in the viewer,"5 McCloud puts the comics forth as a form that utilizes space in the same manner in which filmmaking employs time. But the important difference is a question of immediacy. Publisher Ron Turner asserts, "comics cut through the bullshit," further elaborating, "the director can take a vision and transmit this to you, but he needs the help of camera men, lighting people, sound people, and actors, set designers and everything else to get the particular image to you, [whereas] cartoonists themselves give you the closest image to what's really on their minds, and transmit it much clearer than somebody who's writing prose."6 Cocooned in the false twilight of the movie theatre, we viewers are drawn from our bodies and into the narrative flickering on-screen before us, lulled by the immediacy fostered by hushed darkness and the ritual of a deeply entrenched way of seeing. In the shortening of the chain linking production to reception, the comics deny this comfortable and passive symbiosis and instead, in their directness, insist on a more active participation in terms of reception. Differing from the physical movie with its strips of celluloid spooled onto the projector and moved forward at a rate to trick the eye into perceiving motion, comic readership requires the willing and 3 Industry and fan-based discussions surrounding McCloud's book were (and are) of such an intense nature that they spilled out of the letters column of Gary Groth's The Comics Journal to become an entire issue devoted to the topic. While McCloud never saw his book as definitive, choosing instead to view it as the beginning of a long conversation, his new book, Reinventing Comics, touches on the possibilities of the traditional forms combined with the potential of new digital media and has been greatly anticipated as the next prolonged speech on the topic. 4 Roger Sabin. Comics, Comix & Graphic Novels: A History of Comic Art. London, England: Phaidon Press 1996: 9. 5 McCloud. Understanding Comics: 9. 6 Ron Turner. Interview of January 12, 1999. 2 conscious collaboration of the viewer, and hence fosters an intimacy with the page. The comics, Art Spiegelman has said, are "...about creating pictures that can actually talk,"7 and the audience, in order to comprehend the lines on paper before them, is required to listen. Marching, spiralihg, splattered or shattered across the page, the panels, outlined by borders or dissipated by less concrete liminal spaces, define moments in time. Stretching from a single gesture to minutes of conversation, these clasping parentheses are constructed not just by what takes place within them but also around and outside them, from the expanse of the page itself to the gutters between the panels which indicate the passing of one moment to the next and denote the time elapsed between each. Shouts, whispers, groans, all articulations to be heard aloud in the reader's mind must take place as static text, but the uniform nature of letters made into words, like all else, is altered in the comics. Speech balloons in their shape, position and intensity provide tone, while emphasis through line thickness and letter-size provides volume. The visual imagery of the comics makes use of a pared-down and streamlined effect. For McCloud, this abbreviation does not dilute audience response but, rather, causes what he refers to as "amplification through simplification."8 The elimination of certain details and the zeroing-in upon others functions in terms of a concretization towards a specific purpose but also in the expanding fluidity and variability bequeathed to pictorial meaning according to the slippages between the cartoon and its real-life equivalent. As Robert Williams succinctly puts it, "People think in cartoons,"9 and the resulting universality and iconic nature of the cartoon or comic image is key. McCloud contends, "the cartoon is a vacuum into which our identities and awareness are pulled in an empty shell that we inhabit which enables us to travel in another realm: we don't just observe the cartoon, we become it."1 0 He sees a mix of the human characteristic of vague mental self-imaging as well as the comic technique of juxtaposing iconic characters against more detailed and specific backgrounds which require no self-identification as creating this transference. In short, these combinations permit the reader to gain entry inside a panel's borders, don a character's skin and enter a stimulating and/or disturbing world. 7 Bob Callahan. "Zap splits!." www.salonmagazine.com. September 1998: 2. 8 McCloud. Understanding Comics: 30. 9 Robert Williams. Interview of December 21, 1999. 1 0 McCloud. Understanding Comics: 36. 3 This permeable world, infinitely malleable to its creators, is closed to easy visual comprehension yet open to any who would imagine themselves inside. Peopled by unending permutations of senses and emotions and bonded by the glue of sequential juxtaposition, these things together create a secret pact between creator and reader, something that is entirely seductive. Whispering of the specter of lower-class incursions into middle-class homes and with its taint of mass culture, dangerous enough demand a code controlling its content and forever altering its associated meanings, these low murmurings also promise immense possibilities for direct and powerful communication (as evidenced by Art Spiegelman's 1986 Pulitzer prize winning graphic novel Maus). McCloud posits the comics as an art of the invisible, one swooping below critical radar in many instances; the author tells us, "what you see is seldom what you get....in the end, what you get is what you give." 1 1 Whilst employing an idiosyncratic blend of Lacan and Hegel in his 1997 book The Plague of Fantasies, Slovene philosopher Slavoj Zizek discusses Emir Kusturica's recent film Underground. In the apocalyptic climate of the former Yugoslavia, Kusturica sheds new light on the horrors of the Bosnian war. But, Zizek writes, when...Kusturica insisted that Underground is not a political film at all but a kind of liminal trancelike subjective experience, a 'deferred suicide,' he thereby unknowingly laid his true political cards on the table and indicated that Underground stages the 'apolitical' phantasmic background of the post-Yugoslav ethnic cleansing and war cruelties.12 Negotiating within the domain of the Serbian "underground," the filmmaker casts our eyes not only to the "deferred suicide" of the circular orgy of eat-drink-sing-fuck which takes place inside suspended time and outside the public gaze, but also, according to Zizek, to "...the obscene 'underground' of the public, official discourse (represented in the film by the Titoist Communist regime)."1 3 Accompanying these realities is a fictional narrative, symbolic of the repression engendered by capitalism, of an "underground" workshop in which enslaved workers, isolated from the world, labour to produce the arms sold by Marko, the film's protagonist. 1 1 Ibid.: 136-37. 1 2 Slavoj Zizek. The Plague of Fantasies. New York N Y : Verso Books 1997: 61. 1 3 Ibid.: 63. 4 However, Zizek tells us, Kusturica's failure lies in his usage of post-modern self-referentiality to distance his work from the true horror of the subject at hand. Mixing cliches and quoting from the history of cinema, Kusturica, Zizek tells us, "...unknowingly provides the libidinal economy of the Serbian ethnic slaughter in Bosnia: the pseudo-Bataillean trance of excessive expenditure."14 And this, Zizek reminds us, "...is the stuff of the 'dream' of the ethnic cleansers; therein lies the answer to the question 'How were they able to do i t? '" 1 5 Kusturica, and Zizek's analysis of his work, construct a porthole through which a discussion of underground comics can be entered. Paralleling anti-Communist purges of the 1950s, the economically enforced censorship of the 1954 Comic Code must foreground any discussion of these books. Post-Code, the comics were elevated into a supposedly pristine moral environment, testifying to the monumentality of the fable of cold war propaganda. But contained within this monumentality were inherent antagonisms which I believe to be articulated through the gleeful Code transgressions performed by Robert Crumb, Robert Williams and others in the pages of Zap Comix and other underground comics of the same era. Constructed through images often shocking in their perversity, violence, misogynism and seeming racism, the content of Zap, like that of Kusturica's film, skirts the issues of an immediately violent social and political climate not through sublimation, but rather through a kind of phantasmic translation. However, a thorough survey and systematic critique of underground comics, or even of all artists and issues of Zap would overburden this thesis and misplace its overall emphasis. Instead, I will concentrate on a pair of artists, Robert Crumb and Robert Williams due both to a need for brevity and their lasting enduring success within the environments of cartoon and high art. M y work here is not intended as an intervention into a comics history at present composed largely of sycophantic fandom, straightforward fact-gathering and hermetic, narrow analysis, but rather as a contribution to this growing discourse through an approach characterized by the use of the psychoanalytic concept of fantasy as a tool for mediation. Often the domain of communications and popular culture specialists, I feel much is to be gained here from applying theories garnered within the areas of art history, literary theory, and psychoanalysis to a single facet of comics production in a rigorous and sustained manner. 1 4 Ibid.: 64. 1 5 Ibid.: 64. 5 Zap Comix in the seven issues from in its inception in 1967 to 1973 (the year in which I end my project) also spans the gulf of an apocalyptic climate, this time coloured by the violence of the Viet Nam war. Like Kusturica's film, Zap Comix avoids overtly political representations by preferring instead the opacity of phantasmic translation, but unlike Underground the comics do not employ a depoliticized aestheticist attitude in order to do so. The seductive and immediate nature of the comic medium defuses the possibility of ironic distancing through post-modern techniques but also serves mask the complicated nature of depictions of perverse and violent sexuality, misogyny and race, something that wi l l be discussed in this thesis at length. A convenient case study, parallel to Underground in terms of subject matter but differing greatly in tone, is found in Portland, Oregon artist Joe Sacco's 1998 comic Soba, the first issue in a series titled Stories From Bosnia put out by Canadian publishers Drawn & Quarterly. In it, Sacco locates himself on the side of the pro-Bosnian Government inhabitants of Sarajevo whose stories he recounts. Sacco's book weaves multiple narratives, mostly centering on a profile of the titular Soba, a musician and popular man-about-town. Recalling Kusturica's orgy of excess (Fig.l), in a flashback panel peppered with empty bottles and cigarette butts Muslim/Serb Soba remembers, Fig. 1 Joe Sacco. Soba. (Montreal PQ: Drawn and Quarterly 1998) At the beginning I didn't know what was happening...I stayed two months in the basement...I took heroin, pills, hashish, grass, everything I could to forget for a moment what was happening around me... When the alcohol ran out I volunteered...16 Joe Sacco. Soba. Montreal PQ: Drawn & Quarterly 1998: 1. 6 And so begins forty pages that careen wildly between the desperate hedonism of Sarajevo's bunker clubs interspersed with the recounting of absolute horror by Soba's shell-shocked and vacant-eyed companions. The panels describing each are more similar than one would expect. The frenzied headbanging and rampant substance abuse of the nights of the present moment (Fig.2), frozen on a page and recalling the suspended dynamism of Paul Cadmus' Bar Italia, morph into the still violence of warfare, the latter differentiated only by the immense anxiety lent by the excessive fine stippling and cross-hatching which mark out their recounting through the filter of memory rather than documentary reality (Fig.3). Although beautiful in their execution, Sacco's pages Fig. 2 Joe Sacco. Soba. (Montreal PQ: Drawn and Quarterly 1998) confound an aestheticization of the conflict they represent. Instead, through the juxtaposition of the everyday with the trauma and explicit nature of armed conflict, they amplify the possibilities of reportage to a level approaching the poetic. This amplification certainly counts among its progenitors the autobiographical immediacy and graphically violent representations introduced in the underground comics of the sixties. But in these examples provided by Zizek and Underground and Sacco's Soba there exists a key similarity with Zap Comix; both unknowingly provide the libidinal economy for the violence that defines their locations. The use of the term "Bataillean" Fig. 3 Joe Sacco. Soba. (Montreal PQ: Drawn and Quarterly 1998) and the use of the sometime-Surrealist's theories in my own work are also a matter of some importance. In invoking Bataille, I do not intend to suggest that the principles of Surrealism can be transferred wholesale over a chronological distance of some thirty years to a different continent, but rather that some strong similarities can be traced. With both movements foregrounded by recent World Wars (I and II respectively), the negotiations of the Surrealists in their struggle for psychological emancipation from the repressive nature of the culture they inhabited crumpled before the horrific intrusions of Nazism and Fascism in Europe, as did Zap's exercises in mental liberation fade and wither when faced with the overwhelming pessimism engendered by the failure of the naively optimistic intentions of the 1960s to translate to the following decade. Despite what Bataille notes as man's tendency to "...willingly imagine himself to be like the god Neptune, stilling his own waves, with majesty," Zap's American critique of the 1960s and the Surrealists' French critique of the 1930s both managed for a time to embody "...the bellowing waves of viscera, (which) in more or less incessant inflation and upheaval, brusquely put an end to his dignity,"1 7 and with this in mind it is from here that we shall begin. 1 7 Georges Bataille. "The Big Toe." Georges Bataille: Visions of Excess: Selected Writings, 1927-1939. Ed. Allan Stoekl. Minneapolis MI: U of Minnesota Press 1985: 22. 8 Chapter I: Home Invasions In the Victory-culture aftermath of the second world war, the general American public struggled to find meaning in soaring birth and marriage statistics, a spiraling divorce rate and the shifting notion of the family as an institution. New social conditions appeared that were largely brought about by the advent of economic overabundance and rampant consumerism. Experts predicted that this tear in the social fabric as causing an increase in juvenile crime and, indeed, communications professor Amy Nyberg argues, it became "..a self-fulfilling prophecy as greater emphasis was placed on identifying delinquent behaviour and apprehending juvenile offenders."18 Contemporaneously echoing this focus, in the mid-fifties the film industry devoted substantial resources to similar topics. Productions ran the gamut from what James Gilbert, author of the 1986 book Cycle of Outrage: America's Reaction to the Juvenile Delinquent in the 1950s, refers to as "serious youth culture films such as Rebel Without A Cause, to comedies such as Jerry Lewis's Delicate Delinquent, to science-fiction-delinquent movies like Teenagers From Outer Space, to old-fashioned films about the slum origins of delinquency such as Twelve Angry Men, to exploitative films such as High School Confidential."" The according of the potential for increased individual independence to all members of the mid-20th century Oedipal family through the avenue of consumer-based agency was one with far-reaching effects upon the massed and newly-mobile society out of which it developed. The beneficiaries of this abundance were youth in particular and they profited from a decreasing obligation to enter the workforce directly after school and an increasing allotment of "spare" time and spending money. Teenagers developed their own institutions to reflect their newfound status and the growth of a distinct "teen" culture followed burgeoning consumer independence. As Gilbert contends, "a great many of them worked at jobs 1 8 Amy Kiste Nyberg. "Comic Book Censorship in the United States." Pulp Demons: International Dimensions of the Post-War Anti-Comics Crusade. Ed. John A . Lent. Cranbury NJ: Associated University Press 1999: 43. 1 9 James Gilbert. A Cycle of Outrage: America's Reaction to the Juvenile Delinquent in the 1950s. New York N Y : Oxford U Press 1986: 163. U Press 1986: 163. 9 that financed their new consumer life-styles; more drove cars, more married early, more appeared to initiate sexual relations at an early age." 2 0 Teens looked and acted differently and, in their perceived devotion to the Rock n' Rol l music, comics, and youth oriented film that redefined popular culture, their appearance was often interpreted by parents and the media as hostile. This growing attention to delinquency paralleled a meteoric rise in the popularity of a new genre of sensationalist comics featuring horror and the "hard realism" of crime, with these increases reflecting the growing role of youth both as a collective of independent social agents and of marketing targets. However, accompanying the shift in roles for youth and further destabilizing traditional familial categorizations were transformations of the roles of women. Rates of child employment during wartime skyrocketed 300 per cent, while between the same period of 1940 and 1943 the percentage of working women rose by a third.21 Women's excursions outside the confines of the domestic sphere led to the beginning of increased sexual and individual freedom, but also to vocalizations (as it still does) concerning the disintegration of "family values." In the return of male soldiers after the end of the war, the increase in female presence within the workplace and other traditionally male-dominated environments created an at-times traumatic slippage in the underpinnings of American culture. This anxiety, manifested as hostility, is something I see as being played out both in the mainstream comics of the fifties and the undergrounds of the sixties through new and frequent portrayals of women within the environs of popular culture as targets of violence. The 'Marijuana of the Nursery': Censorship and Outrage Almost since their introduction into American newspapers at the end of the nineteenth century, comic strips have drawn the ire of critics. As early as 1909, The Ladies Home Journal contained an article titled "Crime Against American Children: Comic Supplements of the Sunday Paper," but the true extent of anti-comic frenzy did not peak until the close of the Second World War. 2 2 This phenomenon only 2 0 Ibid.: 17. 2 1 Ibid.: 19. 2 2 John A . Lent. "The Comics Debate Internationally: Their Genesis, Issues, and Commonalities." Pulp Demons: 9. 10 worsened with the comic book's appearance as a discreet medium in the 1930s. The periodic public murmurings which had existed up until that point were further agitated by a trickle of literature produced by teachers, librarians and parents constructing the comics as retarding the development of adequate reading skills and setting back educational standards. Although the debate subsided during wartime, by the mid-1940s these few voices were joined by many others, raised in a chorus which Communications professor and Comics Journal international editor John Lent defines as "...lambasting the artistic, aesthetic and literary qualities of comic books, saying that they were ugly and they lowered aesthetic standards to a subnormal level and kept young readers away from the literary classics." 2 3 First time and established publishers only exacerbated these complaints by launching a plethora of new titles in response to the declining popularity of superhero and war books and following the end of war-time paper shortages and allotments.24 No longer easily dismissed as a relatively benign avenue of escape for children and adults dealing with the terrifying social changes of the Great Depression and wartime, the new post-1945 comics went far beyond superheroes and adventurers into the darker territories of crime and horror. James Gilbert argues, "parents could no longer impress their value systems on children who were influenced as much by a new peer culture spread by comic books, radio, movies, and television, as their elders,"2 5 and the convenient notion that mass media stood between parent and child provided a simple answer for any questions concerning the perception of a sudden postwar increase in youth violence and delinquency. This breakdown in generational communication, it was suggested, provoked misbehaviour but its foundational cause was the comics. Raising the tenor of complaint was the entry of America into the treacherous cultural playing field of the Atomic Age and the Cold War. Circling overhead were whispered menaces of invisible enemies and this paranoia accorded notions of ideological security with such importance that in the next decade they " Ib id . : 11. 2 4 From 1947 to 1954, crime comics became one of the best-selling genres of all time. During this period, more than forty comic book publishers issued over 150 new crime comic titles. From 1948 to 1949, approximately one out of every seven comic books sold was a crime title. Over 160,000,000 crime comics were bought by consumers during these two years. (Mike Benton. The Illustrated History of Crime Comics. Dallas TX: Taylor Publishing Co. 1993: 35-45). 2 5 Gilbert. A Cycle of Outrage: 3. 11 would be reason enough to wage war half a world away. With the Oedipal Holy family as sanctioned by society, religion and psychology situated as the bedrock upon which America was founded, any threat to its integrity became a threat to the larger society, thus justifying state intervention into any potential breach or rupture. Over time and through the red-filtered haze of McCarthy-era paranoia, these enemies were increasingly suspected of infiltrating and contaminating America from places far closer to hand than the imagined dystopias of Russia and Cuba. Among these new villains was a familiar face into which critics burrowed in a search for concrete connections between delinquency and comic readership, a hunt that finally culminated in a series of Senate Subcommittee hearings.26 Battling Seduction: The Crusade of Fredric Wertham Shaping the voices of anti-comics dissent were two waves, the earliest of which was sparked by a national radio programme titled "America's Town Meeting, On the A i r " and broadcast on March 2, 1948.27 The topic of this first vector was "What's Wrong With Comics?," 2 8 while the second's origin can be traced to a work which received far more attention and resulted in far graver repercussions. Under the auspices of the Senate Subcommittee investigating organized crime in interstate commerce relative to the incidence of juvenile delinquency, the 1954 hearings to probe comic/delinquency links were headed by Senator Estes Kefauver but the cause of their materialization can be largely traced to the work of one man, psychiatrist Fredric Wertham. As a fanatical anti-comics crusader who galvanized a nation for action through his sociologically and scientifically weak book, Seduction of the Innocent?* Wertham provided a monocausal intellectual 2 6 The so-called 'Golden Age' of comics began with the introduction of Spiegel and Schuster's Superman in 1938 and flourished through the addition of scores of superhero titles and immensely popular adventure strips such as Tarzan, Jungle Jim, and Terry and the Pirates. The 'Golden Age' then gave way to the 'Silver Age' of post-code 1950s era comics. (William Savage Jr.. Comic Books and America: 1945-1954. Norman OK: U of Oklahoma Press 1990: 5). 2 7 Nyberg. "Comic Book Censorship in the United States." Pulp Demons: 43. 2 8 Ibid.: 43. 2 9 Even a cursory examination of Wertham's oeuvre reveals as much; the book has no footnotes, no bibliography, and make frequent references to anonymous adolescent "case-studies" and uncited, unnamed strips from uncited, unnamed comics (what Gilbert calls "...the unqualified statements and dramatic accusations, the popular language, and the lurid accounts of juvenile crime"). The frequent accusation that the work was based almost entirely on conjecture and anecdotal evidence gathered during Wertham's 12 justification for the proposal of censorious laws and reactionary views. The fervor of his opposition was incited by a medium he saw as being powerful enough to transform a comic book adaptation of Shakespeare's MacBeth, according to comic historian Martin Barker, into "...nothing more than a crime comic." 3 0 Wertham's book was at the centre of the 1954 investigatory juggernaut, as was a Seduction excerpt that appeared in the November 1953 issue of The Ladies Home Journal under the title "What Parents Don't Know About Comics." 3 1 Written after a failed campaign to enact New York state legislation prohibiting the sale and display of comic books to children under the age of fifteen, Wertham's attempt to create law was thwarted by then Governor Thomas Dewey under the first amendment. The book which came as a result, according to comics historian Mike Benton, was a passionate attempt to "...condemn all types of comic books, from romance to funny animals to westerns and even to educational comics, as having detrimental effects on children," but specifically "...singled out the crime comics as the most injurious of a l l . " 3 2 Still, Wertham made an unlikely spokesperson for censorship: the German-born and educated psychiatrist was also a Jew and a passionate anti-Fascist who fled Europe shortly before the Second World War. Regardless of the parallels between the Nazis' organized book-burning and censorship campaigns in his adopted home, somehow the doctor was disabled from seeing in the medium any potential for good. An advocate of the categorization of violence in culture as a public health problem, Wertham blindly applied the rubric of violence as a method to judge the comics. Sublimated or graphic, any hint of such, magnified by the specialness of the dangers of comics, was enough to justify them as, Martin Barker asserts, "...an evil tributary of culture, fouling the rest."33 Adopting the mantle of the social reformer, Wertham pioneered the first American psychiatric clinic exclusively for sex offenders in 1947 and in 1944, aided financially by novelists Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison, he opened the Lafargue Clinic in Harlem (named for Karl Marx's son-in-law, the Cuban-tenure at his own Lafargue clinic for already delinquent and/or disturbed youth was compounded by the author's refusal to provide more specific evidence despite frequent requests from the scientific and psychiatric community. (Gilbert. A Cycle of Outrage: 93.) 3 0 Martin Barker. "Fredric Wertham: The Sad Case of the Unhappy Humanist." Pulp Demons: 218. 3 1 Nyberg. "Comic Book Censorship in the United States." Pulp Demons: 50. 3 2 Benton. The Illustrated History of Crime Comics: 79. 3 3 Barker. "Fredric Wertham: The Sad Case of the Unhappy Humanist." Pulp Demons: 40. 13 born, black French physician politician) in order to provide psychiatric care for a fee of twenty-five cents to underprivileged black youth and young adults. Wertham provided pro-bono psychiatric testimony for Ethel Rosenberg during her trial (although he was not permitted to directly examine or question his patient), and previous briefs of professional testimony he had authored regarding the detrimental effects of segregation on children of all races were presented by the prosecution in Brown vs. the Board of Education in the landmark Kansas trial. Wertham was against American involvement in Viet Nam and condemned M y Lai, but, according to Barker, "when the military authorities banned comic books [in the armed forces], that was a cause for unqualified celebration."34 Although these situations are difficult to equate, what remains at their core is Wertham's opposition to violence. In the critiquing of the war in Asia, he spoke with a chorus of many fellow Americans about a conflict within the global theatre but in the condemnation of the comics Wertham articulated a concern about the violence that he saw as threatening to infect every home. This concern was one which I see as being partly related to his conception of the comics as a virus attacking the foundations of the country in which he resided. But with his own personal politics often directly opposed to those of his most ardent supporters, Wertham's critique of the medium was likely also rooted in his dismay at mass culture. Wertham's views can thus be seen to be connected to a larger and more general elitist criticism of American culture in keeping with the pessimism of the Frankfurt School (as opposed to the optimism of post-war Victory Culture) whose members emigrated at a similar time for similar reasons. Wary of the cultural conformism, rise of suburbia and proliferation of consumerism that flourished in the fifties, the debates of Theodor Adorno and Herbert Marcuse had expounded on the dangers of contemporaneous capitalism and the mass culture that accompanied it. Focusing on the social and its relation to the art object and the individual, Adorno and Marcuse expressed concern over mass culture's satisfaction of certain needs such as entertainment, leisure and the desire for consumer goods, while neglecting to address other, more basic inequalities.35 Adorno's focus was located in a critique of consumerism as propagated by the homogenous nature of mass media such as film, magazines, television, 3 4 Barker. "Fredric Wertham: The Sad Case of The Unhappy Humanist." Pulp Demons: 226. 3 5 Patricia Kelly. Roundtable Presentation: "From SDS to LSD or Politics, the Audience and the Object of Art." Apri l 2000: 5. 14 comic books and their ilk. For him, this massive and overabundant influx of banal stimuli into society provided a hypnotic suckling effect for all recipients, stunting the politicization of the working and middle classes through the application of a cathode ray, newsprint or glossy-stock teat. Sharing many views with Adomo, in his 1966 "Political Preface*' to 1955's Eros and Civilization: A Philosophical Inquiry Into Freud Marcuse wrote: Scientific management of instinctual needs has long since become a vital factor in the reproduction of the system: merchandise which has to be bought and used is made into objects of the libido; and the national enemy who has to be fought and hated is distorted and inflated to such an extent that he can activate and satisfy aggressiveness in the depth dimension of the unconscious.36 But before the war in Viet Nam, he also breathed a ray of hope which wil l be discussed in a more in-depth fashion in Chapter III. Seeing a possible escape from the crushing union of freedom with servitude, the premise in Marcuse's 1955 book was that man could avoid "...welfare through warfare by finding a new starting point to reconstruct the productive apparatus."37 The tool that he planned to use for reconstruction was one he coined as "polymorphous sexuality." Serving to activate repressed or arrested organic and biological needs, this sexuality was one identified with youth and it was to them that Marcuse looked for his agents of revolutionary change. A convenient illustration of Wertham's contradictory views on censorship is found in the following case study. A n avid collector of art, he owned pieces by Goya and John Heartfield as well as a George Grosz cartoon of a hanged man.3 8 Wertham valued these works as visual (read: visceral) political responses to the rise of Fascism in Europe, but could not bring himself to see the very comics he condemned as belonging to a similar tradition. The works of all three, but particularly that of Goya and Heartfield, viewed violence as a travesty while still managing to vibrantly portray it within an orgy of dynamism and energy filling the dimensions of the visual plains which they employed. The saving grace for Wertham, the justification for such a celebratory display, was located in the works' high art context and 3 6 Herbert Marcuse. "Political Preface." Eros and Civilization: A Philosophical Inquiry Into Freud. Boston M A : Beacon Press 1966 (1st edition 1955): xii. 3 7 Ibid.: xiii. 3 8 Barker. "Fredric Wertham: The Sad Case of the Unhappy Humanist." Pulp Demons: 220. 15 also in the moralizing imbued within them. The murky and ambiguous morals tacked onto the comics of this era could never approach the level of nobility required by him for redemption. Better Dead Than Re(a)d The parallels between what became the anti-comics crusade and anti-Communist purges of the same era are to me unmistakable. The persecutors in both cases used fear-inducing techniques and wielded polemics and language as weapons. Both were also indicative of a larger and more encompassing crusade against domestic subversion in all its varieties. This crusade was something that seemed of paramount importance in the face of the Korean War, the Cold War, and the post-Hiroshima culture of the Atomic Age. This twinning is underlined in a letter from September 7, 1948 discovered in Wertham's archives and written by a mother expressing parental concern over her sons' choice of comics as reading material. Annotated in the margins by the doctor himself as a "good letter," the text begins with the author outlining her concerns regarding the increasingly anti-social and violent behaviour of her seven and thirteen-year old children. She concludes, in a conflation of what she considers to be external threats: We consider the situation to be as serious as an invasion of the enemy in war time, with as far reaching consequences as the atom bomb. If we cannot stop the wicked men who are poisoning our children's minds, what chance is there for mankind to survive longer than one generation, or half of one?3 9 Although-Wertham distanced personally himself from major supporters such as the Catholic Legion of Decency in the direct assignation of blame for societal ills to communists, another of his archival letters, this time undated, reiterates the undifferentiated fears raised by the mother above; "Would it not be simple for the Kremlin conspirators to put the comics to work for 'the cause' by infiltrating the ranks of the writers and artists, i f nothing else?" 4 0 While anecdotal, this evidence helps lend credence to John Lent's assertion of the anti-comics crusade as mirroring "...America's concern with internal corruption, a continuing fear of ourselves, and a dread of internal moral weakening and, eventually, collapse."4 1 3 9 Gilbert. A Cycle of Outrage: 105. 4 0 Ibid.: 106. 4 1 Lent. "The Comics Debate Internationally: Their Genesis, Issues and Commonalities." Pulp Demons: 12. 16 Turning to the source of this immense anxiety, in these new comics the killer was the star, the criminal the hero. They traced their heritage more to the pulp sensibilities of the American true crime and detective magazines of the '30s and '40s (which in turn developed from the scab-picking impulses first cultivated in the English penny dreadfuls and public execution broadsheets of previous centuries), rather than to the unambiguous criminal depictions of Dick Tracy, Chester Gould's stalwart and impossibly geometric defender of American decency, or Jerry Spiegel and Joe Schuster's Superman, an alien from a dying planet who falls to earth only to embrace Judeo-Christian values.42 Comic feature writers resurrected the dead in the inclusion of true facts and figures in their books, using names, dates and locales, in order, according to Mike Benton, to "...capture a sense of hard realism,"4 3 the very opposite of the cartoony violence which romped through the pages of superhero features. This trend was underlined by the 1949 decision in several comics, most notably the Justice Traps the Guilty title, to use actual crime scene photos in place of drawn covers. In 1947 the Motion Picture Association of America made the decision to refuse giving the Association's Code approval to a screenplay based on a biography of A l Capone and heralded a crack-down in violent, true-life content at the movies. Thus, the pages of the crime comic flourished as one of the few visual avenues open to the dramatization of the lives of 'notorious criminals' that the public craved, albeit one which always tempered truth with entertainment. This tempering was often of an absurd and cartoonish nature. In addition to the violent tendencies shown towards their associates and victims, according to Benton, "...crime comic criminals were noted for their cruelty to women, animals, children, the elderly, and even the blind." 4 4 This super-villainy persisted in the choice of drug-taking and smuggling as recurrent and sensationalistic story lines and the insistence on separating female characters into the category of hapless victim or shameless libertine. Headed by William Gaines, the son of founder Max, EC or Entertaining Comics were the foremost publishers of these new genres as well as being a source of inspiration for almost all underground 4 2 In writing of the cultural position of Gould's strip in the fifties, Thomas Crow argues that i t " had become an unwitting parody of the aggressively masculine, conformist, and technology-obsessed Americanism of the Cold War era," (Thomas Crow. The Rise of the Sixties. New York N Y : Harry N. . Abramslnc. 1996: 24). 4 3 Benton. The Illustrated History of Crime Comics: 47. 4 4 Ibid.: 62. 17 comic artists. They were also the primary targets of the senate investigations due both to their shocking content and, I would argue, to their embodiment of the domestic subversion so widely touted as menacing the well-being of the general populace. In the recombining of the gruesome with the familiar, EC's artists and writers frequently chose to locate their strips within the confines of the home and (with even greater frequency) within heterosexual domestic relationships. Formerly the publishers of illustrated bible stories and titled Educational Comics, EC's second incarnation invented the horror genre and their own brand of crime comic. The dominant comics company of the 1950s, Gaines used good pay and the lure of unprecedented artistic freedom to attract the cream of a new generation of cartoonists in artists such as A l Feldstein, Wally Wood, Johnny Craig, Jack Davis, John Severin and Wi l l Elder, and the books they produced set new standards for art and storytelling, but also for violence. In the November 1954 EC Crime Suspenstories Issue #21, a Johnny Craig story titled "Understudies" (Appendix A) exemplifies the new convention of crime's removal from the streets and insertion into the setting of the everyday. Craig opens with two side-by-side three-panel strips sketching out the unhappy marriages of our protagonists, Gail and Jim. After violent arguments, both flee their homes into the stormy night and meet by chance in an empty bar. Populated only by a balding and sinister bartender who hovers bored and watchful before a mirror like a demonic version of Manet's Bar at the Folies Bergeres, it is here the reader discovers the couple's previous romantic entanglement with each other. Typifying the exaggerated version of the crime genre as developed by E C , by the third panel at the top of page three and just minutes after reuniting, Jim informs us, "I've thought about it for months! It's simple! We can both work it the same way! I'll tell my wife I'm taking her on vacation. Then I'll ki l l her and bury her body in quicklime. You do the same with your husband. Then you and I wil l go away together!"45 The story quickly progresses to the act itself, depicted in a particularly lurid and gratuitous fashion by two parallel panels showing the errant spouses brutally terminating their erstwhile partners as their victims grovel and beg for mercy, (the murders, however, are presented as being justified- Jim's wife is an overweight alcoholic and Gail's husband is an unemployed spouse-abuser). While committing the act, 4 5 Johnny Craig. "Understudies." EC Comics: Crime Suspenstories. Issue #21. New York: L L Publishing Inc. November 1954. 18 Jim and Gail's facial expressions strongly reminiscent of the throes of sexual ecstasy and as Jim's knife descends and Gail fires a point-blank bullet, Craig seems to provide this graphic depiction as a titillating stand-in for the passionate reunion that will follow beyond the page. But any satisfaction gained by such nefarious means is short-lived. Posing as each other's now-dead spouse, Gail and Jim disappear to Europe where, in an effort to keep up the charade, they gradually morph into their murdered doppelgangers. As newly-obese Gail reaches for yet another scotch, Jim calls her a drunken slob and twists her arm on the final page. Completing the circle, and in the process delivering a incomprehensible yet seemingly moral message, they fall upon each other and commit murder a second time each. In another Craig story titled "Fire Trap!" (Appendix B), this time from 1953's August issue of Crime Suspenstories #20, these same themes of domestic treachery are communicated in a far more distinct moral light. Craig again centers on a couple, but this time it is Martin Simmons and his "newly acquired" wife. Marital tension is immediately apparent as, touring the grounds, Georgia Simmons asks to return to the house citing fatigue. To the pinch-faced irritation of his acquisition, Martin chuckles, "Ha, ha! Imagine a young thing like you getting tired! That's because you never had any fresh air, working in that chorus line! Ha, ha, ha! " 4 6 But, no matter. "Brother" B i l l quickly arrives on the scene, newly discharged from the army and ready to provide the kind of amusement for his "sister" that Martin cannot. After two years of sexual deception, Georgia declares the time as ripe and, heavily shadowed in a manner recalling Noir cinematography, she proposes, "When Martin returns, I'll lure him down to the stables, and lock him in the stall with that wild horse! Then I'll set the stable on f ire!" 4 7 True to EC form, the duped husband happens upon the lovers as they seal their pact with a kiss. His face paralyzed in a rictus of shock, Craig assigns Martin a jagged white halo of rage. Seemingly psychopathic, his natural reaction is to slaughter B i l l like a hog and bury him in the cellar. Then, still in possession of some faculty of self-preservation, Martin goes in search of his wife to finish the job. Deciding she must be in the stables (where all chorus girls are wont to congregate?), he enters a stall 4 6 Johnny Craig. "Fire Trap!" EC Comics: Crime Suspenstories. Issue #20. New York: L L Publishing Inc. August 1953. 4 7 Ibid. 19 containing a wild horse while Georgia locks him in and torches the bam to ensure his death. In a succinct summarizing panel at the bottom of page six, Craig images the pretend trauma of the new widow by sprawling her, semi-clothed and sexually posed like a bathing beauty, on the dirt in front of milling stable hands in an impossibly fake swoon. When questioned as to her alibi for Martin's time of death, Georgia insists to the police that she was in the wine cellar, which upon examination bears the fruit of Bi l l 's body and thus provides enough evidence to ensure her arrest for murder. Sweating and sobbing, Georgia clutches her face in horror as an invisible narrator seals her fat as 'trapped." Like Gail and Jim, she gets her 'just' desserts. In the implied equality between the flaws of Jim's and Gail's first partners, i.e. being overweight is apparently equivalent to Gail's husband's unemployed and spouse-abusing status, and in the sociopathic treachery of Georgia, the chorus girl turned gold-digging murderess and mastermind, evidence is provided of the tendency for EC crime titles to feature often misogynist story-lines of infidelity, betrayal, domestic violence and murder. While possessing an innovative quality of virulence and luridity, ultimately these strips only served to magnify the already existing mainstream comic tradition of side-stepping issues of what was conventionally considered obscenity by sublimating the sexual into the violent. Public concern with the content of the books was only magnified by the phenomenal popularity of the comics; crime comic books were introduced to the public in 1942 with horror books appearing in 1948 and the rise in popularity of both genres until their curtailment in 1954 clearly and chronologically echoed the increasing public attention given towards juvenile delinquency in postwar America. 4 8 From 1943 to 1945, U.S. publishers printed over a billion comic books and upwards of 60 million units sold per month in the U.S. in 1947, with their popularity continuing on unabated during the consumerist boom of the fifties.49 Indeed, shifting blame for domestic crises from internal to external sources was facilitated by the comics' popularity and targeting of youth markets as well as their accessibility and inexpensive cost. Together, 4 8 These notions are introduced and elaborated by Nyberg. (Nyberg. "Comic Book Censorship in the United States." Pulp Demons: 42.) 4 9 Lent. "The Comics Debate Internationally: Their Genesis, Issues, and Commonalities." Pulp Demons: 12. 20 these factors combined to ensure the genre was, according to Nyberg, "...the least regulated of all the mass media, making them particularly vulnerable to criticism." 5 0 Kefauver's Subcommittee hearings opened in Apri l 1954 and twenty-two witnesses were called, among them four experts on delinquency, four comic book publishers and several distributors. Those experts called in the defense of the comic publishers, psychiatrist Laureeta Bender and Gunnar Dybwad of the Child Study Association of America, were subsequently discredited by the prosecution for having provided paid consultancies to publishers. The supposed revelation left many of the accused feeling set-up and manipulated as this information had already been revealed in the pages of Wertham's Seduction. Despite this, the results of the senate hearings were inconclusive and likely so due to the committee's refusal to attribute delinquency to a single cause. The report resulting from the investigation stated: "No study was produced which linked crime comic book reading with juvenile crime; in fact, it appeared that juvenile delinquency actually declined during the years (1945-1950) that crime comic books were increasing in popularity."51 However, the report also expressed some trepidation about the possible effects of the medium on youth, stating, "...there may be detrimental and delinquency-producing effects upon both the emotionally disturbed and the emotionally normal child." 5 2 To avoid further public censure and government intervention, the Subcommittee urged the industry towards self-censorship, something which it had previously attempted on its own in 1948, but had always lacked teeth.53 This second attempt was embodied in code and was a hasty rewrite of the Motion Picture Association of America's code of the thirties adopted when the film industry faced similar pressure from the Catholic Church. Like that earlier code, this one too went beyond the censorship of sex and violence to ensure that comics would only reflect mainstream values. Within the category of "Code for Editorial Matter" and the rubric "General Standards Part A , " the following sampling of restrictions applied: 5 0 Nyberg. "Comic Censorship in the United States." Pulp Demons: 43. 5 1 Senate Investigation Report. Benton. The Illustrated History of Crime Comics: 78. 5 2 Ibid.: 83. 5 3 In Spring 1948, comic publishers announced the introduction of a six point code to be enforced by their recently formed trade association, the Association of American Comics Magazine Publishers. The code was intended to address criminal, racial, and sexual content in comics but was essentially unenforceable as only one third of publishers joined the association, and those that did threw little support behind the initiative. (Nyberg. "Comic Book Censorship in the United States." Pulp Demons: 46). 21 1) Crimes shall never be presented in such a way as to create sympathy for the criminal, to promote distrust of the forces of law and justice, or to inspire others with a desire to imitate criminals. 3) Policemen, judges, government officials and respected institutions shall never be presented in such a way as to create disrespect for established authority. 6) In every instance good shall triumph over evil and the criminal punished for his misdeeds.54 Under the heading of "General Standards Part B," the good-faith dismemberment of the horror genre is articulated: 1) No comic magazine shall use the word horror or terror in its title. 4) Inclusion of stories dealing with evil shall be used or shall be published only where the intent is to illustrate a moral issue and in no case shall evil be presented alluringly nor so as to injure the sensibilities of the reader. 5) Scenes dealing with, or instruments associated with walking dead, torture, vampires and vampirism, ghouls, cannibalism, and werewolfism are prohibited.55 In the restrictions concerning dialogue, the first stated "Profanity, obscenity, smut, vulgarity, or words or symbols which have acquired undesirable meanings are forbidden," while that concerning religion simply stated "Ridicule or attack on any religious or racial group is never permissible," without any further elaboration.56 Modesty was required in terms of female costume, but the list of directives concerning marriage and sex could serve as a template for the transgression of societal boundaries committed by Zap's artists some dozen years later: 1) Divorce shall not be treated humorously nor represented as desirable. 2) Illicit sex relations are neither to be hinted at nor portrayed. Violent love scenes as well as sexual abnormalities are unacceptable. 3) Respect for parents, the moral code, and for honourable behavior shall be fostered. A sympathetic understanding of the problems of love is not a license for morbid distortion. 4) The treatment of love-romance stories shall emphasize the value of the home and the sanctity of marriage. 5) Passion or romantic interest shall never be treated in such a way as to stimulate the lower or baser emotions. 6) Sex perversion or any inference to same is strictly forbidden.57 5 4 Appendix A : United States Codes. Pulp Demons: 269-270. 5 5 Ibid.: 270. 5 6 Ibid.: 271. 5 7 Ibid.: 271. 22 Perhaps the most damning section of the code was General Standards Part C; the phrase " A l l elements or techniques not specifically mentioned herein, but which are contrary to the spirit and intent of the Code, and are considered violations of good taste and decency, shall be prohibited" gave the administrators broad and sweeping powers to interpret comic content however they chose.58 Although Wertham was cleverly offered the new position of Commissioner of the Comic Book Code in an attempt to defuse his opposition to the medium, he refused to take the bait. The position was filled by Charles F. Murphy, a New York juvenile court judge whose Catholic faith was widely publicized. The modeling of the comic code on that of the motion picture industry as well as Murphy's religious inclinations (speculated by some to be the reason he was offered the position in the first place), were likely responsible for the inclusion of prohibitions against making light of divorce and directing humour against institutions, aspects of comic content which had rarely, i f ever, raised the public's ire before.5 9 Distributors were to serve as the Code's enforcement mechanism and crime comic content was seriously curtailed as were sexual and racial depictions, while horror comics were sacrificed entirely to show the seriousness of the comic publisher's intent. The involvement of comic publishers in the Code's day-to-day operations ceased in the 1970s and its stranglehold was further weakened by the shift in distribution bases from grocery stores and newsstands to specialty shops during the same period. Still, its adoption in 1954 led many publishers to fold while severely curtailing the repertoire of many others including EC. Gaines broke with the Comics Magazine Association of America and attempted to side-step the Code by releasing new versions of his horror and crime comics as lurid adult "picto-fiction" books employing photographs instead of drawn images. However, failing to capture the market share previously enjoyed by books directed at a wider and less specifically "mature" audience, this genre was eventually abandoned in order for the company to focus on Mad Magazine. Placed by Gaines under the stewardship of Harvey Kurtzman, Mad was helmed by an artist who originally made his mark editing EC's two war series, Two-Fisted Tales and Frontline Combat. 5 8 Ibid.: 270. 5 9 Lyle Stuart, a friend of Wertham's, says as much to him in a letter from November 3rd 1954: "Judge Murphy, as you may be aware, is a not very-bright political hack who was selected mostly because of his religious faith. Not surprisingly, his code reads like a Church code approved by Cardinal Spellman in that it avoids things that were rarely complained about in comics: humorous reference to divorce, any humour directed against 'institutions,' etc." (Gilbert. A Cycle of Outrage: 107). 23 Carefully researched and meticulously reported, the stories Kurtzman drew and demanded were ones in which, in the words of Gary Groth, he "...portrayed warfare as dirty, frightening, capricious, and absurd."6 0 Having existed since 1952 for a total of twenty-three issues as a comic book, Mad the comic and the magazine's use of political and social satire ensured its role as one of the main influences for comic artists. Particularly seminal for members of the underground comics movement, Mad was rescued by a change of format that allowed it to dart beneath the descending curtain of censorship. 6 0 Gary Groth. The New Comics. Ed. Gary Groth and Robert Fiore. New York N Y : Berkeley Books and Fantagraphics Books Inc. 1988: 26. 24 Chapter II: Down to the Underground In The Plague of Fantasies, Slavoj Zizek uses the example of Stalinist buildings of the 1930s to demonstrate the apparence of the ideological programme of certain structures through their architectural forms. In his case study, architectural functioning becomes subsumed by that of the political and its role diminishes to little more than a pedestal for monumental sculpture of the New Man, even i f such a verbalization was forbidden. Zizek writes: What we are thus arguing is not simply that ideology also permeates the alleged extra-ideological strata of everyday life, but that this materialization of ideology in external materiality reveals inherent antagonisms which the explicit formulation of ideology cannot afford to acknowledge...61 In the application of this template to my project, the code-approved comics of the fifties and sixties can be seen as analogous to Zizek's Stalinist architecture; mass culture is also monumental. Post-code, the comics in America were ostensibly elevated into a morally pristine, ideologically secure environment, and one from which various parallels can be traced to the Stalin-era Soviet Union of which Zizek writes. Both reveled in the remnants of Victory read as ideological, and both feared their win to be of such a fragile nature that constant reinforcement was the only means of its survival. Zap Comix then, in its widespread success up and out from its "underground" domain of origin, and through its gleeful transgression of every code prohibition and countless societal taboos, provides a materialization of this ideology and its inherent and unacknowledgeable antagonisms through its role as a crack in the edifice. The comics discussed here serve as well as to exemplify the notion laid forth in Zizek of ideology's reliance to some degree on a phantasmic background. It is this combination of critique and fantasy (and all the negative and positive connotations this multi-layered word implies) in Zap's earliest issues which I want to trace throughout the length of this paper. This mix is summarized and symbolized by the parodic representations of Code-approval logos, (shorthand for the monolithic facade of fifties American culture and its repression of a once-burgeoning medium), which appear on the covers of issues #1 and #2: the first reads "Approved by the Ghost Writers in the Sky" and the second "Approved by 25 'United Geeks of America'" (Figs.4 and 5), thus impossibly attributing power of censorship to celestial beings and the 'geeks,' the alienated fanbase devoted to the very comics that were amputated by the Code. Fig. 4 Robert Crumb. Front cover of Zap Comix #1. (San Francisco C A : Last Gasp 1967) While Zizek pessimistically concludes that the inherent transgressions of which he writes ultimately only serve to reinforce the law, I believe that within this dimension exists space for negotiation and maneuverability and it is an articulation of such negotiations and maneuvers as performed by Zap Comix that I hope to accomplish here. Fig. 5 Robert Crumb. Front cover of Zap Comix #2 (San Francisco C A : Last Gasp 1968) 6 1 Zizek. The Plague of Fantasies: 4. 26 Zap Comix, created in 1967 and first drawn by Robert Crumb (its sole initial creator), became the first of the "undergrounds", or independently produced and distributed, adult-oriented non-Code comic books to achieve mass circulation and has since become a shorthand for the entire genre. As cartoonist Justin Green has argued, "to the uninitiated, all titles were called 'Zap" (and) the Zap artists became the established orthodoxy of renegade cartooning."62 Accommodating this boom in circulation for Zap and other subsequent books was the merchandising system already put in place to satiate the then fading demand for music and dance posters.63 Although certainly not the first underground comic book, (that honour is widely disputed but arguably assigned either to Austin artist Jaxon's 1964 oeuvre Godnose [Snot Real]) or to Frank Stack's Adventures of Jesus,M) Zap, as I hope to demonstrate in my project, is and was the most important. As comic artist and creator of the Bijou Funnies anthology Jay Lynch notes of the series' success, "it elated us that people would actually accept a thirty-two page all-comics magazine. Before Zap, adult comics were relegated to sections of non-comic publications in the tradition of Playboy's 'Little Annie Fanny' [by Harvey Kurtzman and Wi l l Elder] or Cavalier Magazine's 'Charlie Charisma' strip by Hank Hinton. 6 5 After abandoning both his job and his wife in Cleveland and having recently arrived penniless and still enmeshed in a drug-induced haze in San Francisco in January of 1967, Crumb drew the strips for the first two issues of Zap. Never to see it again, he then mailed the first to Brian Zahn, a fanzine associate and fellow comic artist who had offered to publish it in Yarrowstalks, the Philadelphia underground newspaper he edited.66 Fortunately, Crumb had made Xeroxes of the book, keeping the original copy of #2 for himself and mailing the duplicate of #1 to New York for a friend's perusal; Zap's existence thus began in California in a typically irregular fashion with #2 as #1. The printing was financed by the trade of a $300 tape recorder by Don Donahue of the Berkeley Barb to poet/artist/Beat character and printer Charles 6 2 Justin Green. The Life and Times of R. Crumb: Comments from Contemporaries. Ed. Monte Beauchamp. Northampton M A : Kitchen Sink Press 1998: 158. 6 3 Jaxon. The Life and Times of R. Crumb: 31. 6 4 Ibid.: 28. 6 5 Jay Lynch. The Life and Times ofR. Crumb: 15. 6 6 Don Donahue. The Life and Times ofR. Crumb: 9. 27 Plymell for a first run numbering 4,000 copies on his Multilith 1250 offset press.6 7 The cheaply produced newsprint interior and two-colour blue and orange cover proclaiming "Zap Comics are Squinky Comics!!" contained only work by Crumb and quickly became a desirable commodity for Bay Area denizens who purchased their copies from Crumb, his wife Dana (newly reunited with her errant spouse) and Donahue out of a baby buggy on the Haight.68 Zap #/'s second run occurred soon after, having been placed in the sole hands of Donahue and paid for by Moe Moscowitz on behalf of Don Schenker, owner of the Print Mint, a poster and head shop on Berkeley's Telegraph Avenue. 6 9 This rapid reprint bespeaks the book's enthusiastic initial reception, and assured the place of the original printing, recognizable only by a tiny "Printed by Charles Plymell" appearing on the back cover, as a valuable and extremely desirable collectible. The shoestring nature of any "underground" production dictated small-run limited editions and the fetishism this inspired as well as the obsessive knowledge of minutiae favoured by fans and entailed by these methods continues to be something of an ironic perversion when considering the DIY-ethos of Crumb's endeavor and the shunning of the commercial which in the future became a troublesome tenant of the underground movement. Once Crumb's photocopies were returned from the East Coast, his originally intended first issue was renumbered #0 and printed out of sequence as the third Zap. #0 and #1 are the only two issues of the series to function as monographs, and a large part of the content of both can be seen as marking a transition from the sweetly drawn and often light-hearted work Crumb was producing in the mid-sixties to the more transgressive and explicit material which came later. Perhaps best typifying this early cuteness, (which Crumb attributes to a virulent hangover caused by working on and off for almost five years as an illustrator at the American Greetings card company in Cleveland, Ohio, some of which was spent under the tutelage of Tom Wilson, the creator of the banal and saccharine Sunday paper staple Ziggy),10 are the ubiquitous "Keep on Truckin" image which makes its first appearance in #1 (Fig. 6) and "Meatball," the first strip in #0 (Appendix C). 6 7 Robert Crumb. "I Drew the First Two Issues of Zap Comix in Late 1967!" TheR. Crumb Coffeetable Art Book: Crumb's Whole Career, from Shack to Chateau! (Hardcover: New York N Y : Little, Brown and Co. 1997) New York N Y : Back Bay Books 1998: 85. 6 8 Donahue. The Life and Times ofR. Crumb: 10. 6 9 Ibid.: 10. 28 In a nonsensical parody of religious enlightenment, or perhaps the spiritual "awakenings" of Crumb's San Franciscan Hippie neighbours, the barely distinguishable meatball falls from the sky in a variety of situations to hit a cast of two-dimensional (literally and metaphorically) stereotypes on the head and "change" their lives forever. In a joyful parade of panels linked by a bouncing ball of beef, meatball descends on cartoonish suburbanites (the mother of one such family, in a quotation of the false modesty of TRUCKIW'O" DOW*} THE JL'We — 1 SAtt> KCef* oti TAUtKN'. Fig. 6 Robert Crumb. "Keep On Truckin'". Zap Comix #1. (San Francisco C A : Last Gasp 1967) 7 0 Crumb. "When I Left Home M y Father Bought Me a Bus Ticket to Cleveland and Loaned Me $14." The R. Crumb Coffeetable Art Book. 41. 29 those blessed by the lottery, informs us: "I'm still just mom to the kids here!"), 7 1 a drug abusing beatnik, Bertrand Russell, K im Novak, and, on a smoggy Tuesday, all of downtown Los Angeles for fifteen minutes. But alongside these gentle strips were those that hinted at the boundary-pushing potential of the future; the bad thoughts of racism, sexism and violence are called to mind by the first appearances of stock characters Whiteman, Angelfood McSpade, and Wildman Sam. The job of printing Zap #2, a 52-page book featuring Crumb's work alongside that of star San Francisco poster artists Victor Moscoso and Rick Griffin as well as Kansas ex-patriate and cartoon poraographer S. Clay Wilson, was again given to Donahue but quickly pulled when the volume and speed required made its rapid completion by him alone a hopeless task.72 Due to demand generated by word of mouth and reviews in underground papers and ersatz youth-culture magazines, Zap's duplication then became the domain of a contracted downtown printer, something that added to the book's forays 'above ground'. The cast of characters grew by two for issue #3 with the addition of Gilbert Shelton, a Texan and the popular creator of druggie heroes the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, and Spain Rodriguez, an ex-biker from New York and a fan of both politics and violence. Zap #4 saw the inclusion of the last of the permanent roster of artists and a dramatic shift in terms of both content and reception. With the introduction of newcomer Robert Williams, a Los Angeles-based oil painter, an important member of the Southern California Kustom Kulture 'scene' and the former art director for custom car legend and Ratfink creator Ed 'Big Daddy' Roth, 7 3 Zap was now clearly divided in half. The work of Wilson, Shelton, Rodriguez, and Crumb was characterized by a focus on narrative, with Moscoso, Griffin and Williams taking up the other, graphic or 'slick' style. I have chosen to focus on Crumb and Williams as representatives of their respective halves in the interest of brevity, but also due to their enduring success and continuing relevance both in the worlds of cartooning and high art. 7 1 Crumb. "Meatball." Zap Comix #0. San Francisco C A : Last Gasp 1967. 7 2 Donahue. The Life and Times of R. Crumb: 11. 7 3 C R . Stecyk. "Origins of a Sub-Species." Kustom Kulture: Von Dutch, Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, Robert Williams & Others. Laguna Beach C A : Laguna Art Museum 1993: 35. 30 Mystical Enthusiasms Although Zap's artists, particularly Crumb and Williams, did not see themselves as belonging to either the Flower Power or Leftist spectrums of contemporary youth culture, all embraced the alternate ways of seeing which grew arborescently from the roots of the psychedelic drug culture; Williams asserts, "I was taking drugs long before there was a psychedelic movement and I watched that thing evolve," 7 4 while Crumb admits freely "...all that stuff from the late '60s was inspired by L S D . " 7 5 After dropping a bad hit in New York in 1965, Crumb entered a state of delirium lasting several months and necessitating a retreat to Chicago under the supervision of childhood friend Marty Pahls.7 6 This psychological trauma proved to spark a period of intense creativity during which many of Crumb's dominant characters were developed, including Flakey Foont, Mr. Natural Schuman the Human, and the Snoids, a Huxleyan subspecies of tiny and indistinguishable creatures who dwelled beneath the surface of the earth, setting traps and waiting for unsuspecting passer-bys. In a mid-eighties interview, Crumb recalled, It was a state of grace in a way. I couldn't talk. Whenever I was riding a bus or sitting around my mind would just start to drift into this uncontrollable state. I would see ladies dancing, electronic figures in my brain, with no control over it. It was kind of a delirium , but it was visionary and it was kind of nice. 7 7 Drug usage or the referencing of it are also clearly evident in much of Williams' earlier work. In the dizzying chromed patterning of his "Beamin' Gleamer as ' A Flash in the Pan ' " centerfold from issue 6 (Fig.7), the viewer is barely able to distinguish the subject matter through the blaze of light off invented metallic surfaces. In the right hand corner, a headless man clutches a nude woman and chokes his own neck with onanistic vigour while in the center a small stock character recalling Williams' bug-like alter-ego Coochy Cooty is carved up by a round pipe-smoking woman who seems to have stepped from the pages of the brothers Grimm into this new and shiny dimension. 7 4 Williams. Interview of December 21,1999. 7 5 Crumb. The New Comics: 44. 7 6 Crumb. "Starting in the Mid-Sixties I Would Spin Out A l l Kinds of Ideas for Cartoons in Sketchbooks!" TheR. Crumb Coffeetable Art Book 77. 7 7 Ibid.: 45. 31 Affirming a psychedelic interpretation, the artist signed the pages 'Hieronymus Bob ' and reiterated this same bent with the cosmic-wow "Model of the Universe Cut-Out" included in his solo 1970 book Coochy Cooty Men's Comics No. J (Fig. 8). A mobusphere illustrating the positive curve geometric theory, this work also appears engineered to be 'trippy.' Fig) 7 Robert Williams. "Beamin' Gleamer as ' A Flash in the Pan. '" Zap Comix #6. (San Francisco C A : Last Gasp 1967 However, for Griffin and Moscoso, the Zap artists who had come out of San Francisco's obviously drug-oriented psychedelic poster industry, the pharmaceutical filter applied to their work was often so dense as to create a leveling effect from which little meaning could escape. In the issues defining the parameters of my topic, the work of both artists drifts aimlessly amongst the eyeballs, pyramids and Disney-esque characters which typified the ersatz Surrealism of psychedelia. I am struck by the homogeneity of these psychedelic wallowings as their stock nature often blends them to the point where distinguishing authorship can be a matter for the connoisseur as in the surprisingly continuous side-by-side Mickey Mouse strips from issue #2 (Appendixes D and E). In these comics, Mickey, his body separating 32 and colliding, marches past the stars, hearts, and empty speech balloons populating Griffin's background and into the pyramid-filled desert of Moscoso's with nary a pause in between. Underground comic chronicler Mark Estren's 1974 description of Moscoso's work posits it, and rightly I believe, as "...always purely visual, and often seem(ing) like a series of posters reduced to comic-book size for no particular reason,"7 8 while viewing Griffin's work as similar but with an additional quality of mysticism. This mysticism became amplified with the addition of religion and surfing to drug use, further expanding Griffin's already broad consciousness and further severing his depictions from what revisionist Freudian psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan has defined as the traumatic dimension of the unmediated phenomena existing at the root of what he called the Real. Moscoso's later work from the mid-seventies on emerged from the murk of psychotropic influence and increased in cogency, eventually coming together in a manner reminiscent of the disjointed narration spun throughout the absinthe-laced dreamscape of Winsor McCay's turn-of-the-century Little Nemo in Slumberland and of the inspired circularity of George Harriman's 1913-1944 Krazy Kat. However, Moscoso, Griffin, Shelton and Rodriguez wil l be touched on only briefly for the purposes of this project, with the latter two's inclusion curtailed by the infrequency of their strips' appearances in the issues from the period in question. Pushing at the Margins: An Introduction to Crumb and Williams As the subject of a 1995 eponymously titled film 'presented' by David Lynch and directed by longtime friend Terry Zwigoff, Crumb, the perpetual outsider, and his familial surroundings are depicted amongst the apocalyptic rubble of an implosion of the fifties' nuclear unit. And so, reviewer Michael Eaton writes in Sight and Sound, "...we are taken into the heart of the Crumb family, a lower-middle-class American Gothic milieu with none of the Addams' family's saving aristocratic graces."7 9 The film won the 1995 Grand Jury prize at Sundance and in the process garnered much critical acclaim and a measure of financial success (as well as a U.S. distributor) despite its snubbing at the Oscars. 7 8 Mark James Estren. A History of Underground Comics. Berkeley C A : Straight Arrow Press 1974: 75-77. 7 9 Michael Eaton. "Drawing it Out." Sight and Sound. July 1995: 34. 33 NIIUEL 0FIHEUN1V1-USE CUT4KJT THIS SIMPUE PUZZLE PARTIALLY JLLUSTRATE.S THE "POSITIVE CUftWC THEQWT OF THE UNNEKE. UNWERSC' MEANS EVEWTWN& AU. WTERfiEWBff lSfW BETWEEN /WTEft DOESN'T EXBt STCEtSONLYONIllMW^WS PUZZIE YOU PW BE ABLE TO V#5UflLIZt THE ENURE UNIVERSE AS A BUBBLE OF MATTER IN WHICH THE INSIDE IS THE OUTSIDE AND THERE IS NO CENTER/ 3 1.THE FICFlflWER SHAPED DISCS RHM5ENT KALF SHEWS- OWNUY CUT OUT PUZZIE.THCH TAPE TOGETHER EDGE 'A'TOEDGEWIftGNE HALF TURN, rWIWAtiQUUSBAND. & HOW FOLD DISC W11M EDGE iff AGAINST DISC WITH FJDGE'ft FOAMING TWO S W S OF DISCS, WITH TWO IN Offi STACK AND THAEE IN THE OMR. a NOW raft TWO CUP SHAPE FACING TUWRD EACH cran CLOSE TO-GETHER m YOU HAVE A /W56WSPHFJIE.™ THE SPHERE IS CLOSED M AVE DISCS IrWT TOUCH EACH OTHER CAUSE THE flfiBJUS ACTION TO ACT IN ANY DffiRTJQN. ^ s s \ ^ ... . . . v , , v i ^ ^ Fig. 8 Robert Crumb. "Model of the Universe Cut-out (Mobusphere)." Coochy Cooty Men's Comics #1. (San Francisco C A : Last Gasp 1970) 34 Zwigoff s film introduces the audience to the looming specter of Charles Crumb senior, an ex-Marine who served in Japan and China (where his youngest son suspects he committed atrocities).80 Later an administrator for Automatic Retailers of America, a company which supplied automat cafeterias with their vending machines, pater Crumb was also the author of the tome Training People Effectively and an assailant of children.8 1 Beatrice Crumb, Robert's mother, also appears, a ghost herself but still living; once a diet-pill crazed housewife whose amphetamine-fueled outbursts led to periods of hospitalization, now she is an agoraphobe living behind shrouded windows and swaddled in medication. Although the Crumb family's two daughters declined to participate, (Sandra, a feminist 'separatist' has repeatedly attempted to extract a $400 monthly stipend from the artist for "crimes against women"),8 2 we do meet the two other sons. Eldest scion Charles goaded his siblings into reading and producing endless comics although his own creative production gradually shifted in mid-adolescence into increasingly abstract territories only to become sublimated into hermetic graphomania. In a compelling sequence, the audience is presented with an example of such work, a sight which shockingly recalls the "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" scene from Kubrick's The Shining. Charles' descent into mental illness transformed his existence into that of a heavily drugged and suicidal shut-in who ended his life one year after filming was completed. The other, youngest son, Maxon, is a San Francisco transient and sometime molester who has taken to laying on beds of nails and passing lengths of string through his digestive tract. Suddenly, Robert Crumb appears well-adjusted. The increased public scrutiny brought about by the film's enthusiastic reception and its subsequent wide-spread distribution caused Crumb immense dismay in the switch of his position from observer to observed and he went so far as to produce a cartoon for The New Yorker which portrayed Zwigoff as a balding puppetmaster and himself and wife Aline as hapless marionettes. However, Zwigoff countered, "ultimately, the truth of the situation seemed to be that he likes to control the way his honest, 8 0 Bob Levin. "Alone in the Western World: The Saga of Maxon Crumb." The Comics Journal §217. November 1999: 78. 8 1 In the film, Robert Crumb casually recalls having his collarbone broken by his father at the age of five. 8 2 Roger Ebert. The Life and Times ofR. Crumb: 106. 35 frank portrayal of himself is done, through his own work." 8 3 Fortunately for the artist, his status at the apex of past and present underground cartoonists and as an incisive pop satirist provided an avenue of freedom through an ex-patriate exodus from America towards the relatively unencumbered European anonymity practiced by some of his jazz-age heroes. Crumb was able to trade six of his sketchbooks (subsequently issued as lavish collector's editions by a German publishing house) for a home in the south of France, allowing himself and his family to escape the mounting claustrophobia of Northern California. Calling to mind the permanence of Crumb's kinetic pirouettes through the American cultural landscape, Josh Alan Friedman, author of Tales of Times Square, writes, "His images are like statues in my memory...."84 Indeed, Crumb has inscribed them deeply as an unparalleled draftsman and a pioneer of the medium as an environment for personal confession, the apotheosis of which was attained by the likes of Justin Green's 1972 Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary and Art Spiegelman's Maus, the best-selling 1986 funny-animal holocaust tale and winner of the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for literature. Robert Williams has marked out his extra-Zap success largely by his early 1980s transition through punk rock into the lucrative and mostly segregated environs of "lowbrow art," a Los Angeles-based movement rooted in the consumer and cultural decadence which accompanied the rise of the American leisure class in the 1950s. Having developed an alternate network of galleries, collectors, and journals, one such publication, the outsider art magazine Juxtapoz, co-founded in 1993 by Williams and his wife Suzanne among others, has now become the second largest art publication in the United States.85 As well, Williams has cultivated a substantial (and well-publicized) list of so-called 'alpha-buyers' including Nicolas Cage, Dennis Hopper, Leonardo DiCaprio, Johnny Depp and Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chil i Peppers as well as critical and public support from super-curator Walter Hopps. 8 6 Stemming from the frenetic visuality engendered by EC comics, 1950s monster and science-fiction movies, and the fiercely performative and nihilistic heterosexuality of the Southern California punk rock scene of the late 1970s and early 1980s, Williams' contemporaneous work was produced in an 8 3 Chris Pizello. "Peeking Through Crumb's Keyhole." American Cinematographer. July 1995: 24. 8 4 Josh Alan Friedman. The Life and Times ofR. Crumb: 7. 8 5 Peter Gilstrap. "Ev i l Easel." New Times Los Angeles. March 26-April 1, 1998: 12. 8 6 This somewhat cryptic assignation of his clientbase into 'alpha' and 'beta' buyers was raised by Williams during our recorded interview of December 21, 1999. 36 Fig. 9 Robert Williams. Appetite For Destruction, oil and canvas, 15 x 28 inches, 1979. Reproduced in The Lowbrow Art of Robert Williams. (San Francisco C A : Last Gasp 1994: front cover) atmosphere he describes as being "like Berlin during the Weimar Republic." 8 7 Exhibiting a series of works titled "Zombie Mystery Paintings" beginning in 1982, Williams took the kind of violent, fetishistic cartoon imagery with which he had filled his strips in Zap to a new, luridly technicolor level. Artist and critic Ray Zone reiterates, "the paintings are a visual feast, a bombardment that offers the retina great delight while the mind stutters."88 8 7 Zan Dubin. "Shock Test: Robert Williams Tones Down the Wild and Vulgar Images as Time Goes On." Los Angeles Times. (Orange County Edition) Saturday February 28, 1998: 1. 8 8 Ray Zone. "Luminous Babble." Artweek. December 14, 1985: 12. 37 But this new attention, like Crumb's post-documentary success, thwarted Williams' flightpath below critical radar and engendered increased levels of public scrutiny; the 1989 use of one such painting, the 1979 Appetite for Destruction (Fig. 9), as an album cover for a then-barely known rock band named Guns N ' Roses attracted massive negative attention. In December 1999, Williams recalled, "First problem was stopping at the Canadian border with the material... Then next was the preachers and parent groups."8 9 The album became the topic of prolonged televised debates on M T V and the focus of protests and boycotts for feminist groups in the Bay area and nation-wide. The canvas depicts a partially nude female toy vendor, panties around her ankles, in the aftermath of a sexual assault perpetrated by the robot dressed in a soiled hat and coat that hovers above her. Descending on the robot offender is a creature seemingly fabricated from metal weaponry and bright red cartoon-flesh, hell-bent on vengeance. The album eventually shipped fourteen million units, with Williams' work acting as the cover for approximately half of the total number until critical pressure relegated it to the inside sleeve.9 0 The album added fuel to the fire for the eventually-successful push by conservative media and parents' groups to censor album lyrics and art and to legislate the labeling of all recorded music (vividly recalling the parental concern voiced over comics from the thirties onward), and was perhaps matched only by Ice-T's controversial song "Cop Kil ler" in terms of public outcry against youth-oriented culture of that decade. Williams' painted pieces have been exhibited at numerous commercial galleries and within several institutional exhibitions. Perhaps most important were his well-received first solo show in Southern California at the Huntington Beach Art Center in 1998, and a notorious inclusion, specifically a canvas titled Oscar Wilde in Leadville, April 13th, 1882 (Fig. 10), within the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art's 1992 Helter Skelter: LA Art in the 1990s exhibition. Gruesomely titled, it was clear that the show, which inaugurated Paul Schimmel's curatorial tenure, referred not so much to the Beatles' song of the same name but rather to the Manson family's mass murder of a pregnant Sharon Tate and her guests during which lyrics from the song were scrawled in blood on the walls. 8 9 Williams. Interview of December 21, 1999. 9 0 Ibid. 38 Fig. 10 Robert Williams. Oscar Wilde in Leadville, April 13'\ 1882, oil on canvas, 49.5 x 96 inches, 1991. Reproduced in Views From a Tortured Libido. (San Francisco C A : Last Gasp 1993:31) The majority of the negative response directed towards Williams in this particular instance stemmed not so much from the painting's highly polished visual content but rather from the artist's penchant for providing triple titles for his work and so a careful reading of content wil l not be given here. In this case, the canvas was given the "scholastic designation" of "Culture, Unlike War, Moves in a Breeze and Not A Gale, This With Its Slight Persistent Force has Made A 19th Century Playwright and Sodomite The Messenger of Art To Cretins And is Destined To Be the Doomed Nut In A Three Dollar Fruit Cake," and the "remedial title" of " A Fairy's Kiss For a Syphilitic Li ly Sniffer." Spread across the canvas in a comics-like narrative, Williams drew his subject matter from an anecdote he had discovered concerning Wilde's undertaking of a 1882 lecture tour of the United States during which time he was invited by a mine-owner in Denver to travel to Leadville to deliver a talk to his employees. Seeking to find commonality with the roughneck silver-mining inhabitants, Wilde chose as his topic the goldsmith Cellini. Enthralled, his audience demanded to know Cellini's whereabouts, and, when informed that he was deceased, one miner leapt up out of his chair and, waving his pistol in the air, shouted 'Well, who shot him? I'll ki l l the son of a bitch!' and ran out into the night to do just that.91 9 1 C. R. Stecyk. Malicious Resplendence: The Paintings of Robert Williams. Ed. Gary Groth. Seattle WA: Fantagraphics Books 1998: 55-56. 39 However, the impetus to translate this anecdote into painted form came from a separate and unrepresented source. As a direct result of his involvement with Zap and Ed Roth, Williams asserted, "being hauled into court, being under surveillance, being wiretapped, being harassed and intimidated by Federal Agents, well, these are the things we went through."92 Perhaps as a response to this harassment, Williams was compelled to make the piece after he learned that in a bar the night before his lecture, Wilde observed a sign which stated "Don't shoot the piano player, he's the only one we've got."9 3 Wilde's comment to this, Williams appreciatively recounted, was that, "..it was the first time he had seen capital punishment meted out for bad art."94 A n exhibition of 16 Angeleno artists, Williams's presence at Helter Skelter put him in the company of Lyn Foulkes, Chris Burden, Mike Kelley, Raymond Pettibon and other high-art luminaries, but it was primarily he alone that received the undiluted ire of critics and the public. Schimmel's show was slammed by Art Issues's David Pagel as "silly," and as a clear sign of the need for reconciliation between the curator's "outsider fantasies" and the requirement of the city itself for an institution unencumbered by past histories to "...curate focused, present-oriented exhibitions," and not to hearken back to "...the bad old days of simpleminded defiance", as invoked by the show's title.95 With the exhibition in its entirety questioned as a reenactment of rebelliousness as adolescent fantasy instead of political symbolism and subjected to accusations of being "shrewdly marketed as 'potentially controversial,'"9 6 Williams' work did not fare much better, as he was widely touted as representing the nadir of the show. 9 7 Pagel argued, his "..comic-book-style paintings of auto wrecks and vengeful bimbos, vomiting monsters and dismembered poodles come somewhere between the horror of (Lynn) Foulkes' despair and the fake heroism of (Manuel) Ocampo's apocalyptic images."98 Conversely, Artspace reviewer Mario Cutajar positions Williams in an ambiguously positive manner as "in his own way... a genius of sorts, the inventor of an insanely coherent, paraphysical world in which as a matter of course toddlers are consumed as jerky Ibid.: 55. Ibid.: 56. Ibid.: 56. David Pagel. "Helter Skelter." Art Issues. May/June 1992: 32. Ralph Rugoff. "Helter Skelter and the Art of Our Times." LA Weekly. January 31-February 6, 1992: 19. Williams. Interview of December 21, 1999. Pagel. "Helter Skelter": 32. 40 (shades of Swift?) and the tooth fairy is a 'beatnik bitch...after your calcium.'" 9 9 But vague approval in a small local publication went unheard amidst the cacophony of dissent. Supposedly animated by the resurrected spirit of 1960s idealism which perished the night of the Manson family murders, the show responded perhaps more specifically to the decades of conservatism that followed the excesses of the sixties and art's subsequent retreat from the happening center to a more peripheral cultural impact. Helter Skelter made an enormous impression within Los Angeles' hub of communities and drew the largest crowds in M O C A ' s history as well as necessitating the presence of the L A P D riot squad on opening night.1 0 0 The focusing of enormous media scrutiny on the exhibition and the packaging of its content as potentially controversial piqued the protest of many gay- and feminist-oriented anti-defamation groups, including P.I.G.S, or Politically Involved Girlfriends, who assisted in the organization of protests and printed pamphlets for distribution, of which the following is an excerpt: We protest the token inclusion of a few women artists fewer artists of color and very few queer artists. Why are so many canvases by Robert Williams an artist notorious for his homophobic racist and sexist images? Says Schimmel "I'm interested in art that's going to be right in your face. I was also looking for more that had a storyline narrative. You don't have to be an intellectual or an art historian or an art buff to understand this show, this is not art about art. It is workyou can feel and understand. There's a person behind it. It's a real humanist rind of art. Would Schimmel please tell us what the story of Robert William's [sic] painting A Fairy's Kiss for a Syphillitic Lily-Sniffer is? Who is the person behind it— a real humanist kind of artist? Do 'we' 'feel' and 'understand' this work in the same way? The wordy title of Williams [sic] painting spells out his homophobia in case the image the image were not enough: Oscar his [sic] called a 'sodomite' 'the doomed nut in a three dollar fruitcake' and a syphilitic lily sniffer. The last phrase collapses Wilde's queerness into a disease, as i f queerness and sickness were somehow one and the same. This is not a call for censorship."" Similarly but less virulently, Crumb did not escape unscathed in the eighties and nineties, despite having achieved such trappings of mainstream success as a 1985 profile in the sycophantic weekly magazine People. As recently as 1995, copies of Crumb's book My Troubles With Women were seized by British officials at London's Heathrow airport and in 1992 two copies of Zap #7 featuring the work of all Mario Cutajar. "Gimme Shelter: Helter Skelter at M O C A . " Artspace. May/June 1992: 78. 'Gilstrap. "Evi l Easel": 12. ' P.I.G.S., as reprinted in: Stecyk. Malicious Resplendence: 54. 41 seven Zap artists were seized by Canada Customs at the Canada/U.S. border and determined to be prohibited. The seizure of the shipment destined for Ontario's Pages-The Other Bookstore was appealed, but, typically, all the materials were redetermined to be prohibited by a Tariff and Values Administrator and destroyed by the government, despite the fact that, as artist and anti-censorship activist Jacques Boivin points out, "since Canada Customs does not discriminate between manuscripts, original art and printed matter, the destruction of a copy of Zap #7... is tantamount to the destruction of its original art, should it cross the border."1 0 2 Not more than one year later, volumes 5, 6, 7, and 8 of The Complete Crumb Comics were seized en route to Montreal's Nebula Books, again by Canada Customs, and given the classification of "Sex with Violence", "Child Sex", "Incest" and "Bestiality". 1 0 3 The question that stands then is why is this material so dangerous that it merits seizure and destruction? One answer lies in the difficulty of the importation of potentially "obscene" materials into countries such as France, England, and Canada, which is worsened by the lack of first amendment guarantees concerning freedom of expression. However, this observation provides only a partial explanation and the limits of first amendment protection in regards to censorship and obscenity were also tested in the United States, albeit some decades earlier. Zap on Trial Zap #4 was removed from circulation almost as soon as it was published in August 1969 and seizures and obscenity busts occurred on both coasts due mostly to the explicit sexual material contained within its pages. As Williams recalled in his 1999 monograph Malicious Resplendence, We decided to severely test the norm with this issue and to actually attempt to produce the most extremely disgusting periodical imaginable. We really intended to push peoples buttons. The moral climate in this country was entirely different then. The most extreme thing you could find of a sexual nature was Playboy and it was real 1 0 2 Boivin, Jacques. Press release: "Communique: Zap 7 Destroyed." 1994: 1. 1 0 3 Letter of November 11, 1993 circulated to all bookselling associates by Anne M . Griepenberg of the Inland Book Company, East Haven CT. 1 0 4 Stecyk. Malicious Resplendence: 21. 42 Bookended by Moscoso's cover of "Mr. Peanut" (Fig. 11), a psychedelic take on the Planter's advertising icon and "Mr. Penis" (Fig. 12), his equally tuberous partner, the issue's content was viewed in such an extreme fashion by agents of law enforcement that, although the charges in California (including those laid against Lawrence Ferlinghetti and his City Lights Bookstore and Moe Moscowitz's Moe 's) 1 0 5 were quickly dropped, the obscenity trial of Zap in New York City was played out in the press with the dignity and plausibility of a French Restoration farce. Prosecutor Richard Beckler made no argument and presented no witnesses, choosing instead to spend the bulk of his cross-examinations grilling defense witness about a single Crumb strip. This lack of evidence combined with hours of discussion surrounding Crumb's incest comic "Joe Blow" was enough for Judge Joel Tyler to confound the defense's assertions of a "redeeming social value" by proclaiming Zap to be "...ugly, cheap, and degrading,"106 despite the social relevance illustrated by Crumb's and Wilson's then-recent inclusion in a show at the Whitney Museum of American Art titled Human Concern and Personal Torment: The Grotesque in American Art. Tyler's decision for the prosecution was maintained on appeal, and in his anti-intellectual Fig. 11 Victor Moscoso. "Mr. Peanut (front . ruled cover)." Zap Comix #4. Berkeley CA: Last J ' Gasp 1969 In the final analysis the court must be the expert in assessing what is the dominant theme, prurient interest, community standards, redeeming social value and the like... Merely because the magazine in question appeals to the prurient interest of the sophisticated or other small group of intellectuals does not remove it from the prohibition [against obscenity]. To do so would permit the substitution of the opinions of the defendants' sophisticated and intellectual experts for those of the average person in the contemporary community... Its purpose is to stimulate erotic responses, and it does not, as claimed, deal with basic realities of life. It is grossly shocking- demeaning the sexual Sundog. "Zap Zapped." Berkeley Tribe. Jan. 16-23, 1970: 11. Estren. A History of Underground Comics: 222. 43 experience by perverting it... it is a part of the underworld [sic] press-the growing world of deceit in sex, and it is not reality or honesty, as they often claim it to be. It represents an emotional incapacity to view sex as a basis for establishing genuine human relationships, or as a normal part of the human condition.107 In March 1973, the Court of Appeals rejected amicus curiae briefs filed by the Association of American Publishers and the New York Civil Liberties Union and affirmed the original conviction by a vote of four to three. This rejection served to lend credence to Tyler's assertion that a comic like Zap #4 "...contains its own antidote and eventually becomes a repetitious bore-but, unfortunately, by that time it has rendered its victims shock-proof, jaded and permissive to the point of indifference toward moral values and tolerable behaviour."'08 But despite the subsequent proliferation of comics of a similar ilk and the returning of the power of obscenity determination to communities by the Supreme Court, no other major case of this type was ever prosecuted. Many in the underground comic movement felt the New York case to be a show trial, a "bust on the counter-culture," but I would support this assumption with a more nuanced reading of the importance of this particular title's having been singled out for prosecution (or persecution, as it were). Comics of a far more explicit and exclusively pornographic nature such as Crumb's own Snatch, and Jiz and Rory Hayes's Cunt were Fig. 12 "Mr. Penis (back cover)." Zap Comix produced at the same time. Crumb's first issue of Snatch #4. Berkeley CA: Last Gasp 1969) featured a lewd centerfold titled "The Grand Opening of the Great Intercontinental Fuck-In and Orgy Riot" whose aggressively excessive nature was unmatched by any of his submissions to Zap, but the answer behind the choice of singling out a series characterized by the inclusion of more varied material may lie in sheer numbers. These more explicit books were produced and sold covertly and in such small numbers that police seizure was close to impossible (let alone a full-1 0 7 Judge Joel Tyler, as cited in: Stecyk. Malicious Resplendence: 21-22. 1 0 8 Estren. A History of Underground Comics: 235. 44 blown trial) while Zap's nation-wide distribution made it a wider, more visible, and more politically astute target.109 Compounding this was Tyler's coveting of the mantel of anti-pornographic crusader, a desire echoed in his banning of the Linda Lovelace epic Deepthroat some three years later. Accompanying this reading of the trial as a futile attack on the nebulous category of non-mainstream culture, I feel much is to be gained from the positioning of Zaps #4, #5, and #6 as intersecting with larger cultural and societal issues concerning the deceptive and perverted representations of sexuality touched upon in Tyler's judgment. The insistence of the prosecution in obsessively fixating upon a single work comprising six pages out of a total of forty-seven is telling. Amidst strips by Crumb using racialized and racist tropes and ones by Wilson, Shelton, and Williams depicting rape, a comic using incest as a basis for a parodically distorted depiction of the American nuclear family and its values was deemed to possess the real potential for danger. Regardless of the date of Tyler's judgment or the functioning of the trial as a bust on the counter-culture or a moral crusade, the 1973 conviction has been reaffirmed again and again by the seizure and destruction of Zap titles and titles by Zap artists over the last thirty years, as well as by the vociferous protests mounted against Williams' painted work. The bodily interactions represented in Zap #4, particularly the incestuous relations with which the prosecution was so preoccupied, are not impossible imaginings but rather horrifying everyday occurrences then as now. The need to assert otherwise is one I will address in the third and final chapter of my text. Parameters of Time Although the Zap oeuvre now totals 15 books ranging in date from 1967 to 1999, by bracketing my project between the years of 1967 to 1973,1 have chosen to begin with the year of Zap's first issue and end with the year that marked the beginning of what I see as the descent from its zenith and its excision from the contemporary Zeitgeist. 1974 saw the effects of the newsprint shortage of 1973 and the appearance of a premature and purportedly comprehensive A History of Underground Comics that marked 1 0 9 Unsubstantiated rumours speculate that the bust and trial in New York might have been related to Zap's alienation of the Mafia due to its thwarting of the distribution stranglehold on sexually explicit materials maintained by the mob. 45 a decisive split in the movement. Authored by Mark James Estren, now senior vice-president and general manager of the Financial News Television Network, the book was produced by Straight Arrow Press, the publishing arm of Rolling Stone Magazine. With the concept launched at a "preview" party, it was at this lavish gathering that artists were approached and asked to sign releases permitting the free-of-charge reproduction of their artwork.110 The reaction towards the book by the underground community in general was mixed; as Jaxon recalled, It was welcomed by the artists (because of the recognition, i.e. the vanity factor) but was also resented by them (because of the big bucks that Estren and his Capitalist-pig-pretending-to-be-hip publisher would make off 'our' energy).111 But for others, the response was more clear-cut. Having had his Fritz the Cat character stolen by Ralph Bakshi cutting a deal with his former wife Dana, as well as enduring countless rip-offs of his "Keep On Truckin'" image only to have any claim to the copyright revoked by a California judge, Crumb was acutely aware of the potential for further intellectual property theft. He had no intention of signing a waiver and Straight Arrow cut him a separate deal allowing him royalties but also clearly marking out a tiered system to other artists.112 In a sense, this separation marked out the fragmentation of perceived notions of an underground comics community, something already begun with the 1969 publication of Crumb's Head Comix by Viking Press. The book was the first hard-cover anthology of underground comics ever produced and the first important collected work of American popular comic art to appear since George Harriman's Krazy Kat anthology of the 1940s."3 Around this same time, the shell-shocked hippie survivors of San Francisco's heyday were in full flight back to the land and the New Left had begun to blow apart at the seams due to disillusionment and increasing government repression and harassment. The bright possibilities opened in Europe by May '68 had dimmed, and, at home, Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger thwarted the antiwar movement by escalating violence in Viet Nam against the wishes of the majority of Americans. Adding to a mounting sense of despair was the fact, art historian Thomas Crow writes, that 1 1 0 Tom Veitch. The Life and Times ofR. Crumb: 132. 1 1 1 Jaxon. The Life and Times ofR. Crumb: 26. 1 1 2 Veitch. The Life and Times ofR. Crumb: 39. 1 1 3 Paul Buhle. "Comix." Kaleidoscope. July 4-17 1969: 10. 46 ...any remaining hopes that artists could provide magical forms of political resistance rested on a mistaken understanding of the position occupied by artists in the most intense years of the Civi l Rights and anti-war movements.'14 Still - the truth is out there, as it were, and Zap Comix and its artists, for reasons I hope to establish here, managed to embody some of the truths of their location in comics history and larger society through the gaps in representation dictated by the Fascistic nature of the comics Code. Zap stuffed these gaps to overflowing and it was this that made them such a danger. These same gaps are echoed also in the absence of studies done on Zap, with most of the discourse surrounding the publication having taken place within the closed environs of the amateur elite world of the fanzine, a genre which The Comics Journal publisher Gary Groth dismisses as "...little more than puff sheets reflecting the uncritical enthusiasm of their young, impassioned publishers.""5 The rare exception was and is Groth's publication, begun in 1976 and having as its consistent editorial imperatives: First, to discuss (and debate) the merits of particular comic artists as well as the artistic capacities of the medium itself, and second, to illuminate (and usually to oppose) the various social and business instrumentalities that made comics the medium it was- and prevented comics from becoming the medium it was not.1 1 6 Zapping High Art Zap did make limited incursions into the world of high art beginning as early as 1968 with a show at the Smithsonian curated by Walter Hopps, but Williams and Crumb deny an affinity with the works of other artists marked out by Hopps to the point of professing ignorance of the Coastal California scene in the sixties.1 1 7 However, Hopps' and Edward Kienholz's aggressively masculine exhibiting space, christened Ferus after the Latin fera, or wild beast, could be seen as providing an accompanying high-art pedigree of resistance by association for Zap's artists. 1 1 4 Crow. The Rise of the Sixties: 179. 1 1 5 Groth. "The Comics Journal and the New Comics." The New Comics: ix. 1 1 6 Ibid.:ix. 1 1 7 Walter Hopps. Telephone Conversation of December 19, 1999; Crumb. Letter of February 11, 2000; Williams. Interview of December 21, 1999. 47 The gallery's second show in 1957 centered on a controversial collection of combines by Wallace Berman, including a cross piece which prominently featured an image of intercourse and prompted several 'citizens complaints.' Berman's inspiration for his eclectic objects was apparently also germinated by the same muse as that of underground cartoonists. According to Thomas Crow, "the nature of the borrowings...exemplifies directly the mystical enthusiasms (frequently inspired by psychotropic drugs) that animated the developing counter-culture in California." 1 1 8 Paralleling the charges leveled against Allen Ginsburg for Howl just one year earlier and anticipating those laid against Zap M a dozen years later, Berman was eventually charged and convicted for obscenity by the same judge who had previously indicted Henry Miller's writing. Berman's crime was finally traced not to any visual object, but rather to the contents of his magazine Semina that also present within the exhibition space. Again like Zap's artists, Crow contends that the sixties fraternal order of Los Angeles artists, many of whom were represented by Hopps and the Ferus Gallery, "...largely turned its back on the counter-culture's romantic yearnings," although in the case of the cartoonists this was done though perversion and parodic distortion, while the 'Cool School' replaced, these yearnings with, in the words of Bil ly A l Bengston, "man-made things we see in harsh California light."" 9 Ultimately, Zap's penchant for political expression, however distorted or sublimated, could be linked to the greater general affinity for such symbolism in the Northern California art scene. Its practitioners were situated within one of the nation's major political loci and outside of the radius of influence created by the 1963 Hopps-organized Duchamp retrospective at the Pasadena Museum of Art (now the Norton Simon Museum) which so altered the course of Southern California art through its introduction of the revolutionary notion of the ready-made. Conversely, the beginning of the seventies also heralded a new era of the artworld as an environment for the sorts of social and ethical experimentation that had previously been the province of the Leftist cultural agenda. Amongst these new articulations, feminist issues in particular made striking forays into prominence in an attempt to redress the grievous imbalances that had occurred socially, politically, and artistically in the previous decade(s) through the ingrained chauvinism of a largely male leadership. 1 1 8 Crow. The Rise of the Sixties: 60. 1 1 9 Ibid.: 80. 48 With the artworld, and, increasingly, the world of alternative comics, acting as the stage for consciousness raising for the women's movement, as the 1970s went on Zap's lascivious and sexist humour became even less tolerable and relevant to many. 1 2 0 Perhaps most notorious for his obsessions with women of the callypigian variety and endlessly called upon to explain and/or defend himself, Crumb has gone so far as to produce a collection of work titled My Troubles With Women while Williams in particular has been and continues to be reviled for both his cartoons and his canvases. Williams freely admits, although he has now adjusted his views, that feminism "...knocked [him] for a loop...Fucking run wild. It was like a witch hunt and I was one of the prime targets."121 Zap's Displacement From the Centre In any case, while the work of all of Zap's artists shifted apace with their chronological progression, by 1973 those strips drawn by Crumb had begun to change more dramatically, both in content and location. Whereas earlier characters like Flakey Foont and Mr. Natural had always appeared deliberately cartoonish and two-dimensional regardless of the amount of personal attention lavished on them, the early and mid-seventies heralded the introduction of more realistically depicted and overtly political strips. Typical of this period's production are the misanthropic "Let's Talk Sense About This Here Modern America" of 1975 (Appendix F) and "That's Li fe" (Appendix G), a story from the same year which functioned as narrative portraiture of the kind of interwar black bluesman whom Crumb adores and collects obsessively. In "That's Li fe" and other musically-oriented strips produced in the same style, the stereotyped and objectified representations of blacks which has and had troubled so many of Crumb's readers in the past and present were done away with. Appearing in 1975's third issue of Arcade magazine and recounting the story of itinerant musician Tommy Grady, Crumb begins his strip with a domestic scene plucked from the past of Crystal Springs, Mississippi in the year 1931. We do not know whether Crumb presents us with 1 2 0 In particular I am thinking of the Women's building at Cal Arts under the leadership of Miriam Shapiro and Judy Chicago, and, in terms of the comics, the Trina Robbins-helmed Last Gasp publication Wimmen's Comix which produced seven issues between 1972 and 1979 before resuming regular publication in 1983. 1 2 1 Williams. Interview of December 21, 1999. 49 a factual or fictional account, but we learn on the second-to-last page that a recording Grady made is real, Crumb having purchased it while going door-to-door canvassing for old records in small southern towns. Grady's album was released by the Noble Record Company and sold only sixteen copies, and perhaps the lure of obscurity is what led Crumb to invent or report Grady's short and tragic rise and fall. Depicting clothing styles, automobiles and the urban and rural landscapes of the era with painstaking accuracy, Crumb sends Grady from his home and on a ride to Memphis with two friends who have been hired "to be on a rekkid." 1 2 2 After cutting four titles, Grady and his friends blow their gains on new suits, shoes, ties, hats, booze and women. This last indulgence proves to be the bluesman's downfall as he is done in by a pistol wielded by a jealous husband. No longer serving as tropes for the examination of white racism, here Crumb's black characters approach the compelling beauty of the reportage accomplished by the lurking nerd, that most careful observer, in his mid-sixties sketchbooks of Harlem and Bulgaria produced for Mad creator and personal hero Harvey Kurtzman's short-lived Help! Magazine (Figs. 13 and 14). But all of these lived elsewhere than the deliberate squalor of Zap. Fig. 13 Robert Crumb. "Harlem: A Sketchbook Report." Originally appeared in Help! No.22 1964. Reproduced in The R. Crumb Coffeetable Book: Crumb's Whole Career From Shack to Chateail (Hardcover: New York N Y : Little, Brown and Co. 1997. Softcover: New York N Y : Back Bay Books 1998) Crumb. "That's Life." Arcade #3. 1975. 50 Fig. 14 Robert Crumb. "Bulgaria: A Sketchbook Report." Portion unpublished in Help! 1965. Reproduced in The R. Crumb Coffeetable Book: Crumb's Whole Career From Shack to Chateatl (Hardcover: New York N Y : Little, Brown and Co. 1997. Softcover: New York N Y : Back Bay Books 1998) Contrasting with these breakthroughs were the negative rantings produced at the same time. "This Here Modern America," a laundry list of the artist's cultural complaints that appeared in the pages of Arcade #2 serves as an example. Crumb announces, "I hate all modern and popular music and I hate motorcycles...that's right kids, I'm just a crabby old kill-joy!" and brags of a professed hatred for "cowboys, rednecks and other white trash, their wives and kids," as well as "niggers and most black-type coons...pushy Jews...arrogant Italians...snotty WASPS, dum polacks and all other ethnic groups."1 2 3 In the radical new directions taken with his comic art, Crumb alienated, undoubtedly in a deliberate fashion, the "Keep On Truckin'" fanbase which had worshipped him like a rock star for a few fleeting years. His waning passion for Zap as a site of production diminished further as, "already by 1973, the seven of us were seen as 'The Establishment,' 'the grand old men' of underground comics, excluding all members from our club." 1 2 4 Crumb further lamented, "part of what I loved about the underground was its loose, wide-open experimental quality... Eventually it became a bone of contention between me and the Crumb. "Let's Talk Sense About This Here Modern America." Arcade #2. 1975. Crumb. "I Drew the First Two Issues of Zap Comix in 1967!" TheR. Crumb Coffeetable Art Boot. 85. 51 other artists," as Wilson and Moscoso kiboshed any suggestions of expanding the fraternal order beyond the 'magnificent seven.' 1 2 5 Craving the giggles induced by drugs and big-footed, small-headed characters directed by the artist to move to the rhythms of cultural death which he saw as constituting contemporary music, this old audience of cultural totem-seekers never heard a note. Misunderstanding these gentle images and failing to detect notes of social critique even in far less mundane images of racism and abnormal sex, these readers were unwilling to sit still and read the angry musings of an artist increasing disenchanted with the society he lived in, let alone the 'artier' and more inaccessible fare which accompanied it in these new magazines. It seems inevitable that the disillusionment endemic to Crumb's environment could not help but affect an artist who engages in social satire; as Alan Moore of Watchmen fame noted, Whereas once it had seemed possible that the Whitemen governing us might be redeemed by the power of sex, suddenly all that seemed to fall to pieces. Manson and Altamont happened, both faithfully mirrored in Crumb's 'Jumpin' Jack Flash.' Nixon happened and we all found ourselves in the Decade of the Snoid. 1 2 6 The location for "That's Li fe" and "This Here Modern America," Arcade was a serial anthology begun in the mid-seventies and co-founded by Crumb, Zippy the Pinhead creator B i l l Griffiths, and Maus auteur Art Spiegelman. In 1981 the splintered wreckage of its seven-issue life ended, its attempt as rallying point for underground cartoonists foiled, in Crumb's words, by Spiegelman and Griffiths being "too 'high strung' to keep the magazine going over the long haul." 1 2 7 Spiegelman went on to create the more avant-garde and graphically oriented Raw with partner Francoise Mouly, while Crumb's forum of choice changed once again, this time to Weirdo, a magazine of his own creation enduring twenty-seven issues and nine years. A monthly anthology which showcased the considerable talents of such art- and comic-world luminaries as Peter Bagge, Dori Seda, and Raymond Pettibon, Weirdo also featured, in Crumb's words, "..certified lunatics, primitives, psychopaths, artists who came and went and some who turned out to be the best of the younger generation , as well as some of the pioneers of the old underground."128 1 2 5 Ibid.: 85. 1 2 6 Alan Moore. The Life and Times of R. Crumb: 81. 1 2 7 Robert Crumb. "I Drew the First Two Issues of Zap Comix in Late 1967!" The R. Crumb Coffeetable Art Book. 85. 1 2 8 Ibid.: 85. 52 As Zap became less of a primary location for the development and exploration of new artistic directions, its issues, never beholden to the kind of rigid publishing deadlines as the 'overground press' and long an issue of frustration for Crumb, began to appear at increasingly infrequent intervals, with #7 arriving in 1974, #8 in 1975 and #9 in 1978, and #10 in 1982. Although the work of Moscoso, Rodriguez and Williams began to take a more central role in the book, that of Crumb dwindled to one or two minor strips, usually of the ilk of "What Gives?' from issue #8 (Appendix F), a dour take on the litany of wrongs perpetrated daily in American society from environmental degradation to hysterical women and accompanied by drawings deflated of their usual precision and lettering that appeared uncharacteristically sloppy and uneven. 53 Chapter III: Unwholesome Fantasies Aside from the potential to inspire general delinquency, among the litany of specific offenses attributed to pre-code comics by anti-comics crusaders and compiled by Mike Benton are a number of harmful effects on children: the inspiration of copycat crimes, the portrayal of law enforcement in a bad light, a desensitization towards violence and, most importantly I believe, the suggestion of criminal or sexually abnormal ideas and the stimulation of unwholesome fantasies.129 With the amputation of crime, horror, science-fiction and other banned and altered comics of the Golden Age came the closing off of an avenue of phantasmic exploration which had stimulated countless youths up until 1954 and the enactment of the Comics Code. Included among these countless others were all of those who participated in the underground comics movement of subsequent decades. According to McCloud in his 2000 book Reinventing Comics, compounding the curtailment of content under the code were "...frequent contentions that comics were an artistically bankrupt form and that children were its only possible audience."1 3 0 Crumb recalls "...buying comics in the early fifties and seeing month after month the quality of the artwork declining," stating, "by 1955-56, it was over." 1 3 1 Like others unable to imagine a future in this new limited environment, Crumb was forced to rethink his. He drifted westward after high school from Delaware to Cleveland where he dwelled in a artistic purgatory at the American Greetings card company, wearing his graduation suit to work everyday for two years before his drug-addled run to San Francisco and freedom.132 The function of the fantasy element in western society is not simply imaginary wish fulfillment, but also that which navigates the absurd, the grotesque, and the surreal, providing the co-ordinates for our desires. Containing a decisive psychological affinity with sexuality, fantasy is heralded by Frankfurt School and then Freudian philosopher Herbert Marcuse in his 1955 work Eros and Civilization as, 1 2 9 Benton. The Illustrated History of Crime Comics: 1A. 1 3 0 Scott McCloud. Reinventing Comics. New York N Y : Paradox Press (an imprint of D C Comics) 2000: 88. 1 3 1 Crumb. "I Consider the Best of the American Media of the Old Days To Be a Classical Education By Today's Standards!" TheR. Crumb Coffee Table Art Book: 23. 1 3 2 Robert Crumb. "When I left Home M y Father Bought Me a Bus Ticket to Cleveland and Loaned me $14." TheR. Crumb Coffee Table Art Boot 41. 54 play(ing) a most decisive function in the total mental structure: it links the deepest layers of the unconscious with the highest products of consciousness (art), the dream with the reality; it preserves the archetypes of the genus, the perpetual but repressed ideas of the collective and individual memory, the tabooed image of freedom.133 Split off from the new organization of the mental apparatus brought about by the individual's formation of subjecthood, fantasy retains a high degree of freedom from the repressive rule of the Ananke (or scarcity-driven Reality Principle). Even in the sphere of developed consciousness, Marcuse tells us, it is '"protected from cultural alterations' and stays committed to the pleasure principle." 1 3 4 Simply put, fantasy is our link to the unconscious, albeit one subject to distortion. It can also work as a support for the symbolic order, as in the case of the unacknowledgeable functioning of Zizek's buildings mentioned earlier, and akin to this instance, in fantasy's articulation it possesses the potential to behave as a phantasmic screen, separating desire from the drive by which it is created (and thus cutting it off from any potential fulfillment of such, i.e. jouissance). In serving to obfuscate the true horror of a situation, this screen, Zizek tells us, can "...conceal this horror, yet at the same time create what it purports to conceal, its 'repressed' point of reference."135 Yet, in current Lacanian psychoanalysis, fantasy cannot be reduced only to the notion of a scenario which masks the trauma of circumstance. Rather, it must be seen as functioning in a far more ambiguous fashion to provide a mediation between the domains of the formal symbolic structure and the positivity of objects we encounter within it. To quote Zizek, fantasy provides "...a 'schema' according to which certain positive objects in reality can function as objects of desire, filling in the empty places opened up by the formal symbolic structure."136 Fantasy, then, in a definition of utmost importance to the functioning of Zap Comix, can allow a society to exorcise hidden impulses in a seemingly innocent fashion and in that sense works like dreams, which for Freud were the distortion and displacement of everyday life in order to make social integration possible. 1 3 3 Marcuse. Eros and Civilization: 140-41. 1 3 4 Ibid.: 14. 1 3 5 Zizek. The Plague of Fantasies: 1. 1 3 6 Ibid.: 7. 55 From the Psychic to the Social Like Marcuse, I believe that Freudian psychological categories may be applied here in a sociological manner because they have become in this instance political categories. In the assertion "the return of the repressed makes up the tabooed and subterranean history of civilization," Marcuse posits psychoanalysis and its accompanying biological individualization as social psychology. 1 3 7 The first Zap publication at the end of 1967 locates it at the overture of a point of rupture and squarely within the growing and pervasive sense of alienation which infused late sixties youth culture. The real life war in Viet Nam came home with a sickening resonance in the revelation of the slaughter of unarmed women, children, and babies by Lieutenant Calley and his troops at M y Lai and in the bizarre domestic echoing of the war in Asia by the televised battle waged in the streets of Chicago as anti-war protesters were beaten and clubbed by the police during the Democratic convention. This irretrievable loss of innocence escalated during the period between the first and the sixth issues, deeply penetrated and fractured as it was by the horror of the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., the Manson Family murders, the Stonewall Riots, Altamont, Kent State, and in the election of Richard Nixon after which, as Alan Moore put it, "we all found ourselves in the Decade of the Snoid." 1 3 8 Indeed, Art History Ph.D. candidate Patricia Kelly contends concerning the period of Zap's inception, "...as Kennedy's 'New Frontier' gave way to Johnson's 'Great Society,' a society now fractured by the antiwar movement, student mobilization and urban violence, the rhetoric of freedom and democracy possible in the immediate postwar period could no longer be maintained."1 3 9 Although direct reference to contemporaneous political issues is almost completely absent in Zap, rare instances did occur. In 1968's issue #1, a small Crumb strip covering 1/8 of a page used the guise of the Viet Nam war and two animated walkie-talkies to make what was essentially a vintage burlesque joke (Fig. 15). Devoid of critique, the piece is of note due to its unique articulation the theatre in Southeast Asia's geographical name and in that sense functions as a clue to what lies behind Zap's screen; Marcuse. Eros and Civilization: 16. Moore. The Life and Times ofR. Crumb: 81. Kelly. Roundtable presentation: 2. 56 Walkie-Talkie #1: Hey! I thought you were in Vietnam! WT #2:1 was! WT #1:1 got court-marshaled and now I'm A W O L ! Boy am I in big trouble! Whew! WT #2: What'd you get court-marshaled for in the first place? WT #1: Man, I was sick of that shit! WT #1: So one day this lousy corporal ordered me to relay a message... WT #1: A n ' I tole 'im to go fuck himself! Har har! WT #2: Haw haw! 1 4 0 Fig. 15 Robert Crumb. "The Walkie Talkies." Zap Comix #1. (San Francisco C A : Last Gasp 1967 Far more incisive and overt is Gilbert Shelton's "Wonder Wart-Hog's Believe It or Leave It! You Don't Know How Good You Got It Here in America, Bub" strip from issue #5 (Appendix G). Shelton's satirical critique enumerates contentious American laws and policies couched in terms of foreign idiocy, i.e. "voodoo charms such as pieces of coloured cloth are required to be worshipped in some lands," 1 4 1 is made to stand in for calls to institute an anti-flag burning constitutional amendment. Most damning and most specific, however, is his final panel in which portraits of Melvin Laird, Richard Russell, Mendell Rivers, Strom Thurmond, John Stennis, and J. William Fulbright are carefully rendered singing the southern standard "Oh, I wish I was/ in de land ob cotten,/ old times dere/ is not forgotten..." beneath the caption "105 years ago the people of the Southern United States relinquished the use of violence, laid down their weapons, quit fighting the civil war, and today they control the nation legally!" 1 4 2 The appearance of strips by Zap's artists in underground papers such as the East Village Other and Kaleidoscope would no doubt have exposed them to clear political rhetoric, but I believe they, as Crow 1 4 0 Crumb. "Walkie-Talkies." Zap Comix #1. San Francisco C A : Last Gasp 1967. 1 4 1 Gilbert Shelton. "Wonder Wart-Hog's Believe It or Leave It! You Don't Know How Good You Got It Here in America." Zap Comix #5. Berkeley C A : Last Gasp 1970. 1 4 2 Ibid. 57 posits regarding Ed Kienholz's War Memorial (Fig. 16), "...had sense enough to realize that (they) could not match the searing photographs and video footage issuing from the conflict every day, images that were already doing their work to undermine public support for the war." 1 4 3 Fig. 16 Edward Kienholz. The Portable War Memorial, tableau: wood paneling, concrete tombstone TV set with engraved screen and remote control, sofa, furniture, ashtrays, flowers, TV Guide, pillows, paintings and wall clock, 120 x 144 x 168 inches, 1968. Reproduced in Kienholz: A Retrospective. (New York N Y : Whitney Museum of American Art 1996) In the contemporaneous realm of modern art from which the underground artists felt themselves to be irreconcilably alienated, socially engaged artists struggled with the search for a means of direct intervention at a time when the criticism of Clement Greenberg, while still seeing art production as a profoundly political process, decreed its separation from the overtly political as fundamental criteria. In the placing of the June 17, 1965 "End Your Silence" advertisement in The New York Times, five hundred artists and writers chose to 'speak out' against Viet Nam and to express a desire to 'once more have faith in the United States of America.' In a recent talk, Kelly points out, rightly I believe, that this desire for renewed faith in America spoke of a frustration with the murkiness of artistic vision in the 1960s under the waning stranglehold of the Greenbergian hangover.144 Like Zap's artists, the signers of "End Your Silence" recognized their 1 4 3 Crow. The Rise of the Sixties: 150-151. 1 4 4 Kelly. Roundtable presentation: 1. 58 inability, as Kelly puts it, "...to compete with the immediacy and directness of the mass media photograph" whether moving or still. However, unlike the independently produced and distributed medium of underground comics, high art practitioners had to negotiate the treacherous terrain of the institution, something which was increasingly seen as an instrument of the military-industrial complex and the war in Viet Nam. While artists such as Lawrence Wiener, Robert Smithson, Donald Judd and a host of others became interested in alternate vocabularies and languages, new possibilities and different modes of distribution as means to increase the visibility and influence of contemporary art, the artists involved in the underground comics movement were fortunate to have within their genre ready-made blueprints for the creation of an often narrative visual already entrenched within the potentiality of subversion, as firmly located as they were in an irreconcilable apartness from the larger artworld. From the Social to the Local Zap appeared amidst the brief Edenic flash that was the Summer of Love in the Haight, intersecting with both the zenith and the tail end of the doomed and fragile idealism that could not survive. The latter had no defense against what Crumb called in a letter of February 11, 2000 "...the invasion of [the Haight's] enclaves by a 'coarser' variety of long-haired drug-using youths, who had no ideals at all, but wanted in on all the dope and free love." 1 4 5 John Thompson, a cartoonist for The Berkeley Barb reiterates this sense of collapse in a recollection of San Francisco after the February 1968 assassination of Dr. King: Thus began the bleakest four months of my life. For the past three years my friends and I had been idealistically committed to struggling with the crucial social issues of the day. Our optimism peaked during 1967's 'Summer of Love'... the further we got from that idyllic summer, the more violent things seemed.146 Zap's issues produced in the context of this post-idyllic hippie dystopia then became a forum for the expression of personal and cultural decadence in the face of a world seemingly gone mad, an exorcism of tortured libidos and a materialization of the inherent antagonisms within the ideology of a society in the throes of immense change. 1 4 5 Crumb. Letter of February 11, 2000. 1 4 6 John Thompson. The Life and Times ofR. Crumb: 59-60. 59 The Beats, Guy Debord's mystical cretins, transmitted their sensibility to their true heirs, the hippies, and to their some-time pretenders, the radicals of the new left, in this same locale. Zap was embraced by San Francisco's hippie population with the fervor of the newly converted, albeit appealing more to what Crumb refers to as "the hard-drinking, hard-fucking end of the Hippie spectrum as opposed to the spiritual, Eastern-religious, lighter-than-air type of Hippie." 1 4 7 The left, however, saw relevance for only a short period of time; negative murmurings had arisen in the underground press as early as 1971. 1 4 8 Still, for a time, Zap's creative fraternity, and Crumb in particular, attained unheard of stature for artists working in a medium founded on a tradition of anonymity. Recounting the hysterical reaction to Janis Joplin's announcement at the Fillmore Ballroom East that Big Brother and the Holding Company's new album cover was illustrated by R. Crumb, Steven Heller, current art director for The New York Times Magazine recalled, As it flashed on the huge screen behind her, the audience went wild. In those days Crumb was as big as the biggest rock star. Fritz the Cat, Mr. Natural, and Keep On Truckin' had earned him icon status- they were emblems of youth culture.149 Although refusing to subscribe to the culture that celebrated them, Zap's artists encompassed points of intersection with both sides of the board. Too mean spirited and cynical for the naive goodwill of many love children, the cartoonists' irreverence and lack of respect for serious issues such as women's liberation and consciousness raising were too much for those committed to revitalizing participatory democracy through social and political change.150 1 4 7 Crumb. "I Was Very Alienated From the Hippie Scene! I Used to Go to Love-Ins and Rock Concerts and Think, 'Why Can't I get With It?'" The R. Crumb Coffeetable Art Book: 95. 1 4 8 In the March 31, 1971 issue of Madison, Wisconsin's Underground weekly Kaleidoscope, columnist PB Ribbon delineates the value of early issues in their spotlighting of sex and perversity in order to generate a gut reaction, but expresses misgivings about the focus in more recent issues (presumably #4 and #5) on sado-masochism and brutality. He damns Zap, Bijou Funnies and other books as having "...failed and/or avoided issues and feelings of people in Women's Lib, Gay Lib, and Third World (unless derogatorily)." Ribbon also cites an end to the relevance and humour of characters like Angelfood McSpade in their negotiations of white racism (but does not elaborate as to why), and generally decries a lack of 'consciousness-raising' and sincere political and social commentary. (PB Ribbon. "Umbilical Chords." Kaleidoscope. March 3, 1971: 15). 1 4 9 Steven Heller. The Life and Times ofR. Crumb: 95. 1 5 0 Apparently, the same feelings on the part of the Left remain true. On a December 1999 research trip to Los Angeles, I informed staff at the Center for the Study of Political Graphics that I was to meet and interview Robert Williams the following day; one staff member commented, "That's like going to see the devil himself." 60 Behind the Phantasmic Screen: Part One, Sexuality A friend and contemporary of Bataille, revisionist Freudian psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan was a structuralist who pioneered the usage of Frederick Saussure's theory of linguistics as a framework for understanding the formulations of decentered human subjectivity. Like Bataille, Lacan had also previously drawn on Surrealism in a similarly constructive manner, and, according to Carolyn Dean, Together and yet separately, they redefined the relation of desire to culture and aesthetics and, in so doing, constructed the foundations of a new theory of subjectivity that extended and transformed modernist and psychological thought.151 Both conceived of the self as an 'other,' but one which was not completely cast adrift from its origins like the alienated model put forth by Breton's Surrealists; in Dean's words, "...they dissolved the self by trying to rescue it from dissolution."1 5 2 Seeing identity as constituted by a mediation of others through a process of self-alienation, for Lacan the notion of the Real was that which escapes symbolization. For Zizek, the distance from reality to the Real is like the gap between beauty and ugliness, not so much Lacan's invisible beyond but instead functioning as a stain which blurs our clear perception of reality and provides us with the minimum of idealization the subject needs in order to assume a neutral-objective view. 1 5 3 For Zap, the unrepresentability of the Real is filtered not through a minimum of idealization to allow a relatively comfortable negotiation, but rather through an experience of desublimation, thus allowing us, the audience, a brush with the true horror of the violence of the comics' contemporaneous political climate. The phantasmic screen invoked earlier is here employed in the exposition of certain unacknowledgeable cultural aspects, but also in the masking of the traumas of sexual violence, perversion, fetishism, and racism. In this work of simultaneously showing and hiding, Zap Comix serves to provide insights into the ideology of larger superstructures while also lending certain of these frameworks non-acknowledged obscene support. 1 5 1 Carolyn J. Dean. The Self and Its Pleasures: Bataille, Lacan, and the History of the Decentered Subject. Ithaca N Y : Cornell University Press 1992: 5. 1 5 2 Ibid.: 8. 1 5 3 Zizek. The Plague of Fantasies: 215. 61 Crumb and Williams have historically allied themselves with an anti-pretentious, and, at times, anti-intellectual stance, both having denied the inclusion of specific political or philosophical agendas (apart from general hedonism and vague anarchistic leanings) within their work in the earlier Zaps.154 Despite this, I would argue Zap Comix are informed by the writings of contemporaneous iconic philosophical figures, particularly within the then-popular anti-consumerist theories promoted by the German ex-patriates of the Frankfurt School. The stance adopted by Herbert Marcuse in his earlier, Freudian work superficially seems a close match. The strips in Zap perhaps embody the fundamental notion outlined in Eros and Civilization as the basis for the development of a non-repressive civilization: the throwing off of convention and of sexual inhibitions in order to reacquaint humanity with the Pleasure Principle. For Marcuse, the direction of progress depended completely on the opportunity to activate repressed organic and biological needs through the transformation of the body from an instrument of labour to one of pleasure. This revolutionary notion flew in the face of the then commonly held belief that, Happiness must be subordinated to the discipline of work as full time occupation, to the discipline of monogamic reproduction, to the established system of law and order. The methodical sacrifice of libido, its rigidly enforced deflection to socially useful activities and expressions, is culture.155 However, for Crumb, Williams and the other artists contained within Zap's pages, there was no thought towards revolution, or even the future unless it was as phantasmic vision. Unlike Marcuse, Zap and the undergrounds were not proposing to set forth a therapeutic programme for the release of repressed sexuality and the freeing of the Pleasure Principle with a Utopic goal. Rather, they coupled expressions of sexual freedom with often vicious attacks on society (and the bodies of women), performing them through a bastardized vehicle of the mass culture which Marcuse so vehemently and one-dimensionally critiqued. A l l of these are characteristics more in keeping with the principles of pornographic literature than Marcuse's mid-fifties brand of anti-consumerist Freudian optimism. Pornography emerged as a discursive field at the end of the 18th century, a formation historian Lynn Hunt posits as coming "...into existence, both as a literary and visual practice and as a category of 1 5 4 Crumb. Letter of February 11, 2000; Williams. Interview of December 21, 1999. 1 5 5 Marcuse. "Introduction." Eros and Civilization: 3. 62 understanding, at the same time as- and concomitantly with- the long-term emergence of Western modernity."156 Hunt thus yokes this emergence to the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and both the scientific and French Revolutions, although the term itself does not make its first appearance in European language until Nicolas Edme Retif de la Bretonne's 1769 narrative on prostitution titled Le Pornographe. Accompanying the rise of literacy and the spread of education sparked by the Enlightenment was an expurgation of classic texts for mass consumption beginning in the eighteenth century and continuing on well into the nineteenth. These excisions lead Hunt to argue that, "the promise of the promiscuity of the representations of the obscene- 'when it began to seem possible that anything at all might be shown to anybody'- engendered the desire for barriers, for catalogs, for new classifications and hygienic censoring."1 5 7 While the concept of obscenity has existed for as long as distinctions have been made between public and private behaviours, the discourse of pornography developed in response to the "menace" of the democratization of society attached to eighteenth century European culture, as well as to the shifting balance between public and private zones which accompanied these anxieties. In the latter half of the 18th century, the rapidly expanding field of pornographic literature became increasingly political. Indeed, Hunt asserts of this time, "...explicit sexual description almost always had explicitly subversive qualities,"1 5 8 and the same can certainly be said of the earlier issues of Zap, particularly #4, #5, and #6. At the foundations of the tradition of pornography located in Hunt's case study are the democratic implications articulated through its association with print culture and the materialist ideology of the philosophes. These implications, paralleled by Zap's association with print culture, the specificities of comics history and also the anti-consumerist ideology of 1960s youth counter-culture, are then subsequently compounded in both instances by the genre's role as an avenue of expression for political attacks on the powers of the established regimes. Although Hunt locates her arguments at the formative stages of Western modernity, overlap is apparent with the types of anxieties generated by Zap Comix and discussed in the first chapter. In the exodus of women from the home, increased class mobility and the emergence of a new American leisure 1 5 6 Lynn Hunt. "Introduction." The Invention of Pornography: Obscenity and the Origins of Modernity 1500-1800. Ed. Lynn Hunt. New York N Y : Zone Books 1993: 10-11. 1 5 7 Ibid.: 12. 1 5 8 Ibid.: 42. 63 class, flux occurred in the borders separating the domestic, private, and feminized sphere from that of the public and previously predominantly male environment at its exterior. The permeability of these arenas, and their exposition within the pages of EC and other comics' titillatingly violent domestic situations, can certainly be seen as being of the same ilk as those which caused the definition of the pornographic genre at its inception. As we previously saw in the Senate Subcommittee hearings of 1954, the ideas these books contained were powerful enough to engender their own mass expurgation. Like these murdered books, Zap's consistent mode of sexual representation in the six-year period my project encompasses is one devoid of the procreative sexuality (sublimated as diversion from the libidinous instincts towards the alien object of the opposite sex) sanctioned and required by the very nature of the repressive civilization Marcuse saw the fifties as constituting. Instead, the gratification of partial instincts and non-reproductive genitality throw off their subsidiary shackles and step from their place in the shadows of taboo and perversion to be fully examined within a phantasmic, or 'pornotopic' environment. Providing what Marcuse terms "a promesse de bonheur greater than that of 'normal' sexuality,"1 5 ' these so-termed perversions reject the enslavement of the pleasure ego and pleasure principle by the reality ego and principle. They rebel against the subjugation of sexuality under the order of procreation and those authorities and institutions that guarantee it. Fantasy, again, plays a pivotal role; not only constitutive, it also images perversions, and thus provides defined instances of gratification and freedom. Emphatically refuting the means-to-an-end attitude of procreation, perversions and the fantasies that circumscribe them (as well as the vehicle in which they are contained) make sexuality a means-unto-itself. These perversions thus excise themselves from the performance principle (that specific reality principle which governs the origins and growths of repressive civilization) and challenge its very foundation. Opening the Books... In the December 1969 issue of Art and Artists, the cover of which was lavishly illustrated in a flurry of homoerotic pirate-themed gore by S. Clay Wilson, David Zack situates that artist's work as going 64 beyond the confines of 'old-fashioned' pornography, a medium which he sees as inextricably linked to commerce. Instead, he argues, "Wilson and the other people are doing smut of a different stamp. Smut for art's sake. More likely, smut for society's sake." 1 6 0 While overly hyperbolic, Zack's placing of Wilson in the super-pornographic sphere is reiterated in the strip " A Ball In the Bunghole," subtitled " A Study in Decay" (Appendix H), one of the best examples of the deliberate boundary transgressions of Zap. Using ways of seeing not foreign to the visual language of the series, Wilson's strip comes on like a killer acid hangover, the physical imperfections of both his male and female characters looming large. Hairy scrotums, veiny pricks and unsightly bulges fragment the panels into densely patterned compositions, betraying a hatred and fear of the physical. Juxtaposing a cartoonish version of luxury with the lowest vulgarity, the strip deliberately calls to mind the Marquis de Sade with its broad caricature of an 18th century nobleman. Like those in Wilson's strips, Carolyn Dean describes Sade's characters as "...merely theatrical props that are discarded and exchanged for others as new erotic fantasies require new decors." 1 6 1 Wilson's Black Prince, manservant, and little servant girl are stock one-dimensional beings, and the 'innocent' scene in which they participate degenerates quickly into filth as it recalls low-grade porn scenarios of the "handyman surprises horny house-wife" ilk. Like other members of Zap, Wilson celebrates an interrelation between sex and violence but unlike the others, he gives form to a palpable fear and disgust for his subject that traps him in a one-dimensional realm of excess. In choosing his strip's ending, Wilson directs his manservant to ejaculate twice into the woman's body, once with his penis and once with his pistol. As the bullet enters her vagina, it penetrates the length of her being, reiterating the servant girl's (and, by association, women's) disposability. In the last panel, we see the bullet lodged like a black pearl in the tip of the Prince's cock while, no longer even an accessory, the girl lies spent (literally and metaphorically) face-down on the floor. Her head disappears beyond the panel's boundary, sealing her objectification with an acephalic finality, and the focused-upon body part we are left contemplating is her spread and bloodied ass. Marcuse. Eros and Civilization: 49. David Zack. "Smut for Love, Art, Society," Art and Artists. December 1969: 13. Dean. The Self and Its Pleasures: 124. 65 With the body of his work in the issues discussed here acting as variations on a homogenous theme, Wilson can be seen to revel in desublimatory baseness without the negotiative devices of humour and irony which characterize the treatment of sexual matter in Williams' and Crumb's work. Psychologically, the choice of humour as a tool serves as one of the modes of defense against the dimension of the traumatic Real that pertains to the sex act as well as providing a phantasmic screen for symbolic acts of aggression. However, Wilson's work is not devoid of redemption; his importance can be seen in his push to expand the boundaries of other Zap artists, particularly Crumb whose earlier sexually-oriented material featured in issues #0 and #1 was not distant from the tame adolescent humour of his first Fritz the Cat strips. Typified by a 1964 excerpt from Harvey Kurtzman's Help! magazine (Fig. 17), in this example Crumb has Fritz convince a nude lady cat to lie down while he looks for fleas. Fig. 17 Robert Crumb. Excerpt from "Fritz The Cat in 'Fritz Comes on Strong.'" Originally appeared in Help! No 22 1965. Reproduced in The R. Crumb Coffeetable Art Book: Crumb's Whole Career From Shack to Chateau] (Hardcover: New York N Y : Little, Brown and Co. 1997. Softcover: New York N Y : Back Bay Books 1998) Reinforcing this notion of a therapeutic role, Wilson himself recalls "later, I talked Crumb (a repressed Catholic choirboy) into drawing 'dirty...' that is drawing anything that occurred to him, without censorship or concern for an imagined audience. He took my advice and did so with relish." 1 6 2 1 6 2 S. Clay Wilson. The Life and Times ofR. Crumb: 154. 66 In perusing this embryonic example, immediately apparent is the distance between the puerile snickerings of Fritz and the social assumptions satirized in Crumb's strip "Joe Blow" from issue #4 (Appendix I), a story, which comprised almost the entire substance of the prosecution's cross-examination of defense witnesses at the New York obscenity trial. It also, I believe, fully embodies Georges Bataille's proposition in his essay "The Old Mole and the prefix Sur in the Words Surhomme and Surrealist", that, By excavating the fetid ditch of bourgeois culture, perhaps we wil l see open up in the depths of the earth immense and even sinister caves where force and human liberty will establish themselves, sheltered from the call to order of a heaven that today demands the most imbecilic elevation of any man's spirit.1 6 3 The ideal of family values (and all that this term entails) as represented in this comic is located at the depths of Bataille's fetid ditch. Plumbing these depths, the rupturing of minimal idealization in "Joe Blow" serves as an operation of desublimation, producing a nauseating overproximity to and a horrifying encounter with the Real. The round contours of Crumb's characters in this strip are instantly legible as shorthand for the Ail-American family as we are introduced to Joe and life-mate Lois in the setting of their quintessentially American living room. Joe relaxes in easy chair, gazing at the television while Lois queries, "Hey Joe! Are you pretending to watch TV even though it's not on?" 1 6 4 "Yep ! " Joe answers, and the characters are immediately betrayed both by the absurdity of this exchange and by the punctures performed by the neurotic and repetitive quill lines of Crumb's rapidograph, his short, stuttered penstrokes breaking apart the image and any assumption we might have of what wil l come next. The strip abruptly and sickeningly changes pace as Joe, the conscientious Dad, checks on "Sis" and her homework only to discover her masturbating. Looking perplexed, Joe goes to the bathroom and, perusing the medicine cabinet, pops a pill called 'Compoz' which makes him a "new man." Newly reinvigorated, he marches back to his daughter and pulls out his lovingly rendered and oversized penis, initiating a blow-job by exhorting his daughter to "pretend it's candy!". As Dad's fingers root in Sis's wet crotch, its moisture denoted by carefully drawn droplets of liquid, the Real, tempered by absurd humour, rears its ugly head. Pants around their ankles and rutting on the ground, Dad and Sis are happened upon by 1 6 3 Bataille. "The Old Mole and the Prefix Sur in the Words Surhomme and Surrealist." Georges Bataille: Visions of Excess: 43. 1 6 4 Robert Crumb. "Joe Blow." Zap Comix #4. Berkeley C A : Last Gasp 1969. 67 Junior who runs to his mother for solace or, at the very least, some kind of explanation. Although hardly on par with the explicit taboo-shattering of Dad and Sis' exchange, she responds by returning in bondage gear to educate her son in the invisible environs beyond the page. Grotesquely summarized by Joe's comment "I never realized how much fun you could have with your children!", 1 6 5 Crumb's strip plays with the tensions between the postwar nuclear family sanctioned by religion, government and psychology, and the sixties' reinvention and replacement of these tropes with new, naively idealized notions of the commune. Also at play must be the grotesque hell of his own family life, laid so bare in Zwigoff s 1995 film. While the Comic Code's absolute prohibition of sexual content opened up a gap in representation used to signify the absence/presence of the act, Zap provided its materialization while still being hindered by the unrepresentability of the ecstatic nature of the sex act itself. Perhaps also present is a lingering distaste characteristic of how, as Bataille puts it in "The Big Toe," "...the vicissitudes of organs, the profusion of stomachs, larynxes, and brains traversing innumerable animal species and individuals, carries the imagination along in an ebb and flow it does not willingly follow, due to a hatred of the still painfully perceptible frenzy of the bloody palpitations of the body." 1 6 6 In Robert Williams' strip "The Supreme Constellation of Dormasintoria"(Appendix J), he begins with a standard, science-fiction type prologue narrated by a talking clitoris; Far off in a clean vacuum void, free of genitalia, cocks, pussies, turds and things that relate to crude, basic, archaic mammal existence, presided a nebulistic deity. This great cloud formation shaped a giant soul, made of a trillion galaxies composed into one master life form...1 6 7 This clean vacuum void that Williams writes of is an environment which sidesteps the representation of human copulation through fetishization and perhaps also exemplifies the "zero-form" of sexuality for humans outlined by Zizek. Zizek argues that for animals, this zero-form takes the shape of copulation, whereas for humans, ...the zero-form is masturbation with fantasizing; any contact with a real, flesh-and-blood other, any sexual pleasure that we find in 1 6 5Ibid. 1 6 6 Bataille. "The Big Toe." Georges Bataille: Visions of Excess: 22. 1 6 7 Robert Williams. "The Supreme Constellation of Dormasintoria." Zap Comix #4. Berkely C A : Last Gasp 1969. 68 touching another human being, is not something evident but inherently traumatic, and can be sustained only in so far as this other enters the subject's fantasy-frame.168 In "Dormasintoria", Williams provides a spoof on the big bang theory acted out by cosmic entities who engage in biomechanical copulation. The flesh-and-blood other, or the realm of cocks and pussies is excised by the machine. The floating female constellation is caught by the galactic male deity, and when "nature prevails," trap doors split her ass, revealing an interior which brings to mind more the workings of the automobile, cams, rods, shafts and pistons, rather than Bataille's billowing waves of viscera. The chromed figures of an acephalic man and an ecstatic woman recall more the rococo hood ornaments of the automotive excesses of the 1950s and the car culture and aesthetics of this era out of which Williams's art developed than any living form. Within Williams's new take on creation, with its melding of the celestial and the mechanic, is perhaps a premonitory clue towards Deleuze and Guattari's articulation of a 'new humanity,' one which comes out of an alliance, or coupling, between desiring machines and Bodies without Organs,1 6 9 but perhaps also something far more sinister. In the denial of organs to the female character, indeed in the denial of any kind of recognizable human interior, Williams commits the ultimate Othering and fetishization of women: biomechanical dehumanization. This notion is reinforced when one examines the first panel of his "Masterpiece on the Shithouse Wal l " from issue #6 (Fig. 18), in which Coochy Cooty, the artist's bug-like alter-ego, holding a pen and a bottle of 'pornographer's ink' loudly proclaims, "No 'innards' for 'filthy cartoon bitches'!!" 1 7 0 Likely drawing from the wealth of science fiction imagery contained within the genre of Golden Age comic typified by such titles as EC's Weird Science and Weird Fantasy, a similar melding of futuristic imaginings and sexuality occurs in several other strips. In issue #0, Crumb meditates on a "big new wonderful tomorrow" in "City of the Future" (Appendix K) . Amidst musings on Bladerunner-ish death squads who come for you at the age of 65 armed with cyanide pies and TV-headed robot baby-sitters, the artist includes the following fantasy: "Special fucking androids wil l be available to everyone! Social 1 6 8 Zizek. The Plague of Fantasies: 65. 1 6 91 refer here to: Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. Capitalisme et Schizophrenic: L 'Anti-Oedipe. Paris, France: Les Editions de Minuit 1972. 1 7 0 Williams. "Masterpiece on the Shithouse Wall ." Zap Comix #6. San Francisco C A : Last Gasp 1973. 69 problems will disappear. Risk of involvement with the opposite sex wil l be eliminated!" 1 7 1 Accompanying this text, Crumb depicts a surreal brothel in which two short, fat and ugly men peruse a selection of vacant-eyed and bountifully-endowed sex robots, one of whom dangles a price tag of $49.50 from the hem of her mini-dress. The next panel again takes an unexpected and disturbing twist: the same androids available for purchase are now heaped in a bloody, dismembered pile as, Crumb proclaims, "the androids wil l be put to other good uses. Sadists can torture them, cut them up, tear them to pieces!" 1 7 2 Unlike the empty interiors of Williams' fembots, in this case the viscerality of the women's bodies is undeniable. As the sadist adds to the growing pile of corpses, he repeatedly punches and kicks his current target with heavily spiked boots, her role as a human facsimile biologically betrayed by the mangled brain which still clings to her otherwise headless neck. Such troubling depictions of women are complicated even further in the examination of one of Spain Rodriguez's rare contributions to these earlier books, "Mara, Mistress of the Vo id " from issue #4 (Appendix L). Graphically sophisticated, Rodriguez fills his pages with asymmetrical panels detailing the un-linear adventure of a group of space vixens. Relatively plotless, the narrative quickly explodes into an unexplained conflict between two female crewmembers. The victory of one leads her to celebrate by placing what can only be understood as a male slave, perhaps a member of a subjugated underclass defined by gender, into a harness for the express purpose of enforcing lengthy and involuntary cunnilingus. The violence and total confounding of reproductive sexual economy through the depiction of perversion, fetishism and sexual violence as denoted through these examples may also be understood as functioning akin to the symbolic transactions Bataille outlines in "The Notion of Expenditure." 1 7 1 Crumb. "City of the Future." Zap Comix #0. San Francisco C A : Last Gasp 1967. 1 7 2Ibid. 70 Fig. 18 Robert Williams. Excerpt from "Masterpiece on the Shithouse Wal l . " Zap Comix #6. (Berkeley C A : Last Gasp 1973) 71 He defines these as being part of a group "...characterized by the fact that in each case the accent is placed on a loss that must be as great as possible in order for that activity to take on its true meaning." 1 7 3 Employing these reversals and desublimatory transactions as recurring tropes, Bataille developed an approach to heterogeneous matter, "...so repulsive that it resisted not only the idealism of Christians, Hegelians, and Surrealists, but even the conceptual edifice-building of traditional materialists."174 Frequently at odds with the Surrealist group with whom he had initially collaborated, in Andre Breton's concept of the mental doors "opening wide," Bataille saw precisely the affirmation of aestheticism and idealism, smacking faintly of religion, that he sought to oppose while to Breton he appeared as nothing more than an "excremental philosopher."175. However, these losses Bataille insisted upon come at a price, and one not borne equally by all participants. In the angry sex and black humour represented in Zap (echoing in a less self-conscious manner the amour fou and humour noir employed by the Surrealist programme), the boundaries between humour and suffering tend to blur and therein lies the area which both interests and disturbs me, the point of intersection between the Law and its transgression in which desire and fantasy are manufactured. Akin to the Surrealists, in Zap women were primarily vehicles for the exploration of male self-hood and for the vicarious transgressions of boundaries. Comic artist Skip Williamson has stated, "to deny sexism is to deny the cultural heritage of the comics," 1 7 6 but this hardly seems sufficient. Comics hostile to men and produced by women, such as Lynn Chevely and Joyce Farmer's 1972 Tits and Clits and Trina Robbins' 1976 Wet Satin, were met with far more negative receptions than their male-produced counterparts and often a blank refusal to examine their content as anything other than anti-male statements, despite the impetus for their production having clearly been the outpouring of anti-woman hostility their creators identified with the undergrounds. Although Robbins' other all-women title, the serial anthology Wimmen's Comix published by Ron Turner at Last Gasp beginning in 1972, was well-received, her later Wet Satin book only lasted two issues in total under Dennis Kitchen's Krupp Comic Works label. Robbins recalls "...the Midwestern printer for Krupp Comic Works refused to touch it on the grounds that it was 1 7 3 Bataille. "The Notion of Expenditure." Georges Bataille: Visions of Excess: 118. 1 7 4 Ibid.: x. 1 7 5 Andre Breton. Second Surrealist Manifesto: 184. 1 7 6 Estren. A History of Underground Comics: 129. 72 pornographic."177 Other male-produced Krupp Undergrounds handled by them were satirical, the printer argued; Wet Satin was serious and therefore pornographic.178 Yet this inherent sexism produced from a fraternal environment is also in keeping with the pornographic tradition invoked earlier. The end result of the imaginings laid out in the eighteenth century texts of the Marquis de Sade, Retif de la Bretonne, Denis Diderot and others was not the liberation of but the subjugation of women in order to service men, something replicated within the Surrealist realm as well as within the pages of Zap. Of this earlier period, Hunt argues, "...pornography as a structure of literary and visual representation most often offered women's bodies as a focus of male bonding." 1 7 9 Authored by men and intended for an audience of male readers, works contained within the parameters of pornographic discourse created and create a perverse fraternity (quite literally in the case of Zap's 'magnificent seven') through an intersection of voyeurism and objectification which provided social leveling for men, both in terms of creators and readers, at the expense of women. The arborescent growth of the anti-war movement into that of women's liberation provided complications that went far beyond Zap's creators' critical focus on sexuality as an emancipatory process. I see the more gruesome depictions of sexual violence in Zap as being informed by the anxiety and hostility surrounding the emergence of new cultural and social identities for women in the 1960s and inhabiting the masked side of the comics' functioning as a phantasmic screen. While the wave of extremely explicit representations of sexuality was on some level linked to the restrictive and repressive libidinal economy perpetrated by American post-war culture, some of these seemed beyond the boundaries of that which can be rationalized as a therapeutic outlet. Robbins writes of the underground comics' obsessive focus on such subject matter, "entrails, usually female, were scattered over the landscape in a phenomenon of violence to women that I believe has never been equaled in any other medium." 1 8 0 Hostility to women cloaked by humour recurs frequently in strips by Crumb, even when he ventures into terrain characterized by a more heightened political awareness. The initial appearance of female revolutionary "Lenore Goldberg and Her Girl Commandos" was featured in the first issue of the 1 7 7 Trina Robbins and Cat Yronwode. Women and the Comics. Forestville C A : Eclipse Books 1986: 84. 1 7 8 Ibid.: 84. 1 7 9 Lynn Hunt. "Introduction." The Invention of Pornography: 44. 1 8 0 Trina Robbins. The Life and Times of R. Crumb: 42. 73 single-artist abbreviated series Motor City Comics from 1969 (Appendix M). The strip begins with the promise of female empowerment in the prologue, " From Out of the Depths of Servitude and Oppression, Leading the Militant Wing of the Female Liberation Front, Comes... Lenore Goldberg and Her Girl Commandos," but disappointingly ends with the titular character, a callipigian Amazon like all the others in her cell, talking revolution while performing oral sex on her boyfriend. Perhaps, then, Crumb's feelings towards the emancipation of women are more truly revealed in a Zap comic from the same year titled "Mr. Natural Takes A Vacation" (Appendix N), in which everybody's favourite guru attends a Women's Liberation League meeting and "demonstrate[s] for you one of the better techniques used in bringing the individual to self-realization!"1 8 1 The method Mr. Natural personally demonstrates to all the tightly-clothed and large-breasted feminists attending the meeting is, of course, to line them all up on the stage and kick each of them in the ass. The preponderance for the mixing of sex and violence in the undergrounds is cleverly mocked by Williams in his "Bludgeon Funnies" from issue #5 (Appendix O). In it, Williams opens with the promise "The Comic Strip That Doesn't Pull Any Punches!" 1 8 2 and does not disappoint when he inserts underneath the image of an angel assaulting the devil with an enormous crucifix. On the following page, Williams confounds our expectations by drawing an enormous and cartoonishly muscular woman mercilessly beating a tiny man with his pants down under the heading "Erotic Violence Sweetens the Courtship!" 1 8 3 Ending with the truism "Violence is Always Right If You're the Winner!" 1 8 4, an examination of other Zap strips professing similar messages proves Williams' humorous take to be the exception rather than the rule. One need only look to S. Clay Wilson's profoundly disturbing "Come Fix," included in 1968's issue #3 (Fig. 19) to find a succinct encapsulation of the paranoid misogyny which undercuts and contaminates Zap's more positive attributes. Wilson sets the stage for his single-page piece with the unlikely introduction, " A few of the Southside dykes had captured one of the local studs. Bernice was busy milking a cup full of come out of him..." 1 8 5 He proceeds from a female-on-male sexual assault 1 8 1 Crumb. "Mr. Natural Takes a Vacation." Zap Comix #4. Berkeley C A : Last Gasp 1969. 1 8 2 Williams. "Bludgeon Funnies: The Comic Strip That Doesn't Pull Any Punches!". Zap Comix #5. Berkeley C A : Last Gasp 1970. 1 8 3 Ibid. 1 8 4 Ibid. 1 8 5 S. Clay Wilson. "Come Fix: A Mind-Fuck Folly." Zap Comix #3. Berkeley C A : Last Gasp 1969. 74 scenario186 to one in which an intravenous injection of semen causes one of the 'local stud's' lesbian assailants to instantaneously develop male genitalia of her own. In Wilson's construction of a sorority of women to rival the fraternity which characterizes pornographic production and readership, and in his transference of the ownership of the phallus from a man to a homosexual woman (read: one who has no use whatsoever for a man), he plays to the fears and desires surrounding such aspects of sexuality, titillating and arousing phantasmic notions concerning misogyny, female domination and male castration anxieties. Behind the Phantasmic Screen, Part Two: Race Separate from, but still connected to the depictions of women and sexuality in Zap are its depictions of race, particularly those put forth by Crumb. However, it is of the utmost importance to situate these representations within the larger history of racial depictions in American comics, thus securing anchor lines to the past to help account for their offensive nature. As Americanist Steven Loring Jones rightly points out, the first appearances of comic strips in U.S. newspapers during the 1890s corresponded with the beginning of a renewed era of racial segregation.187 Racist laws and Southern hysteria over carpetbaggers developed following the end of the Civi l War, and the dismantling of the confederacy created a shift in the social climate which ensured the black comic figure's surpassing of the Irish at the turn of the century as the butt of the nation's jokes. Utilizing imagery borrowed from minstrelsy, America's first national popular entertainment and a theatrical mainstay until the 1940s, black characters created for the white press were a close approximation to the contemporaneous hit song " A l l Coons Look Alike to Me. " 1 8 6 But, tellingly, not one of rape. For all of Wilson's obsessive and repetitive depictions of homosocial and homoerotic environments (biker gangs, gay pirates, lesbian street gangs,) nowhere does he ever depict any kind of actual homosexual erotic encounter involving penetration, oral sex, or anything wilder than cartoonish kissing and groping. A l l of these are reserved for heterosexual encounters and, most bizarrely in the case of issue #3's "Captain Pissgums and His Pervert Pirates," a sexual encounter between a professed lesbian and a gay man. (S. Clay Wilson. "Captain Pissgums and His Pervert Pirates." Zap Comix #3. Berkeley C A : Last Gasp 1969.) 1 8 7 Steven Loring Jones. "From 'Under Cork' to Overcoming: Black Images in the Comics." Ethnic Images in the Comics. Ed. Charles Hardy and Gail F. Stern. Philadelphia PA: Museum of the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies 1986: 21. 75 Fig. 19 S. Clay Wilson. "Come Fix: A Mind-Fuck Folly." Zap Comix #3. (Berkeley C A : Last Gasp 1969) This shockingly commonplace racism is typified in a January 6, 1901 of comics pioneer R.F. Outcault's rurn-of-the-century New York Herald strip "Poor LiT Mose" in which the titular character, ensconced in the racialized fiction of a rural black Arcadia, daydreams of being a millionaire. Centered around Mose's fantasy of owning "the first auto-mobile in coontown," the child's vision also included, according to 76 historian Ian Gordon, "his entire family clad in the style of the Zip Coon, and a family coat of arms composed of a straight razor, a set of dice, and a slice of watermelon."188 Fig. 20 Windsor McCay. Excerpt from Little Nemo in Slumberland © 1907 The New York Herald Co.. Reproduced in "From 'Under Cork' to Overcoming: Black Images in the Comics." Ethnic Images in the Comics. Eds. Charles Hardy and Gail F. Stern. (Philadelphia PA: Museum of the Balch Institute For Ethnic Studies 1986) Fig. 21 George McManus. Exceprt from Bringing Up Father. © 1929 International Feature Syndicate Inc.. Reproduced in "From 'Under Cork' to Overcoming: Black Images in the Comics." Ethnic Images in the Comics. Eds. Charles Hardy and Gail F. Stern. (Philadelphia PA: Museum of the Balch Institute For Ethnic Studies 1986) Clearly indicated by the standard big-eyed, wide-lipped and round-headed examples from Windsor McCay's 1907 Little Nemo in Slumberland (Fig.20) and George McManus's 1929 Bringing Up Father (Fig.21), these types of images were not representations of blacks at all, but were in fact caricatures derived from gross parodies of "black life," originally the life of slaves. Gordon. Comic Strips and Consumer Culture: 65. 77 Precisely echoing and parodying these tropes of representation some fifty years later is the small, one panel gag-strip added by Crumb to the inside rear cover of Zap #/(Fig.22). 1 NKCCft HIMm ffSKS THAT GOOD o t Fig. 22 Robert Crumb. "Wildman Sam's Pure Niggar Hearts (inside back cover)." Zap Comix #4. (Berkeley C A : Last Gasp 1969) Recalling the endless back-page advertisements for Hostess Fruit Pies and Sea Monkeys reproduced in contemporaneous Code-approved teen standards such as Archie and Richie Rich, (the one a tribute to the circular and terminally unfulfilled heterosexual performativity of severely repressed teenagers and the other a phantasmic exploration of the world's smallest Ubercapitalist), Crumb's ad, unlike those for preservative-laden snacks or freeze-dried brine shrimp, (and perhaps as an indictment of advertisers who care naught for those who manufacture or consume their products), tries to sell its audience canned Nigger Hearts. Two corn-fed Campbell soup icons, their arms thrown skyward, cry "Hey Mom! Let's Have Nigger Hearts For Lunch!" 1 8 9 while advertising spokesman Wildman Sam, round-headed, big-lipped and with the added accessorization of a topknot hairdo and bone necklace, looks on. Recalling the grotesque slippages of advertising campaigns enlisting talking pigs to sell pork products and raising the specter of the type of unthinking racism which led generations of American to christen Brazil nuts "nigger toes", Sam's own face appears on the can as he offers the endorsement, "Sho' nuff! Evabody Loves Wildman Sam's Pure Nigger Hearts!" 1 9 0 Historically depicted in an almost universal fashion as servile fools, i f speech was attributed to early racialized characters, black vocal patterns were almost without exception transformed into derogatory Crumb. "Wildman Sam's Nigger Hearts." Zap Comix #1. San Francisco C A : Last Gasp 1967. Ibid. 78 stereotypes through excessively phonetic "pidgin" spellings, typically in the manner represented in Kemble's Mammy's L 'ilLamb of 1911 (Fig.23). Fig. 23 Kemble. Excerpt from Mammy's Little Lamb. © 1911 The American Examiner. Reproduced in "From 'Under Cork' to Overcoming: Black Images in the Comics." Ethnic Images in the Comics. Eds. Charles Hardy and Gail F. Stern. (Philadelphia PA: Museum of the Balch Institute For Ethnic Studies 1986) Again, this trope is served up in a parodic fashion by Crumb in Zap #4's one-page "Ooga Booga" strip (Fig.24). Instead of allowing his characters to communicate in a limited fashion through pidgin dialect, Crumb leads his actors through a simple plot of "man wants woman, woman rejects man, man pleads with woman, man gets woman" while removing their powers of recognizable speech entirely and allowing them only an incomprehensible (to us, the audience) vocabulary of nonsensical syllables of the 'ooga booga' variety. Stephen Loring Jones views cartoonists in the Black Press as having mobilized themselves through community dialogue and editorial comment to move away from the inextricably racist milieu of minstrelsy by the 1930s. While this old mode was replaced instead with depictions of a wide variety of life 79 Fig. 24 Robert Crumb. "Ooga Booga." Zap Comix #4 (Berkeley C A : Last Gasp 1969) experiences, it was not until the end of World War II that this general pattern began to be significantly altered.191 Black characters in strips of the white press in the 1950s were a continuation of the past transferred into different genres. In the bumbling or sexualized "savages" of jungle strips like Jerry Iger's 80 Sheena, Queen of the Jungle or Princess Pantha, messages not dissimilar to those of a half century previous were clearly communicated. As comic historian William Savage Jr. asserts, "Africans in the jungle comics were superstitious, gullible, morally weak and attempting to function with seriously diminished physical and intellectual capacities."192 In contrast to the jungle denizens of the adventure books or the always faithful neutered sidekicks (of which Wi l l Eisner's Ebony White character from his seminal The Spirit books (Fig.25) It took the civil rights movement of the is a not-unusual specimen), Loring Jones outlines a shift in depictions in the Black Press during this same time. These black-produced comics, he asserts, were now reflecting "...the social conservatism and baby boom of the decade by focusing on Black family life and child rearing." 1 9 3 The inclusion of reality-based black characters in white papers or comic books would have to wait until the subsequent decade. 1960s, and, most specifically, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and the avalanche of belated white guilt and conscience-salving which followed to increase the number of black characters in the mainstream press. Morrie Turner, a black cartoonist who had previously achieved only limited mainstream success with his Wee Pals strip featuring an integrated cast of characters, acquired the majority of his syndication sources within the three months following the King kil l ing. 1 9 4 Other black-drawn strips featuring black characters followed in rapid succession, including Brumsic Brandon Jr.'s Luther of 1968 (named as an homage to the slain leader), and Ted Shearer's Quincy of 1970. This trend was accompanied by the introduction of black characters into popular previously 1 9 1 Loring Jones. "From 'Under Cork' to Overcoming": 24. 1 9 2 William Savage Jr. Comic Books and America: 1945-1954. Norman OK: U of Oklahoma Press 1990:76. 1 9 3 Loring Jones. "From Under Cork to Overcoming": 26. 1 9 4 Prior to the assassination, Turner had unsuccessfully tried to get his strips printed in the white press in the 1950s and had only achieved a syndication numbering five papers by 1967. (Ibid.: 27). 81 unintegrated white-drawn strips, such as the entry of Franklin to Charles Schultz's Peanuts in 1968 and Lt. Flap to Mort Walker's Beetle Bailey in 1970. The comics from the time of Zap's initial underground production stretching back into their early history can be characteristically defined, as can much media intended for mass audiences, by acts of distortion. Comics, as we have seen in earlier examples of the codified excision of representations of overt sexuality and violence, are defined as much by what they include as what they leave out and the depictions of race and sexuality in the pages of Zap are no exception. The fusing of racist and racialized images and libidinous excess in strips by Crumb featuring black characters is a hybridization which traces its origins to the histories of both comic imagery and race relations in the United States. The previous decade saw the publication of Norman Mailer's 1957 essay "The White Negro" in which he employed "negro" as a narrowly defined term, focusing, in a manner recalling Marcuse, on liberation as derived from an almost entirely sexual basis. The fictionalized character of the "negro" for Mailer, this time a hip object of envy rather than of disdain, is one sincerely, albeit misguidedly, reduced to monodimensionality as a sexual symbol. This kind of transference of desire and freedom upon a mistaken stereotype accomplished by Mailer is ruthlessly dismembered amongst the panels of Crumb's important "Whiteman" strip from Zap #1 (Appendix P). Subtitled "a story of civilization in crisis," Whiteman begins by delineating his repression, "It's such an effort being polite anymore!... But i f I stop they'll see...they'll find out... M y real self deep down inside... the raging lustful beast that craves only one thing!" 1 9 5 And this one thing, in keeping with the semi-autobiographical and zeitgeist-capturing nature of much of Crumb's printed musings, is, of course, sex. Further elaborating his "hang-up," Whiteman peppers the revelatory panel with the assertions "I'm so virile!," "I'm a bad ass!," and "I read Playboy]"196 Wallowing in his own crapulence, Whiteman stomps the streets of the city only to emerge late at night from a bar into the midst of a "nigger parade." Beset by black men who pursue him with the dignity-destroying goal of pulling his pants down, in one particularly striking panel at the top of the last page, Whiteman cowers bare-assed on the ground while disembodied Cheshire Cat grins and white-gloved hands (reminiscent of A l Jolson and other black-face 1 9 5 Crumb. "Whiteman." Zap Comix #1. San Francisco C A : Last Gasp 1967. 1 9 6 Ibid. 82 actors), hover above him. Shocked and humiliated, Whiteman questions his attackers as to their possible motivation only to be told, "You j is' a NIGGER like ewa body else," as they coerce him to join them. 1 9 7 Like images of blacks in the comics from earlier (and later) in the century, these representations for Crumb, as for Mailer, did not have their roots in the black lived experience or in black culture but spoke instead of the unspeakable. The Reverend Ivan Stang of the Church of the Sub-Genius elaborates: Whiteman's fear of black people, battling inside him with his innate 1960s sense that they were as human as he, or more so, was something that so evidently needed to be said that we readers were stunned into a sense of just how painful, and how necessary, telling the truth might be. 1 9 8 However, accompanying these oftentimes clever and witty essays on race is the less easily defined Crumb character of Angelfood McSpade. Ken Johnson writing in Art in America summarizes her impact by stating, "Angelfood is subjected to grotesque sorts of humiliation at the hands of white men, but, rather than serving to promote racial prejudice, she vividly personifies race-related desires, fears, and fantasies that haunt even the most liberal forms of white American consciousness."199 Introduced by name in issue #2 as '"Zap Comix1 Dream Girl of the Month," in the eponymous strip (Appendix Q), Crumb takes the tone of a nature documentary as he records the tracking of the "elusive creature." Inaccessible to her white male admirers in the West, he explains "...she has been confined to the wilds of the darkest Africa, the official excuse being that civilization would be threatened if she were allowed to do whatever she pleased!" 2 0 0 Lovingly depicted as an Amazonian giantess, bare-breasted and clothed in only jewelry and a grass skirt, Angelfood resembles nothing more than Wildman Sam with breasts, a stereotype cloaked in the superficial trappings of femininity. Purely sexual like Mailer's fictional negro, Angelfood, Crumb assures us, is "just a simple primitive creature," who spends her time "...bopping around in the jungle," no doubt waiting for the successful candidate to arrive and conquer her mountainous flesh. 2 0 1 In his racialized trope of a sexual savage, it seems Crumb found the antidote to the revolutionaries and 'Women's Libbers' who caused him so much anxiety. Weakening his more hard-hitting commentaries on race in America, in 1 9 7 Ibid. 1 9 8 Rev. Ivan Stang. The Life and Times ofR. Crumb: 48. 1 9 9 Ken Johnson. "Crumb." Art in America. October 1995: 55. 2 0 0 Crumb. "Angelfood McSpade." Zap Comix #2. San Francisco C A : Last Gasp 1968. 2 0 1 Ibid. 83 Angelfood it seems clear to me that Crumb did not break new ground, but, instead, employed the worn category of sexualized savage. Still, others have misunderstood the use of such imagery in a far more serious fashion. In 1994, the editors of Race & Reality magazine, a white-power organ published in Massachusetts, reprinted two parts of a satirical three-part strip that had originally appeared in a 1993 edition of Weirdo entitled "When the Niggers Take Over America! "(Appendix R) and "When the Goddamn Jews Take Over America!"(Appendix S). Reproduced without Crumb's knowledge or consent, the strips' inclusion in this locale summarize the danger of employing such politically loaded imagery in a country still not reconciled with its foundation upon slavery. This fact was brought home by the racially motivated murder occurring recently in Jasper, Texas in which a black man was dragged to his death behind a pick-up truck. Then again, perhaps Crumb has been right all along and the death of James Bird and all other victims of racial hatred and intolerance serve to underline the urgency of addressing such issues in any forum in an audience wil l accept, regardless of any potential for misinterpretation. 84 Save Your Fork, There's Pie (Or, To Conclude) The most recent publication of Zap, numbered 14 and released in late 1998, is likely the last ever. For this issue, Crumb refused to attend the now-legendary jam session that kicked off each installment, and this after Moscoso and Rodriguez had already arrived to pick him up at Terry Zwigoff s house. Depicted as a Rashomon-type exchange in the pages of the actual issue, Crumb's strip has him dragging his feet and whining, "This is a medium for the young... There's a new generation... they're hot, they're blowing us old guys off the stage! Look at us... We're a bunch of characters out of a Dan Clowes comic!" 2 0 2 (Fig.26) Rodriguez and Moscoso countered with a strip titled "Incident at Zwigof fs" and subtitled "Hyper-Sensitive Cartoonists Rend Their Garments Over Minor Bullshit" in which Crumb is repeatedly referred to as "Crumbolina" and portrayed as a lollipop-sucking child (Appendix T). 2 0 3 Paul Mavrides, the latest addition to the roster,204 ends his own comic with perhaps the definitive parting shot: just as Crumb killed off Fritz the Cat in response to his co-optation and commercialization by Ralph Bakshi, so does Mavrides ki l l Crumb in a similar manner. This time, however, it is Victor Moscoso, not the bird-headed woman, who stabs Crumb, and the choice of instrument is particularly apt: not an icepick, but a rapidograph pen (Fig.27). In the completion of the Oedipal cycle through the killing of the "father" of underground comics, left behind and borrowed for my title is what Mavrides refers to as "clean-up duty behind the 60s elephant."205 But it is a clean up which must be accomplished with the utmost of Fig. 26 Robert Crumb. Excerpt from "I've Had It!" Zap Comix #14. San Francisco. C A : Last Gasp 1998) 2 0 2 Crumb. "I've Had It!". Zap Comix #14. San Francisco C A : Last Gasp 1998. 2 0 3 Spain Rodriguez and Victor Moscoso. "Incident at Zwigoffs: Hyper-Sensitive Cartoonists Rend Their Garments Over Minor Bullshit." Zap Comics #14. San Francisco C A : Last Gasp 1998. 2 0 4 Rick Griffin's death from a motorcycle accident in 1990 opened up a spot in the collective; Mavrides, a member of the Church of the Sub-genius group from Texas, was invited to join, but not until issue #14. 2 0 5 Paul Mavrides. " M y Big Break." Zap Comix #14. San Francisco C A : 1998. 85 care. The transgressively political and pornographic works of the Marquis de Sade were mythologized and normalized by the Surrealists and Sade himself was added to their pantheon, made a martyr to repressive sexual mores and the tyranny of arranged marriages. Carolyn Dean writes, This transposition of desire into reason...this acceptance of his work in the canon of great literature, normalized Sade because it is associated his sadism from madness or perversion and made it the very force of his reason,2 0 6 and it was to this that Bataille responded so virulently. I hope to avoid making a similar mistake in compounding the mythologization of Zap in hippie lore by Fig. 27 Paul Mavrides. Excerpt from "My Big Break." Zap , , , „ • „ . . ^ . „ . . _ ' " , r countering amnesiac and celebratory Comix # 14. (San Francisco C A : Last Gasp 1998) e ' remembrances with an admittance of the baseness of the comics' desublimatory machinations. In a telephone interview of January 2000, current publisher Ron Turner recounted the dulling of Zap's edges by the passage of time: What I have noticed is a lot of people say, 'Oh yeah, Zap." I meet people at parties and they'll say, "You're publishing Zap. Man, I used to read Zap Comix all the time, hey this guy does Zap Comix, blah, blah.' You know, and they go on and on, and where it's been possible and I've had copies of Zap maybe in the car, and I lay them on these guys and they start reading them. And they say, T don't remember this, wow, this is pretty far out, wow, ooh, God! ' Like they're reading it for the first time. You know, it becomes hip, kind of like people telling lies about their involvement, like going to Woodstock.2 0 7 In his Malicious Resplendence prologue, Williams devotes almost the entirety of his text to an important site of personal phantasmic production, the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco. Held to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal and the rebuilding of the City by the Bay after the 1906 earthquake and fire, the exhibit, according Williams, was "the foundation of what West Coast art culture 2 0 6 Dean. The Self and Its Pleasures: 167. 2 0 7 Ron Turner. Telephone interview of January 14, 2000. 86 was built on." 2 0 8 This foundation was provided by the introduction of French Impressionist canvases to California, some forty-five years after the movement's inception in Europe. This cultural milestone was accompanied by more stereotypically American entertainments such as the first world's fair auto race and indoor airplane flight, but all of these, according to Williams, allowed "...the well-to-do [to] embrace the idea that the exposition was cosmopolitan and inter-continentally urbane."2 0 9 However, marring the marker of supposed enlightened acceptance of international art movements by coastal Califomians and demeaned by the contemporary press were the more plebeian attractions of "The Fun Zone", or the fair's midway. Composed of false icebergs, Oriental harems, stucco monsters, Gothic grottos and other objects of Western romantic fetishization and Othering, Williams wonders at the midway's contemporary reception: The thought of simple country folk coming to the exposition and stumbling in on "The Zone" must have been like giving baby birds LSD. How many farmers' daughters succumbed to the bad influences of young city slickers, how many Barbary Coast harlots employed their alluring guile on country bumpkins who wished to experience big city worldliness?2 1 0 But behind the lathe and stuff of the carnival's shill and phony facade exterior were the inner guts and workings that belied its temporary nature. While the audience outside reacted in an overwhelmed or disapproving fashion, the carnies (to whose nomadic fraternity Williams belonged as a youth), like underground comic artists, were and are rarely fooled by the invisible art they practiced. However tawdry the amusements the midway offered appeared to contemporary critics, for many of the fair's visitors, Williams' "baby birds on L S D , " it was this fantastic landscape, plucked from the depths of their most exotic imaginings, which they took away with them, not the memories of canvases by Monet. To reiterate Scott McCloud, "what you see is seldom what you get...In the end, what you get is what you give." 2 1 1 But when the fair has ended, it appears, following Zizek's model, that the edifice has changed hands. In the dismantling and mocking of the attempted censorship of the Comics Code, in their flaunting of societal taboos, and in their melding of extra-procreative sexuality and violence, Zap's artists unwittingly created a new institution. The censorship of the Code produced the very excess it was trying to 2 0 8 Williams. "Prologue." Malicious Resplendence: 1. 2 0 9 Ibid.: 1. 2 , 0 Ibid.: 1. 2 1 1 McCloud. Understanding Comics: 136-37. 87 contain. But this new form was at times as hostile to other would-be participants and readers as the post-Code comics were to themselves. Zizek contends, Power is always-already its own transgression, i f it is to function, it has to rely on a kind of obscene supplement. It is therefore not enough to assert, in a Foucauldian way, that power is inextricably linked to counter-power, generating it and being itself conditioned by it: in a self-reflective way, the split is always mirrored back into the power edifice itself, splitting it from within, so that the gesture of self-censorship is consubstantial with the exercise of power.2 1 2 And this model of the splitting of the hegemonic power discourse from within may also be applied to the undergrounds, whose excessive nature was undermined in a similar fashion by audience and creative demand for something other than rote viscerality. This more nuanced and sophisticated content and means of representation were found by many in the new world of alternative comics. Undeniably, Zap was and is salacious and self-obsessed. The fraternity of its creators was representative of the misogyny and inaccessibility of the genre towards female artists and women in general, as dependent as they were upon the subjugation of women's bodies as a focus for male bonding in terms of both artists and audience. But contained within the lewd and bright covers and printed on the shoddiest newsprint are hidden inherent antagonisms and critiques, some of which I hope have been unpacked here. In the 1928 essay "The Big Toe," Bataille lamented, "although the body blood flows in equal quantities from high to low and from low to high, there is a bias in favour of that which elevates itself, and human life is erroneously seen as an elevation."2 1 3 In an attempt to stem this vertical tide, always pulling upward, Bataille turned to the Marquis de Sade's crimes as constituting the violence he saw at the foundation of civilization and of its experience. Sade's articulation of pathos and perversion challenged societal insistence that graphic sex and violence stay outside of culture's definition, our delusions being exacerbated by the silence of the state and the instutionalization of violence. Zap's value, like Sade's, lies in giving violence a voice. 2 1 2 Zizek. The Plague of Fantasies: 26-27. 2 1 3 Bataille. "The Big Toe." Georges Bataille: Visions of Excess: 20. 88 Bibliography Primary Sources Boivin, Jacques. "Press release: Communique: Zap 7 Destroyed." Montreal PQ: 1994. Craig, Johnny. "Fire Trap!" EC Comics: Crime Suspenstories. Issue #20. New York N Y : L L Publishing Inc. August 1953. Craig, Johnny. "Understudies." EC Comics: Crime Suspenstories. Issue #21. New York N Y : L L Publishing Inc. November 1954. Crumb, Robert. "Angelfood McSpade." Zap Comix #2. San Francisco C A : Last Gasp 1968. Crumb, Robert. "City of the Future." Zap Comix #0. San Francisco C A : Last Gasp 1967. Crumb, Robert. "Joe Blow." Zap Comix #4. 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San Francisco C A : Last Gasp 1993. Crumb, Robert. "Whiteman." Zap Comix #1. San Francisco C A : Last Gasp 1967. Crumb, Robert. "Wildman Sam's Nigger Hearts." Zap Comix #1. San Francisco C A : Last Gasp 1967. Eisner, Wi l l . "Just One Word Make Me a Man." Will Eisner's The Spirit. New York N Y : July 5, 1942: pp.31-35. 89 Griepenberg, Anne M.. Letter of November 11, 1993 circulated to all bookselling associates by the Inland Book Company, East Haven CT. Griffin, Rick. "Hike..." Zap Comix #2. San Francisco CA: Last Gasp 1968. Hopps, Walter. Telephone Conversation of December 19, 1999. Knockabout Comics. "Press Release: H M Customs Seizures." London U K : October 20, 1995. Last Gasp Of San Francisco. "Press Release: 39 Titles Banned in France: Is Last Gasp an Easy Target?" San Francisco C A : Apri l 1999. Mavrides, Paul. " M y Big Break." Zap Comix #14. San Francisco C A : Last Gasp 1998. Moscoso, Victor. "Luna Toon." Zap Comix #2. San Francisco C A : Last Gasp 1968. Moscoso, Victor and Spain Rodriguez. "Incident at Zwigoffs: Hyper-Sensitive Cartoonists Rend Their Garments Over Minor Bullshit." Zap Comix #14. San Francisco C A : Last Gasp 1998. Rodriguez, Spain. "Mara, Mistress of the Void." Zap Comix #4. Berkeley C A : Last Gasp 1969. Sacco, Joe. Soba. Montreal PQ: Drawn & Quarterly 1998. Shelton, Gilbert. "Wonder Wart-Hog's Believe It or Leave It! You Don't Know How Good You Got It Here in America, Bub." Zap Comix #5. Berkeley C A : Last Gasp 1970. Turner, Ron. Telephone interview of January 12, 1999. Williams, Robert. "Beamin' Gleamer as ' A Flash in the Pan. ' " Zap Comix #6. San Francisco C A : Last Gasp 1973. Williams, Robert. "Bludgeon Funnies: The Comic Strip That Doesn't Pull Any Punches!" Zap Comix #5. Berkeley C A : Last Gasp 1970. Williams, Robert. Interview of December 21, 1999. Williams, Robert. "Masterpiece on the Shithouse Wal l ." Zap Comix #6. San Francisco C A : Last Gasp 1973. Williams, Robert. "The Supreme Constellation of Dormasintoria." Zap Comix #4. Berkeley C A : Last Gasp 1969. Wilson, S. Clay. " A Ball in the Bunghole: A Study in Decay." Zap Comix #4. Berkeley C A : Last Gasp 1969. Wilson, S. Clay. "Captain Pissgums and His Pervert Pirates." Zap Comix #3. Berkeley C A : Last Gasp 1969. Wilson, S. Clay. "Come Fix: A Mind-Fuck Folly." Zap Comix #3. Berkeley C A : Last Gasp 1969. 90 91 Secondary Sources Barker, Martin. "Frederick Wertham: The Sad Case of the Unhappy Humanist." Pulp Demons: International Dimensions of the Postwar Anti-Comics Campaign. Ed. by John A . Lent. Cranbury NJ : Associated University Presses, 1999: pp.215-229. Bataille, Georges. "The Big Toe." Georges Bataille, Visions of Excess: Selected Writings 1927-1939. Ed. Alan Stoekl, trans, by Allan Stoekl with Carl R. Lovitt and Donald M. Leslie Jr.. Minneapolis M N : U of Minnesota Press, 1985: pp.20-24. Bataille, Georges. "The Notion of Expenditure." Georges Bataille, Visions of Excess: Selected Writings 1927-1939. Ed. Alan Stoekl, trans, by Allan Stoekl with Carl R. Lovitt and Donald M . Leslie Jr.. Minneapolis M N : U of Minnesota Press, 1985: pp.116-129. Bataille, Georges. "The Old Mole and the Prefix Sur in the Words Surhomme and Surrealist." Georges Bataille, Visions of Excess: Selected Writings 1927-1939. Ed. Alan Stoekl, trans, by Allan Stoekl with Carl R. Lovitt and Donald M . Leslie Jr.. Minneapolis M N : U of Minnesota Press, 1985: pp.32-44. Benton, Mike. The Illustrated History of Crime Comics. Dallas TX: Taylor Publishing Co., 1993. Buhle, Paul. "Comix." Kaleidoscope. July 4-17, 1969: p.10. Callahan, Bob. "Zap Splits!" www.salonmagazine.com. September 1998: pp.1-12. Carlin, John and Sheena Wagstaff. The Comic Art Show: Cartoons in Painting and Popular Culture. New York N Y : Whitney Museum of American Art (downtown branch), Summer 1983. Crow, Thomas. The Rise of the Sixties. New York N Y : Harry N. Abrams Inc., 1996. 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A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Minneapolis M N : U of Minnesota Press, 1987. Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari. Capitalisme et schizophrenic: L 'Anti-oedipe. Paris, France: Les Editions de minuit, 1972. 92 Donahue, Don. The Life and Times of R. Crumb: Comments from Contemporaries. Ed. Monte Beauchamp. Northampton M A : Kitchen Sink Press, 1998: pp.9-12. Dubin, Zan. "Shock Test: Robert Williams Tones Down the Wild and Vulgar Images as Time Goes On." Los Angeles Times (Orange County Edition). Saturday, February 28, 1998: pp.F2+. Eaton, Michael. "Drawing it Out." Sight and Sound. July 1995: pp.34-35. Ebert, Roger. The Life and Times of R. Crumb: Comments from Contemporaries. Ed. Monte Beauchamp. Northampton M A : Kitchen Sink Press, 1998: pp. 105-111. Estren, Mark James. A History of Underground Comics. Berkeley: Straight Arrow Books, 1974. Friedman, Josh Alan. The Life and Times ofR. Crumb: Comments from Contemporaries. Ed. Monte Beauchamp. Northampton M A : Kitchen Sink Press, 1998: pp. 7-8. Gilbert, James. A Cycle of Outrage: America's Reaction to the Juvenile Delinquent in the 1950s. New York N Y : Oxford University Press, 1986. Gilstrap, Peter. "Ev i l Easel." New Times Los Angeles. March 26-April 1, 1998: pp.11-14+. Gordon, Ian. Comic Strips and Consumer Culture 1890-1945. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institute Press, 1998. Green, Justin. The Life and Times of R. Crumb: Comments from Contemporaries. Ed. Monte Beauchamp. Northampton M A : Kitchen Sink Press, 1998: pp.157-58. Grosz, Elizabeth. Jacques Lacan: A Feminist Introduction. London U K : Routledge, 1990. Groth, Gary. "The Comics Journal and the New Comics." The New Comics. Ed. Gary Groth and Robert Fiore. New York N Y : Berkeley Books and Fantagraphics Books Inc., 1988: pp.ix-xii. Heller, Steven. The Life and Times ofR. Crumb: Comments from Contemporaries. Ed. Monte Beauchamp. Northampton M A : Kitchen Sink Press, 1998: pp.95-96. Hunt, Lynn. "Introduction." The Invention of Pornography: Obscenity and the Origins ofModernity 1500-1800. Ed. Lynn Hunt. New York N Y : Zone Books, 1993: pp.9-45. Jaxon. The Life and Times of R. Crumb: Comments from Contemporaries. Ed. Monte Beauchamp. Northampton M A : Kitchen Sink Press, 1998: pp.25-34. Johnson, Ken. "Crumb." Art in America. October 1995: pp.55-56. Jones, Steven Loring. "From 'Under Cork' to Overcoming: Black Images in the Comics." Ethnic Images in the Comics. Ed. Charles Hardy and Gail F. Stern. Philadelphia PA: Museum of the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies, 1986: p.21-42. Kelly, Patricia. Dissertation Roundtable Presentation: "From SDS to LSD or Politics, the Audience and the Object of Art." Vancouver BC : Apri l 2000. Kienholz, Edward and Nancy Reddin. Kienholz: A Retrospective. New York N Y : Whitney Museum of American Art, 1996. 93 Levin, Bob. "Alone in the Western World: The Saga of Maxon Crumb." The Comix Journal #217. November 1999: pp.78-97. Lent, John A. . "The Comics Debate Internationally: Their Genesis, Issues and Commonalities." Pulp Demons: International Dimensions of the Postwar Anti-Comics Campaign. Ed. by John A . Lent. Cranbury NJ: Associated University Presses, 1999: pp.9-41. Lynch, Jay. The Life and Times of R. Crumb: Comments from Contemporaries. Ed. Monte Beauchamp. Northampton M A : Kitchen Sink Press, 1998: pp.13-16. Marcuse, Herbert. Eros and Civilization: A Philosophical Inquiry Into Freud. Boston M A : Beacon Press, 1996 (1st edition 1955). J Marcuse, Herbert. "Political Preface." Eros and Civilization: A Philosophical Inquiry Into Freud. Boston M A : Beacon Press, 1996 (1st edition 1955): pp.xi-xxv. McCloud, Scott. Reinventing Comics. New York N Y : Paradox Press (an imprint of DC Comics), 2000. McCloud, Scott. Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. Northampton M A : Tundra Publishing, 1993. Moore, Alan. The Life and Times of R. Crumb: Comments from Contemporaries. Ed. Monte Beauchamp. Northampton M A : Kitchen Sink Press, 1998: pp.71-82. Nyberg, Amy Kiste. "Comic Book Censorship in the United States." Pulp Demons: International Dimensions of the Postwar Anti-Comics Crusade. Ed. by John A . Lent. Cranbury NJ: Associated University Presses, 1999: pp.69-92. Pagel, David. "Helter Skelter." Art Issues. May/June 1992: pp.32-33. Pizello, Chris. "Peeking Through Crumb's Keyhole." American Cinematographer. July 1995: pp.24-26+. Ribbon, PB. "Umbilical Chords." Kaleidoscope. March 3, 1971: p.5. Richard, Paul. '"Helter Skelter': Naughty by Nature." The Washington Post. March 22, 1992: pp.G8+. Robbins, Trina and Cat Yronwode. Women and the Comics. Forestville C A : Eclipse Books, 1986. Rugoff, Ralph. "Helter Skelter and the Art of Our Times." LA Weekly. January 31-February 6, 1992: pp. 18-25. Sabin, Roger. Comics, Comix and Graphic Novels: A History of Comic Art. London: Phaidon Press, 1996. Savage Jr., William. Comic Books and America: 1945-1954. Norman OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1990. Stang, Rev. Ivan. The Life and Times of R. Crumb: Comments from Contemporaries. Ed. Monte Beauchamp. Northampton M A : Kitchen Sink Press, 1998: pp.43-52. Stecyk, C.R.. Malicious Resplendence: The Paintings of Robert Williams. Ed. Gary Groth. Seattle WA: Fantagraphics Books, 1998. Stecyk, C.R.. "Origins of a Sub-Species." Kustom Kulture: Von Dutch, Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, Robert Williams & Others. Laguna Beach C A : Laguna Beach Art Museum, 1993. 94 Sundog. "Zap Zapped."Berkeley Tribe. January 16-23, 1970: p . l l . Thomson, John. The Life and Times ofR. Crumb: Comments from Contemporaries. Ed. Monte Beauchamp. Northampton M A : Kitchen Sink Press, 1998: pp.59-69. Wertham, Fredric. Seduction of the Innocent. New York N Y : Rinehart & Co. Ltd., 1954. Williams, Robert. "Cartoon Surrealism." Interview in: Grand Street Vol.13 No.4. Spring 1995: pp.47-58. Williams, Robert. "Prologue." Malicious Resplendence: The Paintings of Robert Williams. Ed. Gary Groth. Seattle WA: Fantagraphics Books, 1998: pp.1-2. Wilson, S. Clay. The Life and Times ofR. Crumb: Comments from Contemporaries. Ed. Monte Beauchamp. Northampton M A : Kitchen Sink Press, 1998: pp. 153-154. Veitch, Tom. The Life and Times of R. Crumb: Comments from Contemporaries. Ed. Monte Beauchamp. Northampton M A : Kitchen Sink Press, 1998: pp.131-133. Zack, David. "Smut for Love, Art, Society." Art and Artists. December 1969: pp. 12-17. Zone, Ray. "Luminous Babble." Artweek. December 14, 1985: pp. 12-13+. Zizek, Slavoj. The Plague of Fantasies. New York: Verso Books, 1997. 95 Appendix A Johnny Craig."Understudies". EC Comics: Crime Suspenstories Issue #20. (New York N Y : L L Publishing Inc. November, 1954.) FOB THf.yprstvo Y I M J , WEOPCD K I » H«PK<M| mrwm MORE THAU A MYTH TO JIM PWALPSO*;.., — If I D M U BCT DRUNK, f LL SET DRUNK' f/OW GET OUTTA HERE 4Hf IE* ALONEf W E OF THEBE DAYS, MYRTt_£' S'HtLI' MC, ONE OF THEBE M V S . ROW* RIQKf IW THE KIBSCR? AND IM ANOTHER PART OF THE CITY. SAIL.WILLIAMS ALSO LEO A VERT URWAPW MARRIED Lift QWf STOP ttf 8TOR IT* YOIMIE HURTiHS MET I ' L L M E W now* HECX IF YOU DON'T SHUT UP? f L A»,SttUTUR, Witt YAf SHUT j Ifff SURE? I'LL SMUT UP? tHS'CK or T A L K I N G r o your tou 'Mt NOTHING BUT A DRUNKER SUM AND IM SfCK OF YTXI? TH IB IS a, MVMTf me'Jfe THROUGH* I CAN'T STAND THIS ANYMORE ALL YOU DO 13 MEAT ME.* YOU NCVtR SET A JOB? I'VE MAC TO SUPPORT Y O U run TWO YEARS, AND I CAN'T TAKE AWMORE' 3 \ S'WANf GET OUT OF HEREf f M SICK o r t u n w i N o TO 97 ANO AT THE SAME TIME, BAIL AND HER HUSBAND PREPARED TO LEAVE ON THEIR VACATION-. WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? I DON'T WANT TO BE LATE' LATE* LATE FOR WHAT? , WE OOT PLENTY Of TIME ' ALL I D I D WAS 80 SAY GOOD - B Y E TO ALFIE DOWN THE CORNERf ELSEWHERE, BAIL WAS RIOHT ON SCHEDULE SAYP WHAT'S THE IDEA? WHERE'D Y O U BET THAT euNff I T WAS EVENING WHEN JIM DONALDSON FINISHED DIGGING HIS WIFE'S GRAVE... GAIL? SHE WAS DOING VERY WELL FOR HERSELF THE FIRST SET OF PICTURES THAT JIM'S FRIENOS RECEIVED WERE A PHOTOGRAPHER'S NIGHTMARE, BUT TO JIM AND GAIL THEY WERE PERFECT, FOR THEIR FACES WERE COMPLETELY UNIDENTIFIABLE.. AND GAIL'S FRIENOS BACK HOME RECEIVED PICTURES OF THE SAME QUALITY. THERE WAS NO DANGER WHAT-SOEVER OF ANYONE BECOMING SUSPICIOUS... MORE TWN A MONTH PASSED Krone #IM SENT THE" MKT BATOH Of MTUNCS 10 HH FRI EMM, BUT BY TM£Afi HARDLY AWtmt REALIZED THAT THE •OMAN wrm HIM WAS NOT HIS wire , so COMPLETE WAS THE CKANflE TWEMISEDV.;ARC:SAIL REAUZBD.THROIHH THE MAZE OF. HEfl NOW FREOUEWT ORUHKEN *TUPWS,TH»T JIM HAD BECOME A CARBON. COPY OF HER DC AO WSBAH^, - — — - ~ IT WAS ONLY A MATTER OP TIME •IHMF THE INEVITABLE WOULD HAPPEN* AS THE •«IKS AND MONTHS WENT «Y, THEIR BITTER FEELINGS TOW ARC ORE ANOTHER MOUNTED TO TNI ULTIMATE FINISH... Appendix B Johnny Craig. "Fire Trap!" EC Comics: Crime Suspenstories Issue #20. (New York N Y : L L Publishing Inc. August 1953) 103 n d U B H L X , I ' O BAY THIS BTRINQOF HOUSES IS WORTH AT LEAST HALF A MILLtm DOLLARS? OP COURSE, IT WILL ALL YOURS WHEN I BtEf SEVERAL WEEKS LATER,SEDRSIA'S BROTHER AKRIVEC^ HE * * * T A L I , HANDBOME ANO PLEASANT. MARTIN tIKEO HIM rmtEMATELT,.. WE SURE WILL' J CANT WAIT TO SEE YOURSTABLEsfl SD TOU LIKE HORSES, EH, BILL7 WELL,THEN, T O l . ' i l L I K E LIVING HERE? WE'LL HAVE A LOT TO TALK *vmi NBITHCR GEORGIA NOR BILL HEARD THE fRONT DOOR OPEN AND CLOSE, AND THEY OlON'T REALIZE THAT MARTIN HAD COME HOME AND WAS VERY INNOCENTLY HEAD*N« DOWN THE THICKLY CARPETEO HALL TOWARD THEM-[ S T U N N E O . M J W T M S L U M P E D AGAINST T H E WALLFTHC REALISATION OF HI9 BETRAYAL SLOWLY, UN WILLINGLY SETTLiHfl INTO JEALOUS F U HY X'LL BO OUT THE BACK WAY TO THE STABLES f REMEMBER-YOU BE SOME WHEN £ RETURN' „ A F E W MOMENTS AFTER HIS WIFE MAD GONE, MARTIN. TREMBLING WITH RASE, SNEMBO UP BEHIND BILL,.. A CMOTTEO BILK SCARF THE STRUGGLE WAS I RTENSE , BUT MARTTN'S GRIP OH THE STRANGLING SCARF NEVER LOOSENED.. ., A H O IT WAS ONLY A FEW MIN-U T E S BEFORE Bl LL GASPED FOR HCS LAST BREATHS OF AIR- AND DIEDf His CHEST HEAVING FROM THE EXERTION MARTIN DRAGGED BILL'S LIFELESS BODY DOWN THE CELLAR STAIRS. HE GRABBED A SHOVEL AND HURRIEDLY BEGAN DIGGING A SHORT WHILE LATER, MARTIN NEARtD THE STABLES-. I'M SURE I HEARD HER SAY Srf E WAS COMWG HERE, BUT I DON'T SEE HER YETf BAY.-THE DOM TO THE PADDOCK ron THE ww HORSE a OPEM f AND THAT STALLION IS ACT INS UP SOMETHING FIERCE? HMM„, IS IT POSSIBLE THAT SHE'S Hi THERE? I TOLD HER THIS HORSE IS A KILLER f GEORGIA W O U L D BE CRAZY TO QO IB THERE-., BUT IF SHE DID. I T WOULD SAVE ME "* THE JOB OF HLLItM HER' SO QUICKLY. GEORGIA S L A M M E D THE PADDOCK DOOR AND LOCKED ITf INSIDE, SHE HEARD THE FRANTIC SHOUTS Of HER ItUSBANO A N D THE SHRILL HEISHINS OF THE KILLER MORSE" SHE STRUCK A MATCH AND DROPPED IT DM A PILE OF HAT SHE HAD PREVIOUSLY SOAKED.WITH KEROSENE? WITH A HUSHES ROAR; A SHEET OF FLAME SPREAD OVER THE WOOD SLAYS Of THE STABIEF MARTBrV SHOUTS HAS NOW TURNED TO AGONIZED SCREAMS... SHE STOOD OFF FROM THE BLAZING PADDOCK, LISTEN-ING no THE PAIN-HACKED SCREAMS AB THE KILLER-HORSE, INCENSED BY THE SCENT OF SMOKE,TRAMPLED JltH HUSBAND TO DEATH' SHE WAITED... r OFF IN THE NEAR DISTANCE,GEORGIA HEARD A SHOUT. 1 «0 UP? THE STABLEIIANOS A M P SEEN •TSHE'.FIRE?' SHE COULOWAIT M'O LOHGERf SHE RAttb TO THE OODROF ^ P l f t O C ^ IT , , . .IF THEY FOUND MARTW LOOKED INSIDE, THEY'D M B \ KNOW SOMETHING WAS W WRONO? NOW TO GET •V." A 0 F HERE i 107 H M O I * HAD SHE HIDDEN IN SOME NCMtV 'AuSHEft WHEN A GROUP OF STA6LEHAND3 RACIO UPOH THE FLAM INS SCENES 108 SHE REMEMBERED NOW? THE STABLEHANDS MUST HAVE NOTIFIED THE POLICE OF MARTIN'S DEATH? SHE WOULD HAVE TO BE CAREFUL-HAVE TP CONTINUE HER ACT... IT WAS HORRIBLEF THE STABLE' Appendix C Robert Crumb. "Meatball." Zap Comix W. (San Fransisco C A : Last Gasp 1967) Uoont CAM £*J>LAlrt IT. Mo ONE HWWS W H O ' S BtHlMD Tr OR W H A T THE PURPOSE IS. A U WE CAM DO IS BT ©RMTETUL TOR.... ^ M E A T B A L L nw P M r KttvwM W C I B B V T T O O * ftjvcg IN A tllMG jrfon6 IN dWUfiVCTry SKK tM M A S . Y A H O O T I 6 G O T tMVitoi SUOOEMLV A voice t*m* our / M»*TiWi-L tHUttfitD MCA (JU=E, U»A NAMe 11 MOW A HOV2EH0LO LuOAO. « « Mf MAt6 MUMS Of. A*fCAMHCGS Oil TV AUb WJD 111 M S M K ) . ^ firiACdilllsT HiP- PEMPsTfcR 112 jlftMMP THREE VEftftJ A&> MEATBALLS S&MH SlAIK^C Moot Mtuut^av-P E O P l f I N ALI M M L K 1 OF LIPE wrtKfc c r t i N g HUT B A U T J»M NOVAK GoT M i r ON TV irt PROMT or MILLIONS of VIEWERS... IM rr i 3 fiESPCHTEfi MEN IM H)CW PLACES WEAt GcrffltC htr. SASH , 'J'.' *t> j i I IM M A f i f O i M e ^ HvTto ty-pe* * * STATED "TOO IB. \NtVtf. J r t C O i i W E R E J V M * (AEM OF u'WJWWMT, i **Ci.THCATK»*5 StWATfefr i 6 BY -, IM-T H E . Route fjc*st* UP SbS-flCBW CNABACTM5 LIGWEOTh QC I MVoLVfct) 'N TN* MEAtOAU " P L O T : 1 THf N OAS iMCCSY TutSBAV <N J JOS ANOELSS^A«odi4P NO<»* £V£KVOHEL IN THK DOW T«V<M A»»A HCAAb TH« CRY-. WHAT FbLUUttO >S HlSTOAr', 113 T*0U5AtfMT OI FfflPte W i J S K E "MCnTQMJL XUtS&Hrl TVE50AV. f T H £ A X VMS pJVTH4« MM* L f r V T O U nrtb MNCJNG M t m TTHKTS FINP A LOT THCV CWJUMT STOP WHAT HAD HAPPtAlfcO* H5R MAM/ OF TMOSS frftte AHMET! PS ™Hf WWT *to rioPC THAT fame r M E 0 *V -nUY w BUS*. THAT W W * 115 116 117 Appendix E Victor Moscoso. "Luna Toon." Zap Comix #2. (Fransisco C A : Last Gasp 1968) Appendix F Robert Cnrmb. "Lets Talk Sense About This Here Modern America." Arcade #2. (1975) 121 VbsTs Lean if; O N joii-sra. VVBUti TTUP L I T T L E QUf, FV-AtJtf * * K LizM v-'hAT K C T f b f r K f i * — 1 —| X K k - J a y . ' i — — — - — 122 K I K I O ; —-— j — , 123 9M£ T H I N G ^ C D w<*<E nonce cH«i«*itf,N«i wyft. f K U t f , W i i F THbiC Hl(W ' '£M OUT M f t K C WORK •*) <M* POO*"™ 5 - -T H E Y ' D k « M ) • y e & « ' R 6 BrtLK OVWTSMftN. -SHIP 3i PEOPLE G E T A v « u K o a f P U ( MOM TRrR uJtmW ' wo WW. RSl€J*fltY AUo «UR«riTT/T*nN<iS (^ ijua> LAST Law6* . ' tf|-ivifw*t <r IVIW8E tWf'U, WftANL.f Vf-ttC TV*. P X M ' C AL*lflVS Cktir'UU ATOP <i&HJL1 15 O H Q * f t k l I V U V , d V S V O C M W H l f / K M TgHw T H t O r o r t E C A T O«WH<C 1 * I ge ft - r t ! ( f i N t > * > f i Tut*., i r A I M i ...Add T^flT1* WW lN* _ 125 Appendix G Robert Crumb. "That's Life." Arcade #3. (1975) 126 127 . . W l U f c £ B&6 HAWS OBW-rtO t h e TSBSTi^WJE. T o THE W W J 3 f fVft (15 DTY, nm. smitrAntf, »• wuM i^v,SM/IOINS ( T O W W oniNnn««.f acts \mw& VM*T>« A r\u I X & R R C M R S > d -ar it* O N K W I I sum SHtitt, I W O M I I N W W > W « j e i u o u j H O S S W I O . O*X KITS, T i n . TM6 fttST ON ftjJH A N D WOMEN.. f| W * h T IN A J S I N T , TNt H v i W M P SROOtf • - IN i*t w t A p ( H a t i ^ & H I M ws.jtmu. 128 LlK MONTHS 1H£ M i g l OF 190) 31, n AN J » t ^ i . O P n t N O B t t means <.onmm HUM V0*X Ct1Y 129 vewi i mem um oewi tftt'Uft WIWO UP OAT X' VIC TAMA ... BH STIU. OOT W l l * at ru#» 'ftou"" 'H ,UKE. I SAID, t'u m A coco M i c e F9R A>tY RCCORCf I F lNO. 'F THERE THtJjIND I'M UJOK.W Fcf i , . f ^ T t R K Ofcm oV * ••" • TIME tu>K$, HUUf,, 130 AppendixH Robert Crumb. "What Gives?" Zap Comix #8. (San Francisco, C A : Last Gasp1975) 132 133 T°» 'WMllMMWll*' SHIP HW THE A t unAE SAeftl»t Y l iWfWCIlONf FO*. THIi J1 I B U T T^ k-t'F I. I 134 135 jr. ( anmn«,.- VOL. M*oVd OKI 9> 41 <Mlt» ( * A S C YAM vovij nor CLST PRE w* *Tt*C» TO W»r ANY woo «nr y a w . ! r w i T ] ANA" gift K i U O . O N itfc* * ¥ * » , ' W W i Lava KJ W A S rwony pjmgr MWMRr Q U I T (aMdM* AT MB.' IT MAKES MB D O W N T O T V * TASK AT HAN^hWHj Vgu one* re d o i r a * I«=...VJ6IW ^H.. « j T H f c I ^ E L - - W * <*TW TKIV W IT HMt cer TO HAVE i t A i e to THINK... W60D,*| i Oplnf muitf can a t uoaitfe vcWAE CAAtY.' 1««n l** 'A{ K W * i lUMAb DC At H W n<KIM& " w * * s . e u r « * MOM » s r « t s 4 ftma mMrr TALK w i m !MlA»lWrMf/_, O B N T RUSH •ens M L « N T T » N . h aiim., 137 ' H e U o . iTMTEi fC ' < a j T S> O w e DOM X nHtvAl, KSMS ix«imi*s...wE tun aaaHA to A so«r«* >«(««-•«.«* "Lui«r^ iiB<tMie«ri«v>, * njwnirt luMm *ic* vnu(u mg m UKL ^> co , ' r t V^ w i W D H i U PKsSSk S u m CUL-CU**J irJ -nra» a gnu « N G B a win «*nr ! u W E ODNT WIS* T O u u t a ^eac trl Wxifc ifJB4JUTO», HtfT wnto Wfc v see K J K * E D wit sic* WAMIML AADURB so QwaHaarr WITH WEW-FKim T IYr f W S O E H t E W B -nKm<ortS«,lT,< fgUIH I E TOO C A P . ' 139 140 Appendix I Gilbert Shelton. "Wonder Wart-Hog's Believe It or Leave It! You Don't Know How Good You Got It Here In America, Bub." Zap Comix #5. (Berkeley,: Last Gasp 1969) Believe It or Leave It / 142 'Believe it or Leave lt / i 144 Appendix J S. Clay Wilson. " A BA11 in the Bung-Hole: A Study in Decay." Zap Comix M. (BerkerleyCA: Last Gasp 1969) SPLENDID wwstR THE mffag <*E *n«»w6J .<B U'jt.nib.Wt THE. fflW<«" POPPED H|s «xKt tjj^j Sa<i IfaC IOOKCIiwf,puRSfNC, ws rowDfRw WS.. . I Lhiefl t i l l SEKWNT WfE.tfED GitolED IN IKE HIDE HlWNUS A STBtf <.mb m AMP ejMMM| 4 i m W UUD *T HER ASS... THE rtoftE TW HARNESS PTKAP cuTwft HSK ^ E E T ^ y T H t HARPCR SHE SU<;B£1>. 146 Appendix K Robert Crumb. "Joe Blow." Zap Comix #4. (Berkeley C A : Last Gasp 1969) 147 149 1 5 0 r SOMETIMES IM THE I H*\..-THAT'S BATHROom A M D 1 WHAT I Flf i" B£T> AT NIGHT. , J ufttJ&.WHAT 1 DO V O U "W'HK ABOUT? UM,..t THINK ABOUT GIRLS I K N O W IN S C H O O L 1 , „ ESPeCIAU-V CAROL H6A A PEEL ' W W SOtAtxmes l JERK Of* I . O O K I S J ' Aff PICTURES OF WOMEN iN MAGAZINES-SOMETIMES I EVEW G£T A HAAD-OtJ WM£»4 I'M (UAVM BASES A L L . , . WSHT THE HE JUNfOP! Appendix L Robert Williams. "The Supreme Constellation of Dormasintoria Zap Comix #4. (Berkeley C A : Last Gasp 1969) 155 156 Appendix M Robert Crumb. "The City of The Future." Zap Comix #0. (San Francisco CA: Last Gasp 1969) 157 YDO WOMT HAVE TO ©Htr A t f V A M R C / R Q W E L £ B B R f M o V B b RT * I « T H A * » * j A j * n x i * « 015PasM irmrtfj -UJCIIM Mo W R E WOflA* AtUOT MAfliY t O l t t T T f / f B W W N f t S . U R S WILL K S O F T P i R * n C . Sr«EETJ WILL. S t W T P L A S H C . A C t l D t t f U Hilt Sv5 5£9 ** "oaoov N O Mf i l tE M t * T RMt> C O L D . NIGHT RMt> D A Y . CITIES W I U H»V£ R o o M T S M f S t 8rSFT,T>IPTWEft. SHOW 9 0 * CMRISTfrtA*/' . . M t B C * H U M , WOmC!* AH fOODUCTWl W S T O I i U T f C M A M D MAlMTEIfAMCe vwu. ec OOME, BY a>f<puTeMiiee» Hornets. PEOFLft C A M SPtTNO A U . *f tMtl P . t»M£ PfAVlMe, (J -ATI Wis. oft WATCH'MC T V / CVtRYONB WILL HL TtlUeo I* TO iMttXY* TWOS THAT'S ttAPP£*4'**S ALL THE VIMEr/ MO-OH* ww- AC terr our. w*TLt AU et: ..-Of, TMJtf C A M R I C K / / 5ffi=l*t P U C K -1 4 6 (VWROttf N M . B E fl*AUA«U TO EMEAT-Otre' SoCVAt. WIU. blSLAPPKftfc' • KX 'wt (tJYOLVEMERT W(W OPPOSITE. 158 rtaoo OSt* SADISTS CAN TOfiTOQE TM(l¥l CUT T«6W UP, TLAfl TM€M P * C £ f / MEM CAM B«Ub TUB)? OHM AftMlCS, FKJHT Th&A W WAHJ. HAU£ MASS IXfAmaiiS CONCCNTRATfC* CAP«?v»F*rt KEAfp ' AU. WWW AWKUllDi, WHO l^oNf M<M> fl ftiT/ I ^ / i p t | S a^'rr * *'**?* \ f 159 Jusr T O K E E » U S O K OOA T O E S , VAST W B B » TAtUMiKlr WtrwofcKi WILL B l <M&M\z&Ci T H A T 5 * X t f U t t E 11* i U B P f t t f E P A A N * i V PfcSeia *rilLL I S I T T H i W I ) / houses W I L L acr vr- w*a W A L K A A O U U D / Tflf£s W t U . A M K 6 rA&S." A«l (MtT/UTriuG WILL BX DOMt « f AodOTL W H H T V HEAftt T " A T N A * WOBO TAPf tJ w , M « « K J T 1 P 0 ^ T W l < i W L O A M / "<nl«i*«, CiOwMS WIU. ABPSAA our OF WOUJKSAp WITH s&T2£f» a o m t * / C L O C l t f T M A T - y o t J C O M H A \ , t f v r I M S I M ) Voir*. HEAP SO THAT V>UV. ALVvBws kN«<«J BKftCttV WHAT TWA I T IS/ « . TM6 — „ 9:30K K M W * £ w SPORTi W I U . QB I W V t W T f * ' KiBS WILL ftlSK ThfilH LIVES l*» D A N G U M * 5»C*Cr t)«A& (LACES. Sof^tOf T H t i l 160 f r H M m 9 C T M f i S<*0KH f*X\ THE. B J & J C * K W <Wtf V W J X J»£iHr - t H I C K j r r O H X X A V O W A U . THB OLD ST»f F w7l*" a s A A n u m t i *K» rvr » t i « MI /CC M A C K \ H C r WNttM W » L L Ofllf*p I T UP A Mb T K E M £ « * T H ( 1 » « WILL. V B&limf**., i^SS. S*UM3><»W»« wo WITH « V ^ . O T J W F « H U f t b l M A * . we// C T M W 5 W I U OUtT SIT M W H t All t*aV TMK S5 J t S WC kMOM IT VMU, B E W M C I O See Y o U j m 4 F » rtLL. Appendix N Spain Rodriguez. "Mara, Mistress of the Void." Zap Comix #4 (Berkeley C: Last Gasp 1969) 163 164 Appendix O Robert Crumb. "Lenore Goldberg and Her Girl Commandos." Motor City Comics #1. (San Francisco C A : Last Gasp 1969) RTA THE puftnosiE OF aepjiMiNC THE SOUS AW IMAGE OF TVe UNITED STATES IN TH& lMQR.|.r> KAB M f N QN NOW F0* 0 u le iK . . . i , K T " * " ' I ' ' ' i l i B ™*—m n i * . . * , iiqb.Bi^ £ pj|ippkib» i i ^ n ^ L U f . • H ? •» *l» m M M K 4 £ IMM ra. IMM1IMI TI n M A P THE 4 N T E U . B C r u f t . l 5 SEEM T o FAE QCT-T I N 6 NOl»Mg«£ UiKtM H U . OF « 166 167 168 169 170 171 MflATY" WlH* •**» A pbiJCE FOOLS »J"° H i "•-ml* uow HE'D aeTTER) HPUT <J*> ^N41 L A V LOirf F t * F i U J H H E , T i l O i K C C W GONNA BE jjooKiri noft r CTw w » WKSHT v»e F /ND U S H O M I N T H E PBACff OP VmMB, ftEWM-UTlON J S N T T K e O H W TWU1S; OH M B * M I M D . ' Apeendix P Robert Crumb."Mr. Natural Takes a Vacation." Zap Comix #4. (Berkeley CA: Last Gasp 1969) 174 175 176 Appendix Q Robert Williams. "Bludgeon Funnies: The Comic Strip That Doesn't Pull Any Punches." Zap Comix #5. (Berkeley C A : Last Gasp 1970) 179 180 Appendix R Robert Crumb. "Whiteman." Zap Comix #1. (San FrnciscoCA: Last Gasp 1967) 183 184 Appendix S Robert Crumb. "Angelfood McSpade." Zap Comix #2. (San Francisco C A : Last Gasp 1968) 185 QttVS THE KfKO O f CWCK h GUV utovto &6 PROUD TO UiMiK DOW** T N f *r«lCT U M F r t X l!8Sr»] TO . nfa* 186 tHtmiv* jam** Hryttt /St. « i hi X » C aur MOT #MAAT E V * O « H / / Co*. *jt pay • it •» S w S S ? M*icn*wu> jut* *t*ax««*j **« M U M R KlfctTUt MlM-SAl|IWk» ...AHO tH«« <Jt&«£! out. tf*V roe*. D c v i u ; 1 6o*MHit>.< J • a w i » » - NAPPE*1 ? 187 JHC <A*i K> -rut r ***rSt**!*'* « . AWo M4MM J M * P I C K S WS kvltVIO * o , T tHi iH g o « I IP TH*V «>T A < K * k i £ i T» - M C Dt' AIMftPOOe iHiMtf THAT tKiauPT oeftA THIWPM*/*. TH€ ft»C**W*K*r «4«IKA TA«« * IF 155 *»* MUj ©.» B m r Siii ir^pu «AA£/ . - r 1 1S8 Appendix T Robert Crumb. "When The Niggars Take Over America." Weirdo #28. (San Francisco CA: Last Gasp 1993) OK I'M T6LUHG V&U PEOPLE, THERE & GONNA BE HflU TO PAY;.. WHEN THE TAKE OV ER AMERICA! 189 <9£ W£$£ M Bio f&pOBliEt' fiftrSf oewwfl f* /, f?EAL &LOOO BATHS ^PtsHTY OF "Stfimosifs" WILL at KUO> ajrtwriL (ffiKST TWyiL Tmk OWTROL Of TUB Thump wH&i aitkS. FtiuM incite, •n&r'u. -H «fc4tik _ flirt-.. ^ T / l —Y,wiJ — • _ ' — gY&n/'NOBQDV l&Ft n STOP TWfiM TWES? ^Mmvc V^gML&Qti* ttlWNb SPREE™*1** \ ffiomii. * BULL fffkeni, QOicxur tou ANY wnm Am WHO i&sisTs maw, Atx> OFWUXSG. am TO T W mnarof evesy "JI&ABOO " ts TWE SLKNWG oesme 190 f&<NL£>n6j'7>0tt£tf (wr THE tricar WWfit&WttiV [jJhCKfc. W/jLi. BE OOWTfYWOf5 OJNfUCT rue "COONS'wo. &ifov ms smtt or mAiax AS THessrtLL wait w r flttw U f W P A (SnR&V jiOME" Of VI0t£HC£ Mt> (AUY GWOfYtNQ ~K? TH£ "SfOO^"\ WHtiM Ttf£ mm. RACE MM, A70iV 06 Vie SLAVES, TOHJW0 fl* 1MB fiUi>5 m» mfomtuet AU, WWP Momc LABOR,OF WHICH TH&tt'U. Be PLZMY, AS (r\OiX#St COWL** m^sfacootti OWPPtfiSt, UWWW NO Mt-M-Yf TH&U ROiSH G*4 i^STaPfOKmrrf w rttwrus wm wt UTMOST fcitxnY we su&tr&r tftfMwov WILL at m~ WWtfHMStVT/ TUtHK m nouns? ^tou JUST WAtTf/ Appendix R Robert Crumb. "When the Goddamn Jews Take Over America!" Weirdo #28. (San Francisco C A : Last Gasp 1993) t l jWre , The w&L-x&r sewer jutrr EWttgoor Knows ts imr we 'SHVAM&IS M£ 'WW too stoop/a ro TOFF umovr THE emitto-m-sWiES mmFvuvnoNs OF THOSE ciev&t FSL-tOWS WW TH& HOOK NOSES—WU KVOW WW m V\LH/H6 AtiMTf WtiiU TWfc BLACKS 4HD UH(T£& ARB WnUN&tTQUT VtmiELVeS Wfc WtAVM OF 7«£ WTfVtf WHL 3£ (jfO/ETW 5tPH°N&> OFF SY TW6 ftmt- KViOHS TAKE C W AMERICA! VTHE mcfCF TUB *WT1B? 7W AL~ HWt TM&i QV£R. WRBX/M6 TUG LWC£-TUGse. tme$, TMCT' JUST POT* r r «wt RNY moan, SAiI>- w*W 1 we* turn q>*?t*iw,y> dUKfP '£M/ ML yapoo Of . . . J WESB YtOS m& 5EPJRB0 ™rJ£l*5? GtEAStmrtX OWM&HF OF TW MOST fWC-fim- frfX£ OF MU&CONHPL m rue Map • uiofup- im MASS oteofA/ MfiC o>*>CWC TA) yt*// A PRMUC-TtT HAKES fUN A' TM' U-f. AfWf, Hal 192 )f?m JEW ^A? UOTHtHQ BUT (JTThR flOMfcW gwj^fcp OP fg«S3 MWUJ6CMCE F-WECMti-V aap/seAvP f^SSJ^jt E5%ai/j>& OF ms THE J W oesesseo wtm A , -r'~r77tcnnu AW parte* sv Twrr %aiuv s "«w* J P ^ " f —»rftUnctTT LIKE A W W ? , feet. ExrostO" ,, ON* KXJ KtflW QSff'Vf / t f « « Q f 7 h t ti/mr&TlHRfU- OF ALL, THS Va/umRTE THIUMPH, tut omuHS ONLY m. CHaic-193 %atrs r«fin& fa IAKE OK&? TH£ L^WVJW.. MJV <3ar tot* fl«fl«aso-a>3A»wotfi»fl CSOQIM-AHQ reMtpRtBNG TH»< WAV1 TO THt TOP... ~ uvtn, 5 R. etc w a r JSBNATOI THOUGHT 1 TOL'YOV TM . TH*S pAVdLA iiMUOTfOATTaM TNfNti., Vrm Tjniw'*.'*aa|n- rw lOOtf^tiKC TH1W. THJWGr TJKtE ITUNC66L CONTROL, i —., Tncr*-s wsr imu w aree coum?/ wive SHEW W6t&4r U» tHBO kVMBERS! I'FE teavr AS A/=W>V f>BX>L£ WHO WWW HfiOA £ W P OF THeOJVtXFT of AMERICA no tow&R T D He*wn™w figgg cmi,tpVfo» Heme /WWHBV waftto?? ff?F THE «*OL£ THMrVj eow*v7? OC (XHVA/ TWe one. cf^o^otie <ii&sr ACT of MLL we a*/ THIS EflHTH, TO Jtesmfftr •swear TWIT is wow /ST SMTP/ 194 Appendix S Victor Moscoso and Spain Rodriguez. "Incident at Zwigoffs, academic title: Hyper-Sensitive Cartoonists Rend Their Garments Over Minor Bullshit." Zap Comix # 14. San Francisco CA: Last Gasp 1998) l/jTjfcUHtrawwstiw) fjf BuMktJr 1 gp *» !«& r^R. Trtf p i-t J A W . . * 196 

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