Book Reviews and Book Revues

Despite their vast impact, the whole story of the underground comix movement has never been fully told in a coherent, systematic way. Sure, over the years we’ve seen some good work focus on individual creators or publishers, and some good bibliographic work tracking down the titles and print histories from a collectors’ perspective, but nothing that lays the whole story out beginning to end.

Dirty Pictures: How an Underground Network of Nerds, Feminists, Misfits, Geniuses, Bikers, Potheads, Printers, Intellectuals and Art School Rebels Revolutionized Art and Invented Comix, a new book by Brian Doherty published this month by Abrams Press, is an ambitious attempt to set the record straight. Clocking in at close to 400 pages with ample notes and references, Dirty Pictures catalogues the many tall tales and memorable anecdotes that have served as the folklore of the underground movement; takes stock of the colorful cast of creators, publishers and retailers; and draws a through line that starts with Harvey Kurtzman’s MAD and Disney funny animal comics of the 40s and 50s and leads directly to the diverse independent, artistic and literary comics and graphic novels of the 2020s.

Rob Salkowitz, at ICv2, lets us know about the new comix history book.

There is not a single picture, dirty or otherwise, in this entire book!


More news than review:

Sceptre has signed a “hilarious and insightful” cartoon collection by Betty Trask Prize-winner and New Yorker cartoonist Will McPhail entitled Love & Vermin.

Senior commissioning editor Charlotte Humphery acquired UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, from Gordon Wise at Curtis Brown for publication on 13th October 2022.

Charlotte Humphery, senior commissioning editor at Sceptre, said: “Will McPhail is an unreasonably funny person and an unreasonably talented artist. The fact that he also has an acute, almost painful, insight into the human condition is just the final straw. We are so proud to publish his debut graphic novel and we know that Will’s fans all over the world will adore Love & Vermin. This collection is a delight and a perfect, intelligent gift for friends, family or for self.” 

Lauren Brown, at The Bookseller, shares.


For some reason I never got those history books by Denis Gifford about Great Britain comic strips, so I’m looking forward to this one.

This extensive and comprehensive guide to the long and distinguished career of the British Newspaper Strip lists hundreds of newspaper strips printed in Britain over the last century.

Written by Paul Hudson, former owner of the much-missed London comic shop Comic Showcase, this upcoming title is the product of more than two years of assiduous research and looks like a wonderful reference to a cherished part of British daily life and culture.

John Freeman, at downthetubes, reports on historian Paul Hudson’s appearance at a signing and it gives them the opportuniy to preview the book.


More profile than review.

Coffee is communion, at least in the world of Paul Madonna. In his own words, “We sit down, we talk about selling the house, traveling the world, getting a dog — all over coffee.”

Madonna, Bayview-based artist, illustrator, writer and award-winning author, is renowned for his long-running city-inspired comic strip series ‘All Over Coffee,’ which ran in the San Francisco Chronicle’s Sunday Pink Section for nearly 12 years. Once described by Madonna as “a comic strip without the comic,” the series paired intricate sketches of The City — a street corner, a view of Alcatraz or a deserted alleyway — with poignant, poetic text.

Kathryn Hurd, for The SF Examiner, talks to Paul Madonna on the occasion of his last book in the All Over Coffee trilogy is published.


When All Over Coffee was still running, Madonna had painted a wide view of San Francisco from somebody’s back porch. After one man saw it in The Chronicle, he recognized the view as being similar to the one from his girlfriend’s apartment, and immediately accused her of having an affair with the artist. The woman emailed Madonna to tell him about the bizarre situation she found herself in.

All Over Coffee was in many ways a gift to the city. It immortalized the San Francisco that locals see every day; not the one most commonly depicted in movies and on TV. Because of its grounding in familiar corners, sidewalks and liquor stores, Madonna’s art can also ask viewers to explore their own psyche, or to suspend their disbelief, or to go on a journey with him they weren’t expecting. And sometimes, just sometimes, it’ll be so close to home, you’ll think he’s made a personal visit.

Rae Alexandra, at KQED, reviews the book.


Not a book, and not really a review.

Curator’s Notes on Jim Morin: Drawing and Painting, an Exhibition of Political Cartoon Drawings and Landscape Paintings

Ed. Note – When it became apparent that we were not going to get a reviewer for this show in Maine, we asked the exhibit’s guest curator, Martha Kennedy to give us some background on creating the exhibit. A long-time contributor to IJOCA, she has recently retired as a curator from the Library of Congress’ Prints and Photographs Division.

Additional qualities that often characterize Morin’s cartoons include boldly designed compositions, varied points of view, and fine, often meticulous rendering of forms regardless of size, all perfectly balanced. Many of these qualities also distinguish his paintings. Although Morin paints a wide variety of subjects including landscapes, cityscapes, and human figures, this exhibition primarily features landscapes, which include no people. Recent examples, in particular, possess a strong sense of place underlaid by keen observation and love of nature.

Martha Kennedy, for the International Journal of Comic Art, presents.


The publication of a new historiographical volume that delves into female characters and comic female authors is great news, as so far those two areas have not had the academic and editorial interest they deserve. A great deal of genealogy work remains to be done but fortunately, some researchers such as Trina Robbins (author of Pretty in Ink. North American Women Cartoonists 1896-2013, Fantagraphics, 2013), or Nicola Streeten & Cath Tate (The Inking Woman. 250 years of Women Cartoon and Comic Artists in Britain, Myriad Editions, 2018) have done so. It was striking though that Franco-Belgian bande dessinée (BD), a major source of great world comic classics, had not attracted the same attention from scholars. Finally Catriona McLeod has produced a vast work on this subject. All in all, this book is a great enjoyment for comics scholars.

The IJoCA does get María Márquez López to review a book.


The publisher’s copy:

This comprehensive history of the world’s best comics art includes masterpieces by cartoonists from Richard Felton Outcault in 1896 to Chris Ware today.

A critical reference, this book is also a celebration of the characters who have accompanied readers from their first forays into reading through adolescence, and on into adulthood—from Tarzan to Tintin, Little Nemo to Betty Boop, the Fantastic Four to Batman, the Silver Surfer to Sin City, or the underground comics of Robert Crumb.

But they supply a healthy preview of the book.