Drew Friedman’s new collection of portraits, Maverix and Lunatix: Icons of Underground Comix, will be issued by Fantagraphics on October 18. Drew himself has been one of those maverix, and this volume makes an excellent companion to his earlier portfolios of portraits depicting early legends of comics and comic books; they are highly textured expressions of his own high regard for these artists (just as the portraits in his last collection, All the Presidents, slyly comment on their subjects). On November 17 Drew will be in New York at the Society of Illustrators for a book launch event — he’ll be grilled by Owen Kline, the writer and director of the recent film Funny Pages. Reservations and details here.
There has been a small flurry of major new histories about comics, both commercial and underground (or alternative, if you prefer). Perhaps the most appropriate collateral reading here is Brian Doherty’s Dirty Pictures:
How an Underground Network of Nerds, Feminists, Misfits, Geniuses, Bikers, Potheads, Printers, Intellectuals, and Art School Rebels Revolutionized Art and Invented Comix, published in June by Abrams Books. Doherty’s breezy but comprehensive history (featuring surprising cameo appearances by people such as avant-garde filmmaker Ken Jacobs and the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis) leans heavily on the years 1960-1980, perhaps the most riotous and certainly most obscene decades of underground comics, though Doherty also covers the half-hearted Raw/Weirdo feud of the 1980s and points the way to a few current publications which are following in those footsteps, as well as the changing cultural and social perspectives of comix artists. Doherty’s book comes in the wake of Jeremy Dauber’s American Comics: A History, published last November by W.W. Norton, which covers mainstream comics through the 20th century and beyond; and Hillary Chute’s Why Comics? From Underground to Everywhere, a more critical study of the past 50 years of alternative comics, published by Harper Perennial in 2019. Even the staid Penguin Classics folks have gotten into the act, issuing a new series of classic Marvel comics bearing the iconic black-spine-and-white-print identity.
Each of these books deserves a short essay of its own, and the reasons for this new attention to a revolutionary generation of comics artists are many. More thoughts on this (fragmentary though they may be; I write these things in minutes stolen from a rather hectic daily life) anon.