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excellent writing
exceptional art
historical bonus 3
total score 10
Rip Off Comix #21
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
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Back Cover
Back Cover
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Only Printing / Winter 1988 / 60 pages / Rip Off Press
As one of those smattering of surviving underground comix fanatics, I have to admit to considerable bias when giving this issue of Rip Off Comix a perfect score. The "20th Anniversary Special" will have greater appeal to hardcore aficionados of underground comix than it will to most average comic-book fans, but even your typical fanboy might find something to enjoy in the nostalgic masturbation going on here.

For instance, the eight-page lead story by Jack Jackson, "Rip Off Press... The Golden Era," is a fairly entertaining comic documentary regardless of the era. Jackson portrays the grit of San Francisco's urban blight with dangerous accuracy while illuminating the nonchalant comraderie shared by the founders and friends of Rip Off Press. It's a rags-to-riches-to-rags story that produced some of the greatest comic books in history, and we should all be so lucky to have experienced that brand of success.

Fred Todd follows Jackson's interpretation of events with "The Real Story According to Fred Todd," which is a written chronicle of the first twenty years of the company, complete with rare photos. Todd's account may be more meticulous than Jackson's, but by combining the two we get an authentic feel for what it was really like to be underground comic book publishers in San Francisco.

I would never have pegged Joshua Quagmire to follow Jack Jackson and Fred Todd in a celebration of Rip Off Press, but Quagmire's comic story does an exceptional job of distilling the spirit and daring of underground comics during its attempt to prosper in a state-sponsored environment of suppression. Kudos to the Cutey Bunny guy.

Quagmire's story is followed by several pages of reproductions of Rip Off Press ads and other promotions, including a few of Gilbert Shelton's marvelous company building fantasies that appeared on Rip Off Comix back covers. Most interesting are two samples of Syndicate News flyers that Rip Off produced to promote the Rip Off Comix Syndicate.

Trina Robbins contributes a four-page fantasy tribute to Wonder Wart-Hog, followed by thumbnail reprints of all the comic and magazine front covers published up to that point. The remainder of the mag features tributes from Frank Stack, Jim Siergey, Spain Rodriguez, Bill Griffith and Larry Welz, among others.

The 20th Anniversary Special of Rip Off Comix is a fitting celebration of 20 years of excellent underground and alternative comics publishing.
It is currently unknown how many copies of this comic book were printed. It has not been reprinted. Like other magazine-format comics with numbered pages, the index of comic creators below follows the page numbers defined in the magazine instead of counting the covers as additional numbered pages.


Gilbert Shelton - front cover, 11, 17-28, back cover
Guy Colwell - front cover (color), 29, back cover (color)
Kathe Todd - inside front cover (introduction), 29
Jack Jackson (aka Jaxon) - 2-9
Fred Todd - 10-13
Joshua Quagmire - 14-16, 55-56
Dick Glass - 14-16 (inks collaboration)
F. Tubbins - 14-16 (inks collaboration)
Ross Foss - 30
Trina Robbins - 31-34
Frank Stack (aka Foolbert Sturgeon) - 37, 54
Jim Siergey - 38
Spain Rodriguez - 39-41
Paul Mavrides - 42-44 (art, script)
Ace Backwords - 45
Larry Welz - 46-49
Bill Griffith - 50
Mark Bode - 51
R.L. Crabb - 52