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excellent writing
masterpiece art
historical bonus 3
total score 10
Man from Utopia
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Only Printing / 1972 / 32 pages / San Francisco Comic Book Co.
In 1966, Rick Griffin moved from Los Angeles to San Francisco and began shifting away from producing cartoons for Surfer magazine, which insisted on censoring his work, and towards designing rock music posters in San Francisco, which was a new genre of art that was all the rage in the counterculture. By 1967, Griffin was recognized along with Wes Wilson, Stanley "Mouse" Miller, Alton Kelley and Victor Moscoso as the "Big Five" artists who set the creative direction for psychedelic American rock posters.

In 1968, Griffin's rock poster art inspired Robert Crumb to invite him to contribute to Zap Comix, which Griffin readily accepted because he had seen Zap #1 and was excited about this new medium of art. As it turned out, Griffin proved to be the least prolific artist in the Zap Comix series, but his contributions established him as one of the most influential forefathers of underground comics and would propel Griffin to extraordinary achievements in the field of graphics and illustration.

Despite Griffin's embrace of the counterculter in mid-'60s San Francisco, his life path did not take him down the same road as most of the underground comic creators who were his peers. In the spring of 1969, Griffin and his family (consisting of his wife Ida and two daughters at the time) split San Francisco and ended up returning to his native land in Southern California. By 1970, Griffin had adopted Christianity (in his own way) and the presence of Christian symbols proliferated in his artwork, a trend that would gain strength in the years that followed.

One of the first major publications Griffin produced after his conversion to Christianity was Man from Utopia, an oversize, deluxe magazine which essentially presented a portfolio of his illustrations from 1970 to 1972. Man from Utopia reproduced work that Griffin had created for concert posters, album covers and his memorable poster for John Severson's surfing film, Pacific Vibrations (Severson was the founder of Surfer magazine). Despite the spot illustration of Jesus on the front cover art, Man from Utopia was one of the last publications Griffin produced that was not dominated by Christian imagery, though it is repeatedly punctuated by Christian symbols.

Man from Utopia is first and foremost a remarkable collection Griffin's most beautifully composed illustrations, which include recurring icons far removed from Christianity. Hearts, roses, pussies, light bulbs, aliens and skulls flourish throughout the book, embedded in Griffin's complex, sharp-edged ink lines. Despite the lack of a specific story or defined narrative in Man from Utopia, the drawings feel like they are thematically connected, delivering precious lessons for those who are patient enough to absorb the entire scope of their message.

Despite his tragic death in 1991, Rick Griffin's popularity endures in several factions of today's world, from cartoonists and surfers to graffiti artists and Jesus freaks. For underground comic book fans, Man from Utopia ranks with Tales from the Tube as the strongest living testimonies to Griffin's genius.
It is currently unknown how many copies of this comic book were printed. It has not been reprinted

Rick Griffin - 1-32