Welcome to the psychedelic 1970s in The Comic Book History of Comics #6. In this issue, it covers the Pop era, the hippie 1960s and into the psychedelic 1970s. This era introduces Pop artists like Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol with their campy style which influenced Adam West’s “Batman” series. Comics were becoming mainstream, but with lackluster sales, grew the independent publisher spirit of the 1960s. Independent, underground publishing grew out of Austin, TX with the introduction of the “Texas Mafia”; including artist Jaxon Jackson, Gilbert Sheldon and Chet Helms. We are also introduced to the young Robert Crumb of the “Keep on Trucking” fame.
The Comic Book History of Comics also covers the wild times in Haight-Ashbury, the cross streets in San Francisco, CA where all the hippies flocked before and after Woodstock. There, you can find all the comics created by the independent underground. But because of the sex, violence, racism and hedonism in those comics, the Comics Code was created to set a precedent of how mainstream comics stories were to be told. This also begin a new chapter and era in comics history.
This issue is heavy covering one of the important eras of comics. Fred Van Lente does his best to condense almost ten years of comic history within 33 pages. There are some interesting facts in this comic that I didn’t know before, like; the Broadway play told in comic panels, Crumb’s creation of Fritz The Cat and “Keep On Trucking”. One thing I wished they had expanded on more was Trina Robbins or any other women on the comic book scene in those days. I know there must have been more than one women that influenced comics and Robbins deserved more than a one page write up.
Ryan Dunlavey does a great job capturing the art style of the late 60s early 70s art used in the comics and by the artists themselves. I find it quite fascinating that as the panels progress they become more crowded and crazy, much like the comic layout of the time. From my point of view, it seems Dunlavy took much joy in re-creating some aspects in the panels; he had a lot to work with, but it did not disappoint.