Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

February 12, 2013

Something I Forgot To Write After Spain Rodriguez Died

One thing I like about the underground comix generation that I don't think gets enough play when we think about them is how they were a group of comics-makers united by a shared interest in making comics and maybe not a whole lot of other things. This makes them the model that all future arts-comics communities followed. Unlike groups of cartoonists that clustered in New York or Connecticut or California or Florida, or even the early big-paper illustration departments, the underground cartoonists couldn't boast of a shared socio-economic or regionally proximate background until they went and forged them together. It's hard to imagine two people different than, say, Robert Crumb and Spain Rodriguez before each of them got into comics, and they weren't hugely alike even after they shared a vocation, yet they were obviously and strongly respectful and appreciative of one another. I have no doubt there were dozens of instances of bad blood in those arts communities and relationships that weren't strong at all, but I think the best of those friendships and peer-to-peer relationships are worth noting. I greatly enjoyed reading the Spain Rodriguez tributes that TCJ ran, and if you haven't I hope you'll take the time to do so.

Comics friendships and agreeable professional relationships are easier than ever to forge given the Internet, the schools and the number and variety of comics shows out there. In an era of uniquely hyper-aggressive exploitation where even the middle- or lower-class living of certain traditional comics career paths have been pulverized into near-hobby status, there's a big risk of treating personal relationships within one's industry and one's arena of expression as extensions of a branding strategy that calls on strategic partnerships based on mutually advantageous praise -- a means to an end rather than as a reaction to one's fellow artists and industry members as talented creators and, most important of all, people.
posted 5:10 pm PST | Permalink

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