Dirty Pictures: How an Underground Network of Nerds, Feminists, Misfits, Geniuses, Bikers, Potheads, Printers, Intellectuals, and Art School Rebels Revolutionised Art and Invented Comix Book

Dirty Pictures: How an Underground Network of Nerds, Feminists, Misfits, Geniuses, Bikers, Potheads, Printers, Intellectuals, and Art School Rebels Revolutionised Art and Invented Comix Book

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A complete narrative history of the weird and wonderful world of Underground Comix―now in paperback!

In the 1950s, comics meant POW! BAM! superheroes, family-friendly gags, and Sunday funnies, but in the 1960s, inspired by these strips and the satire of MAD magazine, a new generation of creators set out to subvert the medium, and with it, American culture. Their “comix,” spelled that way to distinguish the work from their dime-store contemporaries, presented tales of taboo sex, casual drug use, and a transgressive view of society.

Embraced by hippies and legions of future creatives, this subgenre of comic books and strips often ran afoul of the law, but that would not stop them from casting cultural ripples for decades to come, eventually moving the entire comics form beyond the gutter and into fine-art galleries.

Author Brian Doherty weaves together the stories of R. Crumb, Art Spiegelman, Trina Robbins, Spain Rodriguez, Harvey Pekar, and Howard Cruse, among many others, detailing the complete narrative history of this movement.

Through dozens of new interviews and archival research, Doherty chronicles the scenes that sprang up around the country in the 1960s and ’70s, beginning with the artists’ origin stories and following them through success and strife, and concluding with an examination of these creators’ legacies, Dirty Pictures is the essential exploration of a truly American art form that recontextualised the way people thought about war, race, sex, gender, and expression.

"As Doherty entertainingly traces the movement's rise--from its humble beginnings in the 1960s to its uphill battle to be recognised as an art form--he captures how it perfectly reflected the rapidly changing norms of the baby boomer generation and its enduring impact on pop culture today. Comix fans and artists should make room on their shelves for this one."
Publishers Weekly

"Brian Doherty's Dirty Pictures is coming out right when it's needed. As creative expression is increasingly attacked from across the political spectrum, this wonderful book is a reminder of how art, unrestricted and free, helps us process the mess. It's impeccably researched, sharply written, and opens a portal back to that old, weird America that found its mind by losing it a little."
Reid Mitenbuler, author of Wild Minds: The Artists and Rivalries That Inspired the Golden Age of Animation

"In order to develop the vast field of indie comics available today, where every style and subject under the sun is available to a reader, you need the foundation laid by the underground comix scene of the 60s and 70s. In Dirty Pictures, author Brian Doherty expertly details the players and events that led to an artistic renaissance."
Ho Che Anderson, creator of King, Sand & Fury, and Godhead


Author Brian Doherty
Format Paperback
Pages 352
ISBN 9781419750472


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