ATTENTION
STUMBLEUPON READERS

Read This!

Well, I collect Underground Comix, for one.  Duh!  I always figured that I was born about 5 years too late.  I guess I'm just a hippy-wanna-be.

I make a living as a mild-mannered web-master, working for a major metropolitan food company.  Prior to that, I was a micro-computer technician and problem-solver.

I'm also an amateur musician.  I play piano (11 years private instruction, classical method), synthesizer, trumpet, baritone horn, sousaphone, recorder, harmonica, and practically anything else that I can make noise with. 

I have a major interest in any of the sciences, particularly astronomy & physics.  I'm an amateur astronomer.

 

My Love Affair with Underground Comix
by Sir Real

"First Sightings"
I can remember the very first underground comix I ever saw quite clearly. It was the fall of 1969, just after the famous "Summer Of Love". I was but 14 years old, living in my naive white middle class lifestyle, not far removed from "Leave It To Beaver". I could still see a movie at the local theater for 75.

This particular Saturday, however, was going to be a bit different. There was a new store a couple of doors down from the theater called "Inner World". My friends had told me (mostly hearsay and misinformation) that this was a 'hippy' hangout. I thought it looked really groovy and wandered inside.

WOW! I'd never see a black-light poster before, and the walls were just covered in them. The smell of jasmine incense permeated everything. Here was a collection of day-glo body paints, and some pictures of them in use. Now THAT was cool! Shelves on one side had strobe lights, lava lamps, black lights, and a reflective half-globe that had a red ball hanging in the center of it that looked real wild when you swung the ball around. Anyone know what that's called? There were also the large light bulbs that had a solid element in it in the shape of something clever, like a peace sign or a heart, that flickered.

I felt like the youngest, straightest looking person there, and just a little out of place. I wandered over towards the incense and selected a few sticks of something that appealed to me. Then I headed towards the counter next to the door. On the counter was a small stack of comix. Zap #0. Had it been Zap #1 I don't think I would have hesitated to leaf through it, but the cover of #0 was a little too wild and definitely looked like it was NOT for kids of my age. Still, it became forever etched in my mind.

I made my purchase of the incense and headed for home. It was there that my father let me know in no uncertain terms that incense was to hide the smell of DOPE. He spat that word out like a bad taste in his mouth. I was forbidden to go back into that store ever again. Why? It didn't look all that bad, and it had some pretty cool stuff in there. Of course, one didn't argue with my father. The law was laid down and it was not open to discussion. (sigh)

"I Dabbled"
Shortly after my graduation from High School, 1974, I joined the United States Marine Corps.  Partly to get away from what I considered the iron rule of my father (he was pretty benevolent actually) and partly because I had no clue as to what to do with my life.  The only thing I really knew how to do at the time was piano and trumpet.  Hence, I joined the USMC band.  I didn't last long there, only about four months.  I wasn't anywhere near as good as I thought.  So they shipped me off to Camp LeJeune in North Carolina to be a forklift driver.  I was crushed, dejected, and several other similar synonyms.  The only calling I had ever known was ripped from me, leaving me feeling empty and without direction.

I fell in with a less than upright crowd.  It was there I was introduced to the underworld of drugs.  Of course, along with drugs comes the frequent trips to the local off-base head shop.  This one was called Birdland.  (shrug) Don't ask, I don't know why it was called that.  They had a rack of underground comix there.  At this point, I was under no restriction as to what I could look at.  Over the months I was stationed there, I had purchased several of the undergrounds.  They were read, enjoyed, and passed around the barracks until they were ripped, dirty, and eventually tossed out with the trash.  Ah, had I only known.

The Summer of 1976 saw me with new orders sending me to island of Okinawa.  I spent a long year there, pretty much drying out from drugs.  There was a short reprieve in there with some Hawaiian Baby Woodrose seeds, but thats another story for another time.

"It Begins"
After Okinawa, I made sure I was shipped back to my home territories on the West Coast.  I was stationed at Camp Pendleton, California.  One Friday evening, having not much to do, I went out to the local town, Oceanside, to find a bit of entertainment.  I wandered into one of the local adult bookstores and saw it.  R. Crumb's Carload O' Comics.  I immediately recognized the art style of Crumb, and picked it up.  It really did look out of place there among the other T&A magazines in the rack.  I bought it, and took it back to my room on base.

That grew into a monthly expedition for me.  The first Friday after payday, I'd go out into town.  I'd hit an alternative-type bookstore, then head over to California Comics.  This was a great place.  They had regular comics, undergrounds, books, and a small head-shop in the back.  After I had purchased anywhere from 15-30 comix and books, I'd head over to the Pizza-By-The-Slice restaurant.  There I'd sit with pizza and beer, and lovingly read through my latest acquisitions.  It was during this period of 1977-1980 that I built up the core of my collection.

"Rebirth"
After I had completed my second enlistment in the Marines, I headed back home, found a job and a wife, and settled down.  I had left the genre completely behind me.  It wasn't until the internet became wildly popular that I found I could find the old undergrounds again.  I started collecting once more, filling up holes in some of my sets.  Thank the great Illuminuti for eBay.

So here is where I am at now.  I don't have the largest collection around.  But then, collecting is not a race for me.  Simply a journey.  And oh, the sights along the way.