A talk with writer of interest @klintfinley sparked this one; he’s researching the “Outlaw Comics” movement of the 1990s, an unruly, creative riot within comics history that stubbornly refuses to be swept under the rug – even as the illiterate imagine comics of the period consisted of nothing but image, Wizard and gimmick covers.
If you’ve heard of #outlawcomics, well, you can thank creators of the time, and also give thanks to the magnifying commentary of the late, great Glenn Hammonds, Raw Comics’ indy maven and influencer, and, more recently, Ed Piskor and Jim Rugg, tireless instigators of @cartoonist.kayfabe .
Some people just won’t let history die.
After speaking with Klint, I was amused to see this from him on Insta:
“Eerily prescient strip from Raw Media Mags 1 in 1991 by @quinn.david and Joe Vigil. They’re wearing masks because they’re bungee jumping off buildings, not a pandemic, but still they nailed the 2020 aesthetic. #outlawcomics”
Writing Faust 2020: Giant Step in 1988 and 1989, the near future seemed to me to promise more of the random violence and willful ignorance of the 80s with slightly more sophisticated technology… what came to me was that if there was a devil trying to enslave you in 2020, he would come in the form of corporate entertainment and drain you dry.
So when Giant Step and his fellow adolescent thrillseekers make the leap from bungee jumping off buildings to simulated bloodsports in a shared virtual reality arcade (ha, “Arcade” turned out to be the authors’ quaint 20th century holdover, doomed to extinction!), readers knew it would not be long before the devil in the machine (M as AI software) played his hand.
Raw Media Mags was everything we think of when we think of the movement: adult, experimental, prone to the transgressive, adult in theme, content and language – in other words, some of it might remind you of porn on the surface, but once you read it, you knew it was not mere porn – freethinking, sexy and rough around the edges. Larger than comic size, but not as large as a magazine, it was squarebound, black and white and cost not “$4.95” or “$4.99,” but “$5,” because we really were trying to be about truth.
“Raw” (Sorry, Art Spiegelman) or RMM had roots in Tim and Joe Vigil and John Palmer’s six-page, xeroxed indy zine in 1983. When Tim and I worked together to move Rebel Studios from an art studio concept to a full indy publisher, it seemed Faust could keep the basic bills paid and lights on, now that a third party was no longer stepping on our share. We had a little money to invest in the new. It was a natural to preserve and persevere with the title.
Along with friends old and new, we pursued ideals, as you can tell from these quotes over the first two issues from the young co-publishers; you can hear Tim and David sounding the call to join us in something Raw…
“Where do we find courage and bravery? We find it in honesty and shamelessness… only through the understanding of art and drama can we be truly human.” – “Rebel Artist,” Tim Vigil
“We’re taking a shot at making integrity more than a word, still learning the rude mechanics of our jobs, but we sleep at night. ‘No one will take a chance on me is no longer a valid excuse.’” – “Talk is Cheap,” David Quinn
If Tim and I come up in discussions of “Outlaw Comics,” it’s got to be because of our contributions to comics for adults and self-publishing.
It’s a serious, independent mindset and aesthetic, and even though were not young upstarts anymore, it’s still at our core.
When asked to define our legacy, I usually point to all the creative work out there today that challenges preconceived ideas about storytelling content and form – if we, and the other outlaw comics creators, have a legacy, it is in the work that followed us, and tried to go even further… out there.
“Reality is up for grabs,” I wrote in Faust: Love of the Damned. And creative people in comics today are still singing that song their own ways.
Let me know if you liked this look at a 29 year old book about the future, maybe I’ll do more. Thanks, and keep in touch.
All art and stories represented here are copyright and trademark their creators. First published in Raw Media Mags One, Rebel Studios, 1991