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average writing
competent art
historical bonus 2
total score 5
O.K. Comics 1 _ O.K. Comics 2
O.K. Comics #1
O.K. Comics #2
O.K. Comics

1972 / Kitchen Sink

In 1970, Milwaukee's Denis Kitchen grew weary of dealing with San Francisco's Print Mint to publish his underground comics. He felt they were very uncommunicative and "became suspicious by the total lack of accounting," so he decided to launch his own publishing company in Milwaukee. Kumquat Productions tanked after putting out two books in the summer of 1970 (Teenage Horizons of Shangrila #1 and Quagmire), but Kitchen remained undaunted. He partnered with several Milwaukee cartoonists to form Krupp Comic Works, which later became a division of Kitchen Sink Enterprises, one of the most important comic book publishers in the underground industry.

Hot on the heels of forming Krupp, in September, 1970 Kitchen launched The Bugle-American, the second of two major underground newspapers in Wisconsin, which ran for over seven years. Kitchen recruited several cartoonists to create weekly comic strips for the paper, one of whom was 51-year-old Bruce Walthers von Alten, better known as just Bruce Walthers. At the time, Walthers was already the president of a successful family business, Wm. K. Walthers, Inc., one of the leading manufacturers of model railroad equipment. But he also had a passion for cartooning, so Kitchen gave him a chance to contribute strips to the newspaper.

Walther's strips often featured his signature character, Oscar Kabibbler, a somewhat dimwitted, very rotund suburbanite who interacts and gets into adventures with other dimwitted, round-shaped characters. Though occasionally unruly, none of Walther's comics were radically subversive or wicked. His strips were usually joke-based and relatively (by underground standards) conventional.

Shortly after initiating The Bugle-American weekly comics page, Kitchen began syndicating his cartoonists' strips to about 50 college and alternative papers around the country. In the early '70s, several of Walthers' strips were also featured in Mom's Homemade Comics #3 and Smile #2. By 1972, Walthers' popularity had risen enough for Kitchen to give him two comic books of his own, which were titled O.K. Comics (the "O.K." standing for "Oscar Kabibbler") and featured all-new comic stories. The books sold decently, but both only had one printing. Walthers was a competent comic artist and sometimes funny writer who could craft a decent slice-of-life comedy on occasion, but his second career in cartooning ended by 1975.

Walthers went back to his running his family's model train company (though he never officially left) and later transitioned the company to his son. He passed away in 2007 at the age of 87. None of his official obituaries nor the biography of Walthers' life on his company website make even a passing reference to his involvement with underground comics in the '70s.