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average writing
skilled art
historical bonus 2
total score 5
Quagmire Comics
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Only Printing / July, 1970 / 44 pages / Kitchen Sink
Quagmire Comics is only marginally related to underground comics (by its own admission on the inside front cover), but that's not the reason for its mediocre review score. Indeed, Quagmire is mostly a science-fiction comic book and I do like other sci-fi books from the underground era, like Imagine, Star*Reach, and New Legends. Hell, Heavy Metal launched in 1977 and I was a huge fan from day one.

To be clear, Quagmire's mediocre score isn't due to the artistic talent of the creators, because the artwork is about 50 times better than the really shitty undergrounds that were published in the early '70s. My issue with Quagmire is that the storytelling is more muddled and less satisfying than in any of the aforementioned sci-fi comics.

Peter Poplaski's opening story, the wordless "Survivor," is pleasant enough and features some fine illustration, but ultimately it feels kind of pointless. Okay, apparently three guys are in some sort of beat-up storage unit near an auto junkyard and they emerge one by one, killing the person who emerged just before they did. And the third guy appears to be an alien of some sort. Without backstory or any exposition, it seems like nine pages of "okay, but what just happened?" It felt like the ending (or perhaps the beginning) of a 100-page adventure without the other 90 pages. Maybe I'm just missing something?

Dale Kuipers gives us "My Name is Chicken Fat," an amusing story about an extraordinarily large and intelligent chicken, incubated for years under tons of irradiated waste, who has the potential become a deity in modern society but whose destiny is derailed when he sees a TV commercial for chicken soup. "What, I'm just an ingredient for soup!?" I had to read the story three times to make sense of it and finally laugh at the punch line, which almost made it worth wading through the drek that bogged down the middle of the story. It's a 15-page story that could have been brilliantly executed in six or seven pages.

Kuipers follows with a four-page story about alien-like lizard/dinosaurs in a garden, which might or might not have some hints of being a metaphorical Garden of Eden. But I dare you to explain it to me.

Poplaski finishes the book with "Crack," about a man who is apparently executed by another man and apparently experiences death. The artwork is bold and interesting, but like his opening story it feels like a snippet of something greater.

Quagmire Comics, which Denis Kitchen candidly admitted "was a dud," had the potential to be much more and had talented creators behind it, but the lack of fulfillment of that potential makes me less generous in my assessment of it than I would be of a comic book that was destined to be shitty from its birth.
Kitchen Sink printed approximately 10,000 copies of this comic book. It has not been reprinted.
Denis Kitchen (art director) - 43 (ad)
Peter Poplaski - 1-11, 22-24, 34-42, 44
Dale Kuipers - 2, 12-21, 25-33