Friday, July 13, 2012

Serious Satire

Friday Comic Book Day.

Harvey Kurtzman's sixtie magazine Help is often mentioned as a breeding ground for the later underground movement. But the same can probably be said about Pete Millar's drag cartoons magazines from the same period. With early work by Gilbert Shelton and Rick Griffin, it certainly paved the way for a certain sort of new amateurism. Looking back on it, I also see the same sort of egocentric hedonism that exemplefies all cultural manifestations of the baby bomer generation, underground comics included.

Whicj makes it all the more weirder that these magazines also published work by the arch conservative established artist Alex Toth. Working at Hanna Barbara, he was able to do some of his most personal and funny work for these magazines, probably because he was left alone and they were pleased to have him. I will not be showing these pages here (more than just a few to remind everyone), because they have been collected very beautifully in a book by Manuel Auad called One More For The Road. If you are anyway interested, you should try and get a copy.

What I am showing and will probably not be collected anytime, is the similar work done by fifties artist Warren Tufts. Mostly known for his realistic western strips Casey Ruggles and Lance. On the first one, he even used Toth as a ghost for a short time. In between those two strips he did a satirical space opera called The Lone Spaceman (which I showed here some time ago) and he ended up doing funny books for Dell and Western in the sixties. Like Toth, there also was a California connection. Anyway, his short stories for Pete Millar's magazines are as surprising as those of Toth.

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