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
"Andrew Edlin Gallery is pleased to present Zap: Masters of Psychedelic Art, 1965-74, curated by Gary Panter and Chris Byrne. The exhibition will include works by the seven artists from the original Zap lineup: Robert Crumb, Victor Moscoso, Rick Griffin, S. Clay Wilson, Gilbert Shelton, Spain Rodriguez and Robert Williams. The focus of the show is the early days of Zap, when these artists begat their visionary deconstruction of the comic book with remarkable innovations in storytelling and drawing. An accompanying catalogue is being published by the gallery."
Ran across this one-page Alan Moore strip in an issue of Moore's Dodgem Logic magazine, and although I've seen Moore's "underground" work before, I was struck by just how heavily influenced by Robert Williams that this page was:
See below for a comparison to Williams' style (from Hysteria In Remission). The lettering, the hulking "Brody Bodine"-esque nitwit, the anthropomorphized pen, the "chicken fat" in the last panel, the stonerish detail, etc. It's impressive. Do more underground comics, Mr. Moore.
• Review: "Troublemakers is... a noirish tale of crosses double and triple, in which the same small cast keeps tripping over each other, making and breaking promises and plans and alliances. ... The dialogue is often overwrought in that trying-to-be-tough way, but the plot is suitably twisty and energetic. " – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Interview:Comic Book Resources' Chris Mautner talks to Gahan Wilson about fifty years of Playboy cartoons and Fifty Years of Playboy Cartoons: "The bottom line in horror, or humor, really, is that life is tough and sometimes it's ludicriously disastrous. And yet we cope. We struggle on. That's a large part of the thing. That's very much underlying it. This admiration for us for making it through one day to the next. And taking care of kids and being nice to people. Working it out somehow together."
• Interview: On the MTV Tr3s Blogamole, Daniela Capistrano talks to Gilbert Hernandez about High Soft Lisp: On Fritz: "Well, looks wise, she's an 8 1/2 and she's smarter than any of my other characters. She always has the potential to go anywhere and do anything I want because she's wealthy and childless, giving me free reign to change her life at any time. She's got class and the genetics to age beautifully and gracefully." On what he's going to do with his U.S. Fellows grant: "Spend it on gold rims for my car."
• Interview: Alex Dueben interviews Robert Williams on the Suicide Girls website (SFW): "The arts have to be open for everybody with every kind of style. I’m for making the thing open and free. I don’t think an artist has to learn to paint and draw. I prefer to do that, but I want the ability to have as much right to be in a museum as someone else. I respect their right to put anything in there. If they want to have a pile of sand in the middle of the museum, that’s okay with me. As long as I have room in there."
• Review: "It’s vaudevillian and it’s Old Hollywood. It’s rock n’ roll and beat poetry. It’s introspective and depressing and quite often funny, and depicts a world that exists on the fringes of society where the American Dream meets the cold, harsh reality of life as viewed through a grimy windshield. ... When you put all the pieces together, you don’t simply get a story or a group of stories, you get a book that pulls back the curtain on the collective unconscious of a nation. ... Like the myths that it is inspired by, Abandoned Cars lingers long after reading and grows in stature as you re-live and re-tell it." – Chad Derdowski, Mania
• Review: "Part of Pim & Francie’s disconcerting effect is that it confounds easy categorization, leaving the reader uncertain what exactly this book is, or how to approach it. It doesn’t contain discrete, coherent stories, but it’s also more unified and linear than a sketchbook; there are continuing characters, recurring images and situations, even a discernable arc. It’s possible to piece together narratives from the fragments here, the way you might reconstruct a crime scene from bits of evidence, or a nightmare from fading details. These stories may even be all the more potent for having to be inferred, like the phantasms we imagine when we listen to horror stories on the radio." – Tim Kreider, The Comics Journal
•Profile/Review:Thought Balloonists' Charles W. Hatfield has a doozy of a report from Robert Williams's March 10 lecture at Cal. State Northridge, with plenty of insight into the artist, the talk, and the Conceptual Realism exhibit at the CSUN gallery: "Williams and his academic audience met halfway; the bracing, not to say ass-kicking, potency of the paintings seemed to wow most of the crowd. This was a fine performance, enlivened from the start by Williams' genuine gratitude and enthusiasm for being there."
• Plug:Library Journal spotlights Jason's Werewolves of Montpellier among notable July graphic novel releases: "Having subjected zombies to the witty vagaries of his goofy, humanized animals, Eisner Award winner Jason tackles werewolves mixed up in re-creational burglary and romance. It’s the pretender vs. the professionals — who are not happy about amateur competition."
• Television:Adult Swim will start re-running The Drinky Crow Show starting March 30, so mark your calendars and set your DVRs now. Even if you caught it the first time, it merits repeat viewings
By the way, multiple belated hat tips to Robot 6, whose roundups of end-of-year links have been invaluable to the last few installments of Online Commentary & Diversions. On with the links:
• List:Publishers Weekly announced the results of their 2009 Comics Week Critic's Poll; among the top vote-getters are You'll Never Know, Book 1: A Good and Decent Man by C. Tyler ("I love this autobiographical family story as much for the way Tyler weaves between her own life and her father's, as for its painterly, illustrative panoramas of suburban neighborhoods and army scenes." – Sasha Watson) and Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1 by Michael Kupperman ("Milk and other liquids may come out your nose as you read one of the funniest comics ever put to paper. Kupperman's droll absurdism is matched by a stiff, woodcut-like art style that underplays the sometimes outre concepts. A comedy diamond." – Heidi MacDonald). Humbug by Harvey Kurtzman et al, Low Moon by Jason, Luba by Gilbert Hernandez, Supermen!: The First Wave Of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941, West Coast Blues Jean-Patrick Manchette and Jacques Tardi, and You Are There by Jacques Tardi and Jean-Claude Forest all received single votes in the poll
• List: At comiXology, Tucker Stone counts down his top 25 Best Comics of 2009, with Grotesque #3 by Sergio Ponchione at #23 ("...every once in a while, I get a reminder how vast the world of comics really is. Grotesque — European, unusual, brilliant — was one of those, an experimental passport to another universe"), Ganges #3 by Kevin Huizenga at #7 ("...Ganges captured the thing that all of us spend a lifetime doing — thinking — and turned it into something deserving of examination") and, in the top spot, Prison Pit: Book 1 by Johnny Ryan ("Aggro, obscene, hilarious, compulsive: Prison Pit. It wasn't just the greatest comic of the year, it was one of those comics that operated like the end result of a math equation, a definitive answer to the question of what comics are, and what they should be...")
• List: Johnny Bacardi's Personal Best of the Decade includes Eightball #22 by Daniel Clowes
• Review: "Each [panel] almost vibrates with the frenetic, desperate energy of the characters as they try to pull off their cons. That energy explodes in the final pages, as the story comes to a dramatic but ambiguous conclusion. In the end, the work offers an homage to B-movies while standing out as a graphic novel. The Troublemakers will please long-term Hernandez fans. It also should serve as a good introduction to newcomers looking to jump into the Love and Rockets universe." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "...Giraffes [in My Hair], a collection of anecdotes from Bruce Paley's teens and twenties on America's countercultural fringe, is a breezy read. ... Swain's art rarely calls attention to or gets in the way of itself, and in that it meshes seamlessly with Paley's deadpan 'here's what happened' narrative style, his reluctance to overstate or oversell the import of the anecdote reminiscent of Harvey Pekar's." – Sean T. Collins
• Review: "...[The Comics Journal] has reached issue 300 and is celebrating with a fascinating collection of creator-chats as industry tyros and giants come together to interview, share, bitch and generally shoot the breeze about graphic narrative: a tactic that makes this the most compelling read of the year for anyone truly interested in what we all do and why." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "Fantagraphics Books continues its series devoted to chronologically packaging [Peanuts] and has not missed a step along the way. ... I’m pleased to inform that the latest edition, the twelfth in the series, is as lovingly curated as the first... [I]t is nice to know that one of the form’s greatest achievements is being held up as the accomplishment it really is." – Dw. Dunphy, Popdose
• Review: "[In Sam's Strip] Walker and Dumas clearly take pleasure in working in callbacks to classic comic strips... [and] many of the metatextual gags are funny and fun. ... Dumas’s drawings of classic comic-strip characters are excellent... The result is a frustrating, compelling curiosity: the soul of an underground comic trapped in the mortal coil of a Hi and Lois." – Shaenon Garrity, The Comics Journal
• Events:Star Clipper is sponsoring a screening of Ghost World at Schlafly Bottleworks in St. Louis tonight — oh jeez, in like half an hour! — and copies of the graphic novel and other Clowes books will be on sale