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head comix 1st
excellent writing
exceptional art
historical bonus 4
total score 9
R. Crumb's Head Comix
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1st Printing - Softcover / 1968 / 68 pages / Viking Press
The meteoric rise in popularity of Robert Crumb's early work in the East Village Other and Zap Comix in 1967 and 1968 quickly caught the attention of book publishers in New York, who wanted to cash in on "the fad." Several began vying for publishing rights to Crumb's work, leading to Viking Press rushing out Head Comix in late 1968. Viking printed a limited number of hardcover copies of the book along with the standard softcover edition. The 64 interior pages feature an introduction by Paul Krassner (The Realist), several comics from Zap #1 plus many others that appeared in various tabloid and magazines, like the East Village Other and Cavalier, and some Fritz the Cat stories from Help!

Crumb didn't like New York book publishers, calling them money-grubbers and schmucks on numerous occasions. He was very agitated when Viking Press censored some of the naughtier parts of his artwork in Head Comix. Crumb declared "It was ridiculous. They were living in the Victorian era. It made me sick dealing with them." Subsequently, Ballantine Books produced the second and third printings of the book without censorship. In 1988, Simon & Schuster printed a revised edition under their Fireside imprint, with 32 additional pages of comics and a Robert Crumb introduction replacing Paul Krassner's.

Regardless of Crumb's opinion of mainstream book publishers, Head Comix was certainly a landmark publication that spread Crumb's new form of comic art across America (and even the world), reaching a more diverse audience than his comic books. For many people, Head Comix was their first exposure to underground comics, and it doubtlessly inspired some to seek out and buy more underground comic books and even pursue a career in underground comics (the poor shlubs).

Head Comix also provides a representative sampling of Crumb's existing body of work, from the relative innocence of Fritz the Cat to the LSD-inspired "Ultra Super Modernistic Comics." Though these comics from 1965-1968 represent what Crumb calls his "innocent period," the concepts behind the signature characters of Mr. Natural, Schuman The Human, Flakey Floont, and Whiteman are well established. Overall, Head Comix is a terrific read of the early underground comics by Robert Crumb.
There are four printings of this book. The 1st printing (unknown copies) was printed by Viking Press and has a $2.50 cover price. The 2nd and 3rd printings (unknown copies) were printed by Ballantine Books and both have a $2.95 cover price. The 3rd printing states "Second Ballantine Printing" on the inside front cover. The 4th printing (unknown copies) was printed by Fireside Books (Simon & Schuster) and expanded to 100 pages (96 interior pages). I have also found at least one bootleg version, provided below, which originates from China. I suspect there are other bootleg versions out there.

Robert Crumb - 1, 3-5, 7, 9, 11, 13-66, 68
Paul Krassner - 9-10 (introduction)
not scanned spacer10 head comix bootleg

2nd Printing

$2.95 cover, Ballantine Books.

Bootleg Printing

$2.95 cover, Chinese bootleg of Ballantine edition.