Back in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s underground comix came into being. Basically creators such as Robert Crumb, Dave Sheridan , Fred Shrier  and Gilbert Shelton and a handful of other comics fans, kick-started the whole process into life, almost accidentally, in the wake of  the huge influence of the socially aware 1950’s EC comics and Mad magazine

and soon became the unexpurgated voice of the hippie generation. These sequential stories  were comics for adults. { In particular, young adults without too many responsibilities! } There was an erroneous perception in the mainstream that comics were strictly for the consumption of children, but obviously this was only one facet of the medium.Forty years later  glossy comics are produced in book form as”graphic novels”. They are reviewed regularly in the quality press alongside more “respectable” books. The term “graphic novel”[which I do not like] was a way of creating a distance from the more grubby pulp paper  antecedents  and leeching out some of the shame and inferiority that had attached itself to the form.

Given that the creators have always been adults writing and drawing the stories, it was only a matter of time before politics, adult humour and sex would eventually  bubble up to the surface. Most of these were initially self-published expressions  of their creators individual personalities and unique visions and  as such are in some ways related to the fanzines.Others were commissioned to brighten up the then burgeoning underground newspapers which were the jungle drums  hammering away beneath the radar of “straight” society. These became the new zanier, snappier “comix”. Initially happening in the counter- cultural environment  of the anti establishment America of the time , they soon fed into the international hippy diaspora  and spread like a benign virus throughout the world.The comix were usually printed in the American style with  a glossy cover and newsprint innards.

The cover was usually colour, while the insides artwork was in black and white. In tandem with this, pages were being purloined by the unrestricted underground or alternative press and printed up to spice up the content of various hippy newspapers. In the UK most comix fans were introduced to them via the pages of IT [International Times] or OZ magazine where they appeared sometimes as chopped up pages or possibly printed in a variety of colours. They were not easily found in the mainstream shops. Hippy “Head ” shops sprang up and sometimes carried them but they were most times  found in more diverse bookshops or were sold by hippy street sellers much as “the Big Issue” would appear on the streets of cities and large towns. Because the content usually put two fingers up to the established order and encouraged freedom of speech and activity, they were constantly faced with harassment and distribution disruption. Misinformation and censorship was the norm .Sexual politics for example, were in their infancy and as now , hypocrisy in the press and television was very evident. There was always the possibility of legal action by some infuriated member of the public upset by what they perceived as  a laxity in morality. The  readers and followers  basically saw it all as a bit of an in- joke but fun came crashing to a halt with the infamous Oz Obscenity Trial and the Nasty Tales courtroom debacle.


You are asked to view and study this material voluntarily. If you feel that it is likely to cause offence please feel free to disregard it, as this material is really only intended for adults with an interest in the popular culture of those times.All art is used,solely as a fan ,for illustrative purposes and will be removed if  it incurs the wrath of rightful copyright owners.

Since those times there have been several  books and magazines tracing their origins and are worth seeking out but in the meantime I hope to include more examples from the underground press of the 1960’s and 1970’s in a new page as further illustration .

In the UK after the OZ trial ,Felix Dennis  initially published such comix as a series of “Nasty Tales” magazines ,reprinting the essentially copyright free underground comix from America with a few home drawn strips from UK cartoonists. As the 1970’s progressed and “Nasty Tales ” was busted for obscenity, these comix gradually faded and were replaced  by another generation of comix sold through the new comics specialist shops.

Brainstorm’s Fantasy Comix # 1

Mal Burns was responsible for Brainstorm Comix which was an anthology title collecting comics from great new  artists such as Bryan Talbot and Hunt Emerson.  and publishing under the Alchemy Publications imprint in Portobello Road in London.  I wrote to Mal  enthusing about his “Mixed Bunch” issue and was pleasantly surprised to find my letter printed  in”Fantasy Comix” # 1 whilst  browsing through said issue in a London comic shop in the punkrock summer of 1977. There was my letter alongside Marvel ‘s Stan Lee , part-creator of the Marvel line and Mike Friedrich of Star Reach alternative  publications.

Mal was about to publish “COMIX INDEX” ..the Directory of Alternative British Graphic Magazines : 1966 – 1977  .and he invited me to contribute some artwork.  I was very  pleased to appear  in the company of such fine cartooning artistic spirits as Hunt Emerson and Bryan Talbot.COMIX INDEX 1

colour desktop antix comix

Check out the LINKS to see more from Mal. Mal now has a variety of sites on the web , some of which I’ve listed. Check out his Metaworld Broadcasting  from YouTube on my “Another Planet ” page above.

There is also a very detailed  site with a plethora of background information on comix at these great  links

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