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Newave! The Underground Mini Comix of the 1980s
Introduction by Michael Dowers
Before we get started it must be said that this book is not about all
mini comix. This book is about a small group of comix creators who were
inspired by an alternative comix art form known as underground comix.
With no other way of getting published they became their own publishers
and went on to produce handmade mini comix themselves. This book
is certainly not the last word about mini comix. Mini comix themselves
would cover every comic book genre imaginable... This is the story of
the underground mini comix of the 1980s...
October, 1982... My first introduction to mini comix was an article
in Jay Kennedy’s Underground Comix Price Guide. An article about “how
that point it
dawned on me that this could be done. Immediately after reading this
article I went to work and within 48 hours had written, drawn, folded,
very good but I was blown away with the 12 pages with cardstock covers
that I had created. Not very long after that I made a second issue and
started to pass these little booklets around. I don’t remember how I
found a few addresses, but it became obvious that there was a circle
of creators doing the same thing. I mailed out a few copies and actually
got a few responses back along with copies of mini comix made by
of these people
some very positive feedback, saying I should do more. For me, that was
all it took, one person to give me some positive input, just one. My
life was never the same again. I never told Brad Foster this and right
now want to say to him, “Thanks... for completely messing my life up.”
Seriously, though, Brad, your words were like getting sprinkled with
magic fairy dust. It was a very kind thing to say to somebody who had
no idea what he was doing.
mini comix I was making.
and cutting became an
friends. I can
fantasies going on in my head while
fingers were collating pages to be folded and bound together. Fantasies
of expanding the production of these little pieces of paper into
something that was real. A real comic book, perhaps, with color covers
printed with ink on newsprint. All I knew was that if this continued
that someday, I didn’t know how and didn’t know when, I was going to
work as a professional in the comic book industry one way or another.
I felt like I had finally found my calling in life.
Now in a way this was kind of pathetic. I was already 32 years old. I
was married, working odd jobs, struggling and trying to keep our lives
afloat. I had been living the life of an irresponsible musician/crazed
hippie with no other desires but to fuck around and play the guitar. All
of a sudden there was focus in my life.
thoughts running through their
heads as I did.
books with cartoons and drawings in them have such a powerful effect?
you don’t include
in their history,
that mini comix came about through what was known as “fanzines.” In the
early ’60s fans of comic books started publishing handmade zines about
their favorite comic books and comic book characters. Some of these fans
drawings they had
of their favorite superheroes. And some of these guys even became very
famous comic book artists because of the drawings they were making. By
the late ’60s and early ’70s the underground comix movement had hit hard
and the do-it-yourself spirit was born. While it is almost impossible to
nail down who was the very first to publish his own comics, my guess is
that this task had already been accomplished by the early fanzine creators.
While I have not personally seen much I can almost guarantee that
some of these
quick to publish stories of their own
superhero creations. The undergrounds broke everything wide open with a
cartoon art movement that said, anything goes. That would include making
your own comic books or art ’zines too. While a lot of people credit Gary
Arlington for publishing some of the first mini comix, there were a few
others who had already begun the task. This book starts with a duo from
started publishing their own
and all the pages would be bound together into a small chapbook or
“zine.” I feel this phenomenon might have been a “collective consciousness”
type of thing where a handful of people living in different areas
across the country all got the
comix was born. By the mid to late ’70s underground comix had run their
cartoonist to go, by the
’70s the NEWAVE mini comix scene
into existence. Different groups of people like Artie Romero’s Everyman
Studios sprang up and started taking on new and different artists. Clay
Geerdes started up his Comix World group and was encouraging fresh young
artists to be a part of this self-made movement. By the early ’80s the
shit had hit the fan and there were creators all over the world that were
drawing, folding, and stapling their own creations in an attempt to show
some ink. By the early
’90s NEWAVE had turned into something different. While the same sense of
independence was and still is rampant in mini comix, tastes changed and
mini comix became more socially accepted and easier to find.
personally have made an incredible amount of these
While I never kept exact records of how
I would give a lowball estimate that I alone, under my own steam, have
handmade about 45,000 comics. Yes, I said 45,000.
I did a series of 15
mini comix back in the early ’90s distributed through Diamond Distributors
that totaled over 16,000 comix
must have been completely
nuts to have wasted so much time. You know what? I’m still hand-making
titles. If there is anybody out there who thinks he can beat this figure
I would really like to know and personally shake his hand for being even
crazier than me.
Across the whole scene there have been so many mini comix created it
would take 50 or more books like this just to cover most of it. Nobody
could ever really know how many mini comix have been made and by how many
creators. At least 60% of all mini comix have fallen into obscurity. A
lot of them had print runs as low as 25 copies, while for others there
might have been only three or four copies made. Because of space alone,
there are many creators that had to be left out of this project and to
I apologize. But maybe
you are one of the
few who could
the immensity of a project like this.
What you hold in your
hands is just a brief
overview of some of the
they were ever to get their work published they were going to have to do
it with their own willpower. They not only had to write
and draw their
work but collate,
fold, staple, and
to the photocopy
alone would be enough to
some crazy... I want
dedicate this book to anybody out there
who has had the sense and wits about them to fold, staple, and trim their
own book. To you I bow respectfully, in humility.