As my presentation for this module is based on the artist Alan Moore, it has come to my attention that his early pieces of work while growing up in the 60’s were heavily influenced by Underground Comix, the often socially relevant self-published comic books which themes were seen as quite the taboo during this time in comic-book history; even influencing him enough to make him want to publish his own which was that of the fanzine style comic “Embryo”. As this was obviously a highly important aspect to Moore’s evolution to being the writer and artist that he became during the 1980’s, I feel compelled in to looking further in to how this movement in comics came to be as I wonder why it was such a taboo at the time when Moore was reading them, to eventually analyse and see if I can make any comparisons in such work to that of Moore’s.
The early history of such publications of this part of comics came in in the 1920’s-40’s in which the anonymous artists would produce counterfeit pornographic comic books that contained the mainstream characters from popular strips engaging in such activities. However, it was not until the 1960’s in America where the real underground scene for this sub-genre began to raise interest. Topics included such unmentionable themes such at recreational drug use, rock music and politics. It gave the idea that independent comics could have more freedom to that of its mainstream counterparts as it did not have to write themes that were allowed under the regulations of the Comics Code Authority, as the writers had full liberty to what they were producing. Stories and themes usually were a response to this authority as writers felt that there regulations were too strong; these themes often were in relation to feminism, sex, drugs and socially relevant context that was happening during the time of publication. The title of this development was retouched with an X so that readers were able to find a differentiation between the two mediums. The covers of these comixs usually contained references to that of drugs and often imitated the side effects of drugs like LSD. According to one of its creators and writers Robert Crumb (or R.Crumb), who produced his self-published comix such as “Zap” said that the appeal of underground comix was its total lack of censorship. ” “People forget that that was what it was all about. That was why we did it. We didn’t have anybody standing over us saying ‘No, you can’t draw this’ or ‘You can’t show that’. We could do whatever we wanted.”
Arguably the most famous publications of the underground comix genre is considered to be that of Robert Crumb’s Zap, as it created a financially successful market for underground comix and therefore widened the genre in to the mainstream. Bijou Funnies by Jay Lynch is another that appears to be very successful, and another being Bizarre Sex which was heavily influenced by the science fiction that was seen in the mainstream comics publications.
In Comparison to Alan Moore:
After delving in to the cynical yet surreal world of Underground Comix, it is obvious that through comparison Alan Moore’s work was heavily influenced by such work. The liberation of certain themes such as sex and drugs are key aspects that one finds in many of Moore’s readings which is seen in that of underground comix as well. The artwork from such covers also looks similar to Moore’s early work while growing up in his fanzines like Embryo, his surreal drug imitation acts as an intriguing mindscape like that of the work shown above and allows the reader to consider other beliefs and spirituality.