20th Anniversary Edition
326 pp 
Line drawings 
Index, bibliography 
ISBN 978-57951-156-2



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"Enthusiastic and intelligent homage to the scabrous, anarchic outrageous adults-only comics . . . An excellent slice of 1960s Americana as well as unique pop-cultural history."

- Booklist

"Impressive . . . an industry 'bible' and valuable reference."
- Midwest Book Review

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"Both a landmark study in its field and a book which is just plain fun to read." - TV News/Greenwich Village

"In the highly politicized atmosphere of the mid '60s, these new comics were a much needed, usually humorous counterpoint to the dead seriousness of the underground press in which many of them first appeared." -- Buffalo (New York) Reporter

"Seems to me you've displayed plenty of affectionate respect for even the lowliest just or being part of a movement, but kept a clear eye on their actual achievements, and organized the whole with clarity and style.  How's that for a rave?" -- Bill Pearson, "

"It's a great book.  There is nothing like it anywhere." --
The Fifth Estate

"A massive job and a highly successful one." -- The Buyers' Guide

"Estren's book is one of the best studies of comic art in print." -- Seattle Times

"A long, loving, yet still perceptive look at the artwork, the philosophies and the satire." --
Santa Barbara News-Press

"Lavishly illustrated, with ample examples of not only underground artists but several who set many of the trends and styles in earlier days." -- San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle


Mark Estren's website

20th Anniversary Edition
History of Underground Comics
Mark J. Estren

ince the genre first emerged in the late 1960s, underground comics (or "comix") have delighted and outraged millions of people. The exploits of such characters as Mr. Natural and The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers embodied the psychedelic era and continue to attract loyal readership today.

    The first and most comprehensive look at the underground cartoonists and their work -- lavishly illustrated, including comments and drawings by the cartoonists themselves and by members of the earlier generation that most influenced them. Includes the full story of the notorious obscenity trial of Zap #4 including the panels.

A History of Underground Comics offers the most lavish collection of comix art ever to appear in one book, with more than 1,000 drawings by the likes of R. Crumb, Gilbert Shelton, S. Clay Wilson, Richard Corben, Jay Lynch, Skip Williamson, Justin Green, Dave Sheridan, Jaxon, Spain Rodriguez, Victor Moscoso, Kim Deitch, Rick Griffin, Foolbert Sturgeon and many others. 

A History of Underground Comics, Mark Estren traces the roots of underground comics in such legendary comic demigods as Krazy Kat and Little Nemo, and details how comics unabashedly portrayed sex, drugs, and rock n' roll, flouting the conventions of censors who had kept above-ground comics tame. This fourth edition provides 32 pages of new material, including a new index and a new bibliography. 

Social satire in the underground comics usually takes the form of humorous (sometimes bitter) exaggerations of various aspects of American society, from money hunger to art and music. At times, the satire is found mostly in the words. The stories in this book reduce all of society to absurdity by simple vocabularies and a childlike approach to the material.

In his "social realism" strips, R. Crumb does not mock American society; rather, he presents it for what it is and trusts the reader eventually to realize that the strips are funny because the society is absurd. 

Crumb has not been the only underground cartoonist to attempt this special brand of social realism. On occasion, J. Kinney has also worked in this manner. Kinney describes his approach as follows: "I try to put down on paper relatively true visions of middle-class life as I see it. . . . Hopefully by capturing all this on paper, I can help people to see themselves more objectively and insightfully. Heheheheheh." 

 "This history will be a revelation to many comix fans." -- Atlanta Journal

"Lively and provocative." -- Richmond Times-Dispatch

"I thought it was great and an important contribution to the comics library shelf." -- Will Eisner (in personal letter!!)

"I am in your fan club." -- Fred W. Friendly (Edward R. Murrow's CBS News producer)

"It's beautiful!" -- William M. Gaines ("Mad" publisher; another hand-written letter)

"A far-reaching sampler full of exuberance and irreverent fun." -- San Francisco Examiner

"You've got a winner!  Really a fine book." -- Harvey Kurtzman

"A loving monograph, a paean to the men and women who kept the counter-culture's sense of humor alive during one of the most humorless times in this nation's history." -- Chicago Sun-Times

"A long, strange -- and generously illustrated -- trip." -- Radio & Records

"A generous genealogy of this warped genre." -- Swank

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All Meat
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Sexy Lady's Bedroom
Shop Until You Drop
Smash the State
TV of the Future

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