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conspiracy capers
 
solid writing
skilled art
historical bonus 4
total score 8
Conspiracy Capers
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Only Printing / 1969 / 36 pages / The Conspiracy
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REVIEW SCORE 9
Conspiracy Capers has an interesting history that evolved from one of the most notorious political trials of the 20th century. The editor of Conspiracy Capers, Skip Williamson, also illustrated Abbie Hoffman's 1971 book, Steal This Book, perhaps the most radical counterculture book of the 20th century. Legend has it that Hoffman gave Williamson his advance from that book to produce a comic that would raise money to help pay for the defense of the Chicago Seven defendants.

The Chicago Seven defendants were seven men who participated in protests that took place in Chicago at the 1968 Democratic National Conventio. They included Abbie Hoffman himself, as well as Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, John Froines, and Lee Weiner. After the protests, the defendants were charged with conspiracy to incite a riot, to teach the making of an incendiary device, and to commit acts to impede law enforcement officers in their lawful duties.

So Conspiracy Capers was intended to pay for attorney fees for the Chicago Seven (originally the Chicago Eight, but Bobby Seale had his trial severed during the proceedings, lowering the number from eight to seven). The comic book came out in 1969, more than a year before Hoffman's Steal This Book. I'm not sure how the comic was financed by Hoffman's advance for Steal This Book, since that book was rejected by every publisher and eventually published with funds supplied by Hoffman's friends.

According to the indicia on the inside front cover, Conspiracy Capers was published by "The Conspiracy," Susan Sontag (treasurer) and Kathleen Cleaver. Sontag was a noted essayist, novelist and film director, while Cleaver was the wife of Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver and served as the Black Panther Party's spokesperson and press secretary. Sontag probably had the funds to finance the comic book's publication if she was so inclined. However Consipiracy Capers was paid for, I'm sure it didn't raise as much money as its creators hoped for, as it only had one printing. I'm not sure how many copies were produced, but I'm guessing it was 5,000 copies or less (it's not easily found in the marketplace), so the net revenue would have been a couple grand at best.

Though it may have failed as a fund raiser, Conspiracy Capers doesn't fail as a comic book, at least not entirely. The book includes some decent comics from Jay Lynch, Art Spiegelman, Jay Kinney, Charles Winans, Dan Clyne and a few others, and the topics were not limited to political diatribes. Whatever money it raised, the fact that a comic book helped fund the legal defense for left-wing radicals was a landmark development in comic book history.

The Chicago Seven trial began in September, 1969 and dragged on for months. Two defendants were found not guilty and five were found guilty on one charge, but their verdicts were later overturned in a federal court of appeals.

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keyline
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HISTORICAL FOOTNOTES:

It is currently unknown how many copies of this comic book were printed. It has not been reprinted.
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COMIC CREATORS:

Skip Williamson - (editor), 1, 19-20
Jim Osborne - 2
Baron - 3-6, 16-18
Jay Lynch - 7, 36
Daniel Clyne - 8-11
Art Spiegelman - 12
Pauld David Simon - 13-14, 21, 34
Jay Kinney 15, 35
Ralph Reese - 22-27
Gary Arlington - 28 (script)
Rory Hayes - 28 (art)
Charles Winans - 29-33