and Comix Review
Am I allowed to review Porno Mags in Variant? Well how about Playboys
from the 1960s, when grown men could say straight faced that they bought
it to read the articles? Unless you're lucky enough to have a complete
run of valuable, vintage 1960s Playboys you're unlikely to have seen
any of the classic Little Annie Fanny comic strips. Harvey Kurtzman
who created MAD magazine in the mid 1950's, came up with this satirical
strip named after a rather grown-up and generously-proportioned version
of L'il Orphan Annie. Playboy owner Hugh Hefner wanted something
special for his magazine, and took a personal interest in the strip, going
to the extent of approving scripts and suggesting alterations. Hef gave
Kurtzman and cartoonist Will Elder a generous budget without the constraints
of fixed deadlines, in return Kurtzman and Elder created an innovative
strip, lusciously painted in full-colour, which looked completely unlike
anything else at the time and where every inch of background space was
crammed with sight gags and topical references.
Annie Fanny's adventures take her tripping blissfully through every
social event, fad, craze and phenomena of the Swinging Sixties; the Sexual
Revolution, Beatlemania, discotheques, Pop Art, Black Power, Psychoanalysis,
Civil Rights, the Space Race, Surfing, the Living Theatre, Hippies and
Protest Singers are all explored for maximum satirical value. Annie emerges
unscathed and inevitably unclothed at the end of each episode. The excellent
Little Annie Fanny Volume 1 1962-1970 collects these innovative
and controversial strips in 220 pages, an annotated guide to the episodes
is helpful for those of us who were aged just 5 at the time, and don't
quite get all the contemporary references or recognise the personalities
of the time.
Usually the comic book comes first and the toys follow later but with
World of Pain James Jarvis has done things the other way round.
Following on from the limited edition action figures of his potato-headed
characters for the SILAS clothing label, comes World of Pain which
constructs the world in which the toy characters live. It's a cheery
but authoritarian world, a policeman on the beat keeps a look out for
crimes such as untied shoelaces and typeface pollution before confiscating
a skateboard and showing the skate dudes a few kick-flip tricks of his
own! There's an entire unfolding subplot about the lyrics and mythology
of obscure psychedelic rock and heavy metal bands. World of Pain
is guaranteed to be the only publication reviewed here that is bilingual,
in English and Japanese!
Do you remember Senor Sandwich from your childhood, the roll-a-long Salami
Sandwich with olive eyes and a gherkin nose? How about the Weiner Works
Toy Set 'make your own tasty frankfurters from table scraps'?
or Whip-It's, those racing cars powered by whipped cream? Possibly
not, but they're all here in the Gobler Toys 1964 Catalog,
alongside classics such as Darwin the Evolving Chimp, a top-hatted ape
who gradually learns to walk upright until he's given a stiff drink
and then regresses back to his primal state! and child-sized Play Dead
Coffins which come 'with everything you need to fake your own death'.
These nutty toys are only slightly more surreal than what is currently
on sale in your local branch of Toys'R'Us and Woolworths.
The full colour illustrated Gobler Toys 1964 Catalog may just be
a fictional spoof, complete with company history, newspaper clippings
and biography of founder Ira Gobler, but I'd pay good money for these
crazy playthings. The Gobler product line is rounded out with cherry flavoured
licorice underarm hair, US Mint Pops that print twenty dollar bills onto
your tongue and Senorios the first salami flavoured breakfast cereal.
I wouldn't be surprised to hear that the Gobler Toys creators have
been fending off phone calls and job offers from toy giants like Mattell,
Bandai, Hasbro and Topps.
You must have seen those figures made from old car parts welded together
sitting on top of garages or standing outside car mechanics premises,
they're usually made from old exhaust pipes with the cylinders forming
bodies and heads, pipes as arms and legs. In the US these humanoid auto-junk
sculptures are called Muffler Men (Transatlantic translation dept
#1: exhaust pipes = mufflers), and guess what, now there's a book
all about them. With plenty of wonderful photos and accompanying text
this book approaches its subject from a Folk Art perspective looking at
Muffler Men as workplace art created by self-taught artists rooted
in occupational and ethnic traditions (many are by Latino mechanics).
There's maybe a little bit too much analysis, I was longing for an
interview with an innocent car mechanic saying; 'Well gee I kinda
never really thought about it much, it's just one of those things
that auto repairmen do, isn't it?'
The more primitive, goofy Muffler Men that reflect the character
of independent garages are more interesting than the consciously crafted/designed
ones, franchises & corporate-owned auto repair shops either discourage
or have bans on muffler men! There's no tips on how or where to get
hold of a muffler man of your very own, but its clear that outsider/folk
art collectors have already identified and started to move in on these
It was a real surprise to see a copy of Punk magazine in the racks
of Tower Records, a mere twenty years after the last issue! It says on
the cover that it's a 25th Anniversary issue, but there's no
further explanation for it's reappearance. Is Punk back again? which
revival are we on now? the third or fourth? I've lost count. Maybe
it's just that after a lengthy stint at High Times magazine, editor
John Holstrom has seen his way out of the dope smoke haze? Punk
was the original document of the mid to late 1970's New York Punk
Scene and this issue faithfully recreates the miscellany of interviews,
comics, spoof pieces, rants, reviews and Punk 's legendary
Top 99 chart, plus there's colour pin-ups of all yer fave punks;
The Damned, Blondie, Richard Hell and Johnny Thunders. Pleased as though
I was to see this issue I wouldn't have felt the need to buy future
issues, but with the recent loss of Joey Ramone, who was a contributor,
the next issue is certain to be a Ramones tribute issue, Punk is
definitely the right magazine to do them justice.
Panik is required reading for Transgressive Culture Vultures everywhere,
a magazine for all the misanthropes and miscreants who've been in
mourning since Answer Me! fell silent. Inside the Trevor Brown cover we
find Jim Goad making good use of his time behind bars by compiling a dictionary
of prison slang, there's articles on film-maker Larry Wessel, Japanese
Literary Suicides, What's Wrong with Assault Weapons? A Manifesto
for Misanthropolo-gists, unpleasant websites, Peter Sotos/Whitehouse,
Boyd Rice, the Nietzschean Spirit of Planet of the Apes, Plastination,
Videos you won't find at Blockbuster and Adam Parfrey on his Apocalypse
Culture 2 book. Basically there's something here to shock, amaze
and offend everyone plus plenty of reviews. Tabloid sized Panik
is easy to conceal in the folds of your floor-length black leather trenchcoat.
Each issue of Monozine is a collection of factual stories of sickness,
disease, affliction and infection of every possible kind. Straightforwardly
written (often hand-written) and plainly presented, without comment or
analysis it makes great voyeuristic, gut churning reading. No matter what
you've been through one of the Monozine contributors has had
it worse and of course being American the writers have the biggest and
best ailments and most disgusting stories. Other people's suffering
is a comedy staple and such subject matter has a universal appeal, would
reading a copy of Monozine be a cure for hypochondriacs? Each time
I read the latest Monozine it leaves me feeling healthy and bursting
with energy. (Transatlantic translation dept #2: mono = mononucleosis
= glandular fever) Did I ever tell you about the time I had Kidney Stones?
Below Critical Radar, Fanzines and Alternative Comics from 1976 to
Now. Edited by Roger Sabin and Teal Triggs. There have been several
American books covering the publishing world of alternative/underground/subculture
comics and zines, but until now nothing from the UK. There's definitely
a need for a guide to help people find their way into the bewildering
world of these strange little publications (after you've read this
column of course.) I'd been looking forwards to Below Critical
Radar, its title indicates the whole area of publishing that exists
for its own reasons remaining free of commercial considerations, and the
subtitle shows a broad, inclusive approach.
The format which mixes reviews of comics and fanzines representative of
specific genres with short essays works well, but only David Kendall's
essay on the genre of Horror fanzines and comics stands out, emphasising
the overlap between publisher and readers, many of whom are actively,
enthusiastically involved in contributing to and shaping these publications.
By covering fanzines and alternative comics side by side, the editors
fail to make the important distinction that fanzines are entirely self-published
and distributed with minimal news-stand distribution, in contrast alternative
comics are published by 3-4 alternative publishers, with established distribution
networks, and are relatively easily available from specialist comics shops
Fanzines are a lot harder to get hold of than alternative comics, their
readers have to make an effort to find out about them in the first place
and then send off cheques and S.A.E.'s and wait patiently by the
letterbox. On principle zine writers list contact details for publications
they review, the editors of this book give us instead a 5 page bibliography,
ensuring that the very publications that enabled them to compile their
book in the first place remain Below Critical Radar. In his essay
David Kendall sums it up;
"Whatever the definitions, it is enthusiasm that is the binding factor.
Academic commentators rarely understand this. From what I've seen
of academics' (parasitic) relationship to the fanzine culture, what
they want to find in zinesters is something like themselves but purer,
untainted by nasty commercialism or arts grants/book subsidies/the requirements
of tenured posts. The noble savage syndrome."
Below Critical Radar is a good general introduction, but sadly
just that and no more, I can't imagine that anyone is going to read
this book and get inspired enough to rush out and start their own zine/comic.
Schwing!, most excellent title dude, but I'm not so sure about
the magazine. Schwing! Golf Mag (that's with a circled anarchist
A) aims to be a magazine for golfers with attitude from the publishers
of Thrasher and Juxtapoz. Both these titles have been formative reading
for me at different times, Skatemag Thrasher was considered so controversial
in the early 1980s that a rival publication emerged with the declared
intention of being a more wholesome skateboard magazine! and despite some
patchy recent issues Juxtapoz still manages to find art you'll never
see covered anywhere else.
With features like 'America's Worst Golf Courses' Schwing!
just about retains some of the humour & character of its parent
publications, but the celebrity interviews with J. Mascis/ Dinosaur Jr
and 'Chart Toppers Incubus' leave much to be desired and the
cheesecake'n'golfclubs photos are just plain tacky. Is this
a magazine aimed at the influx of young golfers that Tiger Woods has attracted
to the sport in the US, or maybe just the result of a calculated decision
by surf/skate/snowboard clothing companies to create new clothing lines
for golfers. Hopefully it will remain a stateside phenomena, but I'm
not a golfer, so what do I know, maybe at this very moment clubhouse committees
up and down the country are hotly debating whether to let people with
baggy camouflage-patterned trousers and blue hair play on their courses.
Nasty Tales: Sex, Drugs, Rock'n'Roll and Violence in the
British Underground David Huxley. Having a small but treasured collection
of British Underground Comix I'd been looking forward to this book,
but sadly it fails to live up to the promise of the title. As I ploughed
through the pages I realised that actually there weren't very many
British underground comix and most of them weren't very good! This
is a shapeless rambling pub-conversation of a book in desperate need of
a good editor, re-presenting the same old tired arguments about sex, drugs,
violence and good ol' bad ol' Robert Crumb is pointless. This
left me disappointed and yearning for something more substantial, maybe
a close textual analysis of Pete Loveday's Big Trip Comics?
Little Annie Fanny Volume 1 1962-1970, $24.95 Dark Horse Comics.
World of Pain £3.00. Magma Bookshop, Earlham Street, Covent
Gobler Toys 1964 Catalog £7.95 inc p+p. available from Disinfotainment,
P.O. Box 664, London, E3 4QR. www.goblertoys.com
Muffler Men Timothy Corrigan Correll and Patrick Arthur Polk. $18.00.
University Press of Mississippi, 2000. www.upress.state.ms.us
Punk $5.00+p/p. PMB #675, 200 E.10th St, New York, NY 10003. www.punkmagazine.com
Panik $3.00+p/p. 1891 Obispo Ave. Long Beach, CA 90804.
Monozine $3.00+p/p. P. O. Box 598, Reistertown, MD 21136, U.S.A..
Below Critical Radar £10.00+£2.00p+p Slab-o-Concrete,
POBox 148, Hove BN3 3DQ. www.slaboconcrete.com
Schwing! $3.99. P.O.Box 8845570, San Francisco, CA 94188-4570,
Nasty Tales £13.95 Headpress, 40 Rossall Avenue, Radcliffe,
Manchester, M26 1JD www.headpress.com