Fantagraphics Books President and Co-Publisher Gary Groth announced today at Comic-Con International that the Seattle-based publisher has entered into an agreement to publish The Complete ZAP Comix in Fall of 2012.
ZAP remains the best-known and most influential underground comic of all-time, and in many ways is Ground Zero for the entire field of underground, alternative, literary and art comics that exists today. Created by Robert Crumb, it was one of the defining events in the counterculture of the 1960s and singlehandedly launched the “underground comix” era.
“ZAP took comics from children to adults, crushing The Comics Code Authority in the process,” proclaimed ZAP artist Victor Moscoso.
The Complete ZAP Comix will be published as a two-volume, slipcased hardcover set, printed slightly larger than the original comics, and shot from the original negatives to the comic books, ensuring the finest reproduction ever seen of the material. It will also include the rarely-seen ZAM, a one-shot mini-comic/jam spinoff of ZAP from 1974, as well as other supplementary features, interviews with the artists, and other surprises.
“ZAP may be the most significant series in the history of American comics,” said Fantagraphics President and Co-Publisher Gary Groth. “Its cultural preeminence is the result of artistic merit, not collectibility or economics and that sets it apart from most comics series that have achieved this level of public awareness or notoriety. The artists that Crumb invited into ZAP each proved to be a stylistic virtuoso with a unique point of view and an uncompromising vision. ZAP was the vanguard of a movement that segued into the alternative comics of the ’80s and the graphic novels of the ’00s. We couldn’t be prouder to collect this landmark series in its entirety in a beautifully packaged two-volume set.”
Originally printed by Beat writer Charles Plymell in an edition of around 3,500 copies, ZAP #1 was the first title published by the late Don Donahue under the Apex Novelties imprint, and was infamously sold on the streets of Haight-Ashbury out of a baby stroller pushed by Crumb’s ex-wife, Dana. Over time, the series’ 16 issues have sold millions of copies.
Although R. Crumb had initially created ZAP as a showcase for his own work, the success of the first issue led him to open up the pages of subsequent issues to several other artists. He invited his peers S. Clay Wilson, Robert Williams, “Spain” Rodriguez, Gilbert Shelton, Victor Moscoso and Rick Griffin to join him, effectively creating an artists’ collective that has remained mostly constant in the subsequent decades; when Rick Griffin died in 1991, the artist Paul Mavrides was invited to join the group.
“Fantagraphics’ The Complete ZAP Comix, as designed by Victor Moscoso, will be a classy item for the bookshelves of underground comics fans — those who can afford it, that is,” said ZAP artist Gilbert Shelton. “I imagine most of the original readers wish they still had their copy of the first edition of ZAP #1, which sells for over ten thousand dollars now, if in perfect condition. But part of the secret of the success of underground comix was that they were cheaply produced and turned yellow and fell apart quickly, and also that they were borrowed and never returned by one’s friends, thereby forcing you to buy another copy. This will not happen with the new collected edition, which will be produced under the most rigorous of quality control.”
“Much as the effect EC’s MAD had on the mid-20th Century, ZAP was equally influential and disruptive to cultural mores at the end of the 20th Century, but without the hindrance of the old comic book code that cramped graphic novel expression for 40 years,” said ZAP artist Robert Williams. “I’m very pleased that Fantagraphics will release this long-awaited compendium of ZAP Comix.”
“When Robert Crumb started ZAP in 1968, no one had any idea that it would still be alive 45 years later,” Shelton added. “This exercise in anarchy — there were never any rules, restrictions, or editorial policy — is still the flagship of the underground comics movement. I tried, and failed, to get my fellow ZAPsters to correct their spelling errors, but they would not be subjected to such editorial tyranny. I also wanted to let other artists into the group, but it was decided to restrict the number of contributors to seven. So be it. Spell free or die, I now say.”
Fantagraphics will be publishing the The Complete ZAP Comix in Fall of 2012.
The Complete ZAP Comix By: R. Crumb, S. Clay Wilson, Robert Williams, Spain Rodriguez, Gilbert Shelton, Victor Moscoso, Rick Griffin, & Paul Mavrides Release Date: Fall 2012 Page Count: 800 PP Black & White • Two-Volume, Slipcased Hardcover Set
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