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cunt comics white pages
 
solid writing
skilled art
historical bonus 4
total score 9
Cunt Comics
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White Paper Version / 1969 / 28 pages / Apex Novelties
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REVIEW SCORE 10
Cunt Comics is probably the most notorious title of any underground comic book in history, and its reputation as an obscene, misogynist comic work is readily accepted by many people who peruse its pages. The comic is digest size (six by nine inches) and contains virtually no stories, but rather presents a series of raw, graphic and often brutally violent scenes with naked men and women. There are horrific sequences of violence and mutilations against women and crude depictions of vaginas, penises, female breasts and their various functions.

It would be easy to declare that Rory Hayes, who contributed the vast majority of the content, was a vicious woman-hater who pandered to the most depraved male psyches when he drew Cunt Comics in 1969. Not surprisingly, that declaration would be a gross oversimplification of the facts and history behind the comic book.

In 1968, just months after Zap Comix #1 had launched a new paradigm for adult comics books and when Hayes was still 18 years old, he produced the first issue of Bogeyman, a primitive yet sincere homage to EC horror comics from the '50s. Bogeyman #1 was published by Gary Arlington, a neophyte publisher and EC enthusiast who also owned the landmark comic book shop San Francisco Comic Books. Arlington's shop had already established itself as San Francisco's leading retail outlet for underground comics, and his publication of Bogeyman ensured that everyone involved with the exploding scene would see the book.

Robert Crumb and Don Donahue saw Bogeyman and they were impressed enough to encourage Hayes to contribute a few smut comics to the second issue of Donahue's Snatch Comics. The problem: Rory Hayes was still a 19-year-old virgin at the time, and an awkwardly shy and inhibited 19-year-old at that (The Comics Journal critic Rob Clough suggested that Hayes may have suffered from autism). With Hayes' stunted emotional maturity and limited perspective on the subject of sex, the smut comics he drew for Snatch Comics #2 were infused with images of naked bodies, severed body parts, exploding blood and other spurting body fluids.

By 1969, when Snatch #2 came out, Hayes was already getting into drugs like acid and speed. Of course, in that era his drug use was not entirely out of place amongst his peers, but when combined with his work on smut comics, it fueled an unforeseen passion. As his brother Geoffrey put it, "Drugs seemed to liberate Rory, to let him unleash his demons full force." After Snatch, Hayes continued doing raw, violent pornography comics, developing a book for Donahue that would become Cunt Comics. Years after printing it, Donahue told Patrick Rosenkranz in Rebel Visons; "Cunt is really gross, except that it's a beautiful work of art, a great little artifact. There's probably nothing comparable to it."

Cunt Comics delivers misogynistic depictions of assault and violence, but they're not as sophisticated as the misanthropic comics from Crumb or S. Clay Wilson. It's as if Hayes drew Cunt Comics in a vacuum or from a small padded room, where there are no human connections or earnest feelings of affection. Where human relationships don't exist, there is little left to play with except body parts and one-sided games of domination, like a child blowing up plastic army men with a toy bazooka. "Killed ten men with one shot!" No need to think about any real-life consequences in such a game. In Cunt Comics, Hayes feelings of isolation, distrust, anger, and fear from his (recently experienced) childhood are easily translated into fantasy-land violence against the opposite sex, with whom he has experienced no mature relationships.

The ugly rage in those portrayals is fodder for those who denounce any defense of Rory Hayes as the fabrication of bullshit to excuse female degradation. But as offensive as some of the cartoons in Cunt Comics are, they are also very funny and revealing at times. The front cover art, crude as it appears, set a certain playful tone with its invitation to "come on in!" and its declaration that Cunt is "the only comic you can eat!"

I can't pretend to have perfect insight on Hayes' intentions 40+ years ago, but the people who knew him best, including his older brother Geoffrey, never described him as a misogynist. But they do say that cartooning was something that Rory always did to entertain himself, not to entertain others. Geoffrey Hayes said Rory "drew what he drew because that’s what he drew." Geoffrey also believes that his little brother produced Cunt Comics as a form of therapy; "While Cunt seems a work of insanity, I believe it was a means for Rory to avoid insanity, curbing his demons by expressing them."

Geoffrey Hayes wrote an a magazine article about Rory that addressed how Cunt Comics may indeed have been cathartic for Rory; "After multiple pages of sex as anger and violence, he comes to the end of the book and what does he show? A single panel of a naked man and woman. They are on a hill, backs to us, looking at the stars. Above them, male and female genitalia are depicted in the heavens as constellations. It’s a serene picture. Gone is the urgency of sex, the frustration, the rage; what we are left with is male and female at their most elemental, spiritual level. It’s as if after a wild ride through hell, Rory had reached an apotheosis."

That's a pretty sweet rumination about a comic book creator who "drew what he drew" in Cunt Comics. But it's also a viewpoint that should be considered by anyone prone to cast quick judgement on the nature of this comic book.

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keyline
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HISTORICAL FOOTNOTES:
Apex Novelties printed one edition of Cunt Comics, which included two versions. One version has newsprint interior pages (unknown number of copies) and the other has white paper interior pages (approximately 100 copies). The difference between the interior paper stock of the two versions of Cunt Comics is demonstrated here. I also have a misprint or test print of the book, which is viewable through the link below.
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COMIC CREATORS:
Rory Hayes - 1, 3-10, 12-16, 18-28
Jay Lynch - 2
Don Donahue - 11
Kim Deitch - 17
cunt comics newsprint version _ cunt comics test printing
Newsprint Version
Newsprint interior stock.
Test Print
Missing magenta ink.