**Early UnderGround’s Newly Unearthed “Art”-Facts**
by Guy Borges
Last year being bitten by the UnderGround Comix bug after pulling out my comic book collection from the mid 80’s that had been stored “buried” in my closet and undisturbed since, finding about 10 of these “adult” comics I’d picked up on the racks at my local comic book shop at the time, Hi-De-Ho Comics, scattered in the dozen or so long boxes of my collection, I became one of “them”. As a new UnderGround collector, I began reading up on the history of UnderGround Comix, which are comic books geared for adults that began in the mid to late 60’s with subjects that dealt with mostly sex and/or drugs/anti-Establishment with their start usually associated with the hippie culture and were initially produced in print runs of thousands, as opposed to mainstream comic’s hundred of thousands, and are usually termed UnderGrounds, “UG’s” or “comix”.
I’m not sure what interested me in the UnderGround issues, as I had so few of them but perhaps it could be because I remembered seeing the Terry Zwigoff movie Crumb (1994) where R. Crumb is compared to a modern day version of Brueghel and Daumier, and because now the adult I am that it was time for adult interests which might explain why I attended a large showing of R. Crumb’s work (along with Mike Kelley, Jim Nutt, Peter Saul and H.C. Westermann) titled “Eye Infection” in November or December 2001 at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands that took place from 3rd Nov. 2001 until 2nd Jan. 2002. Later I watched Confessions of R. Crumb (1987) that came from the 1985 BBC (U.K.) documentary for TV that wasn’t nearly as interesting as the later film.
Focusing on the early age of UG’s, I started picking up issues on eBay and other websites. Also became a member and regular poster at the ComicsPriceGuide.com’s UnderGround forum, which brought me in touch with some of the major collectors as well as people like artist Jay “jaylynch” Lynch, and some posts directed me towards dealers/sellers like Arnie “gooddr”, author Dan Fogel of Fogel’s Underground Comix Price Guide and the legendary printer/publisher, Don Donahue. Reading up on the history of Comix in articles in The Official Underground and Newave Comix Price-Guide (Spring 1982) by Jay Kennedy, Fogel’s Underground Comix Price Guide (“FUG”) (2006) and UG! 3K (1999) by Dan Fogel were informative. However, books like A History of Underground Comics (1974, 1993) by Mark James Estren, Comix The Underground Revolution (2004) by Dez Skinn, and especially Patrick Rozenkranz’s, probably the foremost historian/author on this subject, early Artsy Fartsy Funnies (1974) and more recent Rebel Visions: The Underground Comix Revolution 1963-1975 (2003) were some of the most informative. Upon sending some of my findings to Mr. Rosenkranz, he suggested what is put together for your current reading. This article is geared towards comix collectors, as only an UG collector could truly understand it, and it will act more as a supplement to the above referenced books and try to avoid most facts already commonly known about regarding the history of UnderGround Comix, attempting to focus more on newly “dug up” facts like which was the first UnderGround Comix and about the print run of Zap Comix #2 and it’s first print as well as the collectibility numbers of Undergrounds (that the books do not focus upon) and bits and pieces of facts found in various places, especially regarding R. Crumb and put together here.
Probably the first continuous UnderGround comic strips to appear were William Beckman’s “Captain High” that appeared in issues of the tabloid out of New York called East Village Other and Gilbert Shelton’s Wonder Wart-Hog, which made appearances starting in December 1961 (through 1963) in the lesser distributed college magazine, The Texas Ranger (#1 dated September 1959) and also starting in the same month of March 1962 with Bacchanal and later in Charlatan magazines. Wonder Wart-Hog would actually be resurrected by Pete Millar who published two commercial magazines called Wonder Wart-Hog the Hog of Steel magazine #1 & 2 that came out in Winter and Spring 1967, before Zap #1 was released. Another early appearance of an UnderGround artist’s early strips is Rick Griffin’s surfer cartoon strips, but these pre-Zap surfer strips themselves aren’t really considered UnderGround, although they are still quite collectable and can fetch a premium. Also, UnderGround artist Dan O’Neill’s commercial strip Odd Bodkins ran in the San Francisco Chronicle for 7 years, starting in 1963. But even today, these pioneering efforts and artist’s early works aren’t much noticed except by die-hard collectors.
While reading up on UG’s history, some facts were just not available while others that are come across seemed contradictory. For example, some considered the start of the UnderGround Comix movement began with The Adventures of Jesus, but some consider it really didn’t start until the introduction of Zap Comix #1 when UG’s were actually first noticed. This early period of UG’s is termed by some as the Golden Age of UnderGrounds, or perhaps more precisely the Platinum Age of UG’s for those that are pre-Zap Comix #1, although others prefer the term the “Stoned Age” of comix for this entire early age that begins in the mid 60’s and goes to include at least 1974. This would avoid confusion with the actual Golden Age of comics that began in June 1938 with the first appearance of Superman in Action Comics #1.
One of these contradictions that is accepted as common knowledge by many, if not most, in the hobby is that The Adventures of Jesus (J) (1st print) was the first UnderGround Comix from 1962 with approx. 50 copies. But was it? Although Frank Stack had started drawing these cartoons in 1961 while in the Army (stationed in New York), a friend of his named Gilbert Shelton didn’t put the 8 page plus cover, The Adventures of Jesus (1st print) by “Foolbert Sturgeon” (Frank Stack’s pseudonym) together with a new Xerox machine at the time at the University in Texas (Austin), until actually [Spring] 1964, which would make it produced after Das Kampf and therefore the second UnderGround (but the first bound/stapled). Shelton restates this fact himself in the preface of The New Adventures of Jesus: The Second Coming (2006) by Frank Stack, which is a collection of the Adventures of Jesus, that includes the original and also the subsequent (The New Adventures of) Jesus #1 (November 1969), Jesus (Meets the Armed Services) #2 (July 1970) and Jesus (Joins the Academic Community) Comics #3 (July 1972). Given this information, it appears this should make Vaughn Bodé’s May 1963 one hundred loose page Das Kampf, with 100 or so copies, the probable first UnderGround Comix. It’s currently valued in Near Mint (NM) 9.4 at $2,000 in the “FUG”. Vaughn Bodé self produced this in NewYork and gave them to his friends, so they weren’t for retail sale. (A bound 3,000 copy second print of Das Kampf with a $2.50 cover price was later produced in 1977 after Vaughn’s shocking accidental self-induced death.) Then in June of 1964, Joe Brainard came out with C Comics #1 in a oversized, magazine format book with soft and hard cover versions, which for the most part has been largely unnoticed in the UnderGround community perhaps because some don’t consider them to be true comics as he allowed others to fill in blank speech balloons, C Comics #2 comic out the following year (1965). This makes the fourth UnderGround, and the first “widely” distributed as well as the first with a retail price, Jack Jackson’s “Jaxon” 1,000 print run God Nose (1st print has a light purple cover) from the Fall of 1964 . Followed fifth by Joel Beck’s Lenny of Laredo (1st print with a green cover) with 100-500 copies produced that came out in 1965 about the life of comedian Lenny Bruce (but could also be C Comics #2 that came out that same year), which was followed a year later by Beck’s The Profit (1966).
All You Can Eat Vol. 1 #1 (20 July 1970) UnderGround Press paper out of New Brunswick. (Pic. Courtesy of Robb Strycharz)
Les Daniels also adds John “Mad” Peck’s The Mad Peck Catalog of Good Stuff as one of the first UnderGrounds, but the date of its production is unknown, so it’s hard to determine where it may stand in history, although issue #3 is dated 1968 in the Kennedy “Guide”. None of these foundation making issues where noticed, even though most of these artists had done previous pieces that had appeared earlier in tabloid newspapers (also known as “counterculture” newspapers) like the Berkeley Barb, (New York) The Village Voice, (New York) East Village Other “EVO” and it’s supplement Gothic Blimp Works Ltd. (8 issues started in 1969, after Zap Comix #1), Los Angeles Free Press, (Detroit) Fifth Estate, (Michigan) Paper, Chicago Seed, (San Francisco) Oracle, (Canadian) Georgia Straight, Austin Rag, (Madison) Bugle-American, (Philadelphia) Yarrowstalks (3 issues May or June / July / August 1967 in Philadelphia, 12 (April/May 1975) issues published and the cover of 13 (1976) used as a poster only), Yellow Dog (started in May 1968, printed in Berkeley and dist. in San Francisco), (New York) Underground Review, All You Can Eat (Vol. 1 #1 on 20 July 1970 to Vol. 3 #5 on Sept. 1973) and even the Real Free Press in the Netherlands reprinted much of the art in the early 1970’s. Or magazines, newsletters and fanzines such as Bacchanal (only 2 issues published), The Austin Iconoclastic Newsletter (“The”) (12 issues published), Surftoons, the Texas Ranger, Help!, Yell (3? issues published), Wild (11 issues published), Chicago Mirror (3 issues published) and adult men’s magazine Cavalier and others; until after R. Crumb’s Zap Comix #1 appeared in 1968. If R. Crumb, born 30 August 1943 in Philadelphia, PA, is considered the “father” of UnderGround Comix, then Stack, Jackson, Beck and Bodé should surely be considered the “grandfathers” of UnderGround Comix and perhaps Joe Brainard and John “Mad” Peck should be added to that “genealogy” tree also.
Regarding the ad “zap comics[sic] are squinky comics” in Chicago Mirror #3, Jay Lynch writes, “I knew of Zap 1 before it came out. In Chicago Mirror 3, we made up a Mr. Natural button that we sent to anyone who sent in a stamped, self-addressed envelope…and we also gave Zap 1 a plug. Mirror 3 was delayed by the printer. It was about the Democratic Convention Yippie thing…but it didn't come out until AFTER the convention…which made most of the content irrelevant. So I didn't pay the Printer…and only distributed 100 (or 150) or so copies of #3. So the Mirror 3 thing was supposed to come out BEFORE Zap 1 was published…But it came out after Zap 2 was published.” Chicago Mirror #3 was printed on 20 July 1968. Lynch states he doesn’t know what happened to the remaining copies of the 800 print run, since he didn’t pay the printer for the issue being so late.
Cover of Chicago Mirror #3 (scan courtesy of Arnie “gooddr”)
Page 1 (3rd page) of Chicago Mirror #3 (scan courtesy of Alan “thillaj”)
Of all UnderGrounds, the Zap Comix series (1968-2005) is by far the most well known and influential, with Gilbert Shelton’s 13 issue Freak Brothers series, that started in 1971, coming second in popularity and sometimes even rivaled Zap Comix issues in sales. Here is some information derived from speaking with Don Donahue regarding the series that started it all. The beatnik poet Charles Plymell usually gets credit for the first print of Zap Comix #1 and Don Donahue for the second print, but what seems to have slipped through the cracks is that it was Don that met Robert Crumb through Marilyn Jones (McGrew) “Mimi” at a party in San Francisco in October and agreed to print Zap Comix #1 for Robert, who completed drawing it the following month in November 1967. Before Robert had moved out to San Francisco, he had lived in many places, including [Philadelphia], Delaware (from age 12-18 years old), [Cleveland] Ohio, Iowa, [Oceanside] California and [New York]. And before getting his work published in tabloids Yarrowstalks, East Village Other and Help! magazine; he worked on and off from 1962 to January 1967 at The American Greeting Card Company / American Greetings Corp. doing color separations to start and later illustrating greeting cards for them. Working there in Cleveland for about a year and a half before meeting his first wife Dana (Morgan) in March 1964 at a Cleveland folk music club, which was soon after finishing his The Yum Yum Book in Summer of 1963. Robert has been quoted saying “We had sex and got married a month later. I was twenty-one. She was eighteen. I was a fool.” Living in San Francisco after arriving there in January 1967 and staying at a couple different peoples homes (and even a stint living in a forest), Robert lived in a dive on Mission Street [or in the Mission District?] for three dollars a day where he drew what would become Zap Comix #0 that he had begun just after returning from Philadelphia and New York, in September and completed in October 1967. Crumb completed what would become #1 the in the following month of November. It was about this time in late 1967 when Joel Beck first met Dana and R. Crumb and saw some early Zap art. Harvey Pekar writes in early 1970, “Crumb himself gives cartoonist Joel Beck, …plenty of credit for his pioneering work in the art form.”
As many UG collectors already know, #1 was printed before #0, due to the artwork for #0 being lost/stolen (but eventually returned in 1975 and disappeared again soon after) by Brian Zahn at Yarrowstalks, who was originally supposed to print Zap Comix #0 as the first Zap Comix #1 (but ended up moving to India for a couple years). So the interior art being re-inked/touched-up from photocopies Robert gave to his friend William “Bill” Cole in New York (for R. Crumb’s Head Comix, which Bill compiled later that year) with the cover for #0 being redrawn just before it was actually printed in mid 1968. This explains why the copyright shows this date of October 1967 on #0, but was actually printed in the second half of 1968, after issue #2.
It was Don who asked his friend Charles Plymell to print the first printing of what would become #1 and Don was present throughout that actual operation that took place in Plymell’s Post Street shop, learning, observing and helping Charles as his “assistant”. But conversely it was previously Plymell that first showed Donahue, R. Crumb’s work in a tabloid issue of Yarrowstalks (1967).
Head Comix “Hey Boparee Bop!” page reprinted in The R. Crumb Handbook (2005) (p. 133).
So to summarize, Don drunk one night suggests they print a comic book to Plymell who has a Multilith. Plymell shows Donahue the Yarrowstalks #2 (Summer? 1967) tabloid and Donahue is amazed with R. Crumb’s work, especially the Head Comix “Hey Boparee Bop!” page (p. 10). They both try contacting east coast tabloids Yarrowstalks and East Village Other to find R. Crumb without success. In October 1967, Donahue goes to a party in San Francisco and coincidently is introduced to R. Crumb by Marilyn Jones “Mimi”, Dana’s friend and Donahue agrees to print one of the comics as Zap Comix #1 that Robert finishes the following month. About four months after Don meets Robert, Don then “pays” Charles to print what is supposed to be 5,000 copies on Charles’ old World War II Multilit 1250 printer, which Plymell does (actually only about 3,500 copies end up being produced) in his shop on Post Street and then it’s stapled on the 25th February 1968 with Pam, “Mimi” and Dana’s help on the floor in the Crumb’s apartment while Robert was on welfare and living with his wife, Dana, on Oak Street, Robert was soon to become famous at about 25 years old. It’s understandable that Charles Plymell is credited with the first print due to the fact that his name is there at the bottom of the back cover in blue ink “Printed by Charles Plymell”, a tradition he brought over from the Beat Movement, but credit for this historical issue’s publishing and printing should more correctly be given to both Donahue and Plymell, than to just the actual printer.
Probably the biggest question still unanswered pertains to the actual print run of the first printing of Zap Comix #1. Can this disputed fact finally be put to rest to relieve the frustrations of fellow collectors? Not that it’s going to change the value of this issue, which ranges in the thousands of dollars. Estimates from 800 to 5,000 copies have been written since soon after it came out. Well Don kept the original sales records for that first printing of Zap Comix #1 that was released upon the unsuspecting world on the 25th of February 1968 in San Francisco, California.
A photo of the original sales records offered for auction by Heritage Auction Galleries in 2006. (image courtesy of HA.com)
These records show that Robert and a “very pregnant” with Jesse, Dana Crumb selling Zap Comix #1 out of a baby-carriage personally released 22 copies that initial day in the famous San Francisco neighborhood of Haight-Ashbury “the Haight” or “Hashbury”. Don sold 12 copies with “Mimi” (Marilyn Jones), who sold 48, all for the retail cover price of 25 cents. That means 82 copies where sold that day on Haight Street by these “pioneers”. Don states that the wholesale price of that first issue varied, but was about 10 cents, and the records show that Bob Rita of Third World Distribution on Haight Street paid $155, therefore he received about 1,550 copies to distribute to retailers. David Kane purchased over $100 worth in 1 week of March 1968, equaling over 1,000 copies for resell. These would go for sale at shops like Moe’s Books at 2476 Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley, Gary Arlington’s San Francisco Comic Book Company on 23rd Street in the Mission District (considered the first ‘comic only’ bookstore in the United States) and the Psychedelic Shop at 1535 Haight Street, owned by the Thelin brothers. If approximately $40 of sales were at the retail price of 25 cents (=160) and the remainder of $333 at approximately 10 cents wholesale price (=3,330) plus a probable few or more copies probably kept by Charles and Don, means about a total of approximately 3,500 copies were produced.
Although Charles Plymell’s wife Pam, who was there stapling these first printings together in Robert and Dana’s apartment, insists it was about 800, and Charles has written “…my guess is around 1,500 (or less) copies” due to a large number being improperly printed and unusable of “what was supposed to be 5,000 copies”. Which leads to the question: Could there actually have been 2 undocumented first printings, which might explain the difference in shades of blue on the cover? Probably not, but this doesn’t explain the large discrepancy between the estimated numbers. But Donahue’s written sales records lead to a stronger foundation of approximately 3,500 copies produced. Of the approx. 3,500 copies produced, 500 copies that Don had sold to Bob Hill on 12 April 1968 for the wholesale price of $50, and which Don was storing at his Mowry’s Opera House loft where he had moved the Multilith he had purchased from Plymell to, burned up in a fire on 28 May 1969 (that also destroyed the original artwork for Cunt Comics #1 by Rory Hayes that Don was printing at the time as well as most of the first pressing of R. Crumb’s Comics & Stories). Donahue moved his Multilith to a place Gary Arlington was renting on the 1600 block of Valencia Street near 26th Street and Rip Off Press moved to another temporary location before settling at the corner of Golden Gate and Franklin Street. The Mowry’s Opera House building subsequently burned down the following year in July 1970, explaining the confusion as to some citing, including Donahue himself mistakenly in Kennedy’s “Guide”, the year 1970. Total profit from the sale of approx. 3,500 copies of Zap Comix #1 (1st print) was a staggeringly meager $25.32, of which Robert’s royalties were half of that (as seen on the back page of the original sales records). This means that there were approx. 3,000 copies of Zap Comix #1 (1st “Plymell” print) released onto the streets, this is the same amount stated in the 1974 book by Rosenkranz, Artsy Fartsy Funnies (p. 32). According to Don this is the most accurate account of the number of Zap Comix #1 (1st print) to be released. It has been written that after the first printing sold out, Robert asked someone who had purchased 50 copies, if he would sell some of them back to him since he had none. The buyer reportedly wouldn’t, so Robert and Dana didn’t keep any of the initial printing at the time, but then the second print with a different name on the back cover came about 3 months later and getting some of the initial print run was no longer of major interest to him. Fogel’s Underground Price Guide has a current value of $8,000 in “NM” 9.4 condition listed for the first print of #1, with a Highest Realized Price (HRP) of $12,000. You can currently find “ComicWiz’s” CGC graded 9.4 copy available on his website (www.comicwiz.com) for $30,000.
Rosenkranz, the author, was there in the Haight-Ashbury district during 1968, stopping by the Psychedelic Shop owned by the Ron and Jay Thelin about a year after R. Crumb first visited it. “I arrived in The Haight around the same time Wilson did in February 1968 and the Psychedelic Shop was still there. I went in it often. I don't remember seeing Crumb selling comic books out of his baby buggy, but there was a complete circus in the streets in those days…”.
R. Crumb did an interview (that has been stated his first, but there was an interview with R. Crumb printed in the Berkeley Barb in 1968) printed in the 26 January 1969 issue of National Insider vol. 14 #4 by his brother-in-law Claude Chadwick (pseudonym of Marty Pahls, Robert’s sister, Sandra’s husband at the time, who Robert had known since 1959 and lived with at 115th Street, 3rd Floor, Cleveland, Ohio starting in 1962) titled “Robert Crumb: King of the Underground Comics” (p. 13) and just over a month later his interview “Zap, Snatch and Crumb” (p. 25) by Thomas Albright appeared in the March 1, 1969 issue of Rolling Stone #28. In an article 5years later in the first issue of Inside Comics from 1974 by Keith Green titled “What’s a Nice Counter-Culture Visionary Like Robert Crumb Doing on a Secluded Farm in California?” (p. 18), it’s written, “Distribution was simpler then. One sunny afternoon, Crumb and Donahue loaded the trunk of an old Hudson with Zap comix and set out to spread the word. They started on San Francisco’s Haight Street-and the day’s proceeds were desperately needed.” Since this goes against what has been written elsewhere about the initial day, this could probably be referring to distribution to Bob Rita at Third World Distribution on Haight Street or to the second printing of Zap Comix #1.
In regards to the different shades of blue seen on the cover of some first prints of Zap Comix #1, Jay Lynch writes “The dark blue and light blue were from the same printing. It was a small press…and they had to add new ink midway through the press run…but his two cans of blue ink didn't match each other…one was lighter than the other…so the early ones have a real dark blue ink…and the later ones have a lighter blue ink…and in the middle, where the two inks mixed…it is a middle range blue.”
The name on the back cover of Zap Comix #1 changes to “Don Donahue” on the second printing. This results from Don taking over payments on the Multilith printing press from Plymell, who left after that first print, and took over printing duties alone with the second print of 5,000 copies in June 1968. That second print had been “…paid for in advance by legendary Berkeley bookseller Moe Moscowitz [Moe’s Books, co-owned by his wife Doris] on behalf of his friend Don Schenker, proprietor of the Print Mint” writes Donahue.
Just over 4 months after that day Zap Comix #1 hit the streets (and only about a 1 month or so after the second print), Zap Comix #2 was released. But if this series was such a hit from the beginning, the second issue would have had at least as many copies printed? Yet trying to find a first print of Zap Comix #2 is no small accomplishment. So began the quest for more information, now to find an answer as to why the first print of Zap Comix #2, with the S. Clay Wilson “Head First” page having a downward offset error was so difficult to locate if there were 5,000 copies printed as were earlier and later printings from around the time of this series. San Francisco native Don Donahue would be the one to ask, after all if anybody knew surely the printer/publisher would? But as is turns out, though it has been written multiple times, Don was not the printer for Zap Comix #2.
Don had just begun work in June on the bright yellow cover of Zap Comix #2 featuring Eggs Ackley head, when he was notified of disappointing news by the artists of issue #2, that now included three more: Rick Griffin (who previously had done surfer cartoon strips and psychedelic posters and album covers), S. Clay Wilson, and Victor Moscoso (previously known for his self printed psychedelic posters). They had grown impatient with the slow process of Donahue only being able to print 2 pages at a time on his Multith, and that Don Schenker’s The Print Mint in Berkeley (funded by Moe Moscowitz) would be taking over the printing of that and future issue of Zap Comix.
Evidence of Donahue’s work on the cover of Zap Comix #2 (only the yellow) as seen on this Snatch #1 (1st print / 25 cent) cover proof. (image courtesy of Bebe Williams “ArtComic”.)
The Print Mint had farmed out the first printing of the interior pages of Zap Comix #2 to Cal Litho, who had finished printing the 5,000 copies approximately in late June or early July. As the guts were being bound (stapled) to the 70 lb. stock covers, the S. Clay Wilson page, “Head First” downward offset error was noticed almost immediately. Not believing they had enough time to reprint the guts, approx. 500 copies were bound with the error for “The Zap Show” gallery opening in San Francisco. The remaining approx. 4,500 copies of the guts were discarded, the good 70 lb. stock covers being kept. A new corrected second printing of 4,500 copies of the guts were immediately produced and bound to the original good 70 lb. stock covers, and issue #2 hit the streets in July of 1968. These facts are now “uncovered” after 40 years of being “buried” and forgotten. This explains why the heavier stock covers are found on issues with and without the “Head First” downward offset error. Third and subsequent printings used thinner 60 lb. cover stock in both glossy and matt finish and range in cover price from the initial 50 cents to a current $4.95. Coincidently, it was this S. Clay Wilson “Head First” page that inspired Crumb to delve further into exploring his sex hang-ups in print.
After having taken issue #2, along with the rest of the Zap Comix series, away from Donahue and then the first printing of #2 coming back from the new printer with the error, one has to wonder if this had brought a hidden grin to Donahue’s face.
Bottom of “Head First” page of Zap Comix #2 (1st) showing the downward offset error. (image courtesy of author, G. Borges)
This is a portion of a personal e-mail correspondence received from Don Donahue written on 23 March 2007. “… Your question prompted me to do some research in my files (and my memory) and I now believe that I can tell you what a true 2nd printing is. You're the first person to receive this information… By the way, I never printed any copies of Zap #2. I was just starting to do some work on the cover when The Print Mint took over as publisher. They farmed out the printing to a company called Cal Litho. The first printing (or, if you prefer, the first state or version of the first printing) is, of course, the one that has “Head First” coming off [the bottom of] the page. The weight of the cover stock ranges from slightly heavier than “regular” to a lot heavier than “regular.” The 2nd printing (or the corrected version of the first) has covers identical in every way to those of the uncorrected version, with the same range of weights. It was the same batch of covers. The staples are about 4 3/16” apart and the top staple is about 2 5/16“ from the top edge of the book [on the 2nd print]. (How come you guys never use staple distances as a way of identifying printings? Bruce Semans came up with that idea 20 years ago.) The initial printing probably consisted of 5,000 copies. 5,000 perfectly good covers were printed and used. 5,000 copies of the “guts” (interior pages) were printed which were laid out wrong and had to be thrown away (except for the ones that were used). As I recall, the problem with the guts was noticed immediately as soon as the books started getting bound, but there was going to be a Zap show opening at an art gallery in San Francisco and copies were needed immediately. I think that maybe as few as 500 of the uncorrected copies were bound up.”
Don Fiene in his book, the R.Crumb Checklist of Work and Criticism states on page 152 that the gallery showing was in [20th] August of 1968, “The Zap Show” flyer for the gallery showing contained work by all 4 artists: Griffin, Crumb, Moscoso and Wilson that took place at the Light-Sound Dimension Gallery at 1572 California Street in San Francisco, California. Crumb describes the showing as “Bullshit…total bullshit”. A review of this Zap show was then written in the San Francisco Chronicle on page 48 in the 23 August 1968 issue in an article titled Zap Comics: Psychedelic Art – A New Model by Thomas Albright, in it he describes Crumb’s art at the show as “the height of subtlety” as compared to Wilson’s, which he states “…is pretty brutal stuff”. Albright ironically ends the short article with “At least as far as Griffin and Moscoso are concerned, one hopes that after Zap has had its day, the 1969 model will take the form of animated cartoons.” Just 5 years later in Don Thompson and Dick Lupoff’s book The Comic-Book Book (1973) (p. 13), R. Crumb is described as “the Leonardo DaVinci of the underground”.
The Zap Show flier (opening Tuesday, August 20th 1968 at 7:30 p.m.)
On page 34, in the Rosenkranz book Artsy Fartsy Funnies, he mentions the printing “done sloppily” to Zap [Comix] #2, but incorrectly credits Donahue with the printing. Fiene later mistakenly referencing Rosenkranz’s Artsy Fartsy Funnies and credits Apex (Novelties), which is Donahue’s company and writes printed “poorly” on page 152, but as stated previously, it actually was Print Mint “who farmed it out to Cal Litho”. On 11 October 2002, Heritage Auction Galleries auctioned a Don Schenker file copy CGC graded 9.2 for $1,380, which is the Highest Realized Price (HRP). The CGC census currently lists 1 at 9.6 and 3 at 9.2. Recently Neat Stuff Collectables with Dan Fogel sold at least 3 of the 5 copies of Zap Comix #2 (1st print) they had that all had been signed by R. Crumb on the cover on 20 August 1968 at “The Zap Show” gallery opening at the Light-Sound Dimension Gallery from the personal files of Don Donahue’s Apex Novelties.
Certificate Of Authenticity (COA) for 1 of 5 of the Zap #2 (1st print) with R. Crumb’s signature, only 1 COA was produced (image courtesy of author, G. Borges)
Don had already been working on Zap Comix #0 (to which R. Crumb had designed the Apex Novelties logo for the cover) by making negatives of the “touched up” Xeroxes, when its first printing came out soon after Zap Comix #2 had been released by the Print Mint. Don printed the first printing of Zap Comix #0 with 5,000 copies and it hit the streets later in July or so of 1968. Don writes, “The entire press run of 5,000 copies was purchased in advance by the Print Mint and I personally trimmed all 5,000 of them before I delivered them.”
Don’s consolation for having the printing of the Zap Comix series taken from him was that he would print the smaller format Snatch series by R. Crumb, S. Clay Wilson and later other artists. Printing Snatch eventually led Donahue to printing other similar small format comix, including Jiz Comics in 1969, the Life and Loves of Cleopatra (2nd print) in November 1969 and Cunt Comics near the end of 1969. Don printed Snatch #1’s first printing with a print of 800 copies in October 1968, shortly before the release of Zap Comix #3, and the second and third printings came not long after the first with small changes. In R. Crumb’s first interview, he states, “These comics really sell. About 350 copies of Snatch were sold in two or three weeks, I think. Moe [Moskowitz of Moe’s Books] sold them out just before the cops came.” Snatch #2 came out in December of 1968 / January of 1969 and the first three printings were released within days of each other with slight color variations, according to Jay Kennedy’s Underground Price-Guide.
The Print Mint’s first printing of Zap Comix #3 and #4 also came with the heavier 70lb. cover stock, similar to the first (and second) printing of Zap Comix #2. The first print of Zap Comix #3 came out approx. December 1968. And the infamous issue #4 was released in July of 1969 to much controversy (due to banning of sales and confiscations). According to Kennedy, the Print Mint “officially” took over printing the Zap Comix series in February 1969, possibly meaning they started to actually print subsequent printings themselves?
Harvey Pekar writes in his article on page 679, “Rapping About Cartoonists, Particularly Robert Crumb” in the Spring, 1970 issue of the Journal of Popular Culture Volume III, No. 4, “When I saw Crumb in May, 1969, he told me that its first four numbers had sold a total of 80,000 copies and that he and his associates had been able to sell as many as they could get printed.” By May 1969, the first two printings of #1, the first 2 printings of #2 and the first 2 printings of #0 and the first printing of #3 had been released. But regarding #4, Rosenkranz’s Artsy Fartsy Funnies, page 37 states, “When Print Mint heard about Zap #4 being busted in several bookstores, they took all the copies, about 30,000, out of the warehouse stock… Taking 30,000 comics out of stock hurt them a great deal…” So we know the print run for the first printing was 30,000, at least. If the print run for #4 was 30,000, it can probably be safely assumed that #3 had a print run of 30,000 or less (“The Print Mint’s initial print runs for all their books ran 20,000 to 100,000 an issue…”). Although in 2000, Steven Heller writes in his Zap Comics (Print) Internet article that “By the time Zap #3 and #4 were published sales were as high 50,000 copies each for the first printing (subsequent printings increased that number into the six figures).” From this we see that there was probably in the range of 30,000 to 50,000 copies of the first printings of #3 and #4 and at least 50,000 copies of #5 that came out in May 1970. It’s unknown what percentage of these first printings of #3 and #4 have survived, but due to the infrequent appearance of them showing up for sale, it’s safe to say that a large portion of them may have never been kept and will never show up. By January 1973 when Zap #6 first hit the stores, there were 100,000 copies of the initial printing printed of it according to the Kennedy “Guide”, which also states that regarding issue #2 that from it’s initial print in July 1968 until “…April 1982 there are 17 Print Mint printings for a total of 325,000 copies…” to show for example just how many copies of a single issue were released by April 1982, this does not include the at least 4 additional printings since then, with cover prices of $2.50, $2.95, $3.95 and $4.95. According to Don Schenker, by 1972 (or by the end of 1973) the first 6 issues of Zap Comix (including their reprints) sold more than one million copies. Joseph Fiore writes that the Zap Comix series “…total print output into well over two million copies over the next decade.” (“FUG” p. 13). The latest issue, #15, was released in 2005 and has a $4.95 cover price, a far cry from the 25 cent cover price that the initial #1 had 37 years earlier.
By Summer of ‘69, some of the other “greats” of UnderGround Comix had been released upon the world, including Feds ‘n’ Heads by Gilbert Shelton, Jay “Jayzee” Lynch’s (with Skip Williamson) Bijou Funnies #1 (1st print was printed on 20 October 1968 in Chicago and had a print run of 1,500 copies, the 2nd print was printed by Don Donahue in San Francisco 6,500 copies printed and paid for by the Print Mint, although Lynch was only paid for 2,000 copies), Dennis Kitchen’s Mom’s Homemade Comics #1 (1st print shows a 49 cent cover price and had a 4,000 copy print run in June 1969, but created in 1968) and Radical America Komiks (1st print out early 1969 with an unknown print run and 2nd print taken over by the Print Mint and released in May 1969 with 15,000 copies). Printed 12 August 1969, the second print of God Nose (2nd print with pink cover) followed soon after. Last Gasp’s first UnderGround arrived the following year, Slow Death Funnies #1 (1st print with a red boarder cover) was released on the first “Earth Day” on 01 April 1970.
With the multitude of different small and self-publishers out there, there is an almost countless number of UnderGround printers/publishers that could be named. But there really are just 3 big ones that if you are an UnderGround collector you’ll be most familiar with. These “big” three are the Print Mint, Rip Off Press (ROP) and Last Gasp (with the Krupp Comic Works/Kitchen Sink Press following not far behind). Although Donahue’s Apex Novelties was an early force, he produced on a much smaller scale compared to the others mentioned.
Here is a list of probably the 20 most important and/or most collectable UG Comix:
- Das Kampf (1st print)
- Adventures of Jesus #1 (1st print)
- God Nose #1 (1st print)
- Lenny of Lorado (1st print)
- C Comics #1
*C Comics #2 Zap Comix #1 (1st print), 1 (2nd print) Zap Comix #0 (1st print) Zap Comix #2 (1st print) Zap Comix #4 (1st print) Freak Brothers #1 (1st print) Bijou Funnies #1 (1st print) Mom’s Homemade Comics #1 (1st print) Feds ‘N’ Heads (1st print) Snatch #1 (1st print) Snatch #2 (1st print) Air Pirates #1 Air Pirates #2 Mr. Natural #1 (1st print) *=those Comix released before Zap #1. Until we can get a definitive approximate date of release for *The Mad Peck Catalog of Good Stuff #1, I’ll hold off adding it to this list (but it’s a probable contender to replace C Comics #2).
About 40 years after the first issue of Zap Comix #1 was sold on the streets by the man himself, Don Donahue who currently lives in Berkeley and still sells his high grade UnderGround Comix via mail-order to the lucky ones that know about it and still owns the original Multilith printing press which is now located in Alleghany, California with his friend Dan O’Neill of the infamous Air Pirates series, although he hasn’t done any offset printing for 20 years. Recently Don finally sold out of his last 11 copies Zap Comix #1 (2nd “Donahue” print) that were priced at $370 each on 28 May 2007 and later sold 12 surviving copies of Zap Comix #1 (1st “Plymell” print) that he found in a closet that had been salvaged from the Mowry’s Opera House fire of 1969 that were showing mild to severe fire damage (11 of which went to Neat Stuff Collectables and Dan Fogel for resale).
Crumb was so popular and controversial for his sexual pieces as those in the Snatch Comics series and his racial pieces like “R. Crumb’s Angelfood McDevilsfood in Backwater Blues” that appeared in Home Grown Funnies #1 (Jan. 1971). A Mad magazine imitation dated Aug. 1975 called The National Crumb, that had nothing to do with R. Crumb, was released in what obviously seems to capitalize on Crumb’s popularity by using his name in the title and all over the cover art, which already by 1975 was deeply a phenomenon for 7 years.
Robert has been drawing since he was a very young boy and in the Crumb documentary, Crumb states that it was his older brother, Charles that most influenced him into drawing. Crumb has also stated that seeing the cover of Humbug #2 (Sept. 1957) magazine (published by Harvey Kurtzman of Mad magazine fame and done by Will Elder/Jack Davis) in 1958 “changed his life” and eventually many years later, Robert started taking LSD starting in June 1965 at age 22 in Cleveland and in November of that same year, he had a bad “acid trip” which its after effects lasted for about (three to) six months that caused a significant change in his art style. Crumb writes, “The LSD thing was the main big inspiration of my life. It was an intensely visionary period for me. My face was just violently pushed into the visions by the drug. You can’t create that artificially.”
Aline, Robert and Sophie Crumb in undated photo (property of Alex Goldsmith).
The medieval fortress in Southern France where the Aline, Robert & Alex currently reside (property of Alex Goldsmith).
Robert has two children, his son Jesse (living in the U.S.) who he is estranged with over a business disagreement, from his first wife Dana (who raised Jesse). And a daughter Sophie (living in another nearby village near her parents in the South of France), an artist who is following in her father’s footsteps with 2 issues of Belly Button Comix (2002/2004) and regular contributions to MOME, from his second wife Aline. Dana and R. Crumb had an “open relationship” marriage until Dana got tired of it. There are references to a longtime girlfriend of Robert named Kathy (Goodell) in a 1972 interview and elsewhere. Robert met his second and current wife, Aline while still married to Dana in 1971 (and having another girlfriend), Aline and Robert moved in together in 1972 when she was 23. Now living in a medieval fortress in a small village in Southern France together (along with Alex Goldsmith, age 54, Aline’s brother), Aline and Robert continue also with an “open relationship”. Aline (also an artist/illustrator) also has a French boyfriend in their village and Robert travels annually back to the U.S. to see his longtime girlfriend, Kathy.
The Buffalo Chips menu from the website (posted on www.oarhousebuffalochips.com for historical purposes).
Being born after the birth of UG’s, I feel I missed a lot of its history but after reading about a saloon/bar I went to a few times when I was younger in the late 80’s/early 90’s called the Oar House at 2941-3 Main Street in Santa Monica, that had murals painted on the inside walls by Shelton, Crumb, Deitch, Wilson, “Spain”, and Franklin. in the Spring of 1970 that I don’t remember seeing (of course I wasn’t looking then), so I stopped by there. Sorry to report the Oar House is no more, it’s currently a nightclub/bar called Mór. Going to the Oar House and Buffalo Chips (a restaurant next door owned by the same owners) website (www.oarhousebuffalochips.com), it’s revealed why I don’t recall seeing the murals. In early 1974, 3 Florida tourists firebombed the place after getting ejected for being belligerent. All those pieces where destroyed with much of the history of that bar, but it reopened soon after and stayed open for decades later. What other unique pieces by the UG greats has been lost to history…
Regarding some the “Dean of Underground Cartoonists” lost work, R. Crumb and his older brother Charles burned many of their earlier work! That’s right, burned it! Robert Dennis Crumb (b. 30 Aug. 1943 in Philadelphia), also eventually known as “America’s Best Loved Underground Cartoonist”, began drawing with pencil at age 6 and drew his first comic book, Diffy in Shacktown, starring Diffy the Mouse and Brombo the Panda, in the Fall of 1950 at age 7. He later drew Brombo the Panda in it’s own comic in January 1952 when he was 12 and continued to draw it until 1958. Later, when he was 19, he “took all those Brombo the Panda comics out in the backyard and burned them.” And with Charles and R. Crumbs first published work that was inspired by Mad magazine, Foo! #1, 2, 3 (ranging in cover price from 15 to 25 cents from Sept., Oct., & Nov. 1958) which they had 300 copies of each printed, R. Crumb states in an interview recorded on the 6th August 1972 that being disillusioned by not being able to sell them to the students at their high school and door to door around Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, even after reducing the price to a dime each, so they “Eventually we took half of them out and burned them; the ones we had left. We had about 150 of them left and we took them out and just burned them.” After that he drew comics only for his own benefit. But of the at least 150 issues they sold, one made enough of an impression on a Marty Pahls, who ended up contacting the Crumbs and became a good friend to Robert and later married his older sister, Sandra.
Cover of Foo #2
Whether it was 900 copies or 300 copies originally printed, either way 150 copies burned of the first published work of these Crumb brothers would probably be regretted by them and eventually be missed by Crumb collectors. Later issues of Foo were scrapped, but an original piece listed on eBay for the cover of Foo! #5 by Charles and Robert (#5 pictured below) ended at $10,100, not meeting reserve, on 8th October 2007.
Original Art: Cover of Foo #5 (1959) by Charles and R. Crumb (courtesy of Brian “BrianHowardArt”)
Try finding a copy of any of these 3 now and you’ll find the prices through the roof. Not listed in either the Kennedy “Guide” or “FUG”, the original 3 Foo! issues from 1958 are listed in the Underground Comics section of lesser known The Comic Art Price Guide (2000) by Jerry Weist. Foo! #1 (Sept.) is stated to have “possibly no more than 20 copies known to exist.” With a Near Mint value at an outdated $1,500 (with a rarity potential of double that value). Foo! #2 (Oct.) and #3 (Nov.) have a Near Mint (outdated) value of $1,250 (with a rarity potential of double that value). In 1980 Jay Lynch’s Bijou Publishing Empire Inc. print a limited reprint set of the 3 with 800 numbered copies. They were released at $11.00 each but Jay quickly raised the price to $16.00, which is what it was valued at in 1982 in Kennedy’s “Guide”, by 2000 this reprint was valued at $125 in Near Mint in Weist’s “Guide”. On the 3rd of May 2007, an original Arcade Number Fourteen by R. Crumb (with one sketch on the inside front cover by Charles) that Robert produced in 1961 when he had just turned 20 years old, sold for $35,850. This Arcade is an all-original one and only piece with 32 pages with a cover colored with Crayon (pictured below) that was never printed/reprinted like most of the later issues. Begun in April 1960, Arcade (or at least the covers) continued until at least June 1964 (with no number on the cover), Number 37 was dated January 1964. A printed (not original like the Number Fourteen pictured) 6 page Arcade Number One (April 1960 with a 10 cent cover price) by Charles and R. Crumb from the files of Marty Pahls was sold on 19 January 2006 for $4,025. It featured a 5 page early Fritz the Cat story.
Arcade #Fourteen (September 1961) (pic. Courtesy of Heritage Auction Galleries)
Earlier in the late 1950’s, R. Crumb drew a series for himself in a similar style in notebooks he called R. Crumb Almanac #20 was dated July 1959 that was similar to a journal, in which he drew about his experiences in that month or a part of that month. Much of the Almanac being done together with his older brother, Charles with the later issues (#27 of October 15, 1959 & 28 of November 1, 1959) being re-titled Crumb Brothers Almanac. He also drew a series of color covers started in late 1959 called Note that was letters to his friend Marty Pahls, which continued until at least August 6, 1962. A series of color covers called Farb started in early 1959 and continued until at least early 1960 was made for his letters to another friend since youth, Mike Britt. Some of these works printed in The Complete Crumb Comics (Vol. 1 to 17) that includes work of R. Crumb from before 1959 up until 2005, which is available in soft and hardcover.
By December 1970, Robert had done a 9 page feature in Esquire magazine. In 1972, R. Crumb forms and performs in the Keep on Truckin’ Orchestra that changes its name to The Cheap Suit Serenaders in June 1973. It included members Robert Armstrong, Allen Dodge and later Terry Zwigoff among others. Their first record was a 78 on his own “Ordinary” records with “River Blues” on side A and “Wisconsin Wiggles” on side B. They played at a lot of places in San Francisco, especially at the Magic Cellar. They recorded three (LP) albums (the last recorded in July of 1978) and three 78 records. The 78s didn’t sell well because the newer record players no longer included all 3 speeds that included the old 78 rpm speed. Robert quits playing publicly with the band in August 1977, but started playing with the band again occasionally. They performed in Holland and Belgium in June 1998.
Due to Bob Rita, of the Print Mint using the “Keep On Truckin’” logo on his business cards without the copyright symbol, Robert lost his copyright hold on it. Soon after the IRS demanded $30,000 ($28,000) in back taxes. He finally paid off the IRS in 1978. While he had his tax problems, R. Crumbs art production has been described as stuck in neutral, “CoEvolution Quarterly is about the only place you’ll see his new artwork…” back then. Before he paid off his tax bill, he offered to sell his entire collection of “78s, comics, books, ORIGINAL ARTWORK, and other miscellaneous stuff for $35,000. No one took the bait.” as also written in the August 1978 Relix article.
In 1981, Robert started Weirdo magazine (Last Gasp), which was inspired by early Mad magazine and Humbug by mentor Harvey Kurtzman. He edited the first 9 issues (1981-1983) of Weirdo (Peter Bagge took over until Aline took over as editor with issue #18), that continued until issue 28 (1993). Some (non-comic) books illustrated by R. Crumb are Steal This Book by Hoffman, Abbie (1971), (the Tenth Anniversary edition of) The Monkey Wrench Gang by Abbey, Edward (1985) and Texas Crude by Weaver, Ken (1984) and more recently Kafka by Mairowitz, David Zane and Crumb, Robert (2002) as well as some books by Charles Bukowski like Bring Me Your Love (1996), There’s No Business (1984) and The Captain is Out to Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship (1998). Two time Pulitzer Prize winner cartoonist, Bill Mauldin touted R. Crumb’s work as “the funniest thing you can buy.”
In a 1998 article in L.A. Weekly by Brendan Bernhard, Robert relates after seeing the movie Titanic and not thinking much of Leonardo DiCaprio, that while he was having dinner in Paris Leonardo, son of George DiCaprio an Underground cartoonist friend of his, Leonardo “spent most of the meal staring into a mirror. The waiter, confused by the teen idol’s beauty, addressed him throughout the evening as “mademoiselle”.
If you’re wondering if R. Crumb still has his (and his brothers) comic book collection from when they were young, the answer is no. After his brother, Charles, was arrested in late 1962 for shoplifting a pack of cigarettes, Charles sold them. The fine that his father paid was $25 and Charles paid him back by selling the entire collection they kept in a wooden trunk, to a magazine dealer in Philadelphia.
If some of the records hadn’t been on paper, like the original sales records for the first issue’s first print, surely many of these facts would have remained mysteries never to be recollected perhaps due to the psychedelic substances used back in these days of early UnderGround’s birth. Causing fogs of memories in these early pioneers, similar to the haze left by the wiffs of inhaled and exhaled cannabis that layered the air in the rooms of many a home in the exact neighborhood where it all began. Some day in the not so distant future, people will actually claim too have spoken with and purchased these comix directly from the original publisher of many of them, Donahue, who in 1997 purchased from Bob Sidebottom’s widow (Liz) the remaining large stock of UG’s from his Comic Collector Shop(s) most of which allows him to continue his mail order business today. Even after 40 years from the birth of UG Comix by one of the original pioneers himself, perhaps roles will soon change and collectors will be contacting these buyers wanting to know how and where to obtain these possible UnderGround pedigree “file copy” comix that have been described as the equivalent to the “Mile High” collection of UnderGrounds. As the UnderGround collectable market is steadily growing, current UnderGround collectors probably wouldn’t doubt it.
Remember these words by Rosenkranz, who was at the UnderGround scene from about the beginning, when contemplating an UnderGround investment. “[I] …remember that all the Zap art at the [October/November] 1969 Phoenix Gallery [in Berkeley] show [on the New Comix] was going for $25 a page. Crumb, Shelton, Wilson, etc. Wish I'd had 25 bucks.” Also adding, “I remember in spring 1972 Donahue showed me a box full of Plymell Zaps which he was selling for $10 apiece. I didn't have ten bucks so I didn't buy any.” Recently a collection of 10 placemat doodles by R. Crumb sold for $2,500 each and on Dennis Kitchen’s site you can find is: “His last N.Y.C. gallery show sold out quickly, with gravy and wine-stained placemat drawings selling for $3,000 to $5,000 each! A Crumb drawing recently graced the cover of Art Forum (the first time for a “cartoonist”) and art museums in America and Europe are buying his pieces for their permanent collections.” On 2 August 2007 an Original Art (“OA”) page titled “Lenore Goldberg” from R. Crumb’s 1970 Motor City Comics #2 sold for $13,145 via Heritage Auction Galleries auction. In 1984, Crumb’s original art were being sold for $400-500 a page. Regarding R. Crumb original art, many will probably say in the future “wish I had…”. If you’re not convinced the R. Crumb’s drawings will be considered along with the other greats of the art world of modern times, perhaps his oil paintings might be? Starting in 1980, R. Crumb did “five or six paintings” and in the late 1990’s/2000 he “reworked” at least a couple of old oil paintings, but perhaps his younger brother (whos work graces the walls of R. and Aline in their French residence), Maxon also an artist (Outsider Art), might be more known some day for that oil medium that he uses more frequently.
Robert Crumb is currently hard at work on his Genesis Illustrated Bible project with Aline and/or Sophie coloring and hopes to have it completed by Thanksgiving of this year. Quoted from www.crumbproducts.com, the official R. Crumb website, run by son Jesse, “This fall Robert is taking a mini-break from his Genesis project and taking a trip (Europe-America) for 6 weeks. He's currently on page 128 of Genesis and will script the final pages during his travels. He's using three different bibles as reference material to create his largest work. He will be back in France and back to work by mid-November.” If you are interested in looking for R. Crumb’s work, publications of lists of his works are the R. Crumb Checklist of Work and Criticism (1981) that came out in softcover and hardcover by Don Fiene and the follow-up “R. Crumb Checklist 2” in CounterMedia Winter, 1991-92 issue. Also available is the book Crumb-ology: The Works of R. Crumb 1981-1994 (1995) in hardcover (2 printings) and it’s follow-up the Crumb-ology Supplement: Summer 1998 to August 1998 (1998) pamphlet by Carl Richter. Or if you are interested in learning more about R. Crumb and his work, there are a multitude of book on him, including his own with Peter Poplaski’s The R. Crumb Coffee Table Art Book (1997) and The R. Crumb Handbook (2005) as well as Monte Beauchamp’s The Life and Times of R. Crumb (1998) that is a collection of commentaries on R. Crumb written by his contemporaries.
List of some periodicals containing R. Crumb articles and interviews Interview in Berkeley Barb #Nov. 22 (by Stu Glauberman) 1968 Interview in National Insider vol. 14 #4 (by Marty Pahls) 1969 Interview in Cleveland Magazine #July (by Gary Griffth) 1972
Article in the New York Times Magazine #Oct. 1 (by Thomas Maremaa) 1972 Interview in Promethean Enterprises #5 (by Al Davoren) 1972 (pub. 1974) Article in The Apex Treasury of Underground Comics (by Susan Goodrick) 1974
Interview in Inside Comics Vol. 1 #1 (by Keith Green) (Spring) 1974 Interview in Changes #June (by Jean-Claude Suares) 1974
Article in Relix #Aug. (by Clark Peterson) 1978 Article in Berkeley Barb #Aug. 4-10 (by Clark Peterson) 1978
Interview in Tele Times #July (by B. N. Duncan) 1980 Article in People Magazine #June 24 (by Peter Carlson) 1984 (1985 mentioned elsewhere by R. Crumb)
Interview in The Comics Journal #121 (by Gary Groth) 1988*
Interview in Screw #Oct. 17, Oct. 24, Nov. 7 (by Al Goldstein) 1988 Article in the Los Angeles Times #June 25 (by Kristine McKenna) 1989
Interview in Rocket #March (by Michael Dougan) 1991 Interview in The Comics Journal #143 (by Gary Groth) 1991* Interview in The Comics Journal #158 (by Gary Groth) 1992* Article in Now #Summer (by Deirdre Hanna) 1992
Unpublished monologue by R. Crumb (by Patrick Rosenkranz) 1994*
Interview in The Comics Journal #180 (by Gary Groth) 1995*
Essay in Film Comment (by Donald Phelps) 1995*
Interview on NPR Radio 1998
Article in L.A. Weekly #May 1-7 (by Brendan Bernhard) 1998 Interview “Que a peur de Robert Crumb?, Musee de la Bande Dessinee conducted Aug. 1991 & July 1999 (pub. 2000)
Interview in Robert Crumb (Pocket Essentials) (May) 2002 (pub. 2003) Hand-written interview with Robert Crumb from ifpthendirt.com (by Dan Stafford) 19 April 2003 Interview/article in the New York Times (by Allen Salkin) 21 January 2007 * - From the book The Comics Journal Library, Volume Three: R. Crumb (2004) - From the book R. Crumb Conversations by Holm, D. K. (2004) Bibliography Thompson, Don and Lupoff, Dick, The Comic-Book Book (1973)
Daniels, Les, Comix A History of Comic Books in America (1971)
Plymell, Charles, Zap’s first Printer on Robert Crumb: Curled in Character (http://www.mindscapemedia.com/comicwiz/charles_plymell.htm)
various authors including Beck, Joel, “Jaxon”, “Sturgeon, Foolbert”, Deitch, Kim, and Donahue, Don, Blab #3 (Fall 1988) article “Comments on Crumb”
Pekar, Harvey, Journal of Popular Culture (Spring 1970 / III:4) article “Rapping About Cartoonists, Particularly Robert Crumb”
Fiene, Don, R. Crumb Checklist of Work and Criticism (1981)
Rosenkranz, Patrick and van Baren, Hugo, Artsy Fartsy Funnies (1974)
Rosenkranz, Patrick, Rebel Visions: The Underground Comix Revolution 1963-1975 (2003)
Skinn, Dez, Comix The Underground Revolution (2004)
Estren, Mark James, A History of Underground Comics (1974, 1993)
Fogel, Dan, Fogel’s Underground Comix Price Guide (2006)
Fogel, Dan, UG! 3K (1999)
Kennedy, Jay, The Official Underground and Newave Comix Price-Guide (1982)
Harvey, Robert C., The Art of the Comic Book: An Aesthetic History (1996)
Green, Keith, Inside Comics Vol. 1 #1 (Spring 1974) article “What’s a Nice Counter-Culture Visionary Like Robert Crumb Doing on a Secluded Farm in California?”
Davoren, Al, interview with R. Crumb, Promethean Enterprises #5 (1974)
Salkin, Allen, article “Mr. and Mrs. Natural” in the New York Times, 21 January 2007
Donahue, Don, “Mail” letter on page 7 in Mineshaft #20 (September 2007)
Transcripts from a NPR Radio Interview with R. Crumb in 1998 “Crumb on the Run”
Holm, D. K., R. Crumb Conversations (2004)
The Comics Journal Library, Volume Three: R. Crumb (2004)
Beauchamp, Monte, The Life and Times of R. Crumb (1998)
Crumb, R. and Poplaski, Peter, The R. Crumb Coffee Table Art Book (1997)
Crumb, R. and Poplaski, Peter, The R. Crumb Handbook (2005)
Guthmann, Edward, San Francisco Chronicle article “Still in the shadows, an artist in his own right”, 3 October 2006
Weist, Jerry, The Comic Art Price Guide: Second Edition (2000)
Stafford, Dan (unpublished handwritten interview with R. Crumb) from ifnthendirt.com (19 April 2003)
Thanks to Allen “thillaj”, Arnie “gooddr”, Mark “Over40Artist”, Justin “OldMilwaukee6er”, Jay Lynch, Don Donahue and mostly Patrick Rosenkranz for their help. (Copy of the Zap Comix #2 findings released at the 2007 San Diego Comic Con follows.) Zap Comix #2 copyright (June/July?) 1968 (first printed by Print Mint) containing work by R. Crumb and early or first published comix work by S. Clay Wilson, Victor Moscoso and Rick Griffin.
As per “the Official Underground and Newave Comix Price Guide” by Jay Kennedy (1957-2008), published in the Summer of 1982: “As of April 1982 there are 17 Print Mint printings for a total of 325,000 copies, plus an unknown number of printings and copies prior to the Print Mint's first printing in February of 1969.” Stated by Don Donahue (one of the original printers of Robert Crumb’s Zap and other comix) on 23 March 2007 in an e-mail quoted below, there was no prior printings or copies (by Apex Novelties) prior to Print Mint's printings. This Kennedy statement should now be believed to be an error. The est. 325,000 copies as of April 1982 does not include at least 4 known later printings that have $2.50, $2.95, $3.95 & $4.95 cover prices.
1st print (w/ .50 cent cover price) - will have the heavier matt stock cover paper (approx. 70lbs. stock) and the “Head First” will be offset downward by error towards the bottom of the page & may be slightly tilted: http://www.mindscapemedia.com/zap2/Zap2.htm (there is no blue in the white spot of the distal cheek). The staples should be about 5.4“ apart (the widest of the .50 cent cover price printings I’ve encountered) and the top staple is about 1.8” from the top edge of the book, this places the top of the upper staple at approx. the level of the top of the “A” in the “ADULTS ONLY!!” and the center of the top staple at approx. the empty space under “ONLY!!”, and the lower staple about 1.6” from the bottom edge. (1.8”= 46mm, 5.4”= 137mm, 1.6”=41mm) Paper thickness averages 0.105 – 0.139 mm. (update: staples greatly vary on this printing.) (Approx. 500 copies of Zap Comix #2 (1st print) to have been released for the Zap show opening (July? 1968) of the est. 5,000 printed, remaining guts of the original printing (approx. 4,500) was thrown out do to the immediately discovered error. This makes this issue probably the scarcist/rarest Zap released.) Paper thickness approx.: 0.105 - 0.115 mm / 0.115 – 0.120 mm / 0.133 – 0.139 mm.
This “Head First” downward offset error tell was first realized by ComicWiz from a post on 22 March 2007. “I looked at one of the copies I owned and noticed how the Head First strip was cut-off. This was a complete coincidence because I actually had opened two books in the same spot to compare page quality. I thought that it was somewhat strange at the time because I wasn't able to find another copy like it from the copies I already owned. I passed it off as one of the flaws with manual cut and assembly in production. Then I came across a seller who had some undergrounds in an eBay listing. They were primarily first prints. I purchased the entire lot and communicated with him afterwards to pick-up some other books he hadn't included in the first eBay batch. One of which was a Zap 2. We agreed to deal privately on that book rather than have him list it on eBay. When I got that book, I found the second instance of the Head First tell. That is when I started to first seriously consider it as a tell. …the one consistent thing about the whole process of determining the tell is that the Head First strip copies all had heavier cover stock (CGC's treatment and grade on the slabbed copy I own confirms this).” From the CPG (ComicsPriceGuide.com) forums Underground Comics forum.
According to Don Donahue in an e-mail dated 23 March 2007:
“… Your question prompted me to do some research in my files (and my memory) and I now believe that I can tell you what a true 2nd printing is. You're the first person to receive this information…
By the way, I never printed any copies of Zap #2. I was just starting to do some work on the cover when The Print Mint took over as publisher. They farmed out the printing to a company called Cal Litho.
The first printing (or, if you prefer, the first state or version of the first printing) is, of course, the one that has “Head First” coming off the page. The weight of the cover stock ranges from slightly heavier than “regular” to a lot heavier than “regular.”
The 2nd printing (or the corrected version of the first) has covers identical in every way to those of the uncorrected version, with the same range of weights. It was the same batch of covers. The staples are about 4 3/16” apart and the top staple is about 2 5/16“ from the top edge of the book. (How come you guys never use staple distances as a way of identifying printings? Bruce Semans came up with that idea 20 years ago.)
The initial printing probably consisted of 5,000 copies. 5,000 perfectly good covers were printed and used. 5,000 copies of the “guts” (interior pages) were printed which were laid out wrong and had to be thrown away (except for the ones that were used). As I recall, the problem with the guts was noticed immediately as soon as the books started getting bound, but there was going to be a Zap show opening at an art gallery in San Francisco and copies were needed immediately. I think that maybe as few as 500 of the uncorrected copies were bound up.”
2nd print (w/ .50 cent cover price) - will have the heavier matt stock cover paper as the 1st print (same cover printing), but the “Head First” offset error will be corrected. The staples are now “about 4 3/16” apart and the top staple is about 2 5/16“ from the top edge of the book”. (There is no blue in the white spot on the distal cheek.) This places the top staple at about the level of “NO.2”. (Est. 4,500 print run using good covers from the 1st printing.) “5,000 good covers and 5,000 of the fucked-up guts were printed. 500 books were bound with fucked-up guts, leaving 4,500 good covers. The rest of the bad guts were trashed, the error was fixed and 4,500 of the corrected guts were printed to go with the 4,500 good covers. So the “1st printing” was 500 copies and the “2nd printing” was 4,500. The figures are, of course, estimates.” Don Donahue via e-mail 14 April 2007. Paper thickness approx.: 0.105-0.110 mm on my only copy (up to 0.120mm).
3rd print (w/ .50 cent cover price) (probably includes multiple printings) - will have the similar slightly heavier matt stock paper cover as the first print, but the staples will be approx. 5“ apart and the top staple is about 1.6” - 1.7” from the top edge of the book. This places the top staple at about centered with the level of the “O” in “ONLY!!”. (All issues from here on seem to have some blue in the white spot on the distal cheek of the cover character.) Most of the matt cover issues (printings) fell under this category with some variations in staple placement and distance apart (of approx. 5”), since it’s unlikely to determine chronological order of printing on this alone and the probable use of multiple binding (stapling) machines, I lump them all into this printing (I’ve found a copy that has staple placement similar to 2nd print, but not exact, but does contain the blue in the white spot on distal cheek). Paper thickness approx.: 0.081- 0.099 mm.
4th print (w/ .50 cent cover price) – Glossy cover stock with no cover tell (stated on the 5th print). Examined 1 copy of this at the SDCC 2007 (Arnie “GoodDr” signed by R. Crumb ’89 and S. Clay Wilson).
5th print (w/ .50 cent cover price) - will have the thinner glossy stock cover paper (approx. 60lbs. stock). A “tell”, a blue dot (with a black dot inside) is apparent in the black near the top of the exclamation point/mark on the cover “Boing!”. Also, the pinks and dark pinks appear slightly more magenta and the blacks appear darker/richer. The staples are about 4.75“ apart and the top staple is about 1.7” from the top edge of the book (about centered with the “O” in “ONLY!!”. http://boards.collectors-society.com/attachments//1662976-Zap2second.jpg Paper thickness approx.: 0.087- 0.090 mm.
6th print (w/ .50 cent cover price) – (theoretically could have been printed before the 5th print, but for likelihood and ease have selected after the 5th print.) I’ve examined one copy that appeared to have the glossy “tell” of the blue dot in the exclamation point/mark but printed on a matt paper. Staple positioning appeared to be similar to the 3rd printing. I cannot be positive of this as I didn’t purchase the copy. (Hi-De-Ho)
7th print (w/ .50 cent cover price) – appears to be matt stock, blue dot in exclamation point/mark is apparent under close examination, but has now been covered with black ink. (Geoffrey’s)
8th print - will have a .75 cent cover price. (“tell” no longer visible.) There may have been at least two printing as I’ve seen issues with the upper staple in two different locations (by the “ADULTS ONLY!!” or above & by the “NO.2”).
9th print - will have a $1.00 cover price. (17 printings by April 1982, all following printed after).
10th print – will have a $2.50 cover price (not in Fogel’s Underground Comix Price Guide).
11th print - will have a $2.95 cover price.
12th print - will have a $3.95 cover price.
13th print – will have a $4.95 cover price (not in Fogel’s Underground Comix Price Guide).
13 of the known (at least) 21 printings.
(NEW INFO.) Only about 500 copies of the first print of Zap Comix #2 being bound and released for the Zap show opening, of the original 5,000 printed, the rest unbound being thrown away and then a 2nd printing of 4,500 new issues being printed soon after with the staple placement “about 4 3/16“ apart and the top staple is about 2 5/16” from the top edge of the book”. This would make the first printing of Zap #2 rarer than Zap #0 (1st print) with 5,000 printed (NM=$1,000), Zap #1 (2nd Donahue print) with est. 5,000 printed (NM=$500), Zap #1 (1st Plymell print) with est. 3,500 printed (NM=$8,000), or even Snatch #1 (1st print) with 800 copies printed (NM=$1,000). The 2nd print has the same thicker stock cover of the first and 4,500 copies were printed (same covers from 1st printing).
CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF SOME EARLY IMPORTANT UNDERGROUND COMIX (following)
October 1961 – Wild #1 (11 issues printed, but #10 was last with 20-30 copies. Jay Lynch starts in #5). Mar. 1962 – Bacchanal Mar. 1962 – Texas Ranger (w/ Wonder Wart-Hog) (1959 or before? Per UG! 3K p. 143) 1962 – Austin Iconoclastic Magazine “The” (2 or 3 magazines at 10,000 issues a month peak).
May 1963 - Vaughn Bode’s Das Kampf (1st print) (100 or so copies).
1964 - the Adventures of Jesus (Frank Stack “Foolbert Sturgeon” started drawing it in 1961) (1st print) Approx. 50 (42) copies. 2nd print said to have been made in 1963, but not possible, done later (1965?). June 1964 – C Comics #1 (Joe Brainard)
[Fall] 1964 - God Nose (light purple cover 1st print, 1,000 copies).
January 1965 - Help #22 (Fritz the Cat)
1965 - Joel Beck’s Lenny of Laredo (1st and 2nd print). 1965 – East Village Other (EVO) (New York)
1965 - Berkeley Barb starts. 1965 – C Comics #2 ($1.00 cover price) 1965 - Surftoons #1 (Rick Griffin) (Started in Surfer mag. In 1963)
1966(1961-1966?) – Charlatan (1st issue 2,000 copies). April 1966 – Lenny of Laredo (3rd print)
1966 - Joel Beck’s The Profit.
1967 - Vaughn Bode's student pubs (Syracuse, NY) incl. Cheech Wizard & The Machines.
5 (or after) May 1967 - Yarrowstalks #1(1st Mr. Nat.), 2(b. 15 Aug. 1967), 3(all Crumb)(Aug./Fall? 1967). 1967 - Zodiac Mindwarp (Spain).
Spring 1967 - Snide #1. 20 Aug. 1967 – Chicago Mirror #1 1967 - the Life and Loves of Cleopatra (1st print self-published by Harry Driggs) Fall (after 8 Sept.) 1967 – Last Times Vol. 1 #1 (Plymell) with “lifted” Head Comix “Hey Boparee Bop!” (p. 14) page from Yarrowstalks #2 (1967) (p. 10).
near end of 1967 - Momma-Daddie (pub. by Don Dohahue)(almost all of the 5,000 copies burned by owner of printing plant / 8 page tabloid).
*25 February 1968 - Zap #1 (1st print by C. Plymell & D. Donahue, approx. 3,000 copies released. (3,500 - approx. 500 issues owned by Bob Hill were destroyed in the Mowry Opera House fire in 1969). Some say 1,500 – 4,000, but Donahue has copies of records showing approx. 3,500 copies sold (approx. 1,500+ to Bob Rita of Third World Dist. on Haight St. in San Francisco), this does include the copies sold on Haight Street by Dana ($5.50 = 22) and Robert Crumb (in the baby-carriage) and by Don ($3 = 12) and Mimi ($12.00 = 48)(Total $20.50 = 82). May 1968 – Yellow Dog #1 (tabloid) *(…two months later) June (April-May) 1968 - Zap #1 (2nd print by D. Donahue approx. 5,000 copies “…paid for in advance by legendary Berkeley bookseller Moe Moscowitz on behalf of friend Don Schenker” (PM) – Donahue Blab! #3 ’88). June 1968 – Voice of Comicdom #12 (R. Corben’s first published work)
*June/July 1968 - Zap #2 (1st print w/ est. 5,000 copies by Print Mint, but 4,500 undbound & destroyed).
*July? 1968 - Zap #2 (2nd print w/ est. 4,500 copies by Print Mint). *July 1968 (Don Fiene “Checklist” states about Dec.) - Zap #0 (1st print by D. Donahue w/ est. 5,000 copies). “ZAP #0 and ZAP #2 came out at roughly the same time…” - Don Donahue via e-mail 14 April 2007. 20 July 1968 – Chicago Mirror #3 (150+ copies dist. of the 800 copies printed). 1968 - Feds 'n' Heads #1 (1st print). 07 Oct. 1968 - R. Crumb’s Head Comix (1st print by the Viking Press, $2.50 cover price).
*October 1968 - Snatch #1 (1st print(-3rd) by Donahue - 800 copies)(coming out shortly BEFORE Zap #3)
20 October 1968 [December] - Bijou Funnies #1 (1st print) (1,500 copies) (2nd by Donahue later, 6,500).
*2nd half [December] 1968 - Zap #3 (1st print by Print Mint) (30,000-50,000 copies?). *Dec. 1968/January 1969 - Snatch #2 (copyright 1968) (1st-3rd prints by D. Donahue).
Early 1969 – God Nose (2nd print) (The first Rip Off Press comix.) Radical America Komiks (1st print) (February 1969 - Print Mint “officially” takes over printing Zap?)
*February 1969 - Zap #0 (2nd print by Print Mint). February 1969 - Feds 'n' Heads #1 (2nd print).
*[April] 1969 - Jiz #1 (1st print) *April 1969 – Motor City Comics #1 (1st print) (by ROP? but with the Print Mint address) April 1969 - Weirdom Illustrated #13 (R. Corben) 1 May 1969 [September] – Bijou Funnies #2 (by May 1969, 80,000 copies of the first 4 (#0-3) of Zap had been printed/sold.) H. Pekar [Spring] June 1969 - Mom's Homemade Comics #1 (1st print). *June 1969 - O-Zone Comics #1 July 1969 – Yellow Dog #13/14 (switches to comic book format)
*[July](Fiene–Aug) 1969 - Zap #4 (1st print) (30-50,000?) [The first printing has slightly heavier cover stock and the top staple is 2 5/16“ from the top edge. …a cover price of 50 cents, no copyright notice, regular cover stock, and the top end of the top staple is 2 11/16” from the top edge of the book, …that makes it a 2nd printing.] – D. Donahue via his listing through Apex Novelties for Zap #4 (2nd print) [“By the time Zap #3 and #4 were published sales were as high 50.000 copies each for the first printing (subsequent printings increased that number into the six figures).”] - Steven Heller (2000) (www.typotheque.com/articles/zap_comics). *25 July/August 1969 – Big Ass #1 (1st print) 1969 - Bogeyman #1 & 2.
Sept. 1969 - Bijou Funnies #2 (1st print) Jay Lynch stated Donahue was printing Bogeyman #1 or 2 when this was printed. Nov. (21 Oct.) 1969 – Jesus, the New Adventures #1 (1st print) *[Nov.] 1969 (“between Jiz and Cunt”) – Life and Loves of Cleopatra (2nd print by Apex Novelties / Don Donahue)
*November 1969 – Despair (1st print) *1969 - Cunt (1969 copyright). *Fall 1969/Jan. Feb. 1970 – San Francisco Comic Book #1
Jan. 1970 - Mom's Homemade Comics #2. *February 17 1970 – Motor City Comics #2 (1st print) 1st Earth day April 1970 - Slow Death Funnies #1 (1st print) (first Last Gasp title). May 1970 – Zap Comix #5 (1ST print / .50 cents) (50,000 or more copies) July 1970 - It Ain't Me, Babe. Aug. 1970 – Mr. Natural #1 (1st print) (10,000 copies) 15 Oct. 1970 – Young Lust #1 (1st print) (10,000 copies)
Jan. 1971 - Home Grown Funnies (1st print).
01 Feb. 1971 - Freak Brothers #1 (1st print).
Feb. 1971 - Mom's Homemade Comics #3. 1971 – Jesus, the New Adventures of #1 (2nd print) July 1971 – Young Lust #2 (1st print) (30,000 copies)
June 1972 – Young Lust #3 (1st print) (50,000 copies) (color) July 1972 - Tits and Clits #1 (1st print) (20,000 copies) (#2 renamed Pandora’s Box Comix #1).
Aug. (Nov.) 1972 - Wimmen's Comix #1 (1st print) (20,000 copies).
Jan. 1973 – Zap Comix #6 (1st print / .50 cents)(100,000 copies)
by GuyB (IITravel / 50cent #II (1st)) on 23 March – 29 July 2007 [email protected]
After examining approx. 40 Zap #2’s with .50 cent cover price (approx. 18-20 in hand and approx. 20-22 via scans, as this was my focus and the other cover price versions were examined just for reference) and a few with .75 cent cover price, one with $2.50 and one with $4.95 cover price, I’ve come to the preceding initial findings. I started this quest approx. early January 2007 when I first posted a thread regarding this. I had one copy of Zap #2 with a .50 cent cover price (on glossy stock), but thought that it shouldn’t be so hard to find a 1st print with the “Head First” “tell” if there really was 5,000 printed as I read in the forum. I happened to purchase two more at a Comic Book shop and one was labeled “1st print” (but on glossy thinner paper) and a “2nd print” (but on the thicker matt paper). Intrigued I examined them and found that both the thinner glossy copies had the “tell” I discovered on the exclamation point/mark. I then started to request full size scans from seller on the internet, in particular ebay. In March, I went in search of more copies at the Wizard World L.A. 2007 and found a dealer selling two copies, both labeled “2nd print” but one had a cover with matt paper and one with glossy paper and the “tell”. I purchased the matt copy without the “tell”. I also came across a dealer selling a “1st print” from the Dana/R. Crumb collection without the tell and with a matt paper cover. I wasn’t able to purchase it, but returned the next day to find out that it had been sold the previous day. I then found another dealer that had a copy of a “2nd print” that didn’t have the tell and the paper appeared matt. About this time I received a response to my inquiry from Don Donahue that informed me of the true first and second prints. I also came to the conclusion that the ! spot “tell” appears to be only on the glossy paper covers, but on 26 March I went to 2 Comic Book Shops and examined approx. 10 copies (7 at the 1st with .50 cover price plus a copy with a $2.50 cover price and 2 at the 2nd with .50 cent cover price). This is when I found what I believe was a matt stock cover with the “tell” and at the 2nd shop a copy with the “tell” but covered in black. On 14 May 2007, I examined approx. 25 additional copies of the .50 cent cover price editions at HiDeHo Comics in Santa Monica, California, thanks to Mark.
I’ve found that the pinks appear closer to pink on the covers with matt stock and closer to a darker magenta (slightly purple) on the glossy stock covers. The 1st and 2nd prints seem to have a softer version of the magenta pinks from the glossy stock covers though, than to the pinks on the matt covers, but it varies noticeably.
After examining all these printings I’ve come to the conclusion that the .50 cent cover price Zap #2’s should probably be labeled under the 1st print (70lb. Cover stock with “Head First” downward offset error – 500 printed), 2nd print (with 70lb. Cover stock without error – 4,500 printed), 3rd – 7th print (to include the glossy and matt covers with thinner [approx. 60 lb.] cover stock).