You might have to be a true Fabulous Furry Freak Brother to get through every page of Doherty’s book. The writing can be clunky, and there are — get this — no pictures, dirty or otherwise (One solid companion would be Dez Skinn’s 2004 book Comix: The Underground Revolution, which is packed with pictures; it brings the story up to successors such as Peter Bagge, Chris Ware and Daniel Clowes.)...Yet given the exponential reach of this initially tiny cluster of transgressive artists, Doherty’s book is a welcome addition to an under-analyzed legacy of the free-spirited 1960s...He doesn’t gloss over the more troublesome aspects of comix, but Doherty clearly loves the form...As he writes of Jay Lynch, the editor and publisher of Bijou Funnies, another key early title, Mad and the irreverent copycat magazines it spawned 'shaped and warped his mind and let him know that someone, somewhere out there was transmitting on his wavelength.'
Spelled with an x to distinguish the format from its mainstream counterparts ('to which they were in opposition'), the comix of such legendary artists as Robert Crumb, Trina Robbins, and Art Spiegelman were vastly different, but they were connected by a near obsession with Mad magazine and an artistic disillusionment that drew them to subvert the medium with illustrations both lurid and profane...Combining interviews with meticulous research, Doherty highlights how their publications, 'distributed by hippie entrepreneurs,' touched upon taboo topics like sex, drugs, and homosexuality, as well as the seemingly mundane, to expose culture’s 'absurd and the sinister' side—sometimes with grace, other times with shocking and offensive material that lead to legal issues...As Doherty entertainingly traces the movement’s rise, he captures how it perfectly reflected the rapidly changing norms of the baby boomer generation and its enduring impact on pop culture today...Comix fans and artists should make room on their shelves for this one.
Doherty serves up a tale of underground comix, 'the "x" to mark them as distinct from the mainstream comics to which they were in opposition'...Doherty’s pioneering players share the idea that just as music and film were breaking free of conventions in the countercultural era of the 1960s, so comix, 'born of smartass rebel kids,' could become revolutionary vehicles for the mores and attitudes of the day...Doherty pokes into every corner of the scene, recounting how the always entrepreneurial Stan Lee tried to co-opt it with a Marvel sort-of-comix book and noting that where only a few male artists are remembered today, plenty of women such as Trina Robbins made great art and deserve more attention...While the author closes with a grim recitation of artists and publishers who fell victim to drugs, alcohol, or the various ailments of old age, he observes that comix exert cultural influence today...Lively, well researched, and full of telling anecdotes; just the thing for comix aficionados and collectors.