‘Cultural Anti-Imperialism’: The Influence of American Underground Comics in Britain 1966 – 1980

  • Abstract:

    As there was an increasingly disenchanted response to the Vietnam War by the ‘counterculture’ in the USA in the 1960s, the role of graphics and particularly comics, became central to the identity of that counterculture. Yet comic artists like Robert Crumb and Gilbert Shelton, and poster/comic artists like Victor Moscoso were also hugely influential in Britain. This paper will look at key British underground magazines , such as Oz and International Times, which first reprinted American underground artists, This led on to the most famous British underground comics of the 1970s, the London-based Cozmic Comics and Nasty Tales, which featured both British and American material, andthere were then many other regional production centres in the UK. The impact of technology on comic production will be examined, in the light of the Arts lab and ‘Free Press’ developments of the mid-1970s, and also the rise of independent female comic creators and the change of emphasis from ‘underground’ to ‘alternative’ sensibilities. The paper will also look at the mixing of more homegrown models and the influence of art colleges on the comics produced both in terms of aesthetics and narrative.