Ever since I read my first Robert Crumb comic I’ve ruminated at length on what it’d be like to visit the capital city of Comix, perhaps I’d hang out in haight ashbury man, maybe take a cap of acid man and jam with the Grateful Dead man. Actually that’d be a bit shit, but in any case I was certain that here I would find evidence of a thriving small press comix scene everywhere I looked.
I wasn’t disappointed, but it did take a bit of searching, a good deal of walking and a lot of going through piles of weird crap to extract the fabulous gems, even here it seems that Alternative Comix have to be dug out of their dank, muddy hiding places and brought into the sunshine like beautiful lug worms.
First stop was The Cartoon Art Museum . This was a pretty cool little museum, although the exhibits were a bit mainstream for my uber-cool taste buds. I was kind of expecting something on the scale of the BD Museum in Angouleme, but I realise this was a bit unfair, there’s nowhere like the BD Museum in Angouleme. The gift shop was fantastic however and yielded my first small press catch of the day;
It was the lino-cut front cover that got me, but inside there’s a wonderfully weird story featuring the kind of monsters you find roaming the oceans in old maps. These beasts have to figure out which bit of the uncharted waters to put a new born creature, but like all institutional entities, their zoning commission meeting is blighted by internal politics and bureaucratic protocol. Its brilliant stuff, well drawn and nicely put together, I want more!
Next stop was Mission Comics and indeed it was a mission to get there! A universal truism is that distances look small on maps. When we got there we found no evidence of small press comics at all, until the hyper friendly shop owner pointed to a staircase which led to a room containing a sofa and lots of cardboard boxes randomly stuffed with small press material. Here I spent a happy hour separating the wheat from the considerable chaff. Here’s what I got;
16th and Mission by various, no website. Billing itself as ‘gutter comix for losers’ this seemed to me to be very much in the spirtit of San Francisco alternative comix. As with most anthologies some strips appealed to me more than others, but it was coherent as an overall piece due to all the artists shared love of drugs, swearing and healthy disregard for things making sense. Some of the artwork is awesome, particularly Cameron Forsley who seems to be the editor too.
Death Trip by Shalo p and Peter Gray Hurley, edited by Keenan Marshall Keller drippy bone books Speaking of things that don’t make sense, Death Trip is collection of unnerving, sometimes psychedelic drawings with a dark outsiderish edge. Having read it you feel as if you’ve been taken on some nasty senseless trip but never the less you flick back to the first page for more. The production values are excellent and the restrained use of colour really elevates the whole thing into greatness territory.
So there we are, a brief dip into what san fran has to offer underground comix wise. Next time I visit another country expect more dispatches of this kind. If you can’t wait till then please feel free to start a kickstarter fund entitled, lets send Gareth off to check out the underground comix scene somewhere nice. I hear there’s a great comic scene in the bahamas.