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spotty writing
competent art
historical bonus 3
total score 5
Spiffy Stories Back Cover
Back Cover
(click for larger image)

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REVIEW SCORE 7
Spiffy Stories
Only Printing / 1969 / 36 pages / Print Mint
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Spiffy Stories was one of the earliest undergrounds published by the Print Mint, coming out in 1969 while Zap Comix, Snatch and Cunt Comics were blistering eyeballs in San Francisco and major cities across the nation. The artists who produced Spiffy not only tried to imitate the innovative and sometimes controversial early undergrounds, but attempt to take them to "the next level."

This is evident in Jim Osborne's opening story, "Spud n' Pud, Those Tough but Lovable 'Coon Kids" a seven-page satire that targets white people's fears that young black men are ruthless savages. As the title indicates, it features two anthropomorphic male raccoons named Spud and Pud, who terrorize an entire town, have sex with two teenage girls while inviting the girls' father in on the action, and then set fire to the girls house, killing everyone inside. The two get their comeuppance when they are murdered and skinned by a redneck who sells their pelts. Osborne provides a postscript on the final page that declares the brutal story is "a look at the lighter side of big-time bigotry" and dedicates it to Rory Hayes, the most egregious practitioner of inhumane sex and violence.

On the one hand, Osborne seems to be simply joining the league of underground artists who flout comic-book conventions with outrageous content. On the other hand, Osborne may have taken the most vulgar aspects of Zap, Snatch and Cunt and spoofed them to point out how vile and offensive the comics really are. But can one really satirize the satiric and mock the mockers? Doesn't somebody have to convey the offense from a new perspective to expose the truth and ridicule the offenders? Osborne's story isn't much different or more brazen than "The Family that Lays Together Stays Together" or Cunt Comics, so it would seem that he's just replicating the same blueprint for shock and scandal as his predecessors.

The rest of Spiffy Stories seems to confirm that the artists were inspired to imitate the early undergrounds rather than mock them, especially after we see Ronald Lipking emulate Victor Moscoso's abstract comics from Zap. Some of the rest of the book struggles to keep up Osborne's level of quality and a few comics suffer from a decided lack of cohesion or structure.

Justin Green also contributes a two-pager that depicts the most abrasive house guest ever in a singsongy narrative. It's mildly entertaining, but not nearly as good as Dave Sheridan's noxious blowhard Goose in Rip Off Comix #9. He also provides "Turtidio 5," about a guy who works in an animal testing laboratory and tortures an excess population of land tortoises who were apparently bred for lab testing. It's cruel, barbaric and seemingly pointless, and one has to wonder if Green was just being gross because he now had permission to be gross.

As mentioned, Lipking provides several abstract comics that mimic the sequential mutations pioneered by Moscoso. The last of these, which comes at the end of the book, isn't half bad. Christopher Fayne (aka Adam Kincaid) also contributes a cacophony of images and words in the one-page "Pontoons, Spitoons and Regular Toons," which is a little evocative of Buckwheat Florida in Suds (1969, Print Mint). Fayne follows that with the four-page "The Luckiest Man Alive," which portrays a man who "always wins no matter what" and the hard-luck rival who can never beat him.

Spiffy Stories is pretty amateurish and the writing is fairly atrocious, but it's a chance to see some very early Osborne and Green. Get it for the outrageous lead story, which towers over the rest of the book. And if you just couldn't get enough sleaze and putrefaction from Snatch and Cunt, the low-rent Spiffy may be for you.
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keyline
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HISTORICAL FOOTNOTES:
The Print Mint produced approximately 10,000 copies of this comic book. It has not been reprinted. I gave Spiffy an extra historical bonus point for being one of the first, if not the first, undergrounds that was expressly designed to imitate (and thereby cash in on) the most scandalous aspects of comics that came out before it.
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COMIC CREATORS:

Jim Osborne - 1, 3-9, 36
Joel Beck - 2, 35
Ronald Lipking - 10-11, 15-17, 20, 28, 32-34
Justin Green - 12-13, 18-19
Gacelane - 14, 29-31
Christopher Fayne (aka Adam Kincaid) - 21-27