A counterculture is a subculture whose values and norms of behavior differ substantially from those of mainstream society, often in opposition to mainstream cultural mores. When oppositional forces reach critical mass, countercultures can trigger dramatic cultural changes. Counterculture of the 1960s and early 1970s generated its own unique brand of notable literature, including comics and cartoons, and sometimes referred to as the underground press. These comics and magazines were available for purchase in head shops. Below are publications that may have influnced scoeity. Visit the Fiction archive for a selection of material collected from various sources. Some material may require registration due to the nature of the content.

August 1952 - Mad Magazine debuts as a comic book.

Mad Magazine debuts as a comic book before switching to standard magazine format in 1955, satirizing both American culture - and later counterculture - alike.
It was widely imitated and influential, affecting satirical media as well as the cultural landscape of the 20th century, with editor Al Feldstein increasing readership to more than two million during its 1974 circulation peak. As of May 2016, Mad has published 539 issues. (read more)

Crumb and the Comix Counterculture

Although ‘60s counterculture gave the women’s movement a chance to blossom, women were fighting an uphill battle; they had to go up against not just The Man, but the men: their own supposedly sympathetic compatriots.  Underground comix started in the mid-‘60s as an exciting new venue for political discussion that was available to anyone with a photocopier and something to say. (read more)

Art Young and Robert Minor

Young and Minor were two of the artists whose work appeared regularly in The Masses. In August 1917, the Post Office revoked The Masses’ mailing privileges. The Masses was brought to trial twice as the editors (including the cartoonists) were charged with “conspiring to obstruct conscription.” Although Young and Minor stayed out of prison, the lawsuits caused the magazine to suspend publication. (read more)

Barry Blitt-The Politics of Fear

In Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign, The New Yorker featured a cover cartoon by Barry Blitt showing Barack and Michelle Obama dressed in terrorist garb (rifles on camouflage-covered shoulder and all) doing a fist-bump. Not only did thousands of agitated readers protest, cancel subscriptions, and otherwise complain, but the then-candidate for president took time out from an otherwise busy schedule to denounce the cartoon as offensive. In fact, as New Yorker editor David Remnick pointed out, “It’s not a satire about Obama, it’s a satire about the distortions and prejudices about him.” (read more)

Joe Kubert-longest-lived continuously important contributor comic artist

Mr. Kubert was often described as a war artist, but as he made clear in interviews and in his work, it was far more accurate to call him an antiwar artist. His distinctive visual style — raw, powerful and unstinting in emotional immediacy — was ideally suited to capturing the brutality of battle, and capture it he did, over more than a half-century. At the end of each comic Mr. Kubert directed the typesetter to add a four-word coda. It read, “Make War No More.” (read more)

Philip Zec

On Jan. 8, 1942, Philip Zec’s cartoon in London’s The Daily Mirror showed an exhausted, torpedoed British sailor adrift in the Atlantic. The caption: “The price of petrol has been increased by one penny — Official.” Great Britain’s home secretary described the cartoon as “worthy of Goebbels at his best … plainly meant to tell seamen not to go to war to put money in the pockets of the petrol owners.”

Winston Churchill believed that the cartoon, which he interpreted as saying that the merchant marines’ lives were being put at risk to increase the profits of the oil barons, would undermine the morale of the merchant marines, and ordered an investigation to discover who owned The Daily Mirror. It led to “one of the stormiest debates in the wartime parliament,” when in fact all that Zec had meant to say was that gasoline shortages would put lives at risk.

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Zapiro-South Africa’s The Sunday Times

It was this Dec. 7, 2008, cartoon, which appeared in South Africa’s The Sunday Times, that caused South African President Jacob Zuma — at the time contending with fallout from charges against him of rape and corruption — to sue the Times Media Group for defamation by cartoon, alleging damages of 5 million rand ($600,000). Oh, yes, Zapiro started putting that showerhead on Zumas’ noggin after he mentioned in passing that the woman he had allegedly raped (his defense: it was consensual sex) was HIV positive, so he took a shower as a way of protecting himself from contracting the disease. (read more)

James Gillray-The Art of Caricature

Napoleon once said that the English caricaturist James Gillray “did more than all the armies in Europe to bring me down.” Here’s an example: “Manic ravings, or Little Boney in a Strong Fit” (1803). (read more)

Bob Grossman - LINCOLN BABE

When, in 2005, a book came out saying that Abe Lincoln might be gay, a line and an image popped into the head of Bob Grossman. His Babe Lincoln, which appeared in The Nation, is the result. The letters of protest are still coming in. Gay activists and others object to what they see as Grossman’s assumption that “a man who loves a man really wants to be a woman.” In one of the more polite notes, a former editor of Esquire accused The Nation of publishing “homophobic garbage.” Grossman, who humbly observed, “in the impoverished mental landscape of a cartoonist, this is what passes for true inspiration,” apologized to all he had offended. (read more)