1975: Consumer Comix

Consumer Comix (1975) #1 by Peter Loft, Pete Poplaski and Denis Kitchen

This blog has been off the air for some time… er… about a week? But I had such a head start that it’s been about a month since I last did one of these posts, so let’s see if I remember how… What camera did I use? What were the settings? And I have to re-create my photo work space, because I got a new couch, and I had to rearrange all the furniture…

Yeah yeah, whine whine. Let’s do this!

As noted in the previous episode of this blog, Underground comix had kinda died by now: The head shops where they’d been distributed had been closed by new anti-drug laws, and in addition, there were new obscenity laws to contend with. Kitchen Sink only debuted one new series in all of 1974 — Weird Trips Magazine — and it wasn’t even a comic book.

Things are apparently still hard sledding in 1975 — because Denis Kitchen has somehow managed to get funding for this comic book from the Office of Economic Opportunity. And it’s hard to imagine doing anything less like Bizarre Sex than an earnest, gummint-funded comic book about consumer protection laws. And:

This must be a panel that had to be tough for Kitchen to draw with a straight face.

So we get a bunch of short stories about how you can be taken in by hucksters (used car salesmen, auto mechanics and bike salesmen (!).

I guess they manage to do somewhat engaging artwork, and the advice is sound, but…

What!? Only a three day cooling off period? That’s a weak law, man.

This is pretty dire, so Comix Joint gives it a 7:

Features some terrific stuff from Denis Kitchen, who just didn’t do enough comics in his day, if ya ask me.

I guess this shows Kitchen’s business acumen? Throughout Kitchen Press’ existence, there’s a lot of ups and downs, but Kitchen usually finds a way through by publishing… whatever. (A major thing of his in the 90s was nostalgic ads printed on metal, for instance.) But I guess in a precarious business like comics, you have to do… stuff.

This is the twenty-eighth post in the Entire Kitchen Sink blog series.

1974: Weird Trips

Weird Trips Magazine (1974) #1,
Weird Trips (1978) #2 edited by Denis Kitchen

I assumed that this was going to be an anthology about drugs and fun stuff, but…

… it’s… They solicit stories about sensational and weird stuff? So they’re going for a Weekly World News kind of thing?

And it’s not comics. Instead it’s stories about people in cults, and people telling their stories about being abducted by UFOs, and… an interview of a woman who’d been raped?

There’s something deeply unsavoury about the book, and I have to confess that I started skimming pretty quickly.

Kitchen published 12 new titles in 1972, but this is the only new title debuting in 1974. All the underground publishers had been hit hard by the new laws concerning obscenity and head shops, so I guess it was time for Kitchen to try something else.

The story about how Doug Moench beat the draft seems more relevant.

There’s only one comic in here, and it’s by Evert Geradts, but it doesn’t exactly make things less icky.

The second issue, published four years later, is less weird. I mean, it tackles two obvious things: Illuminati stuff, and Ed Gein. Two popular perennials, and again, I didn’t actually read this twaddle.

Comix Joint gave it a 6, which means that he hated it.

Kitchen writes:

Inevitably fellow Wisconsinites put together this overview. Schreiner’s account is heavily researched and augmented by professional photographs of Gein and the crime scene taken prior to the burning of his homestead by repulsed neighbors, as well as a photo of Ed’s car touring sideshows, and Gein at a parole hearing in 1968 (he was declared sane but the judge kept Ed incarcerated to protect himself, not society).

New Gein illustrations, including Ed wearing a suit of skin by Peter Poplaski. Weird Trips was not a comic book, though it superficially looked like one. Editor/publisher Denis Kitchen intended it to be a regular magazine of strange events but it never got past this second issue.

This is the twenty-seventh post in the Entire Kitchen Sink blog series.

1973: Tales from the Fridge

Tales from the Fridge (1973) #1 by Russ Jones and Bhob Stewart

From the cover and the first page, complete with Crypt Keeper and all, I expected this to be a collection of EC horror parodies…

… but it’s not: It’s just one 24 page story. I mean, the story does have EC horror flourishes, and Jones carries off emulating a number of 50s artists, but the story itself isn’t very EC-ish.

The main gag is that the guy is fat, really fat, have I mentioned fat? But there’s also other comedy gems here like the lawyer called “Heebert L. Kiker”. *sigh*

We’re not talking comedy genius here.

And then for a couple of pages (after the fat guy has smoked The Reefer), we get a couple of pages of comic strip parodies.

Before we lurk back into an EC denouement, but more extreme.

Jones is obviously talented, and this book has some charms, but it’s hard to like.

We round off with a bunch of one pagers that… are like this.

The book has not been reprinted:

As EC homages go, Tales from the Fridge isn’t especially bad, as it incorporates some of the tried-and-true comic tropes that EC pioneered, but after the novelty of tales from the fridge wears off, there’s not much happening beyond the fridge.

Bill Sherman writes in The Comics Journal #44, page 52:

He didn’t like it.

This is the twenty-sixth post in the Entire Kitchen Sink blog series.

1973: High Adventure

High Adventure (1973) #1 by Mark Evanier, Bob Kline and others

During the first few years, Kitchen Sink teetered between professionalism and 60s comics fanzine culture, and this book takes us back into fanzine territory again.

It’s not that there’s anything particularly wrong about this Evanier/Kline ditty, but it’s just so inessential.

Mike Royer’s piece is the only one not written by Evanier, and… it’s… OK? Royer’s mostly known for inking Jack Kirby, but here he’s going all underground on us.

(It takes place in a cave.)

The worst thing here is this Evanier/Steve Leialoha/John Pound thing, which is just tedious in ways you couldn’t imagine things being boring in before.

Fortunately, there’s no next.

Ken Jones writes in Amazing Heroes #89, page 48:

Most of you read David Puckett’s
article “The Relevance of Under-
grounds” which appeared in issue
#74 of this magazine. Mr. Puckett
rightly traces the evolution of the
Undergrounds as they evolved into
today’s Alternative Comics. But
somehow in the process, he forgot
to mention what I feel are the two
most important links in this evolu-
tionary chain, High Adventure
Comix and Big Apple Comix.
By allowing mainline Marvel, DC,
and Gold Key creators a chance to
create in an unrestricted environ-
ment, these two early 1970s comics
eventually provided an inspiration
and an example which culminated
in today’s Alternative Companies
such as Eclipse, First, and Renegade
Press.
It is not surprising that Mark Eva-
nier, a man who has created in every
genre of comic books (ai well as
television and animation), vvas the
inspiration behind High Adventure
Comix from Kitchen Sink Press.
Evanier, best known for DNAgents
and Crossfire from Eclipse and
Blackhawk from DC, wrote three out
of four pieces in this trend-setting
one-shot. Bob Kline illustrated two
of the three stories that Mark wtrote,
turning in very interesting graphics.
“Nimbus,” a sexy science fiction
story, would be at home in Heavy
Metal Magazine. “Stalker” is even
more fun, but since I am absolutely
crazy about any kind of time travel
story, how could I not like this tale
of big game hunters in the days of
the dinosaurs? “Lord Sabre,” which
v•/as illustrated by Steve (New
Mutants, Secret Wars) Leialoha, con-
cerns a Walter Mitty-type who longs
to be a hero in an Edgar Rice Bur-
roughq novel. This piece especially
noteworthy as it also represents Lei-
aloha’s first professional sale.
Perhaps my favorite feature in
High Adventure was done by Mike
Royer. Royer, who is perhdps best
remembered as the finest inker who
ever embelli

So somebody liked it.

But they’re right in that this book reads very much like a precursor to 80s alternative comics — especially the dreck that was published during the black and white explosion and implosion.

More people likes it:

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it, but High Adventure is also a pretty solid comic book, with some entertaining stories and excellent comic art.

This is the twenty-fifth post in the Entire Kitchen Sink blog series.