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excellent writing
exceptional art
historical bonus 3
total score 9
Rip Off Comix #8
Back Cover
Back Cover
(click for larger image)

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Only Printing / April 1981 / 52 pages / Rip Off Press
The eighth issue of Rip Off Comix signals the first, but not the last, major transformation of the comic anthology. By 1981, when this issue was published, Rip Off Press cofounder and primary content creator Gilbert Shelton had been traveling through Europe and living in Spain for almost two years. Not only had Shelton taken up residence in Spain, but he'd met a broad range of impressive cartoonists all across Western Europe, which compelled him to introduce the cream of that crop to an American audience. Where else to do that but in his own good ol' American Rip Off Comix?

European comics in America did not have a long and lustrous history, but by 1981 international comic art was, as we now say, trending. A few comics from the underground (notably Anarchy Comics and Dutch Treat) had featured European creators and Heavy Metal had featured several outstanding European artists and writers from its very successful debut in 1977, which is not surprising since it was the sister publication of the French Metal Hurlant. Many European comics (including several British undergrounds) were also imported to the states, though none of them sold particularly well. There was also Art Spiegelman's radical new graphic arts magazine, Raw, that featured some terrific international artists, but it had just been launched the previous year and was still only two issues into its 11-issue run. That still left a lot of international talent unexposed to the States.

Enter Gilbert Shelton and Jay Kinney. Kinney was the mastermind behind Anarchy Comics, so he was well equipped to help Shelton assemble some "foreign" comics for Rip Off Comix. For this issue, the duo focused on comics from British creators, which would comprise the latter half of the eighth issue. Among those featured creators was Alan Moore, destined to become a legendary figure in both mainstream and alternative comics. In '81, Moore was still struggling to launch his comic career and his family had recently lived off of unemployment benefits. Other British creators include Ed Barker, Chris Welch, Hunt Emerson, Edwin Pouncy (aka Savage Pencil) and Terry Gilliam (of Monty Python fame).

The British comics in Rip Off #8 are pretty good, especially Alan Moore's collaboration with Steve Moore (no relation) in "Three-Eyes McGurk and his Death-Planet Commandos." But the Americans from the first half of the book more than hold their own, including Shelton and Mavrides, who deliver the Freak Brothers story "Phineas Gets An Abortion" (which is reprinted from Freak Brothers #7). While this story may not surface in anyone's "Top Ten" Freak Brothers strips, it's actually an inventive little gem jammed with funny panels and witty details, and it deserves its proper placement in the lofty pantheon of Fabulous Furry misadventures.

Rip Off #8 also launches the renewal of "Wonder Wart-Hog in the Battle of the Titans." The beginning of this story originally appeared in the mid '60s in Pete Millar's Drag Cartoons and was reprinted in the two-issue magazine Wonder Wart-Hog, the Hog of Steel in 1967. But the story was left hanging without a proper conclusion until Shelton injected it with new life and brought it to Rip Off Comix, where the first two chapters were reprinted once again in issues #8 and #9, then concluded with new content in issues #10, 11 and 12. The entire story was compiled in a single Rip Off Press comic in 1985.

I could go off on a tangent about how Rip Off Press would reprint any comic story about the Freak Brothers or Wonder Wart-Hog to make a buck, but considering all the regurgitation that takes place in today's world of marketing, who the fuck are we to cast judgment on the pioneers of counterculture media augmenting their coffers through replicating artistic genius? Yeah, no need to cast aspersions here.

Rip Off Comix
reinvented itself with this issue and established a new standard of content for the issues that followed. Not every publication needs to do that, but when your battling for market share in a niche market, you keep up with the times or get tossed out with the rubbish. Rip Off did keep up with the times, but sometimes even keeping up with the times was no guarantee of sustaining a profit, as Rip Off Press would soon discover.
It is currently unknown how many copies of this comic book were printed. It has not been reprinted. Though Jay Kinney is listed as managing editor for this issue, Gilbert Shelton was editor-in-chief for all issues of Rip Off Comix up until 1985.


Gilbert Shelton - 1 (shared), 2, 3-10 (collaboration), 16-27 (collaboration), 28 (introduction), 52 (collaboration)
Jay Kinney - managing editor
Paul Mavrides - 1 (shared), 3-10 (collaboration), 52 (collaboration)
Frank Stack - 1 (shared), 11-15
Dave Sheridan - 3-10 (collaboration), 52 (collaboration)
Tony Bell - 16-27 (collaboration)
Joe E. Brown, Jr. - 16-27 (collaboration)
Charles Alverson - 28 (introduction)
Leo Baxendale - 28 (collaboration), 29-36
Edwin Pouncy (aka Savage Pencil) - 28 (collaboration), 37
Alan Moore (aka Kurt Vile) - 38-41 (collaboration)
Steve Moore (ala Pedro Henry) - 38-41 (collaboration)
Edward Barker - 42
Tony Benyon - 43
Chris Welch - 44-45
Hunt Emerson - 46-49
Terry Gilliam - 50-51