By 1979 the seeds of what became the “New Wave” of comix had been sown by low print run, self-published, alternative comix such as George Erling’s Yikes (1975) and Doug Bryson’s Capt. Retro (1977), among others. At the time I was working in a small print shop and decided to print a “comic” book of my own in the misguided thought that my “artwork” was worthy of being printed. In hindsight the likes of that first effort, Pure Sex #1, are enough to make me cringe and ask myself, “What was I thinking?” The answer of course is that I wasn’t thinking, I was speeding, and one reviewer likened my art to “Rory Hayes on PCP.” That didn’t stop me from forging on and recruiting others for artwork and then publishing two better-received issues of that title as well as some mini-comix and my magnum opus the 88-page Tattooed Paper (1982).

Pure Insanity was a title I started in 1982 as a way to kill downtime at the print shop by photo-copying my drawings and doodles in small “artzines.” The first four issues of Pure Insanity were part of that photocopying frenzy and were solo. With the fifth issue (1983) I included another artist, Macedonio Garcia, and printed it on an offset press with some color on the cover. The sixth issue included an excellent inside back cover by Michael Roden, from Thru Black Holes Comix, that I printed with colored ink by using the “split fountain” method developed in the sixties by the original psychedelic hippie paper the San Francisco Oracle. Pure Insanity’s seventh issue I printed while living in Austin, Texas in 1984, and working in another small print shop, but I only sent out a handful of copies to those who I was in contact with at the time. The remaining copies of issue seven I gave to a transient fellow I had met while living in a hotel there and told him to either sell them, give them away, or throw them away. I have no idea what he chose to do and never saw him or the zine again until 2005 when I spotted a copy of Pure Insanity #6 for sale on eBay by Mike Roden who graciously sent me a copy of both issue #6 and #7. Seeing these publications -- much of the contents of which I had forgotten -- made me want to continue the title with some of my newer artwork.


Written by and © Tom Brinkmann. Please do not republish without permission.

Thru Black Holes Comix has been one of the creative forces shaping the evolution of comix over the last three decades. Under the guidance and direction of artist and publisher Michael Roden, TBHC produced dozens of publications ranging from 8-page mini-comix to full-length color-cover comix to postcards and pin-back buttons. One of the defining characteristics of TBHC is its inclusive policy – most of the TBHC publications are multi-artist books featuring art from an astonishing cast of characters. Contributions from these artists are assembled and often modified and otherwise shaped to create the distinctive TBHC look by the Captain of the TBHC Ship, Michael Roden. Over the years, such art world luminaries as Rat Fink creator Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, underground comix legends Rory Hayes, Spain, John Thompson, and S. Clay Wilson, master poster artist Jeff Gaither, punk art legends Bob X and XNO (of XEX Graphix), small press publisher Brad Foster, the mysterious and inimitable Ed H. Dorn, and dozens of other great artists have contributed to various TBHC titles. This inclusive policy has made TBHC as much a community as a publishing house, providing an opportunity for fledgling artists and established cartoonists to come together in the spirit of fun and adventure that is an integral part of every TBHC publication.

[Bio written, contributed and © by Dale Lee Coovert, whose comprehensive Michael Roden Catalog may be found here. Please do not republish without permission.]

JANE JENKINS OLIVER, 1954-1992
by Steve Willis

It came as a sad shock to open up a recent CBG and find a notice of Jane's death last Aug. 22 of cancer.

Jane was born July 7, 1954 in Houston, Texas. She became interested in the world of bizarro comix in 1973 while attending Art Spiegelman's underground cartooning class at the San Francisco Art Academy. Her involvement with the Newave network began in 1976 when she met Clay Geerdes while studying art at Sonoma State University.

Jerry the Vampire, the lead character of her TALES OF JERRY, has had his title since 1978 and perhaps her best known work. Jane also edited several minicomic series published by Geerdes: DANCE OF DEATH, VAMPIRE VIGNETTES, and PAGAN COMIX.

Gothic rock might best describe her work. In an interview in SMALL PRESS COMICS EXPLOSION # 6 (July 1986), Jane provided an eclectic list of influences: Bob Gibson, Art Spiegelman, Larry Todd, Dan O'Neill, Carravaggio, Durer, Goya, Delacroix, Gericault, Daumier, The Beatles, Jim Morrison, Bram Stoker, Anne Rice, and DARK SHADOWS.

I never had the pleasure of meeting Jane, but we traded letters over the years. She talked me into contributing to a few of her minis, and I badgered her for a self-portrait for OUTSIDE IN. She managed to send in a self-port for the last issue of that title before I handed it over to Michael Dowers.

Jane was a subscriber to CLG and sent me Beatles trivia, since we shared a love of their music. Like many other Newavers, Jane was also very interested in music. Many of her comix revolve around musical themes, some of them using lyrics also performed by the rock group Felix Culpa.

In a reply to a question about audience during the 1986 interview, Jane responded: "That's what I like about publishing my own books, I don't have to please anyone but myself. I know that as I keep publishing, I'm bound to improve, I can't help but. I regard my art as something I'll be doing when I'm 75 (look at Milt Caniff), so I've never thought that I was in a rush."

Goodbye Jane. You were too young to leave us. She is survived by her husband, Phil Hirsch, and Justin Jenkins Oliver, a son from a previous marriage.

[© Steve Willis. Originally published in City Limits Gazette # I can't get the "Beverly Hillbillies" theme song out of my head, October 1992. Republished with permission.]

KEVIN SCOTT COLLIER, born 1957.

Jay Kennedy's questions regarding Kevin Collier's publications sent me into my old comix trunk and correspondence files. I came up with this incomplete picture but also a new appreciation for Kevin's efforts.

With the notable exception of Clay Geerdes, the world of fanzine, reviewzine, newsletter rags consists of short choppy series that rise and fall like Latin American dictators. Sometimes that is an appropriate simile. This type of comic oriented literature has been around for decades, but Collier's publications stand out for his high production quality (unlike this grubby newsletter) and more importantly, for his merging the fanboys with the old Newave. His influence continues to this day.

Collier met Jeff Cooke at Muskegon Community College (Mich.) where they formed the Full Circle Comix label and produced about 60 comix from 1976 to 1981. They had titles like AMAZING STORIES (1977) and BEYOND (1980). The WSU comix collection has a few of these.

Now pay attention, you serials catalogers, here's a doozy: Kevin resurfaced in 1984 with FANDOM-TIMES 1 (Jan. 1984) and it ran seven issues. In July/Aug. 1984 he replaced FT with a new title, FAN SCENE 1. It ran for two issues, then he revived FANDOM-TIMES with issue 8. FT folded at issue 10, only to be replaced a second time by FAN SCENE 3. I believe it ran to issue 5.

Kevin's 1984-1985 fan publishing spree was remarkable for the speed of rising circulation and number of publications. During this period he also published other fanzines including ZINE COLLECTOR and FANDOM JOURNAL as well as some comics by other artists like HAUNTING (1984). In an effort to bridge the fanboys and the old Newavers, Kevin did not limit his coverage to commercial clone comix.

At the time, I appreciated his publications, since he afforded some of us weirdos a chance to gain a new audience. The fanboys, many of whom were too young to have experienced the mind blowing joy of buying underground comix in a local head shop (I STILL associate the smell of incense with ZAP COMIX et al.) were exposed for the first time to a new type of comic. Comic art didn't have to emulate the big boys, it could be used for *gasp!* personal expression.

Still, it was a worlds in collision situation. In 1985 Collier and SMALL PRESS COMICS FANOLA publisher John Eades got into a high profile disagreement. Eades had set himself up as the anti-fanboy reviewer. I can't recall the exact nature of the war, except that it was bad for the morale of small press comix.

Citing burnout (small wonder) Collier briefly dropped out of the big picture in late 1985. In 1987 he came back with two new titles that were more Newave oriented: SMALL PRESS OBSERVER and COMIXTALK (originally planned to be entitled NEWAVE PLAINTALK). But by early 1988 he bowed out again.

Collier's open-minded view of comix encouraged the merging of two networks, although it always seemed the fanboys outnumbered the Newavers. As new artists came aboard, the distinction between the two camps grew fuzzy. No wonder Jay Kennedy is having a nightmare classifying post-1985 small press comix! Tim Corrigan's SMALL PRESS COMICS EXPLOSION and the Seattle based COMICS F/X continued to tap into the loose confederation brought together by Collier's publications. With F/X in apparent limbo (they announced they were cutting back on alternative comic coverage in their last issue, Mar. 1991) this Collier inspired era seems to have come to an end.

[© Steve Willis. Originally published in City Limits Gazette #Terra Waldo, September 1991. Republished with permission.]


COLLIER PROFILE ADDENDUM

A couple readers out there have raked me over the coals for my convenient amnesia concerning the Collier-Eades dispute in my bibliographic profile of Kevin's work. Okay, I confess, I recall more than I let on. I didn't see any constructive purpose in dredging up that old crap. Both Eades and Collier would write or call me during that time, trying to get me to act as judge, a position I did not relish or want. I didn't want to reopen my old wounds. I truly despise the politics of comix, which is why I personally write no reviews or give awards. It's also why I didn't bother to research any of the details of that old spat when I dug into my old records for the bibliographic piece. Maybe Clay is right, maybe I AM too nice of a guy.

[© Steve Willis. Originally published in City Limits Gazette #Lump o' pain, October 1991. Republished with permission.]


COMMENTS FROM KEVIN COLLIER (received December 26, 2007)

LOL... man, talk about going back in the time tunnel! I wish John Eades well, wherever he is... but I can recall the dispute, and it wasn't about rivalry. Eades had approached me on the success of Fandom Times, Fan Scene and Fandom Journal and wanted to start something up that was similar. He had literally appeared out of nowhere with no comix resume, unlike Tim Corrigan that launched a similar venture SPCE who is a comix icon. Anyway, I jumped in and unselfishly helped Eades giving him basically all of my contacts, addresses, and he gleaned the rest out of my zines. When his first issue came out, he dealt a discouraging blow to small press comix ventures by slamming folks I had encouraged. Eades sucked up to some of the bigger names in small press, but made fun or or dismissed others harshly. It did, in fact, piss me off, as he had no history in small press comics. And I was mad at myself, as I had handed over a huge body of contacts (unknowingly) to the "the wolves" so to speak... artists, writers and self-publishers that I had encouraged and was very fond of for their talents. Some of the folks Eades trashed back in 1986-87 are still going today, and doing very well.

So, "the feud" wasn't about competition as much as it was about confidence and trust. I mean, here I was, becoming a centerpoint where small pressers were gathering, learning about each other, encouraging each other, gaining friends and contacts, and then BOOM.

I too, don't see any purpose to digging up this "old crap" lol... it is just that. But, I just thought you'd like to hear not just a viewpoint, but at least one side of the story from one of the two people who became that "feud" story.

- Kevin Collier
12-26-07

CLG READER PROFILE: BRUCE SWEENEY

CLG: How and when did you get interested in underground comix?

BS: I was hooked on undergrounds as soon as I saw my first ZAP in college in 1968. Crumb and Wilson blew a hole in the top of my head. My friends and I cracked up over DESPAIR and FRITZ THE CAT. I sat and watched a friend pulverize my FRITZ book pounding it from mint to good on his knee in peals of laughter. In those days, editions and conditions were the concerns of coin collectors, not stoned-out freaks with comix.

CLG: You were the editor for COMIX COLLECTOR 1-3 (1979-1980). What was that all about?

BS: I had done some writing about undergrounds and someone in Boston approached me about editing COMIX COLLECTOR. It was the same people that had done the ILLUSTRATED CRUMB book. As usual, he had no interest in production standards or providing any service. He just felt that u.g.'s would take off and he'd be in the vanguard. It was pure opportunism and I just didn't recognize it. When the big bucks didn't start pouring in, this publisher abandoned ship.

CLG: Most people in comix today know you for your UNDERGROUND STATION column. When and how did it start? How many publications has it appeared in?

BS: I came aboard CASCADE under Artie Romero right after issue #1, and rode that publication until the very end in 1979. UNDERGROUND STATION went with the late COMICS SCENE from 1978-1980, which enjoyed a brief magazine rack exposure. UNDERGROUND STATION has been in SCRATCHEZ, CITY LIMITS GAZETTE parts 1&2, COMICS F/X and some other one night stands. As long as some near­sighted editor will take it, UNDERGROUND STATION will be there.

CLG: How would you characterize the pure collector scene in terms of ug/Newave? Do artists outnumber collectors?

BS: The number of artists seem to outstrip the collectors. Many artists, of course, like Jerry Riddle, Jim Ryan, George Erling, etc. double as collectors. The minis were a great invention for the artists getting their material onto paper and into people's hands but the proliferation of material sent a lot of collectors reeling out the door in frustration. It went from improbable to impossible to collect the majority of product. It's there now. How do you cope with the cost of the monthly product flowing out of Fantagraphics alone?

CLG: Kennedy's GUIDE credits you with a story in COCAINE COMIX 2. What was it? Have you ever had a hand in creating any other comix?

BS: Actually, I wrote three one-page strips that were accepted in Last Gasp's COCAINE COMIX #2. I collaborated with a friend to do a spoof of the R. Crumb HEROES OF THE BLUES cards which appeared in Kitchen's BOP, and last year I did a few pages for the Rip-Off Larry Todd benefit comic, FIRE SALE. It's a real ego­boost to realize that I've ended up with material in the big 3 UG houses. It's a tough one to get up for. It's a lot easier if you've been tapped by an editor or there's a specific thematic emphasis that you can aim at. I was approached years back by J. Michael Leonard to so some gags for a comic strip that he was doing for PLAYBOY, "Annie & Albert." He was connected into PLAYBOY as a regular contributor, though. To just do material and then try to hawk it around to all the publishers must take enormous personal stamina. I can't write anything for a month after getting a rejection.

CLG: Do you think Newave comix were a natural extension of the undergrounds?

BS: Certainly, the Newave is a natural extension of the sensitivities of the original undergrounds, just as they are distantly related to the Tijuana Bibles. The thirst to express, share and publish regardless of market is a common thread here. These independents attracted a lot of people with more on their minds than fuzzy animals and superheroes.

CLG: What's next in the comix world? Where will you be in it?

BS: I think that comix will continue its trend towards slow maturity and general recognition. On one hand I'm heartened by the success of products like MAUS; on the other hand its heartbreaking to see such little recognition of something like SNARF and such ballyhoo over something like CHERRY. It's a frustratingly slow awareness by the consumer.

As for me, wherever there's a hole that UNDERGROUND STATION fits into, put me in coach, I can play -- underground field. I'd love to collaborate again up ahead on projects heading for print. I'm proud to be associated with this whole phenomenon. It's like playing air guitar for an enormous wide-spread blues band.

[© Steve Willis and Bruce Sweeney, used with permission. Originally published in City Limits Gazette #Frisky and Little Mary, the doomed children of the "Grabby Elf", November 1992. Please don't republish without permission.]