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kampus kapers
solid writing
competent art
historical bonus 3
total score 6
Umieland's Own Kampus Kapers
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Only Printing / 1975 / 28 pages / Kris Jackson
Digging up information on Kris Jackson is a little tough, but from what I gather he was a student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass) in the mid '70s and his comic strip, "Kampus Kapers," ran in the student newspaper. After what I believe was his senior year, Jackson compiled some (or perhaps all?) of the past year's strips into a comic book, which he self-published. Jackson also produced two other comic books in 1975 and '76 (Sex & Violence Comix and Sky Bums and Space Gypsies). I believe Umieland's Own Kampus Kapers was the second of the three, but perhaps it was the first. Anyone know for sure?

The strips in Kampus Kapers illuminate student life on a college campus in the mid '70s, with references to boring lectures, women's lib, Nixon and Watergate, and corrupt college administrators, plus plenty of anecdotes about drugs and sex. The dawn of the computer age is another ripe topic, as university computers are blamed for all sorts of academic screw-ups and inconveniences. Some campus humor was unique to UMass, such as the recent construction of the tallest library in the United States (26 stories high) on the UMass campus, which led to Jackson crafting several strips about a student exploring "the unknown upper regions of the library where the hand of man has never set foot."

Though Jackson mentions censorship in one strip, it's quite amazing what he gets away with in his comics. He references student use of cocaine, pot and mushrooms, shows naked people and sexual intercourse, and employs cuss words like "fuck" and "shit." Can you imagine any college student being able to address these topics and use that kind of language in a university newspaper today? Of course you can't, and that's why I admire the freedom of the press in the '60s and '70s and pity the mindset of today's media dictators.

The comics in Kampus Kapers are funny more often than not and over the course of the book you do develop a fondness for several of the recurring characters. Though Jackson's comic style is a bit crude, at least he had the good sense to be influenced by George Herriman's Krazy Kat, and he occasionally includes Ignatz and Krazy Kat in his strips. The book is a little difficult to read, as the comics are printed at about 70% of their original size (and they weren't all that big to begin with) and the production quality of the book is not very good.

It's a shame that there aren't more compilations like Kampus Kapers that rescue college newspaper comic strips from total obscurity. For that reason, and because of Jackson's entrepreneurial spirit, I gave the book an extra star for its historical bonus, but still couldn't give it an overall score of 7 because the drawing fell a bit short. Kampus Kapers is one of those many undergrounds that ended up with a score of 6 or 7 that is still worth reading based on its unique and often funny content.
It is currently unknown how many copies of this comic book were printed. It has not been reprinted.

Kris Jackson - 1-28