PX82: Raw #4: The Graphix Magazine For Your Bomb Shelter’s Coffee Table

Raw #4: The Graphix Magazine For Your Bomb Shelter’s Coffee Table edited by Françoise Mouly and Art Spiegelman (265x360mm)

This was the earliest issue of Raw I had as a teenager — but it wasn’t the first issue I laid my hands on. I think I started buying them with the next issue? And then bought this one from Raw Books later.

It’s something of a Charles Burns-themed issue: He’s got the cover — printed in black and white, but with die cuts to the first inner page:

… which I (at fifteen) thought was a swell gimmick indeed.

Here’s what the inside front cover looks like — and I think that’s pretty cool, too? We’re talking precision printing and die cutting here.

The editors tells the tale of how they struggled to get a Florida-based company to print the Ronald Reagan-themed flexi included with this issue. “Contact his agent.” Heh heh.

They also tell us that they’d really like to start selling stuff directly to the readers now, because that’s more economically sound. And “Half-Raw” has wisely been renamed to “Raw One-Shot”. Oh, and the next issue will have stuff by Pascal Doury that perhaps not all shops will want to carry.

Exciting times. I mean it — all this stuff was so thrilling to me at the time…

And then we come to the innards, and it’s just flabbergastingly good. I hadn’t read the first three issues when I read this one, so it’s all so surprising. Reading this now, in context, I can see that they’d pretty much established this format in the third issue, and this is… er… is there a positive word for “coasting”? They’re publishing a consistently brilliant magazine.

This one seems to have a theme of sort — it’s more dadaish than the previous issues. So here we have Bruno Richard illustrating found sentences from the TV Guide (allegedly): They’re all film titles? Or most of them?

I was so taken with this that I used a few of the little images as a basis for some t-shirts I printed while teaching myself screenprinting a few years back. This one is always a success when wearing it at music festivals.

The longest piece here is by Francis Masse, and it’s quite funny, beautifully rendered, and keeps up the dada-ish theme.

Eep! There’s supposed to be a flexidisk here? I know I had it here in 2016, because I digitised it then, but… I can’t find it now? *sigh*

But it’s on youtube, of course. It’s a sort of cut-up piece by Doug Kahn.

Like basically any Raw issue, there’s some oldee tymey thing in here, too. This time it’s Milt Gross, who’s also in Bad News #2.

Joe Schwind does a pretty amusing, absurd text/photo thing…

… and Charles Burns does a longer story. Is this his first longish published thing? It’s so striking: The line work is absolutely inhumanly precise, and those faces are so insectile. It’s makes your flesh crawl while also attracting you with that inking technique. It’s not Burns’ most accomplished story, though — it veers into O. Henry territory, but is too oddly paced for that to really work.

We get a one-page callback to the long Tardi story in the first issue — is it the same guy who kills himself? Is it another guy? It seems so random to include this, but it also gives me the shivers a bit: It’s an unexpected connection.

And everybody loves Mariscal.

Continuing with the dada thing, Bill Griffith distills Alfred Jarry’s biography down into two pages, illustrated by somewhat random found images that are traced. It’s great!

Ever Meulen does a better Edgar P. Jacobs than Edgar P. Jacobs. If only every Blake and Mortimer strip had been this much to the point.

And then a Maus insert that’s stapled to the back cover — not bound into the book itself, so I’m guessing that Mouly and Spiegelman (no doubt assisted by a large number of people) stapled the booklet into the issue themselves (while the rest was printed by a professional printer).

And… I like that picture of rats? Mice?

Like I said earlier, I didn’t have the first three Raw issues — and the first two were out of print by this time. Spiegelman helpfully reprints the first two chapters in this itsy bitsy format, and I remember reading this as a teenager. Man, it was nice to have sharp eyes.

As you can see, the stapling here is… er… enthusiastic…

It’s the longest Maus chapter so far, and Spiegelman is really getting into the swing of things — mixing his ambivalent feelings towards his father with the sheer horror going on in Vladek’s tale in an incredibly affecting way.

Kiki Picasso rounds of the issue with this amazing drawing.

So there you go: Another perfect magazine, with a mixture of funny and serious, longer stories and shorter pieces, text and graphics, European and American. Mouly and Spiegelman are on a roll.

Charles Burns is interviewed in The Comics Journal #148, page 60:

BURNS: The first issue said, “We’re interested in sub-
missions,” and that’s what I did. One of the few cases
where someone was “found” through submissions. I set
up an interview, and Art Spiegelman looked through all
my stuff and said, *’This is pretty good.”
SULLIVAN: Did yu like RAW when you saw it?
BURNS: Yeah. My initial reaction was that I really liked
the size. I liked looking at comics that weren’t necessar-
ily narrative, but that you could just enjoy looking at, like
ink on paper, and I liked the large format. I didn’t like
everything that was in there, but I liked what it was.
SULLIVAN: After you had the interview and he was en-
coumging, how did il proceed from there?
BURNS: I went ahead and made a piece specifically for
the magazine, more nan-narrative stuff. And one of the
strips I was sending to this place in California was the
first Dog Boy strip. I was about to send it out, and Art
said. “I want this.” I said, “0K. you’ve got it.”
SULLIVAN: What kind Of direction or encouragement did
you get from Art?
BURNS: It was from both Art and Francoise Mouly. In
those days Francoise was much more involved directly with
the editing. It was just having someone who could cri-
tique your work well. Someone whose opinion I would
trust. Not big editorial comments: ‘ ‘l don’t like this guy’s
forehead” or “I dorü like the way this hand is drawn,”
but more how the stories were structured. That was very
beneficial for me, that very constructive criticism.
The best kind of criticism is stuff that you know sub-
consciously already, and then someone that you trust
reconfirms your worst fears. Occasionally I’ll draw some-
thing and I’ll show it to my wife or somebody, and say,
“This is 0K, isn’t it?” “Nah, it’s not really 0K.” “Aw
shit.” I already knew it wasn’t working, but I had to have
that confirmed by someone else.
SULLIVAN: Did you go into the RAW office and meet the
other artists?
BURNS: At that point, it was just Art and Francoise’s liv-
ing area — one sprawling room with a few dividers, a big
cavelike structure. Somebody was always there working,
it seemed like, or somebody was coming over. When I
was going to go up to New York, maybe Gary hinter would
be in town, and I’d meet him, and Mark Beyer, whoever
was around. It seemed like there was always a flow of FEO-
pie. tempers flaring, on edge. There was always this flurry
of activity.
SULLIVAN: Did you get involved in projects, like the rear-
ing of the covers?
BURNS: Not very much. I was involved with the die-cut
cover [#41, trying to figure out how to do it. No, I never
bagged any bubble gum. I was not a New Yorker and
wasn’t there on call.

Dale Luciano writes in The Comics Journal #75, page 22:

Raw arrives with cover billing as ‘ ‘the
graphix magazine for your bomb shelter’s
coffee table.” Damned if this issue doesn’t
truthfully live up to that self-description.
For the most part, this issue is a revelling in
distortion and the grotesque that, on the
whole, summarizes a mood of contempo-
rary despair.
I believe in Mikel Dufrenne’s definition
Of beauty as the integrity Of an art object’s
completeness, its commitment to the fulfill-
ment of its own selfness. Undeniably, most
of the work appearing in Raw has an un-
usually pure beauty. Still, I’m beginning to
wish there were more room in Raw for
work that exhibited less absorption in the
uniqueness of its own formal properties or
preoccupation with the grotesque—or fail-
ing that, work like Art Spiegelman’s own
Maus that has a little human resonance in
it. Now that I’ve gotten that Out of my
system, let me hasten to add that on its
Own terms, Raw certainly fulfills its own
aspirations to present new and startling
work. It remains a lively and sorely needed
assemblage of material that is anything but
dull Or predictable.
The centerpiece of this issue, the 12-page
epic Race Of Racers” by the Swiss car-
toonist Francis Masse, is an imaginative
but gloomy vision of incoherence.


Though the
work is visually remarkable—there are
some hauting images of this ersatz
apocalypse—it’s a pretentious imposture.
Worse yet, none of it is very funny. I found
it a disappointing entry.
Charles Burns’s “The Voice of Walking
Flesh” is a slice of grotesquerie, a sort of
stylized parody of horror with a nightmar-
ish plot that leaps past logic into irra-


In truth, Burns gives us a highly stylized,
creepy vision of things—the people have
elongated faces and almost irrelevant
distinguishing features, like mannekins in a
department store window—and the whole
is a peculiarly unsettling variety of surreal
nightmare-horror. The effort is shot
through with a macabre sense of humor.
The plot situations are intentionally
ludicrous, and there are apropos absurdist
touches—the caretakers at the Institute, for
example, are clean-cut, freckle-faced
McDonald’s waiters. Taken On its own
merits, it’s a masterwork of the bizarre.
Some of Burns’s work appeared in Raw 3,
but “The Voice of Walking Flesh” is a full-
blown, major example of the Philadelphia.
based artist’s work.
It’s growing more evident with each issue
of Raw that Spiegelman’s artistic sensibility
as manifested in Maus stands almost mys-
teriously apart from the editorial sensibil-
ity, along with Francoise Mouly’s, that
selects the material in Raw. In vivid con-
trast to the portentousness that tends to
characterize this issue Of is the careful.
ly observed, human-scale pathos of his
mice characters. This is the third install-
ment of Spiegelman’s work-in-progress,
and it is no disappointment. The writing
continues on a level of uncommon intelli-


This is a remarkably unmanipulative ap-
proach to writing. Spiegelman doesn’t take
advantage of the material by wringing it
dry of life in hope of soliciting a conven-
tional emotional response. He’s content to
allow ambiguities of situation and char-
acter to arise without comment or resolu-
tion. Maus is based on actual events as
communicated to Spiegelman by his
father. This quality in Maus, a kind of
clearheaded purity in the plotting and
drawing of the action and dialogue, may
grow out of Spiegelman’s responsibility to
the material as lived family biography; still,
this should in no way diminish the artist’s
achievement in transforming recollection
Into art.


In truth, I found much of the remaining
material in Raw disappointing. There’s a
highly concentrated, one-page dose of
Mariscal antics that is entertaining but
minor. Josef Schwind’s “Slug Alley
Gazette,” is all of an excruciating, dull
piece with Schwind’s dada-collage work,
“Growing Pain,” that appeared in Raw
This issue contains a special record insert,
of all things….what they call a “flexi-disc,”
I believe.

This blog post is part of the Punk Comix series.

PX84: Bad News #2

Bad News #2 edited by Mark Newgarden and Paul Karasik (270x390mm)

The first issue of this magazine was published by the School of Visual Arts, but this issue was self-published by the editors.

It’s in a similar format to Raw, but is a bit taller, which I guess means that it’s in tabloid format?

It’s printed on newsprint, but the covers uses a whiter stock — it’s pretty flimsy, though.

This is mostly shorter pieces (many of them a single page). Here we have a page each from Kaz and Bruno Richard.

Quite a few of the artists from the first issue show up here (like Jayr Pulga and Glenn Head), but this isn’t just an SVA showcase any more — I guess the majority of the artists were not SVA people.

It looks like the editors manage to finance much of this through ads? There’s about half a dozen pages of ads intermixed with the comics. They look pretty good, though.

It’s a nice mix of shorter pieces and longer ones… but many of them do not seem to have been created with the tabloid format in mind, so you get these awkward filler panels at the top or the bottom. (Glenn Head here.) And there’s really no cohesion whatsoever — many of the individual pieces are really good, but it doesn’t amount to what you’d call a satisfying read.

As with Raw, you get a reprint of some old stuff, but it’s pretty random here… (Milt Gross.)

David Marc writes four pages about how good The Beverly Hillbillies are or something. I’ve never seen the show myself, so… perhaps he’s right?

Editor Newgarden shows great restraint and only does a single page himself. Which fits the “ad newspaper/zine” aesthetic very well. And guess which styles he’s emulating in the strip at the end there… Let’s see… It’s Gary Panter, Lynda Barry, somebody, Mark Marek, himself, and… hm, a lot of them seem familiar. Can you guess them all?

There’s some translated pieces here too, like this “you’re a spectator! haha! I’m clever!” thing by Armand Hui Bon Hoa. But the artwork’s intriguing.

Kristin Barnet is possibly the only woman in the book? It’s a very amusing piece.

I find this ad quite intriguing because it mentions a lot of the books I’m covering in this series: Raw, Mark Marek, Lynda Barry, Breakdowns… and also a lot of the more edgy undergrounds (which I’m not covering). And also something called “Poodle With A Mohawk”, which I have to google.

Oh! It’s a Lynda Barry poster. Nice.

Finally we have a longer piece by Paul Karasik called “Action Comics”, and it’s absolutely amazing. It kinda points towards Here by Richard McGuire, but I guess this came first?

It’s stunning.

So: This isn’t quite Raw, but it’s a pretty amazing magazine.

Robert Boyd writes in The Comics Journal #200, page 20:

IN 1984 OR ’85, I SAW BAD NEWS
at my local comic book shop in Houston.
I was just starting to get into “alternative
comics”— Love & Rockets, American Flagg’,
American Splendor, old undergrounds, etc.
I had heard of RAW but hadn’t yet seen a
copy. Bad News looked very different from
anything I’d seen before.
It was an oversized tabloid publication,
printed on newsprint witha saddle-stitched
spine. It stood out. The three-color Kaz
cover announced an uncompromising
stance — a semi-abstract skull thing play-
ing a low-tech, industrial pipe saxophone.
The player’s hand was incongruously real-
istic, like the hand in Duchamp’s famous
painting T’um. The banner above the pic-
ture read: ‘TOT ABUSE • JED CLAMPETT &
Bizarre! But Bad News #2 delivered every-
thing it promised.
The contents page was also a beautiful
exercise in carefully controlled punk post-
modernism. Instead of “about the artists,”
Bad News#2 had medical histories for each
of the creators, each illustrated with an x-
ray. They were revealing — while Drew
Friedman suffered a fractured radius and
ulna in 1969 and digital dislocation in 1974,
Kaz experienced a cerebral concussion with
acute psychotic dissociative reaction in
1978. Pretty much says it all! (The two
French artists had their medical histories in
French— Bruno Richard, for instance, had a
fracture du bras gauche in 1968.)
With this much cool window dressing,
the contents had a lot to live up to. And
they did! The two Kaz stories, “The Treach-
erous Tot” and “The Treacherous Tot II,”
defined a punk outlook on life — amoral,
streetwise children killing their elders in
horrific, alienating cities. All was allowed
as long as it was stylish and funny.
Glenn Head’s spectacular story “The
Bugs,” starring the frankly autobiographi-
cal character Chester, was an amazing trip
into the gutter of alcoholism.


Paul Karasik’s “Action Comics!” is the
third great story in Bad News#2. This eight-
page story deals with the passage of time
and how it is perceived. The story is first
person, seen through the eyes of the pro-
tagonist. The first five pages depict him
waking up and slowly deciding to get out of
bed. The panels are big (four to a page) and
full of open flat values (simple line art
drawings of the room filled with various
shades of Zip-a-tone). The narration con-
sists of half-asleep morning thoughts. The
final “waking up” panel, a shot of the light
fixture above the bed, reads, “This is the
most comfortable I’ll be all day.” Then we
get two pages of smaller, more crowded
panels. Suddenly we have motion lines (the
“Action” referred to in the title). The panels
are all slightly tilted. They depict quick
fragments of what the narrator is seeing.
He is a schoolteacher rushing through his
classes. The narration is blunt, usually
only one word per panel (“Mail,” “Recess,”
“Shuffle,” “Climb,” etc.) Then the last page
goes back to the calm, slow approach of the
opening — as the narrator drifts off to
sleep. I’m not sure I’d want to see a lot of
comics stories like this one, but “Action
Comics” was a quiet tour de force.
Other highlights include an early Chet
and Bunny Leeway story by Peter Bagge, a
page by Milt Gross reprinted from Milt
Gross Funnies #2 (1947), a weird sketchy
story by Jayr Pulga, a lengthy excerpt from
the book Democratic Vistas dealing with
the Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres and Pet-
ticoat Junction (illustrated by Drew Fried-
man), and a bizarre tribute to Chuck Jones
cartoons by Bruno Richard.


Bad News fell right between RAWs
arty refinement and Weirdo’s primitive
kookiness. Curiously enough, neither Bad
News#l nor Bad News#3 was nearly as good
— the first issue was too amateurish, and
the third felt like an afterthought. Bad News
#2 perfectly embodied a punk, post-mod-
ern approach to comics. Its urban “fuck you”
sensibility now informs a big segment of the
alternative comics scene today (Hate, Steven,
Underworld, Zero Zero, etc.). Thirteen years
later, Bad News#2 still strikes me as one of
the finest anthologies ever done.

The Comics Journal #161, page 84:

On the
second one, Paul Karasik and I independently did it. We
published it, edited it, went out and got ads for it, got it
printed, the whole thing. A painful experience. We leamed
a lot, but I’d never want to go through it again.

This blog post is part of the Punk Comix series.

PX17: 2016-17

2016-17 by Mark Beyer (144x210mm)

Huh. Why do I have two copies of this? Oops.

This is published by Le Dernier Cri, and I’m assuming this is … sketchbook stuff from Beyer? The covers are screen-printed and the interiors are offset, I think.

This artwork is a lot rougher than Beyer’s usually meticulous style, at least.

Notice a theme? Yeah, there’s a lot of people dying here.

They still have copies for sale! Run and buy. It’s a nice little book.


Which brings us to the latest Beyer item to make its way into my hands, the Le Dernier Cri-published Mark Beyer : Sketchbook 2016-17, which eschews pretty much anything by way of titles or branding and just plunges you right in at the deep end, offering page after stupefying page of works the artist drew ostensibly for his own edification, but which were probably destined to be let loose into the wild at some point or other, that point being, as it turns out, not terribly long after it was created. Hey, when your stuff’s in demand, it’s in demand — and Beyer’s stuff will always be in demand.

This blog post is part of the Punk Comix series.