Congresos y reuniones científicas
Marginal Literatures of the Sixties: The Underground Press, Comix and Robert Crumb
San Juan
Jornada; XXXII Jornada de la Asociación Argentina de Estudios Americanos; 2000
Institución organizadora:
Asociación Argentina de Estudios Americanos

This work uses Gramsci, Raymond Williams, and Louis Althusser as a theoretical frame to assess the counter-hegemonic characteristics and influence of the underground press, Robert Crumb, and underground comix on the dominant political structure, society at large, and on the comics medium.  The research suggests that the underground press played a more important counter-hegemonic role and posed the greatest threat to the dominant political/social order.  This is evidenced by the covert campaign (COINTELPRO) waged by the FBI, CIA, local law enforcement, and US military, to destroy the underground press.  Such a campaign did not exist to destroy or crush underground comix.  No underground cartoonist or publisher of underground comix went to jail (though some retailers had to fight obscenity charges and some comix were confiscated based on obscenity laws) or was subjected to the same harassment or constitutional violations that disrupted editors and publishers of underground newspapers.

However, the importance of underground comix, especially its impact on the comics medium cannot be denied.  Also, like comics in the mainstream press, underground comix helped sell underground newspapers.

The essay also assesses Robert Crumb as a counter-culture icon and concludes that for the most part Crumb did not play an active role in the underground scene and the media (both underground and above ground) mythologized his role.  Crumb?s work displayed many of the problematical elements of a lot of underground comix and the underground press? e.g., blatant sexism and racism.  He was primarily non-political, by his own admission in several interviews, and did not consider himself ?part of the scene.? He was, first and foremost, an artist interested in developing his art and not a political activist attempting to change or subvert the existing political system.