Comics fans have lately had distressing news about underground legend S. Clay Wilson, best known as one of the original Zap Comix artists. Last November Wilson suffered a severe brain injury after attending the Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco. He spent a week in intensive care and faces a long recovery. Although he is not as well known as some of the other pioneer undergrounders like R. Crumb and Art Spiegelman, Wilson looms large in my own artistic development,. Despite its dangers (flying beer bottles, venomous snakes, penis-shaped cannons) Wilson’s world was in many ways a friendlier mirror to the one I navigated as an adolescent growing up in 70’s countercultural Portland- like mine, it was full of shaggy drunks and spiky lesbians in leather- (though in contrast to the real-life lesbians I knew who fully embraced the man-hating, buzz-cut stereotype, Wilson’s dykes were no more menacing than the biker gang in Frankie and Annette movies.)
In my opinion Wilson drew the best women of any of the Zap artists- keeping in mind that none of them were exactly Milo Manara in that regard. (Women hardly figured in Gilbert Shelton’s dope-centered universe, or in the psychedelic netherworlds of Rick Griffin. The bordello dames in stockings seen in Victor Moscoso’s drawings were nicely decorative but never came to life as characters. Robert Williams and Spain drew angular types with shapely legs and all the warmth of department store mannequins; R.Crumb’s gurls were lovingly delineated doing very dirty things. but my adolescent self found them kinda.. hairy.) Wilson’s women were always clear individuals, sometimes pimply and snaggle-toothed, sometimes glamorous, but clearly always up for a good time- forever threatening to spill out of their bodices when they weren’t already topless. Wilson’s damsels in distress were particularly fine; trussed up and strapped down, they awaited their fates worse than death with the alert innocence of Edward Gorey’s Victorian tots (and like Gorey, their creator spared them nothing).
I’d like to give a little back to the bad boy of comics, so I have a plan to turn my next 24 hour comic- that would be #11, for those who are keeping count- into a benefit for Wilson on the model of Run For The Arts. I am soliciting pledges from friends and comics fans to pay a certain amount (like maybe a dollar) for each page I complete, the money to go towards Wilson’s medical expenses. The 24 Hour Comic event will be open to the public and will take place at Cosmic Monkey in Portland, on Saturday, April 11th from 10 am to 10 am Sunday (which happens to be Easter- that wouldn’t have been my choice, but April is comics month in Portland, and the owners wanted to hold it before the Slabtown Con, and the previous weekend has been taken by another convention in Seattle). Other artists who are so inclined are welcome to draw their own 24 Hour Comics to further the cause, and already five others have promised to join me: Neal Skorpen, Mike Getsiv, Tony Morgan, Josh Fitz and Ben Sarnoff. Registration is still open; check Cosmic Monkey’s website for details. Copic marker will be donating art materials, including manga-ruled paper. Anyone interested in pledging can contact me here. Sponsors will receive an autographed copy of my completed story.
Cosmic Monkey 24 Hour Comics Event
5335 NE Sandy Blvd
Portland OR. Phone:503-517-9050
Saturday April 11th 10am to Sunday April 12th 10am.