R.I.P. Smut Busts

I gotta maintain my grouch image, so most of what I comment on here is things that have gone downhill or sadly vanished in my lifetime. But there’s a few developments that are unalloyed good — the end of “obscenity arrests” is one. If nothing else, internet porn assures that the Smut Bust era is over. Obscenity statues were so selectively and hypocritically enforced they were a persistent reminder of phoniness in American life.

I was reminded of the bad old days when I was reading the history of “Comix Book” in its recently published retrospective collection:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comix_Book

Underground Comix were in trouble anyway — after about 1972, many new titles were trashy and low-talent — but the collapse of the headshop market assured that the movement as a movement was over. The history of “Comix Book” also brought back the days when I first realized how self-serving Stan Lee was (here he is breaking his arm patting himself on the back in his Introduction — all kind of a joke, oh shuuure).  And how sad I was when I realized the artists and writers of Marvel comics who had so entertained me as a kid were such exploited wage slaves basically thrown out on their ear at the end of the day. That was also around the time I found out that original comic-book art was burned up as trash once the printing was done. Only William Gaines at MAD had the foresight to save the stuff.

Oh, well. As I say, at least they aren’t arresting people for selling feethly pictures any more.

(PS: the history of comic books cited in the Wikipedia article claims that “Comix Book” only lasted five issues because it failed to satisfy either the underground or the mainstream audiences. Newer accounts point to the far more persuasive argument that the project was canceled out of anxiety that the regular Marvel staff would start to demand the rights and rewards granted to the “Comix Book” artists.)

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