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Underground Classics: The Transformation of Comics Into Comix

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The impact of American underground comix is profound: They galvanized artists both domestically and abroad; they forever changed the economics of comic book publishing; and they influenced generations of cartoonists, including their predecessors. While the works of Robert Crumb and Art Spiegelman are well-known via the New Yorker, Maus, and retrospective collections, th The impact of American underground comix is profound: They galvanized artists both domestically and abroad; they forever changed the economics of comic book publishing; and they influenced generations of cartoonists, including their predecessors. While the works of Robert Crumb and Art Spiegelman are well-known via the New Yorker, Maus, and retrospective collections, the art of their contemporaries such as Gilbert Shelton, Trina Robbins, Justin Green, Kim Deitch, S. Clay Wilson, and many other seminal cartoonists who came of age in the 1960s is considerably less known. Underground Classics provides the first serious survey of underground comix as art, turning the spotlight on these influential and largely underappreciated artists. Essays from curators James Danky and Denis Kitchen, alongside essays by Paul Buhle, Patrick Rosenkranz, Jay Lynch, and Trina Robbins, offer a thorough reflection and appraisal of the underground movement. Over 125 original drawings, paintings, sculptures, and artifacts are featured, loaned from private collections and the artists themselves, making Underground Classics indispensible for the seriousminded comics fan and for the casual reader alike.


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The impact of American underground comix is profound: They galvanized artists both domestically and abroad; they forever changed the economics of comic book publishing; and they influenced generations of cartoonists, including their predecessors. While the works of Robert Crumb and Art Spiegelman are well-known via the New Yorker, Maus, and retrospective collections, th The impact of American underground comix is profound: They galvanized artists both domestically and abroad; they forever changed the economics of comic book publishing; and they influenced generations of cartoonists, including their predecessors. While the works of Robert Crumb and Art Spiegelman are well-known via the New Yorker, Maus, and retrospective collections, the art of their contemporaries such as Gilbert Shelton, Trina Robbins, Justin Green, Kim Deitch, S. Clay Wilson, and many other seminal cartoonists who came of age in the 1960s is considerably less known. Underground Classics provides the first serious survey of underground comix as art, turning the spotlight on these influential and largely underappreciated artists. Essays from curators James Danky and Denis Kitchen, alongside essays by Paul Buhle, Patrick Rosenkranz, Jay Lynch, and Trina Robbins, offer a thorough reflection and appraisal of the underground movement. Over 125 original drawings, paintings, sculptures, and artifacts are featured, loaned from private collections and the artists themselves, making Underground Classics indispensible for the seriousminded comics fan and for the casual reader alike.

30 review for Underground Classics: The Transformation of Comics Into Comix

  1. 5 out of 5

    Brent

    I never get tired of this generation of comics. I wish I had seen the museum exhibit this catalog documents so well. Recommended.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ian Coutts

    Okay, full disclosure. I am desperately trying to hit the total number of books I set myself for my 2017 Goodreads challenge. That means plenty of picture books and illustrated rock star bios over the next few days. That aside, I really enjoyed this book. Lots of great art by all the masters -- Crumb, Shelton, Spain and so on -- as well as by people whose work I had seen long ago but never put a name to. Really thoughtful essays too about the origins of the comics and why they seemed to fade awa Okay, full disclosure. I am desperately trying to hit the total number of books I set myself for my 2017 Goodreads challenge. That means plenty of picture books and illustrated rock star bios over the next few days. That aside, I really enjoyed this book. Lots of great art by all the masters -- Crumb, Shelton, Spain and so on -- as well as by people whose work I had seen long ago but never put a name to. Really thoughtful essays too about the origins of the comics and why they seemed to fade away so completely in the early 1970s. If you like today's graphic novels or still have a soft spot for those frequently transgressive "head" comics of long ago, I can recommend this book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    David Macpherson

    A great collection of Underground Comix art. The essays are excellent. No complaints.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin Kahn

    Over-estimated my interest in this subject. The final essay killed me - so boring! Flipped through the plates, but most seemed to follow the same themes. Not my thing.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dominick

    Hmmmm. I'm ambivalent about this one. It's sort of a combo history of the undergrounds/art show catalogue, with over half the book consisting of photoreproductions of pages of original underground art culled from a gallery show on the subject. Most (though not all) the major underground cartoonists are represented by at least one page, none more than maybe four (unless one counts jam contributions, which might get a couple of them up to five). The text portion is also profusely illustrated, most Hmmmm. I'm ambivalent about this one. It's sort of a combo history of the undergrounds/art show catalogue, with over half the book consisting of photoreproductions of pages of original underground art culled from a gallery show on the subject. Most (though not all) the major underground cartoonists are represented by at least one page, none more than maybe four (unless one counts jam contributions, which might get a couple of them up to five). The text portion is also profusely illustrated, mostly with cover images, with Crumb of course well-represented (amusingly, the back cover includes a detail from a Will Eisner page about undergrounds in which a couple of guys opine, "After Crumb, what is there left to say?" a sentiment the book sets out to correct). The text consists not of a single history but rather several essays of varying length about the underground experience. These come across as informed but often underdeveloped--they're more like primers or teasers than in-depth accounts, making the book feel more like an art show catalogue than a book--which, in away, it is. That doesn't mean the essays are uninteresting or lacking in insights and information one might not have known, but it does militate against them having serious weight. Seeing all the original art is great in a way--especially all the stuff from lesser-known figures--but frustrating in another way. A single page of original art gives one little on which to base a judgement of an artist. It's both inevitable and essential that a book like this be breadth-focused rather than depth-focused, and I suppose it's a good thing, in a perverse way, that it leaves one wanting more. I suppose it's also a valuable thing that it avoids (mostly) dwelling on the more extreme and transgressive stuff that people usually think of when they think undergrounds. While there is the occasional boner and genital mutilation on display here, most of the images avoid the X-rated extremes to which many undergrounders went, and it is valuable to let readers see that ther ewas mor eto undergrounds than shock and transgression. On the other hand, to downplay that aspect seems in its own way to be misrepresentative. Given the paucity of explicit pages (even when the selections are form works or artists known for their explicitness), one begins to wonder whether the book is trying merely ot sneak one or two in rather than to show the underground warts and all. Nevertheless, still well worth it for the profusion of carefully-reproduced pages or original art.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rog Harrison

    "I was not impressed much by the four essays in this book but the reproductions of the artwork are great." was what I wrote on 12 October 2011. Having read it again I still feel the same. "I was not impressed much by the four essays in this book but the reproductions of the artwork are great." was what I wrote on 12 October 2011. Having read it again I still feel the same.

  7. 5 out of 5

    John

    A fantastic collection. More an art book than anything else, this still manages to present a history of an exciting and creative time in comics... er... comix.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dennis G

  9. 4 out of 5

    Noel

  10. 5 out of 5

    Marc

  11. 5 out of 5

    Stewart Tame

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tory

  13. 4 out of 5

    Leiris

  14. 4 out of 5

    Helen Damnation

  15. 5 out of 5

    Monolith94

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bill Bryant

  17. 4 out of 5

    Will M

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jerod Duris

  19. 4 out of 5

    Monte

  20. 4 out of 5

    Curt

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ben

  22. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Mahoney

  23. 4 out of 5

    John Michlig

  24. 4 out of 5

    Chad Brock

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jonathon Bernard

  26. 4 out of 5

    Richard

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jim

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sbart68

  30. 5 out of 5

    izzy_my

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