cover image Maverix and Lunatix: Icons of Underground Comix

Maverix and Lunatix: Icons of Underground Comix

Drew Friedman. Fantagraphics, $34.99 (216p) ISBN 978-1-68396-655-5

Friedman (Heroes of the Comics) presents portraits and capsule biographies of 101 underground comics creators, alive and dead, covering the “freewheeling decade 1967–1977.” The drug-infused, boundary-smashing, sex and satire (and often racism and misogyny)–laced genre was populated by wild characters such as Mr. Natural and the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers as well as by the equally out-there writers and artists who created them, notably the notorious Robert Crumb. Friedman includes the other big (mostly male) names (Harvey Kurtzman, Art Spiegelman, and Harvey Pekar), who’ve since been alternately hallowed and canceled inside of comics, as well as those less known to the general public, such as Spain Rodriguez, Gilbert Shelton, and Shary Flenniken. Friedman’s extreme stippling style has evolved here into softer, more immediate portraits against backdrops that capture his subjects’ personalities: Pekar with his famous record collection, Richard Corbin among barren autumn trees, Jim Franklin surrounded by his trademark aardvarks. The compilation provides a subtle commentary on the bright but short life of the genre: many of the artists have died or gone into (more lucrative) commercial or movie illustration, but they paved the way for the larger explosion of today’s indie and creator-owned comics, and are as important to the medium as Jack Kirby or Steve Ditko. While Friedman’s homage to personality is not a complete or chronological history of the underground, it’s a fitting collection of misfits. (Oct.)