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solid writing
skilled art
historical bonus 3
total score 7
Tales from the Ozone _ Tales from the Ozone 2
Tales from the Ozone #1
Tales from the Ozone #2
REVIEW SCORE: 8
REVIEW SCORE: 6
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keyline
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Tales from the Ozone
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1969-1970 / Russ Gibb Productions - The Print Mint
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When the underground comix revolution expanded across the nation in the late 1960s, Dearborn Michigan native and eminent rock concert promoter Russ Gibb recognized an opportunity to reach his prime demographic and produced Tales from the Ozone #1, Detroit's first underground comic. The first issue featured Robert Crumb, Vaughn Bodé and Gilbert Shelton alongside other artists (including two that would hit the big time).

Gibb booked the most hip and successful late '60s rock concerts in Detroit at the venue he made famous, the Grande Ballroom, and was a notorious deejay for a renegade progressive rock station, WKNR-FM. He'd been promoting rock shows at the Grande since 1966, when he booked MC5 and billed it as "A Dance Concert in the San Francisco Style." Little wonder Gibb hyped up the dancing aspect of the concert, as the Grande's dance floor could support 1,500 dancers and was one of the largest in the city.

A few days before that first concert, Gibb called MC5 frontman Rob Tyner and asked if the singer knew anyone who could design a poster for the event. As fate would have it, long-time friend Gary Grimshaw happened to be sitting in Tyner's house. Gibb hired Grimshaw to not only design the poster for the concert, but perform light shows during the performance. Grimshaw would prove to be adept at both, but would become legendary for his rock concert posters in the four decades that followed.

The first concert with MC5 only attracted about 60 people, but within months the Grande was drawing crowds in the thousands to witness performances by Janis Joplin, the Yardbirds and Cream. MC5 also played to much bigger audiences at the Grande and virtually became the "house band," getting booked there at least once a week. In its peak years, the Grande hosted concerts by Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, the Jeff Beck Group, and The Byrds among many headlining acts. The Grande is where the Who played their rock opera, Tommy, for the first time in the United States.

As the concert business quickly grew, Grimshaw knew he couldn't do the posters and handbills for all the shows, so in 1967 he began working with local artist Carl Lundgren. Lundgren wanted to be a fantasy illustrator like his idol, Frank Frazetta, but he dug the poster stuff too and soon developed quite a reputation of his own. Both Grimshaw and Lundgren would eventually be featured in the authoritative Abbeville Press tome, The Art of Rock: Posters From Presley to Punk.

So when it came time to produce an underground comic book, who else would Russ Gibb turn to but his two prolific house artists, Grimshaw and Lundgren? By 1969, all three men had spent considerable time in San Francisco and made connections with movers and shakers in rock music and underground comics. Gibb secured nine pages of comics from Crumb, Bodé and Shelton and commissioned another 19 pages from Grimshaw, Lundgren and J.A. Copley (who I haven't been able to track down). Jerry Younkins, who also worked on a few Grande posters, wrote the script for one of Lundgren's stories.

Grimshaw's and Lundgren's work in the first issue has more in common with poster design than cartooning, with a focus on conceptual drawings rather than actual comic stories. Though stylistically different, their work reminds me of George Hansen's surreal, decorative illustrations in Like Nobody's Bizness, which also feature minimal word play. Grimshaw was a better draftsman than Lundgren, with his clean ink lines in the style of Rick Griffin, while Lundgren showed more aptitude for cartooning and caricature.

The back cover of Tales from the Ozone #1 features a Grande Ballroom calendar of events illustrated by Lundgren. It promotes upcoming shows from Canned Heat, Chuck Berry, MC5, Iggy & The Stooges, Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Velvet Underground, Jethro Tull and the James Gang, plus a special screening of the Beatles' movie Magical Mystery Tour.

The second and final issue of Tales from the Ozone was edited by Carl Lundgren and published by the Print Mint in 1970. It featured Grimshaw and Lundgren along with Larry Gonick and Dave Sheridan, among others. By that time both Grimshaw and Lundgren demonstrated their ability to produce sequential comic stories, but it would be the last time they dabbled in underground comics.

Gary Grimshaw continued with his prolific illustrations for rock posters and worked for eight years as an associate art director for the legendary rock magazine Creem. In 1988 he took a job in Ann Arbor as the art director for Art Rock Gallery, and when Art Rock moved their operations to San Francisco in 1990, Grimshaw and his wife Laura moved with them. He left Art Rock soon after but still spent 14 years living on the west coast. Just before the turn of the millenium, the Detroit Free Press named Grimshaw as one of Michigan's 100 greatest artists and entertainers of the 20th century. In 2003 he and Laura moved back to Detroit for the final time. After several years of battling health issues, Grimshaw died on January 13, 2014 at the age of 67.

Carl Lundgren fulfilled his dream of following in Frank Frazetta's footsteps, becoming a famous fantasy and science-fiction artist, with over 300 book cover illustrations for major publishing houses. Then he quit commercial illustrations and achieved stardom in fine art, exhibiting his beautiful oil paintings in galleries and museums throughout the world and publishing three books of his artwork. "I've been lucky," Lundgren says. "I've been able to do what I've wanted to do my whole life."

It didn't take long after Tales of the Ozone for Russ Gibb to get out of the concert promoting business. The Grande's final concert took place on New Year's Eve 1972. Gibb promoted shows at other venues, but the increasing commercialization of the music business finally drove him out of concert production for good. He went on to secure cable TV franchise rights for two cities in Michigan and became a millionaire when the cities were wired for cable TV. Financially set for life, Gibb spent over 20 years teaching video and media production at Dearborn High School, graduating hundreds of award-winning video students, many of whom have gone on to careers in the media business.

Due to its scarcity and the legends who produced it, Tales of the Ozone #1 became one of the most sought after underground comics for both comic book and rock poster collectors. The second issue enjoyed three printings and can be easily acquired via auction sites
, but the first holds a special place in the underground paradise.