Anarchy Comics. The Complete Collection.

Author:Frigerio, Vittorio
Position:Book review
 
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Jay Kinney (ed.), Anarchy Comics. The Complete Collection

Oakland: PM Press, 2013; 223pp; ISBN 9781604865318

There is more than a whiff of melancholy that comes off the pages of PM Press's reprint of the complete run of the magazine Anarchy Comics (four issues in all, from 1978 to 1987). The age of the 1960s counterculture, that spawned such phenomena as the wave of underground comics that brought a much-needed breath of fresh air to a field stifled by Comics Code Authority-censored superhero fare, seems now as distant as the Middle Ages. And although this magazine came at the end of that period, it is still fully a product of those times. But Paul Buhle is right, in his introduction, to affirm that this work has lost nothing of its power for today's troubled world' (p 8). The question to be asked, then, is why.

Jay Kinney, the originator of the project and its main contributor, together with Paul Mavrides--better known for his work on one of the era's most iconic productions, the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers--provides a fairly lengthy introduction in which he retraces the history of the publication, giving much information about the making of the various issues, and his artistic as well as ideological intentions. Kinney states that his basic idea was 'to do an underground comic incorporating both lefty-anarcho politics and punk energy', but one that would not be 'a strictly doctrinaire exercise in propaganda' (pp 10-11). Another important element of the project was to incorporate an array of different voices from various countries, as each issue blared on its front page: 'International Anarchy!', listing the origins of the contributors: American, Canadian, French, Dutch, English and German cartoonists. But the finished product looks and reads like pure California. Amongst the contributors, some are particularly worthy of notice, such as well-known German artist Gerhard Seyfried, whose emblematic representation of a black-clad, hatted and grinning anarchist holding an old-fashioned bomb has almost become the equivalent of a logo for the movement. Anarchy Comics also presented some (at first rather summarily) translated works by French authors Fremion and Volny, who were central in the evolution of the bande dessinee during that time, through the magazines L'Echo des savanes and Fluide glacial. Most of the work, and frankly most of the best work published in Anarchy Comics, was signed by Kinney and Mavrides themselves. While the length of...

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