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brilliant writing
skilled art
historical bonus 4
total score 9
The Realist #74
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Only Printing / May, 1967 / 24 pages / The Realist
Launched as a newsprint tabloid in 1958 on a shoe-string budget by 26-year-old Paul Krassner, The Realist grew from 600 subscribers to a nationally distributed newsprint magazine within a year. Prior to founding the magazine, Krassner had written for MAD (six issues) and Lyle Stuart's anti-censorship tabloid The Independent, honing his skills for satire and alternative journalism. The Realist combined social commentary with wicked satire unlike anything seen before and was certainly a key milestone and inspiration to the American underground press in the '60s.

The Realist published articles about a wide spectrum of controversial or liberalist topics long before they were covered by the mainstream media, including feminism, abortion and psychedelic drugs. It was best known for its notorious pranks and hoaxes on various targets, from advertising and television to politicians and governments. Though satire was its bread and butter, The Realist also provided a platform for many serious articles and editorials. Countercultural icons frequently appeared in the magazine, including authors Norman Mailer, Joseph Heller, and Ken Kesey, as well as comedians Dick Gregory, Mort Sahl and Lenny Bruce.

The 74th issue featured here, published in May, 1967, became infamous for featuring Wallace Wood's brazen cartoon of Walt Disney characters engaged in various acts of fucking, groping and lusting. The notorious cartoon, which was also made into a poster, is typical of Krassner's willingness to express his (and others') revulsion of shallow commercial enterprises that hypnotize the general public.

As Krassner put it, the only common denominator he perceived amongst the magazine's readers was "an irreverence for all the pious bullshit that surrounds us." The Realist's circulation peaked at 100,000 in the late 1960s but slowly dwindled thereafter. Regular publication of the magazine was discontinued in 1974, but the title was revived as a quarterly newsletter in 1985. After more than four decades and 146 issues, The Realist finally ceased publication altogether in 2001, when Krassner began to focus on writing books, including his autobiography, Confessions of a Raving, Unconfined Nut.

Krassner was certainly a visionary about the future of mass media, and The Realist helped him achieve his singular goal: "To put myself out of business by helping to liberate communication by example." The destiny that Krassner predicted back in the '60s is now well established, as controversy has become a cultivated commodity, with no shortage to be found in a horde of outlets with no off button. And each and every one of them owes some degree of thanks to The Realist.

Every page of every issue of The Realist is available online and it is highly recommended reading.
The Realist published approximately 1,000 to over 100,000 copies of each issue.
The underground comic creators in The Realist included dozens of significant artists and writers.