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excellent writing
masterpiece art
historical bonus 3
total score 9
armadillotoons _ armadillo 2 _ armadillo 3
Armadillo Comics #2
Gordelier (Armadillo #3)
Armadillo Comics
1969-1973 / Jim Franklin - Rip Off Press - Real Free Press
Long before the underground comics revolution, but right around the time that the Texas Mafia was tinkering with college humor magazines in Austin, Texas native Jim Franklin was off in San Francisco studying drawing and painting at the San Francisco Art Institute. Upon his return to Texas in the mid-'60s, Franklin teamed up with fellow creative types in 1967 to open the one of the first, and the only successful (for three years anyway) psychedelic music nightclubs in Austin, called the Vulcan Gas Company. It was during this time that Franklin, who served as the club's resident concert poster artist, began drawing armadillos. He published his first armadillo-based comic with the title Dillo Toons, commonly called Armadillotoons, at the end of 1969 or in January, 1970.

When the Vulcan Gas Company club shut down in 1970, Franklin partnered with a small group, including Eddie Wilson, manager of the local group Shiva's Headband, to open a new music club at an old, abandoned National Guard armory in Austin. The new club was christened Armadillo World Headquarters, a name inspired by Franklin's drawings and the nature of the building itself. Armadillo World Headquarters put on major-act rock shows for a solid decade, but it suffered the same financial troubles that the Vulcan Gas Company did and closed after a farewell New-Year's-Eve concert in 1980.

Jim Franklin, who still lives near Austin and continues drawing and painting to this day, produced two more Armadillo comics in the early '70s, the last of which he drew in Amsterdam, Netherlands (published by Olaf Stoop's Real Free Press, a notable Amsterdam publisher). Franklin's armadillo illustrations earned him the nickname "the Michelangelo of armadillo art," and he is widely credited, along with Jack Jackson, with giving Austin its most iconic visual identity in the counterculture.

The three issues of Armadillo provide some terrific pen-and-ink drawings and surreal concepts, many with a wry sense of humor. They represent a unique place in time and a passionate obsession with the armadillo's distinctive charms.