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excellent writing
exceptional art
historical bonus 2
total score 8
Real Pulp Comics #2
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Tales of Sex and Death
Only Printing / March, 1973 / 36 pages / The Print Mint
Real Pulp Comics #2 sustains the excellence of the first issue with recurring appearances of The Viper and The Floating Head. Once again, Art Spiegelman's Viper leads off the book, this time in a story called "The Sub-Teen Snatch 'Snatch'." This is the last of three stories Spiegelman produced that featured his vile Viper and it is perhaps the most sanitary chapter in the trilogy, mostly due to the fact that the little girl in this tale isn't subjected to rape or incest, but merely shot to death (along with her father) at the end of the story.

Roger Brand's The Floating Head also returns in a story that portrays the final showdown between the Head and his most worthy antagonist, Dr. I.D. Dru, who is a master of "white magic" (as opposed to the "dark arts"). Alas, the apparently goody-two-shoes doctor is no match for relentless telepathic powers of the Head, who exposes the doctor's pedophilic secrets, which leads to his shameful defeat. It must be noted that this story features content that probably makes this comic book illegal to own in the USA. There are several other undergrounds that also meet the legal definition of child pornography, so I encourage you not to flaunt your undergrounds to anyone with a mind to persecute you.

Bill Griffith also reprises his appearance in the first issue, but this time not with a Zippy story, but with a hilarious spoof of the comic artist who had taken the underground comics world by storm by 1972: Richard V. Corben. Corben, who had exploded on the scene in Skull, Slow Death, Rowlf, Fantagor and Fever Dreams, was disparaged (or surreptitiously condemned) by many rebellious cartoonists as a slick, shallow and overtly commercial artist who tried to cash in on the underground culture.

Griffith lampoons the style and substance of Corben's comic art in "Musclemen of Mars," which features nude, hypermuscular men and women in conflict over matters of little consequence and minor social relevance. Some might presume that Griffith would retract some of his excoriating satire in light of Corben's subsequent accomplishments, but I tend to believe he would stand his ground even more today than he did in 1973.

S. Clay Wilson is also featured in an unusual way, with a short story ("The Love Knot-Blood Knot Caper") modeled on pulp magazine fiction but ramped up to meet underground depravity standards, complete with Wilson's own spot illustrations. Take the time to read Wilson's prose and you will likely be impressed by his writing skills and flair with adjectives.

The enigmatic Charles Dallas also appears in Real Pulp #2, near the end of his highly productive underground career, with "Violent Funnies," a volatile adventure that pits anarchists against the government and results in a most-unlikely counterculture scapegoat (an elderly janitor) being imprisoned and later murdered by Marvel superhero Captain America.

Real Pulp Comics survived for only two issues and the second one only enjoyed one printing of 20,000 copies. When it was published, the U.S. Supreme Court was only three months away from their decision on defining obscenity (essentially destroying true free speech in the media) and the underground comic industry was facing an impending newsprint shortage that would place a lot of pressure on their wholesale pricing. 1973 was a pivotal year for the undergrounds in many ways, and it likely marked the year that Roger Brand no longer had a reliable income resource to feed his escalating addictions.

Brand would continue to contribute to comic books in the years that followed, but his unique talents and extraordinary expertise in comic history would never again provide adequate compensation for him to manage the various demons that overwhelmed his short life. He died after a night of heavy drinking in 1985 at the age of 42, sitting on a toilet in a squalid building in Richmond, California.
The Print Mint printed approximately 20,000 copies of this comic book. It has not been reprinted.
Roger Brand - editor, 1, 7-8 (art assistance), 12-21
Leslie Cabarga - 2
Dorothy Fields - 2 (lyrics)
Jimmy McHugh - 2 (lyrics)
Art Spiegelman (aka Skeeter Grant) - 3-8
S. Clay Wilson - 9-11, 34-36 (art)
Bill Griffith - 22-28
Charles Dallas - 29-33
Will Fowler - 34-36 (script)
Michele Brand - 36 (color)