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cover
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excellent writing
exceptional art
historical bonus 3
total score 9
Back Cover
Back Cover
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comix book
Comix Book
AVERAGE SCORE 8
Snarf #6
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1st Printing / February 1976 / 36 pages / Kitchen Sink Enterprises
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Snarf #6 came out nearly a couple years after the previous issue, making it crystal clear that new issues of this title would not be getting published on a regular basis, but only when Denis Kitchen felt the time was right (and enough quality material was available) for a new anthology. The indicia on the inside front cover of this issue even declares "Snarf is published sporadically by Kitchen Sink Enterprises."

Fortunately, there's plenty of quality material to be found in Snarf #6, beginning with Robert Crumb's solid front cover art, which is the only cover Crumb ever did for the series. Joel Beck provides a good one-pager for the inside front cover before the book gets rolling in earnest with Dave Schreiner's and Denis Kitchen's "Life in the Ice & Salt Works."

Schreiner was a writer and editor who graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1968 with a degree in journalism. He co-founded the underground newspaper Bugle American with Denis Kitchen and three other partners in 1970, which enjoyed a nine-year run. Schreiner also worked with Kitchen as an editor on Marvel's Comix Book (1974-76), which could easily be the subject of the lead story in this issue of Snarf. Since the history of Comix Book fits the story so well, I'll go ahead and presume that the story was designed to read the way I interpreted it!

"Life in the Ice & Salt Works" is an allegorical tale about a prison mine that illuminates the slightly flawed paradise that Comix Book offered in 1974. Comix Book paid $100 page rates (four times the rate of most undergrounds) and offered enormous distribution power (200,000 copies compared to 10,000 for most undergrounds), which many artists found irresistable temptations. Underground comic creators were used to lifestyles afforded by "Life in the Ice & Salt Works," where times were always hard and prospects seemed perpetually gloomy, especially after the underground industry hit the skids in 1973.

For a brief time, presented as a week or so in "Life in the Ice & Salt Works," a bright sun shone in the life of a miserable industry, causing all sorts of unprecedented goofy behavior and optimism amongst the "inmates" of the prison mine. Ultimately though, the sun was blotted out by the same forces that operated the mine, bringing back the gloomy prospects that had existed before. But at least the inmates had seen what a sunny day could mean, and they moved forward with life armed with that knowledge.

Justin Green joins the stable of Snarf contributors with "Marijuana, Crutch or Cure?" It's a six-page pro-weed story that vigorously defends the rights of potheads to light up. These types of stories are always interesting to look back on as weed gets decriminalized, or even legalized, in more and more states every year. Someday we'll look back and wonder what all the fuss was about.

George DiCaprio and Jay Kinney collaborate on a computer dating two-pager that's more fun in theory than in execution. Ted Richards and Willy Murphy also join Snarf's staff with a "Two Fools" story about "How the Mona Lisa Got Her Smile." Mildly charming, as most Two Fools tales are. Murphy passed away from pneumonia a month after this book was published.

John Pound gets a fascinating two-page gallery spread, followed by a terrific two-page collaboration with Harvey Pekar and Robert Armstrong about Harvey's junk-food diet. It is gratifying to see that Denis Kitchen began giving more work to so many artists who had been on the Comix Book bandwagon. Snarf regular Evert Geradts contributes a solid two-pager as well, and after a decent but fairly empty one-pager from Beck, Howard Cruse returns with a hilarious faux commercial about tooth care.

George Metzger, Carl Lundgren and Sharon Kahn Rudahl also join the large group of first-time contributors to Snarf. Metzger's two-page story about a couple of woodsy hippies going into the city to get a break from their monotonous diet of rice and veggies is effective, while Lundgren's single page "Mice Puzzle" provides a fun graphic if little else (really, it is fun to study all the illustrated mice...you can find underground Easter eggs).

Rudahl's "Wisconsin Story" is an engaging three-page autobiographical account of Rudahl's year and a half in Madison, Wisconsin, where her marriage fell apart and her radical-left ideals became everyday life. It's an intriguing tale that makes one realize how difficult it must have been to maintain one's principles while still surviving in a bourgeois society. As Rudahl herself wonders near the end of the story, after she's moved to San Francisco, "What was all the fuss about?"

Kitchen Sink ensured that Snarf #6 wouldn't repeat the mistake of the previous issue by relying on just three artists to carry the weight of the book. Indeed, more than a dozen creators made significant contributions in this issue and as luck would have it, there's scarcely a weak story in the bunch. It's easily the best issue of Snarf to date and demonstrates how a good anthology with a broad variety of creators can deliver exceptional comics to a diverse audience.
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keyline
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HISTORICAL FOOTNOTES:
There are two printings of this comic book, both by Kitchen Sink. The 1st printing is easy to distinguish from the 2nd, as the 1st has a cover price of 75 cents and the 2nd has a cover price of $1.00. Kitchen Sink printed approximately 10,000 copies of the 1st printing and 5,000 copies of the 2nd. Besides the price change, both editions indicate their printing on the inside front cover.
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COMIC CREATORS:
Denis Kitchen - editor, 3-5 (art)
Robert Crumb - 1
Joel Beck - 2, 24
Dave Schreiner - 3-5 (script)
Gary Hallgren - 6
Justin Green - 7-12
Jay Kinney - 13-14 (art, script collaboration)
George DiCaprio - 13-14 (script collaboration)
Ted Richards - 15-17 (collaboration)
Willy Murphy - 15-17 (collaboration), 27-28
John M. Pound - 18-19, 36
Harvey Pekar - 20-21 (script)
Robert (L.B.) Armstrong - 20-21 (art)
Evert Geradts - 22-23
Howard Cruse - 25-26
George Metzger - 29-30
Carl Lundgren - 31
Sharon Kahn Rudahl - 32-34
Snarf 6 2nd
2nd Printing
$1.00 cover.