« The Top 20 Albums of 2013 | Main | Fascism-cast »

2014.03.14

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I was taken aback by how much Pavlov was able to change that time period of Moebius's life.

Also that period was interesting too for Moebius. I think, at that time he was part of a crystal cult in which they practically forced him to just draw crystal in his comics. He was really balls deep in the cult and it was running his life. I remember when Jodorowsky learned about this he was fucking flabbergasted and asked Moebius what was wrong with him. Moebius too was getting afraid of the cult and wanted to get out.

What I'm trying to say is, it would be funny that Pavlov slowly starts to channel too much Moebius (of that period) and somehow gets channels the crystal cult and for a while we see nothing but crystals in Pavlov's art. A crystal Punisher or Nick Fury would be funny to see.

^^^ Where is that lovely drawing of the old man from, please? ^^^

You guys could not be more wrong about Zap Comix. I'm not even sure where to begin.

Ok. Here's some thoughts on Zap. 1. The first two all-Crumb issues (Zap #1 and Zap #0) are simply monumental -- that's where Crumb really hits the high note of his talent for the first time, creating the genre of the of the one-cartoonist anthology that he and others would explore for decades to come. A genre-creating and genre-defining. Once Zap becomes a collective (issues 2 onwards) it is also transformative because it showed that underground comics weren't just Crumb but a movement. There are also sorts of criticisms that one could make of the collective approach (it was a boy's club, they didn't expand to include talents like Deitch or Shary Flenniken) but still I think the Zap collective had a cohesive gestalt that is imminently defensible. In some ways, the way to think about Zap is that you had Crumb (the greatest cartoonist who has ever lived and a giant of 20th century culture) and you had six other talents who refracted aspects of Crumb: Spain was Crumb in his autobiographical/historical mode, Wilson was Crumb at his most taboo-busting and transgressive, Moscoso was Crumb in a druggy mood, etc. So the anthology works as a funhouse version of Crumb with artists who (in their special mode) were as powerful visually as Crumb. Finally in the whole history of comics there have been only a handful of defining anthologies. In terms of historical impact and aesthetic achievement they are (in chronological order): 1. Mad 2. Zap 3. Arcade 4. RAW 5. Drawn and Quarterly 6. Kramers Ergot. To be among the 6 best anthologies ever is a big deal, and makes you as worthy of an expensive art book as, I dunno, Walt Simpson's Thor or whatever else is being done in a lavish format.

I forgot to put Weirdo on the list of great anthologies. Shame on me.

Is the Zap reprint huge, signed/numbered or something? Why isn't it 40-50 dollars?

Fantagraphics are doing a very expensive Witzend too. But I don't understand how. It's full of creator owned work by creators that are probably harder to get permissions from (or their family or estate or whatever happens when they die). I really doubt Ditko suddenly warmed to Fantagraphics and gave them permission. Surely the public domain date is some way off?

I think some of those Ditko/Joe Gill stories are quite good. Very few make a wholly satisfying story but occasionally they had an interesting ominous or ambiguous quality.
Gill's writing on Gorgo and Konga (both collected recently) was fun and some of his 60s and 70s ghost stories had fun ideas.

I was talking recently about Joe Gill saying that I wished Kirby and Ditko collaborated with him instead of Stan Lee. If Fantastic Four and Spiderman had been written with the lightness of Gorgo and Konga, I think I would have enjoyed them a lot more and not felt like I was wading through bricks.

Paul S Newman has the record for most comic scripts but I think Joe Gill probably is a high runner up.

Dr Haunt is one of the coolest looking characters ever.

Jamie: The old man is from Ben Catmull's Monster Parade

Thanks, Chris. I feared my question was lost.
All the best to you!

You guys are right that the quality of Zap varies hugely, that often the contributions seemed watered down [notably in later issues], and that a big part of its legacy was simply due to its having remained in print for so long -- and selling literally millions of copies into the bargain. [I should note that the forever-in-print thing is no longer the case, as I found out when I wanted to order a bunch of copies of an early issue for a class -- Last Gasp currently lists only #7, 12, 14, and 15 on their site.] Didn't Harvey Kurtzman take Crumb to task for Zap's not being great, even back in the day? I agree with Jeet though about the lasting high quality of Zap: among the issues done collectively, #3 in particular -- the flipbook, "69" issue -- remains a pretty perfect object, and for the first 7 or 8 issues especially, Zap remained vital, a kind of marquee publication that all the contributors brought their best work to, because they knew that everyone would be looking. I like Jeet's idea that the other Zap artists were all refractions of Crumb, but it's also true that rather than just being pale imitations, his fellow artists set precedents for Crumb to follow that he might not otherwise have done -- especially Wilson, who dominated every issue of Zap he appeared in, and without whose example set forward in Zap, we wouldn't have Crumb as we know him today. Without Captain Pissgums, there's no Joe Blow, no Big Ass, no Bigfoot, no Devil Girl. Around '75, as the underground collapses and Crumb suffers legal troubles, yes the torch does get passed to Spiegelman and Griffith in Arcade, who have new ideas about how to reinvigorate this comix thing, and whose exuberance hasn't yet been crushed. But so anyway what am I saying, yeah those first several glory years of Zap, still great. The $500 price tag might keep you away, but I'd love to hear what you guys have to say about the Zap set when it finally comes out.

No way i'm buying that thing. maybe if the four of us all pooled our money for one copy... oh no wait, still a big nope. you can buy like 200 copies of starlight, a much better comic, for that much! Or, you know, I could pay my rent for a month. RIDICULOUS.

Not surprisingly, I agree with what Sean has said. The best Zap stuff is in the first 8 or 9 issues, after which it does become just the same old guys doing the same old stuff (except Crumb, who evolved). And of course in their various niches the guys other than Crumb could be visually greater than him (no one does scatology like Wilson). Just that Crumb in someways embodied everything in Zap, even as he learned from (and indeed gained courage from) the other Zap guys.
As for the $500 price tag. The book is obviously made for super-collectors, of which there are some (Williams' paintings go for far more than $500). I'll note that the $500 books come with prints from the still living Zap artists.

It's not a price point for regular comics buyers. But that's okay since the issues (even if not in print for classroom use) can still be had fairly easily. But it might not be a bad idea to have a less expensive reprinting of the complete Zap -- maybe as a paperback version of the $500 book, sans prints.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Subscribe
My Photo