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The Alternative Comics section is not complete.
The only content currently available is this overview of Alternative Comics.
 
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  Alternative Comics Eliminate the Boundaries of Exploration and Exhibition
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  alternative art
Underground comics shattered virtually every comic book taboo in the late '60s and early '70s, but their exploration of the pathways beyond the broken barriers was rather limited. Not for lack of trying, but there were a relatively small number of skilled practitioners and only a few hundred quality underground comics during the golden age. Still, their coup d'etat set the stage for a new generation of comic creators that took comic books, and subsequently the very nature of comic art, to a whole new level.

Alternative Comics Emerge as a New Voice
Unlike the underground movement, the alternative comics era began in fits and starts. While independent comics like Cerebus, Elfquest and Star*Reach were innovative and historically important, comics about elves, talking aardvarks and sci-fi fantasy were not emblematic of the future. It was not until Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly launched RAW in 1980 that the essence of alternative comics was truly established.

While many define RAW as an "art zine" or an "international art magazine," and even its own creators subtitled it as a "graphix magazine," it was first and foremost a comics anthology. And the comics presented within its pages unmistakably represent the foundation that future alternative comics would be built upon. This includes the introduction of many international cartoonists, which led to a much more cosmopolitan climate for comic books.

Shortly after its debut, RAW was nicely complemented by Weirdo and Love and Rockets, which provided different realms of new comics with slice-of-life stories told from very personal points of view. By the time Love and Rockets was picked up by publisher Fantagraphics Books in 1982, the alternative comics genre was reasonably well defined, though still rapidly expanding in scope and subject matter.

The Diverse Province of Alternative Comics
The list of great alternative comics from the last 30+ years is long and diverse, and touches virtually every aspect of the human condition. The most popular of the new genres that emerged are biographical (and autobiographical) comic books. Pioneered by the singular originality of Justin Green's Binky Brown and the Holy Virgin Mary in 1972 and exemplified in a completely different manner by Harvey Pekar's American Splendor, the legion of biographical comics and graphic novels span an amazing spectrum of life experiences, from the mundane to the virtually unimaginable.

While there are many other forms of popular alternative comics (journalism, historical fiction, anthropomorphic, et al), the most popular genres beyond biographical are erotica, horror and violence. Within this space, there are literally no limits to the explorations and presentations offered to the consuming public. The subject matter and depictions in these genres have sometimes generated disgust and comdemnation from certain corners of society (depressingly large corners, I might add), which has led to prosecution, conviction and even prison terms for the comic book creators and distributors.

Alternative Comics Gain a Foothold in Serious Culture
Alternative comics, borne from the underground and defined in part by legendary underground creators, but expanded beyond all possible expectations of those forefathers, have matured into a remarkable form of adult entertainment. This maturation has led to a renewed sense of perspective on their significance in American and world culture in the past decade. Mainstream books like those from Charles Hatfield (Alternative Comics, An Emerging Literature) and Roger Sabin (Adult Comics, An Introduction) are slowly changing the perception of the nature and value of alternative comics within the broader world of literature and entertainment.

Beyond changing the perception of comic books, the acceptance of alternative comics has also changed the livelihoods of its most succcessful creators. Its most eminent creators are able to lead much more financially rewarding lives than most of the legends from the underground era (R. Crumb and Gilbert Shelton excepted). Peter Bagge, Daniel Clowes, Charles Burns, Gary Panter, Chris Ware, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez and Chester Brown will never have to wallow in the poverty and slums that many of the underground creators had to (and sometimes still do). Every one of these creators has experienced at least one serious art gallery showing or retrospective of their life's work.

Alternative comics are sometimes defined as "non-superhero" comics, and that definition holds true. But the mere association of superheroes with comic books that don't feature them seems to limit the aspirations and achievements of alternative comics. They aren't just "non-superhero" comic books, but comic books that address life in the 99.9% of the world that excludes superheroes. In other words, the real world we all live in today. It almost hurts to even associate the traditionally low-brow term "comic books" to the artistic and literary accomplishments of alternative comics. But I suppose I, along with other champions of adult comic books, should focus on elevating the term instead of carping about its historical meaning.