Jay Kinney on "The Rise and Fall of the Underground Comix Movement"


Here's cartoonist and all-around genius Jay Kinney reading an excerpt from his essay "The Rise and Fall of the Underground Comix Movement in San Francisco and Beyond" from the book Ten Years That Shook the City: San Francisco 1968-78, edited by Chris Carlsson and published by City Lights Foundation.

More at Found SF: Rise and Fall of Underground Comix



  1. I actually found an original copy of Zap #1 in a comic book store back in the 80’s. Is it rare?

    1. “I actually found an original copy of Zap #1″

      Check the copyright information in the front. There has been a wide variety of ZAP reprints.
      If it says something like “copyright 1970 – reprinted 1981″ it ain’t an original original

  2. I felt lost when I got my new fancy iPod Touch for Christmas, but the tide turned when I was able to use JOMIC for Mac and transfer the complete ZAP Comix (.cbr) – the micro-sized versions of these comics are great, especially Rick Griffin’s stuff (Crumb’s style doesn’t transfer well to 2 X 4 inches) – so these days I Underground Comix it while waiting in the dentist’s office

  3. God, I remember those old cartoons. Some great lady cartoonists, also. Who was that talented young woman who died of a lung disease? She did excellent comics, and was praised by Crumb himself.

    1. That’d be Dori Seda (www.doriseda.com), one of the few comix artists to go the autobio route without seeming indulgent.

      Her one solo book, “Lonely Nights: Stories to Read when the Couple Next Door is Fucking Too Loud” is pretty goddamn wonderful.

  4. The old ‘phony’ car portrayed
    Has elements only recognizable to the parents of the artist
    (and those that pay attention to automotive history)

    You may understand the crank: but who among us has actually seen it in use?

    The hip-ness is timeless. . .but the social cues given by R. Crumb reflect a denial of a way of life that is gone and gone.

    (I watched the movie ‘Crumb': R. is undoubtedly the most worldly and grounded: Nuff Said.)

    1. Not really. Back in the 1960s/1970s there was a genuine nostalgia for old-timey stuff. Heck if you were a Jewish kid growing up around hippies going to silent movies or seeing Marx Brothers films were par for the course. So R. Crumb referring to the iconography of the past makes all the sense in the world.

      But what has always set his work above others is his profoundly deep knowledge of the past and ability to extract the parts he needed to create a new world based in the present but connected to the past.

      He’s an an example—at least in my mind—of the major difference between modern indie artists who only get the superficiality but miss the soul; a very common criticism of hipsters and such that does hold water.

  5. “who only get the superficiality but miss the soul; a very common criticism of hipsters”

    Sounds like a common criticism of the great majority of the population to me. Of course, their excuse is a failed education system, having to work long hours, and raising families. Seems to me your criticism of ‘hipsters’ (which might also be tendered against ‘hippies’) refers to poseur hipsters (and hippies) instead. Of course there’s never a shortage of poseurs; nor of stereotyping which s glosses essential distinctions.

  6. Speak, Memory…

    From Bandleader Phil Harris’s 1947 recording of “That’s What I Like About The South”:

    Did I tell you ’bout the place called Doo-wah-diddy
    It ain’t no town and it ain’t no city
    It’s just awful small, but awful pretty
    That’s Doo-wah-diddy

  7. I’ve got several original copies of Zap Comix around somewhere, and I *think* I might have #1, that illustration looks awful familiar. Always had a deep love of Rick Griffin and Bob Crumb’s work.

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