The poet Philip Larkin is often quoted…..
Sexual intercourse began in 1963 (which was rather late for me) —
Between the end of the Chatterley ban and the Beatles first LP.
That neatly and succinctly sums up the buttoned – up societal attitude to most things in the mainstream even after the rock and roll revolution that had thundered to life in the mid 1950’s. On the radio and in the press we were back to hypocritical mush. Pablum for the masses was the meat and two veg consumed over the airwaves or pushed through the letterbox. Things began to stir in the underground though . Musicians , artists and writers were readying themselves to break free.. A new generation needed to pull down a few barriers.The scene was set for some kind of social revolution. So was born the alternative or underground press.
THE CRUMBS AT THE WRITERS’ FESTIVAL IN PRAGUE 2009, FOLLOWED BY A SPAIN RODRIGUEZ PROMO FOR HIS COMIX BOOK “CHE”.
In the USA there was an established freedom of expression so the new publications began to thrive. Titles such as the East Village Other , The Oracle, The Great Speckled Bird and other colourfully titled newspapers began to flourish , aimed at the new long-haired clientele.In the UK there was IT the International Times, followed by OZ, Ink , Frendz and more. These were attacked by the established order and suffered harassment from the authorities. They promoted the avante garde , the left wing , anti censorship and as such were very attractive to their mostly young adult audience. Colourful graphics and boundary stretching comix strips were a great part of their visual appeal as was their connection to the new rock music which was seen then as much more than a mere entertainment. Visually these new publications were stunning, even though legibility was often sacrificed to novelty and innovation. There is an excellent online archive for IT which is worth a look , but many of the other titles are quite hard to find.The Beatles, especially Paul McCartney, were early sponsors of IT and in fact Macca, then a single man interested in the avante garde , had a more hands on involvement than Lennon. McCartney’s friend Miles and his Indica bookshop in London were the hub of creativity for IT, while Lennon , a married man, lived out in the stockbroker belt in seclusion, some distance from the real action. Lennon was later to get involved through his love of Yoko Ono.
BELOW is one of Jeff Nuttall’s cartoon strips from IT. He was one of the reasons why I wanted to go to Art College in Leeds in 1972. Fine Art in Leeds had a reputation for being one of the most foreward thinking Art Colleges in europe in those days and Jeff, a talented polymath was associated with the fine Art department at the Polytechnic. He’d also written the influential novel “Bomb Culture” which was standard reading fare alongside “The Leaves Of Grass”, “On The Road”, “Dharma Bums”, “Desolation Angels” and “Confessions of An English Opium Eater”.Here he is reading one of his poems.Download