‘Flash! (so to speak)’

Spain Rodriguez, "The Gunners Meet the Fillmore Gang Outside Decco 28 or The Origins of the Beat Generation," 1972, ink and collage on paper

Many of our Cre8tiveYou*think interns are big fans of comic-book art, so when Zap: Masters of Psychedelic Art, 1965-74 opened at Andrew Edlin gallery, they headed right over. Here’s a review by Alicia Prieto, a junior at Brooklyn Tech. 

Zap: Masters of Psychedelic Art, 1965-74 is an exhibition of work by comic-legend R. Crumb, Brooklynite Victor Moscoso, and others. A word to all of you Archie and Jughead fans though, these “comix” are not for kids.

Born out of the remnants of the 1960s counterculture movement, this new psychedelic art incorporated the anti-conformism and humor of the times while experimenting with groundbreaking visual styles. The show, curated by Gary Panter and Chris Byrne, is at first glance harmless, though a closer look reveals something raw and emotional hidden between the bold lines, comical grins, and slapstick comedy.

These uninhibited comics have an honest vulgarity that has disappeared from today’s print media. Zap’s artists have manipulated cartoons to give unsettling, though truthful, social commentary. In contrast to the iconic Superman, the bulky, grotesque characters are selfish; they don’t see beyond their own lust, hunger, and despair. The stories within the panels are disturbing: people on the verge of suicide, murders and beatings, but they’re peppered with old-school dialogue and an “aw shucks!” attitude—making the result not only weird, but also surprisingly funny. They also stay true to classic comics; impressive amounts of “Smash!” “Thump!” and “Doink!” (from Scenes of Contemporary Life by Spain Rodriguez) my favorite being from Wonder Wart-hog Opens a Concession Stand  by Gilbert Shelton & Tony Bell, which has the line “Flash! (so to speak.)”

This exhibit is not only for comic fans. Anybody can enjoy the twisted, dark humor within the panels, as long as you remember: they’re “comix” for a reason.

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  1. Pingback: Cardinal Knowledge « niborama

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