Tag: comics history

The new adult comics revolution

comics guido crepax fantagraphics

At The Comics Journal, Derik Badman writes about Italian comics artist Guido Crepax and his popular character Valentina Rosselli, whose strip was first serialized in a monthly adult-aimed comics magazine called Linus in the mid-1960s.

Digging deep for graphic narratives

At Ars Technica, Kiona N. Smith writes about sequential art discovered by archaeologists on the walls of a Roman tomb unearthed in northern Jordan in 2016, east of the Jordan River.

Experts say that a series of panels on the wall depict the founding of the city of Capitolias, which “was part of the Roman Empire but in a region still more heavily influenced by Greek culture.” From Smith:

The version of events painted on three walls of the 52-square-meter funerary chambers probably takes some poetic license with Capitolias’ history. It seems unlikely that the city’s founders literally attended a banquet of the Roman gods, serving refreshments while asking their advice on a good spot to build a city. In the first panel, on a wall to the left of the tomb’s entrance, larger-than-life Roman gods recline on couches while humans offer them food and drink. More likely, the city’s founders would have made offerings at a temple before construction began.

In the next panels, a city begins to emerge from the wilderness. Farmers with oxen gather fruit and tend vineyards in one panel, and Dionysus and other gods help woodcutters chop down trees in another.

Read the whole story at Ars Technica.

Earlier this year, University of Iowa Assistant Professor Sarah E. Bond at Hyperallergic wrote about the origins of comics, “which depend on exactly how you define the medium.” She traces the use of graphic narratives to an era that took place long before Sunday newspapers came to be.

“The etymology of (comics) dates back to the use of comical cartoon strips inserted into American newspapers in the late 19th century,” reports Bond. “However, if comics are broadly construed as a series of artistic panels that form graphic narratives, one could argue for their birth as early as the cave paintings of Paleolithic France.”

Self-expression from the underground in 1968

At The Comics Journal, critic R.C. Harvey has a lengthy examination of the start of underground comix. He writes that back in 1968, new series like Zap Comix on the West Coast and in radical newspapers in New York City, cartoonists were given “the chance for self-expression,” an opportunity they weren’t afforded as contracted freelance artists for mainstream comics companies. A tide of irreverent strips and stories sprouted up around a time of social upheaval in America—there were protests against the Vietnam War on college campuses, assassinations of political figures, and more.

underground comix history harvey spain

Harvey drills down on the beginnings of the East Village Other, which included the work of Manuel “Spain” Rodriguez and more:

The EVO, as it was dubbed, was among the first countercultural newspapers to emerge, following the Los Angeles Free Press, which had begun publishing a few months earlier.

The EVO was described by the New York Times as “a New York newspaper so countercultural that it made the Village Voice look like a church circular.” The Voice, which had been founded ten years earlier by Dan Wolf, Ed Fancher, John Wilcock and Norman Mailer, is usually recognized as the country’s first alternative newsweekly. Although it hosted a variety of writers and artists and cartoonists (most notably in the latter category, Jules Feiffer), the Voice was not known as a newspaper for cartoonists. The EVO, on the other hand, was.

It was a breeding ground for the underground comix, providing an outlet for artists including Spiegelman, Deitch, Rodriguez, Trina Robbins, and Gilbert Shelton before underground comic books emerged with the publication of the first issue of Zap Comix.

The popularity of comic strips led to the publication of separate comics tabloids, beginning with Zodiac Mindwarp by Spain Rodriguez and continuing with Gothic Blimp Works.

See R.C. Harvey’s informative feature (and wealth of reprinted art) at The Comics Journal.

Last year at Hyperallergic, I wrote about the work of artist Spain Rodriguez. In my review of an archival collection from Fantagraphics Books, I struggled with finding a balance between appreciating Spain’s venturesome cartooning while pointing out how totally misogynist his stories and visuals could get.