Thursday, June 21, 2007

Autonomous Speech Bubbles

From my catalog essay for the Rick Griffin retrospective at Laguna Art Museum (which I also co-curated with Greg Escalante) opening Saturday:

"As if his accomplishments as a psychedelic poster designer weren't enough, Rick Griffin immediately went on to help redefine the most underrated medium in 20th century art when he was Robert Crumb’s first draft choice to contribute to the second issue of Zap Comix. Zap #1 had unleashed Crumb upon the world, and although it took a little while for the world at large to catch on (like until the multiple obscenity busts of issue #4), the graphic narrative medium would never be the same. Griffin and Moscoso had already been toying with the idea of producing a comic book, and Griffin’s famous mutant Morning Paper funny pages poster (FD89) is said to have inspired Crumb’s Ultra Super Modernistic Comics in Zap #1 – his somewhat less successful attempt at non-linear comic art.

Morning Paper -- along with several related posters done for John Van Hamersveld’s LA-based Pinnacle Productions -- had insinuated the concept of non-linear structuralist comic art into the graphic mainstream. Although there were precedents – Bay area Beat artist Jess’ Tricky Cad collages of fragmented Dick Tracy episodes spring to mind – these seem to be the first truly abstract non-linear “narratives” presented in comic-strip panel sequences (a union that had happened early in Cinema) in something resembling a commercial mass medium."

If you can't make the opening, there's an awesome panel discussion Sunday:

Sunday, June 24, 2007 1:00 p.m.

Psychedelic Moment: The Big Five and Zap Comix in the 1960s

This panel on Griffin and San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury features the artist’s widow and internationally respected artists who initiated the psychedelic art and underground comix movements. With Ida Griffin, Alton Kelley, Stanley Mouse, Spain Rodriguez, and Robert Williams. Moderated by Jacaeber Kastor, founder of Psychedelic Solution Gallery, New York.

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