Beanworld is Back!

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If you're as old and drawn to the strange as I am, you were probably a fan of comics artists such as Jim Woodring and R. Crumb long before the indie revival of the mid-90's. Back when this work was more an offshoot of Mad magazine than some crossover of the New York Times Magazine and intellectual outsider art. It's the lineage between Will Elder, Ralph Bakshi on the one end, and Kaz on the other.

Indie comics were indie because they were too scatological, too trippy, or too honest for most people to get. Some were sexy, but in an entirely non-arousing way: stretched flesh and stubble. Some were cosmic and revealing, but also penetratingly funny and self-critical. And, for me anyway, no one better balanced the priorities of this genre better than my personal hero and occasional role model Larry Marder, whose classic comic Beanworld is about to be resurrected by DarkHorse.

Although the books won't start coming out until the end of the year, web versions of some new Beanworld stories are going up on a special MySpace page.

Douglas Rushkoff is a guest blogger.

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  1. Sweet! This was one of my favorites back in the day. Kind of a fascinating anthro-based comic, with the world of the little beans becoming progressively detailed as the series continued. Beanworld is a complex, breathing ecosystem (another innovation for the time in comics) of which the talking beans are only a small part. Good on myths and mythmaking.

    Um, not sexy, though. Super-cosmic, yes, but emphatically not sexy.

  2. Oh, man this takes me back. I *loved* this comic, it is actually deeper than it appears. Larry Marder is a pretty cool guy in person as well.

    At one time, he was selling/giving away “Beanworld action figures” (which are what you might expect if you’ve seen this comic, a little bean:-) – one of which I still have somewhere around here.

  3. Oh happy day! you have made my morning with this post…

    I haven’t seen the beans in many a moon, and so look forward to this fresh pressing…

    Donopolis

  4. I’ve only managed to find one Beanworld collection, but it’s quite interesting. Marder took a silly concept that you might expect to find in a picture-book for preschoolers, and developed it into a detailed cosmology, ecology & sociology that all gets revealed during the course of the story.

    I’ll definitely be on the lookout for the reissues.

  5. Beanworld was one I’d forgotten to mention on another thread as a comic that every collector needs in their collection. One of the saddest days in comic book history was when Larry decided that prostituting himself for Image was more important than doing more tales of Mr. Spook, Proffy, Beanish and the Hoi-Polloi. A lot of loose ends were left, and hopefully Larry will pick up where he left off so we can finally find out just *how* Beanworld is a process!

  6. This is the greatest news I’ve gotten in months!! I whooped and ran around the room dancing when I first heard this!

  7. OH MY GOD! BEANWORLD!

    Is this just reprints or are there NEW STORIES coming? I want to buy nicely printed and bound collections of the original run, sure, but then I want MORE BEANWORLD!

  8. Hoo-Hoo-HAs & a Hoka-Hoka HEY!

    Saw Larry at ComicCon in August and was gratified at the number of other folks at his talk who also remembered Beanworld. I may not ever fully understand it, but I think I need to go back right about now…

  9. #11:

    They are reprinting the original comics, and then adding more!

    There are/were three or four bound collections, but they didn’t contain the full run and are now out of print. (I picked up the uncollected issues from Marner himself at a comic show here in Portland.)

  10. Oh yeah!!! I have a stack of carefully bagged but crumbling Beanworlds tucked away in the cupboard. It’s unique.

    I love the way Marder made a totally self contained universe which doesn’t reference anything else – it makes me think aLife simulations taken to the next level.

    Extreme envy to the poster above who has a beanworld action figures – and thumbs up to the bean tattoo wearer.

  11. The comics like Mad & Cracked are TAME compared to the underground work. And the underground exemplifies the condition of free speech in that genre. They were definitely ahead of the curve, considering how diabolical the content was (this was the 60’s & early 70’s for cripe sake!)- cartoonist Robert Crumb, animators like Bakshi and the list goes on! Keep ’em coming!

    Cartoons By Robert Crumb

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