Rebel Visions: The Underground Comix Revolution 1963-1975

Overview

The first major historical work about the most influential artistic movement in America since the Beat Generation revolutionized literature.
This is a provocative chronicle of the guerilla art movement that changed comics and popular culture forever. This comprehensive book follows the movements of about 50 artists from 1963 to 1975, the heyday of the underground comix movement. Through interviews with the participants and other materials, Rebel Visions is the most intimate look...

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Overview

The first major historical work about the most influential artistic movement in America since the Beat Generation revolutionized literature.
This is a provocative chronicle of the guerilla art movement that changed comics and popular culture forever. This comprehensive book follows the movements of about 50 artists from 1963 to 1975, the heyday of the underground comix movement. Through interviews with the participants and other materials, Rebel Visions is the most intimate look ever at the people and events that forged the phenomenon known as underground comix, from New York to San Francisco, from the corn belt to deep in the heart of Texas, beginning that day in 1968 when R. Crumb debuted Zap #1 from a baby carriage in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district. Rosenkranz spent over 30 years researching this book and acquiring the cooperation of every significant underground cartoonist who worked throughout this period, including Crumb, Gilbert (Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers) Shelton, Bill (Zippy) Griffith, Art (Maus) Spiegelman, Jack Jackson, S. Clay Wilson, Robert Williams, and many more. The book is illustrated with many never-before-seen drawings by all of the underground cartoonists and exclusive photographs.
The book is centered in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district, where Crumb and the rest of his Zap cronies commingled with the rest of the city's countercultural scene, notably musicians like the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin. The counterculture was omnipresent in San Francisco for those few years, with underground tabloids like Yellow Dog and the San Francisco Oracle steering the zeitgeist out-of-control, along with the music, political, and psychedelic drug scenes, all of which found a group of unlikely revolutionaries who drew cartoons right at the epicenter. This is the definitive book on a memorable and historic era.

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Editorial Reviews

Rick Klaw - Sfsite.com
“[This] book palpably evoked those moments when change, it seemed, was not only possible, but inevitable…”
The Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Rebel Visions testifies to the wild fertility of the comix imagination.

Print
“A model of comics history and an essential read for anyone looking to truly understand the comics form.”
Bookforum
“A triumph of research and generous observation, definitively documenting a scene of radical invention and subversive intent.

The New York Times Book Review
“A year-by-year narrative, using interviews with scores of publishers, editors and leading artists.”
Spin
“Copious illustrations of weird sex, bad trips, and savage satire…chronicles a critical wing of '60s counterculture.

From the Publisher
“This lavishly illustrated history captures the frenzied ambition and communal bonhomie that made the comix counterculture click. (Publishers Weekly's "Best Books of the Year" List )

Publishers Weekly
Moving from year to year and town to town, through a revolving cast of artists and publishers, this story of revolutionary 60s art-making seeks to capture some of the frenzied scope and communal bonhomie that made the hippie counterculture click. The big names here are Robert Crumb, Robert Williams and Art Spiegelman, who emerge from the postwar era of conformity and repression into a period of broad cultural experimentation and self-discovery. Once the text moves beyond boilerplate mythmaking about San Francisco in the free love era, an interesting portrait begins to emerge-of ambitious, committed artists seeking to push their own boundaries, and with them the boundaries of society at large. In its detailed account of an art that celebrated sweating burnouts and libidinous creeps, the volume gives all the anecdotes and minutiae a reader might want. Lavishly illustrated with pages and panels from the underground press of the time (at least one per page), the book serves as a solid reference point for the developing styles of hippie draftsmanship. Crumb and co. round out a decade one-upping each other in degrees of explicitness and self-revelation, and leave behind a massive inheritance for future generations of doodlers to draw from. Illus. (Jan.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
In the mid-1960s a variety of young cartoonists, inspired by Mad magazine and LSD and rebelling against the restrictions of "straight" society, the Comics Code, and the Abstract Expressionism being taught in art schools of the time, began to make their own contribution to the burgeoning American counterculture of the day in underground comic books, or "comix," as they became known. Rosenkranz, who has been writing about underground comics since 1969, here presents a wide-ranging history of the movement, focusing on the work of over 50 underground writers and artists, including R. Crumb, Trina Robbins, Bill Griffith (creator of Zippy the Pinhead), Art Spiegelman, psychedelic poster artist Rick Griffin, and many others, most of whom he interviewed personally. The comix were by turns politically radical, psychedelic, formally innovative, misogynistic, disgusting, and hilarious-while always sexually explicit and later explicitly violent as well. Representative examples of each type are reproduced here in their original black-and-white or color. The book could have benefited from more commentary and analysis to place its wealth of detail into context, but overall this is a fascinating and important volume, recommended for mid-sized and larger libraries. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560977063
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
  • Publication date: 6/8/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 11.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Patrick Rosenkranz is widely acknowledged as one of the premiere scholars of the underground comix movement. His books include Rebel Visions (the most widely-heralded history of the era) and The Artist Himself: A Rand Holmes Retrospective. He lives in Portland, OR.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements 2
Foreword 3
The Setting 4
Distant Early Warnings 5
1963: Burning Bridges 9
1965: Hallucinations 39
1967: Good Vibes 65
1969: Free Love 123
1971: Revolution 171
1973: Omens 215
1975: Mutations 235
The Legacy 262
Where Are They Today 269
Bibliography 281
Endnotes 282
Index 287
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