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solid writing
skilled art
historical bonus 5
total score 9
complete foo _ complete foo 1 _ complete foo 2 _ completefoo3
The Complete Foo
The Complete Foo #1
The Complete Foo #2
The Complete Foo #3

The Complete FOO!

1980 / Bijou Publishing Empire

The Complete FOO! is a collection of three comic books originally published in 1958 by Robert Crumb and his older brother Charles (along with one story in the first issue by Robert's classmate, Mike Britt). Though Robert and Charles were only 14 and 16 years old at the time, they had already been drawing comic books for years. FOO was their first attempt to publish comic books that they would actually sell to the public.

comics offers parodies of the Crumb brothers' favorite horror and funny animal comics. The stories are clearly influenced by the parody and satire found in '50s-era MAD, which the brothers consciously emulated. For teenagers, both Robert and Charles wrote and drew comics quite well, though Robert had not yet found his mature, LSD-inspired illustration style.
The boys tried to sell their photocopied first issue in high school, where they had little luck (five lousy copies, according to Robert).

The second and third issues (300 copies each, printed on blue paper with a multilith offset press) sold better thanks to their growing involvement with other comic fanzine creators, but the brothers were still left with hundreds of unsold comics and gave up the idea of completing issue #4. For over a year, they periodically attempted to unload their comics, going door to door in their Dover, Delaware neighborhood. When the futility of their efforts finally wore them down, Robert and Charles burned the remaining 200 copies of the comic books in their back yard.

FOO might be considered a commercial failure (though selling over 500 comic fanzines hardly seems like a complete bust), but the experience connected the Crumb brothers to the subculture of fanzines, where Robert developed like-minded friends and received encouragement to keep drawing. After the FOO adventure, Robert and Charles stopped producing fanzines, but Robert did begin producing a comic for his own enjoyment, titled Arcade.

The reprints of all three FOO comics were published in 1980 by Jay Lynch and Bijou Publishing Empire, packaged in a snug envelope with a brief history of the comics by fanzine buddy Marty Pahls. Only 800 numbered sets were produced, plus about a dozen "Artist's Proof" sets (both are available here).