Radical Cheek

WRITTEN BY
SPIN Staff

The history of underground comics, as best as anyone can remember it

From the moment he first spied Mr. Natural in an alternative weekly 35 years ago, Patrick Rosenkranz has been fixated on underground comics. His book, Rebel Visions: The Underground Comix Revolution 1963-1975, is the end result of this mania, an exhaustive compendium of the scene started by such outsider artists as R. Crumb ("Fritz the Cat"), Art Spiegelman ("Maus"), and Bill Griffith ("Zippy the Pinhead"). With copious illustrations of weird sex, bad trips, and savage satire, Rebel Visions chronicles a critical wing of '60s counterculture that was fueled by the conviction that radical cartoons could combat the blights of capitalism, the Vietnam War, and, worst of all, squares. "These artists all thought the revolution was coming," says Rosenkranz, 54, "and they assumed they would be part of the process." Though the mainstream never fully embraced them, Rebel Visions celebrates personalities far more colorful than the ink-stained wretches at your average daily newspaper. "[Cartoonist] Spain Rodriguez [of"Trashman" fame] considered his membership in a biker gang avant-garde," says Rosenkranz. "He didn't wear the obedience suit." But then, none of these guys did.

"These artists all thought the revolution was coming," says Rosenkranz, 54, "and they assumed they would be part of the process." Though the mainstream never fully embraced them, Rebel Visions celebrates personalities far more colorful than the ink-stained wretches at your average daily newspaper. "[Cartoonist] Spain Rodriguez [of "Trashman" fame] considered his membership in a biker gang avant-garde," says Rosenkranz. "He didn't wear the obedience suit." But then, none of these guys did.

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