Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Larry's Vault: A Mini History of Mini Comics

My recent post on the Treasury of Mini Comics with a bit of mini- history received a couple of comments. So I thought it might be worth while to expand on that a bit.   Here goes:

In the early 70’s I was living in a flat with Gary Arlington, (proprietor of the legendary San Francisco Comic Book Company). I was also working at his mail order comix business.

I recall Justin Green coming over with the paste up boards for Spare Comic? He showed us how the format worked (one sheet of back to back printed paper folded and quartered makes a 8 page chapbook or mini comic).

Gary and I were both impressed with it and began creating our own titles which Gary’s San Francisco Comic book Company printed (I believe he may have published Green’s Spare Comic?  as well).

The intro page from my mini Baloney 1972

The first of these minis were sold at Gary’s shop on the shelves with the underground comix. Gary also sold them through his Eric Fromm mail order business. They were sold in bagged packets for 50 cents as “Off the Cuff Comics”. 

Here’s a page from an Eric Fromm catalog of that period:

Eric Fromm mail order catalog page (click on it to enlarge)
Most of these sold for 7 cents--why?   Because Justin Green decided Spare Comic? should be seven cents --everyone else followed suit.

Most of the above shown titles were probably published by Gary and again, they were printed on photo offset presses from plates not photocopied.

Two comics shown above are not on the Justin Green model --the larger sized Murder by S.Clay Wilson and the rectangle formatted Mr. Infinity by Art Spiegleman.

Toy Dandruff and Lullabye for a Speed Freak by Scotty are actually booklets of poetry.  (I did the covers for both of those)

Since we’re on the subject, I also put together the cover of the mini faux Zap #7 (Gary dreamed that one up). Gary had the Crumb original art for an unused Zap logo. I did a paste up of the logo adding it to an old printed flyer by Crumb. I also added some other Crumb elements. The little “7”s were drawn by me.  (I did some paste up/production on some other minis as well).

Way back in ‘72 I drew the label for the Off the Cuff packet.

This was placed in the baggie with the mini comix set.

Other factoids:

A commentary on the infamous Dan White trial from the 1980 mini comic Pep Comix
I often see alleged histories of the mini comix movement that it began in the 1980’s.  I don’t know how this bit of historical revisionism became so popular. But the facts are there was a continuum of mini’s from 1972 on through and including the efforts of Clay Geerdes and Artie Romero in the late 70s and early 80’s --and on and on with all the varieties of alternative / DIY/  productions to this day.

And another skeleton sketch from Pep Comix:


  1. Thanks for this additional post and artworks, Larry. Wonderful stuff!

  2. I'm thrilled to see a review of this book, and I can't wait to see the book itself. I'm really glad to have found your blog, Larry Rippee! Long time no see. --Artie Romero

  3. Greetings Artie,

    A long time indeed. I hope you got a copy of Bruce Chrislip's Minicomix Revolution. It should come as no surprise that you figure fairly prominently in the book due to your Everyman Studios mini series. You did a lot of great creative projects back then with Cascade Comix Monthly and all the other publications. I've seen your name pop in recent years in connection with animation. Good to know you're still out there.