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excellent writing
skilled art
historical bonus 2
total score 8
flamed-out funnies _ flamedoutfunnies2
Flamed-Out Funnies #1
Flamed-Out Funnies #2
Flamed-Out Funnies

1975-1976 / Keith Green/Rip Off Press

Though his volume of comic work doesn't quite match those of his major contemporaries, Willy Murphy was one of the more gifted underground cartoonists around. He was about a decade older than many of his fellow creators, but that didn't stop him from gaining great admiration from nearly everyone that knew him. Prior to arriving on the scene, Murphy worked for eight years as a copywriter for two New York City advertising agencies, which surely helped him craft his writing skills. Along with Robert Crumb and Gilbert Shelton, I consider Murphy to be one of the funniest comic writers in the underground.

Murphy does as good a job as anybody at capturing the social dynamic of the hippie generation, and unlike Crumb, he's able to make fun of hippies in a way that often comes off as sweet-natured ribbing. His signature character, however, was everyman smart aleck Arnold Peck, The Human Wreck, a mid-30s beanpole with wry observations about his own life and the community around him.

Flamed-Out Funnies is the comic title most associated with Murphy, though his work appeared in many other anthologies and publications. The first issue of Flamed-Out Funnies was published in the summer of 1975, after which Murphy began work on Give Me Liberty and a project for National Lampoon. In the early months of 1976, he toiled long hours to stay productive and meet his deadlines. Perhaps due to exhaustion, he caught a cold which turned into pneumonia. By the time he checked into a hospital for his illness, it was too late. He died the next day at the age of 39.

After Murphy's death, Rip Off Press reprinted Flamed-out Funnies #1 and then Ted Richards and Gilbert Shelton edited a second issue of the title, which was published by Rip Off two years later. Flamed-out Funnies #2offers a tribute to Murphy by the editors on the inside back cover, and includes a collection of comic strips drawn by Murphy over the last seven years of his life, including five more Arnold Peck stories.