Talk:Underground comix

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I think "underground comix" should be limited to the countercultural movement that ended about 1975. All published histories that I am aware of (including Rebel Visions by Patrick Rosenkranz) agree with this definition (Rosenkranz uses 1963-75). The Wikipedia listing as written includes virtually any independently authored comic from then until forever.

I'd suggest that some of the other categories mentioned " alternative" or "mini-comics" for example, be spun off into their own listing. Chris Ware is great, his work owes a lot to the underground comix, but he's not underground in any sense.

I'm new here, and reluctant to make such an agressive edit without offering a chance for discussion first. Please advise.

I guess ideally there would be an over-arching article for all non-mainstream comics, which could link you to specific articles about undergrounds, minis, alternatives. The only problem I see is that there no good way to put each comic in a category. The anthologies Arcade and Wierdo had issues after 1975, but included artists from the original underground group as well as newer artists. So how do you catergorize this? Is Spain's post-1975 work not underground? What about mini-comics? Some of these are more 'underground' than "Underground Comics".
I guess what I'm getting at is that if we split off Underground Comics from other related types, we should come with a consistent scheme that won't just add to the confusion. Let's discuss this..... user:ike9898
Maybe the over-arching category should ultimately be "Comics" or "Comic Books." The problem you've identified is a tough one--a consistent scheme is hard to find that will allow for all the overlapping approaches that wikipedians are likely to apply when cutting up the field of comics: chronological, sociological, by format, by literary genre, collecting or marketing categories, etc.
I suggest we first try to get "underground comix" right, and move the later, underground-influenced stuff onto a page that be can straightened out and subdivided over time. "Alternative" Comics? "Post-Underground"? Both of those are pretty ugly--anyone have a better catch-all?
As to what is and isn't underground, these categories always have fuzzy boundaries, but at this point I think the movement is pretty clearly over, notwithstanding the fact that many of the underground artists continue to produce work. Arcade, which fizzled out in '76, I think, is often looked at as the last gasp of the undergrounds, and a precursor of the next wave in independently authored comics. Williams, Crumb, and spiegelman all speak of the underground in the past tense--it was a movement that had it's own audience and it's own distribution system, and a collective sense of doing something genuinely revolutionary... none of this holds any longer.
Even an artist like Mike Diana, whose work is stylistically related to the underground, and who has a genuine "underground" status because of his run-ins with the law, still doesn't qualify as a member of the underground comix movement in my view, simply because his career occured in another, post-u.g., context.
I'd sayRaw (b. 1980) and Weirdo (b. 1981) are clearly representative of something distinct, although they grew directly out of the Underground.
I don't think there's much of a problem dealing with the individual artists who were involved in the underground comix: have one article that discusses the underground comix movement, and a seperate article that discusses the whole career of a given artist (Spain Rodriguez, say). Art movements and artists careers have different lifespans.
Thoughts? --BT
Okay. There already is an over-arching article called comics which talks about the medium of comics in general. I guess it does make sense to limit the scope of the underground comics article. I'm just a little uncertain how to describe the distinction between underground comics and 'post-underground' comics (or whatever you want to call them)? Is it just a generational change (artists and readers)? Is there an identifiable shift in style, subject matter, or something that happens in the transition from UG to post-UG? If no good distinction can be found....then are UG and post-UG comics really different subjects? See what I mean? I lean towards describing them as two distinct waves of the same movement of non-mainstream comics. Maybe they are separated by a creative lull in the period of about 1976-1985 (?).
So bottom line, I support the idea of breaking up the article. Just PLEASE don't ditch all the rest. Let's put it somewhere else so it can be modified and improved on it's own (including the list of artists that are not truely UG). Also please see comics, and modify the links so that the reader can see the big picture of comics related articles. [[user:ike9898]
Thanks for the response, Ike. I just did a bit of meddling with the comics page. I'm swamped with some work at the moment, so it may be a while before I can make good on this, but I will come back and try to rearrange and clarify things at some point.
Speaking as someone involved with the UG comix movement pretty much from the beginning, I think one could say that the self-conscious "movement" phase was basically kaput by the end of Arcade's run. (And by "movement" I mean the period where we thought the field was going somewhere and had somewhere to go.) However, UG comix continued to be produced by Last Gasp, Rip Off Press, and Kitchen Sink, and many of those comix in the late '70s or early '80s could still be labeled "underground comix" because they were by the same artists as earlier, maintained the same spirit in the work, and were published by the same publishers. Weirdo, to my mind, is something of a borderline case - more a bridge between the UG comix and the alternative comics. But all of this is mired in subjective perceptions. Different artists stopped identifying with the label "underground" at different points in their careers, and some came to view the label as almost pejorative.
I view the 1975 cut-off date that both Estren and Rosenkranz used as a somewhat arbitrary and not quite accurate "end." Spain's Subvert #3 came out in '76 and Slow Death #7 came out "Winter 76-77" and they are both indistinguishable from underground comix of, say, 3 or 4 years earlier. Melinda Gebbie's mature work didn't really get cooking until the late '70s and some of Ted Richard's funniest strips were in the late '70s. Zaps continued to appear, as did Young Lust, and Anarchy Comics didn't debut until '78 and it continued on into the early '80s. There wasn't a "creative lull" of '76-'85, as many of the artists still in comix were at the peak of their form. What there was, however, was a softening and shrinking of the market and distribution, which made it difficult to find the comics, with the result that many former readers assumed they were dead. Anyway, that is my 2 cents' worth. --JK —Preceding unsigned comment added by Poztron (talkcontribs) 23:21, 20 October 2007 (UTC)


I started to put in Cerebus, which started in the early 70s and has plenty of drug references and things in it, as well as allusions to RA Wilson's writings and such, but I'm just not sure if it should be in here or not because while it fits in lots of ways it doesn't fit in lots of other ways. Dodger

I really think Cerebus is part of the next wave of 'non-mainstream' comics. Maybe you could say that it was one of the first of the alternative comics. ike9898 16:28, May 13, 2004 (UTC)

Article title change suggestion[edit]

My understanding is the spelling "underground comix" is not only preferred but more correct than "underground comics" because "comix" was intended to differentiate between these publications and mainstream "comics". Is there any way of changing the title of this article to this spelling and preserve the history? By rights, "underground comics" should redirect to the "comix" spelling since, in this context, "comics" is actually a mispelling. Thoughts? 23skidoo 04:56, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I tend to agree.Hiding 09:54, 4 May 2005 (UTC)
Go for it. -leigh (φθόγγος) 17:25, May 4, 2005 (UTC)
While I know that "comix" was a common term for underground comics, it's not a set term, a proper noun or anything. Since this is an encyclopedic article, we should use regular spelling for the title, but explain the alternate term in prose.
Peter Isotalo 16:14, 27 September 2005 (UTC)
Common usage policy would dicatate otherwise, despite the fact that we shouldn't presume to rename established movements within art. Let us also not ignore established research into the movement. [1] Hiding talk 17:09, 27 September 2005 (UTC)
Well, it's not a terribly important issue, but you're confusing the terms. By your reasoning "comix" is a separate term from "comics". "Underground comics" is not separate from "comics" anymore than "Portuguese comics" or "European comics" are.
Peter Isotalo 17:20, 27 September 2005 (UTC)
I'm not confusing the terms, you are. Underground Comix is a movement with a well defined name, and is indeed seperate from Portuguese comics or European comics, which are country specific versions of the form and not movements within the form. And I would argue it is terribly important for an encyclopedia to use the established name. Hiding talk 18:09, 27 September 2005 (UTC)
I'm quite late to this party, but I think I should interject that as far as I know "comix" was a term mainly batted around in the 80s and applied to the post-underground alternative, punk, feminist etc. comics that were prevalent then. I don't even know that I've heard it applied to the late 60s-early 70s Underground comics retroactively, let alone at the time. And I've never heard the term "underground comix" outside of this article -- only "underground comics." MrBook 12:52, 9 May 2006 (UTC)
"Underground Comix" has been standard for quite some time to describe the countercultural movement--for example, the book "Rebel Visions" is subtitled "the Underground Comix Revolution." There aren't many scholars of comics around, but if you can find one, they'll likely confirm that "underground comix" has a fairly well established meaning at this point. Where have you been reading about this movement that you haven't seen the term? BTfromLA 15:33, 9 May 2006 (UTC)
Just general reading. Comics periodicals, books, magazine articles -- whenever I see a reference to, say, Crumb, it's "underground comics artist R. Crumb." Again, I've seen "comix," but it's usually either referring to 80s alternative stuff, or, on occasion, it's a blanket term that includes the original underground. And even then it's usually used in that smirking, wisenheimer way that a lot of (ahem) comix artists have, or as part of a catchy book title rather than in mainline text. As a title for a serious article on the movement, it just seems kind of silly or dismissive. MrBook 15:57, 9 May 2006 (UTC)
Look at the references cited in the article. I have heard about a university press scholarly anthology on the 60s underground that is in preparation (it will be the first such book, I think): the title they are working under is "Comix with an X." BTfromLA 16:17, 9 May 2006 (UTC)
The usage underground comic seems somewhat more common than underground comix and so I have reverted to this per WP:COMMONNAME. Colonel Warden (talk) 21:46, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
I disagree. I've always seen it with the "x," as the discussion above indicated, to differentiate from "comics." ---RepublicanJacobiteThe'FortyFive' 22:15, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
Please see the search links at the head of this page. If you try the various searches of books, journals, etc, they return more hits with comic than with comix. As the latter is also a non-standard spelling or neologism, we are better off with the more familiar usage which will serve the general reader best. Of course, we can and should mention the comix usage in the article too. Colonel Warden (talk) 22:26, 18 August 2009 (UTC)

Note I have restored this to Underground comix. I have no position in this content dispute, but it is clear that there is no consensus to have it at the former title. Please do not move again without firm consensus after a reasonably long and well-participated discussion. Cheers,  Skomorokh  21:45, 19 August 2009 (UTC)

  • The spelling comics is our preferred style per WP:COMMONNAME. It is also preferred by the style guideline WP:NEO which states, "Neologisms are words and terms that have recently been coined, generally do not appear in any dictionary...The use of neologisms should be avoided in Wikipedia articles...". Note that the spelling comix does not appear in the OED. It just seems to be commercial slang like lite, kool, kleen, etc. in which words are misspelt to appeal better to an semi-literate clientele. We should do better in accordance with our style guide. Colonel Warden (talk) 23:04, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
Your understanding of the origin of the term is flawed, and the fact that it does not appear in the OED is really proof of nothing. And, yes, while this is a neologism, it is not of recent invention. It has been in use for at least 40 years. Its use, as opposed to "comics" was intentional on the part of the creators, who were outside the mainstream comic book industry. So, no, this is not "commercial slang," it is a counter-culture term. ---RepublicanJacobiteThe'FortyFive' 23:30, 19 August 2009 (UTC)

underground vs. CCA[edit]

I see that people have discussed here about the definition of what's a "underground" comic.

I have just read the article on the CCA, which, after being a comics fan for 30 years, I had not heard of before. Being a non-american, I never learned of the CCA.

Hence, to me as an outsider, it seems to me that the underground comics made a clear distinction from the CCA-approved comics. As you can read in the CCA article, it was not a law, but "only" a de-facto standard. Yet, comics who wanted to be made available for selling in book stores etc, had to follow the CCA code or would not be accepted by the stores.

The underground comics clearly ignored the CCA's code and needed to go "underground" in selling their comic books therefore.

Makes sense? Hope so. I only wonder if this was the _true_ reason for going "underground" back then.

I guess, in any case, a reference to the CCA article should be added to this article, suggesting the connection.

Tempel 10:53, 11 September 2006 (UTC)

Hmmm, perhaps it was because of the CCA that the comics market in USA turned kinda bland, but the underground cartoonists were opposing the blandness of comics and culture in general, not primarily CCA. It stemmed from a personal wish to be rebellious and get your private feelings out, and the underground market were the only means of acchieving it... 惑乱 分からん 12:00, 10 October 2006 (UTC)


I had a couple questions, which if answered, could improve the article:

  • was Austin really an important center of comix?
  • was there much uproar at the time, objecting to these 'dirty comics'?
  • would it make sense to have a section discussing antecedents to the comics movement? For example, some comix artists cite Mad as an inspiration for creating less conventional comics. And tiajuana bibles, of course. I sure you all know of many more along these lines.

ike9898 20:58, 28 May 2007 (UTC)

Austin was significant, especially at the very beginning of the UGs--Gilbert Shelton was there, and if I recall correctly, both "Foolbert Sturgeon" and "Jaxon" were there. Post-Zap, there were still some comics being published there, though it was not comparable to SF or NY as a center.
"Much uproar" is a relative term: there were some prosecutions by district attorneys (Zap #4, in particular): does that count as "uproar"?
I'd say most antecedents are best handled by being mentioned as such with a link to the dedicated article. It might be worth a sentence about the EC and Mad fanzines that several of the UG artists were involved with as kids (Crumb and Jay Lynch, for example). I'd make a concerted effort to keep it concise, though: a lot of stuff could walk through that door, and I'd hate to see the UGs themselves get lost in all the background material. BTfromLA 00:10, 29 May 2007 (UTC)

Poor research[edit]

the underground comix movement is considered by most historians to have ended by 1980

I don't think so. For one thing, underground comix are still being published - 'underground' always referred to art that was not recognized by the mainstream. There's a large independent publishing scene, as well as underground cartoonists publishing their work online. Anyone who knows anything about underground comix knows that this statement is wrong. Secondly, this statement was unsourced. Do some research, kids! (Sugar Bear (talk) 05:21, 11 July 2009 (UTC))

Please take your own advice and do some research. (You could start by reading earlier exchanges on this talk page. You may also want to look at the article Alternative comics.) Virtually every published historian or academic critic on the underground comix movement agrees the the movement had ended, and something new had started, by the time Weirdo and RAW were founded in 1980. See the Rosenkranz history (the closest thing to a standard history of the movement, far as I know), interviews with Spiegelman, numerous reviews by art and literary critics, etc. This despite your assertion that "anyone who knows anything about underground comics" shares your view... do you consider those writers to be ignoramuses? I'm not sure what your agenda is here, but your recent edits to the article were very destructive: while claiming to want better "research," you systematically removed all the reference materials from the article! Please be more circumspect before wholesale rewriting articles the basis of your consensus of one. --BTfromLA (talk) 22:05, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
The information I have stated is actually backed up by a verifiable source (Estren's A History of Underground Comics). The last revision didn't have any citations, and the references included self-published sources, including someone's personal page and a "underground comix wiki". By the way, we don't research subjects by reading other poorly-verified articles (alternative comics) and Wikipedia talk pages. And it's not helpful to repeat sections, links, categories, and templates. Don't accuse someone of having an "agenda" for trying to add sourced content. (Sugar Bear (talk) 23:20, 11 July 2009 (UTC))
I think we've had this discussion before and the major editors came to the consensus the most reputable sources use the term underground comix to refer to the particular artistic movement in comics that is described in this article. Modern comics which are 'underground' are more commonly called minicomics or alternative comics. Please provide a justification whenever deleting major portions, such as the list of publishers. ike9898 (talk) 01:23, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
Then, by all means, cite these sources. If it is merely the opinion of these individuals, it should state such, rather than claiming that underground comics are dead. Alternative comics generally have more mainstream appeal and are more widely distributed than underground comics, and I have never heard the term "minicomic". (Sugar Bear (talk) 17:55, 13 July 2009 (UTC))
Look, I don't care enough to argue right now, but I feel you're being unnecessarily aggressive and rude. Don't bother to reply. ike9898 (talk) 19:13, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
I'm sorry if I came off that way, that was not my intention. Maybe the header might have implied that. But you still haven't answered my question, and, in my opinion, you came off as being more than a little controlling in your responses. (Sugar Bear (talk) 22:59, 14 July 2009 (UTC))
  • Furthermore, it is clear that the previous revision of the article was poorly researched from the fact that it did not mention the first underground comic, Frank Stack's Adventures of Jesus. Not even in the big long list that once took up half the article. (Sugar Bear (talk) 18:28, 27 November 2009 (UTC))

Jaxon's God Nose came out in 1964, not 1963. This error should be fixed. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:59, 22 March 2011 (UTC)

Title question revived[edit]

I have just disagreed with a proposed move of this article from underground comix to comix. Underground comix is tautologous: the spelling comix implies underground. There is a firm Wikipedia policy that titles should be singular, eg. newspaper and magazine. I have just been shocked to find that comics is currently on a plural title but there is no reason for this page to follow that bad example. Since there I can think of no singular form for comix, I suggest that the obvious and preferred title for this page is underground comic. — RHaworth (talk · contribs) 08:13, 28 September 2012 (UTC)

My reply to your comment at the comics article would apply here. Basically: like "economics" and "politics", "comics" is singular when referring to the medium; a "comic" (singluar) is what is referred to in North America as a comic book. Medium of communication versus form of publication.
Oh, and "comix" does not imply "Undergound comix". Art Spiegelman insisted for years that the medium as a whole should be spelt "comix". For that reason, I would oppose the move. CüRlyTüRkeyTalkContribs 21:57, 28 September 2012 (UTC)

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