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die gretchen
solid writing
skilled art
historical bonus 3
total score 8
Die Gretchen
Only Printing / 1973 / 32 pages / Speleo Press
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Die Gretchen is a collection of Jim Harter drawings, collages, and photographs, primarily from the early 1970s when he lived in Austin, Texas. Some of this collection reproduces concert posters Harter created for The Old Vulcan Gas Company and Armadillo World Headquarters, two concert venues in Austin. Harter was born in Lubbock, Texas, but he visited San Francisco in 1967 and got an eye-full of psychedelic concert posters, which were ubiquitous in the Bay area at the time. When Harter returned to Austin he was recruited by Jim Franklin to do concert posters for Vulcan Gas. Harter's posters often feature a psychedelic lettering style—borrowed from the likes of Rick Griffin—combined with Harter's photography and/or other artwork.

But there is much more in Die Gretchen than Harter's concert posters. He was a skilled if unexceptional illustrator and the book includes several examples of his drawings. There are also samples of his photography and collages. Harter ended up relocating to San Francisco in the mid '70s and produced many collages that were subsequently published in books.

Die Gretchen is notable for showing us a variety of concert posters from the legendary Austin music scene in the '60s and '70s. While these posters do not achieve the exceptional quality standards set by the San Francisco poster artists (or even rank with the best of the Austin-based concert posters), they do have a certain charm. Harter's other artwork in Die Gretchen is hit and miss, but overall the book (there are really no comics involved here) is a worthwhile collection of a young artist still seeking his ultimate creative voice.

It is currently unknown how many copies of this comic book were printed. It has not been reprinted.
Jim Harter - 1-32