Underground comix

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Underground comix are small press or self-published comic books which are often socially relevant or satirical in nature. They differ from mainstream comics in depicting content forbidden to mainstream publications by the Comics Code Authority, including explicit drug use, sexuality and violence. They were most popular in the United States between 1968 and 1975 and in 1973 and 1974 in the United Kingdom.

Produced by people like Robert Crumb or Gilbert Shelton, comix were popular with the hippie counterculture scene. Punk had its own comic artists like Gary Panter. Long after their heyday underground comix gained prominence with films and television shows influenced by the movement and with mainstream comic books, but their legacy is most obvious with alternative comics.

Contents

History

Early history (1967-1972)

Between the late 1920s and late 1940s, anonymous artists produced counterfeit pornographic comic books featuring unauthorized depictions of popular comic strip characters engaging in sexual activities. Often referred to as Tijuana bibles, these books are often considered the predecessors of the underground comix scene.[1] Early underground comix appeared sporadically in the early and mid-1960s, but did not begin to appear frequently until after 1967. The first underground comix were personal works produced for friends of the artists, in addition to compilations of comic strips which appeared in alternative newspapers.[2]

The United States underground comics scene emerged in the late 1960s as an antithesis to mainstream comic books. Early underground titles focused on subjects dear to the counterculture, recreational drug use, politics, rock music and sexual intercourse. These titles were termed "comix" in order to differentiate the comics from mainstream publications. The "X" also emphasized the X-rated contents of the publications.[2] Many of the common aspects of the underground comix scene were in response to the strong restrictions forced upon mainstream publications by the Comics Code Authority, which refused publications featuring depictions of violence, sexuality, drug use, and socially relevant content, all of which appeared in greater levels in underground comix.[2]

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