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alternative comics
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The Small Press Comics section is not complete.
The only content currently available is this overview of Small Press Comics.
  The True Successor to Underground Comics Keeps the Spirit Alive
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Sure, alternative comics evolved from the underground comic book era. But alternative comics really can't be classified as underground comics. Some people try to classify them as such, but they are wrong, I tell you, wrong! Underground comic books are representative of an era in time, not a style or a theme. They revolutionized the comic book industry, and like all revolutions it eventually ended and we are blessed with the aftermath. However, there is a genre of comics that are truly an extension of the anti-establishment spirit of underground comics, and that is the small press comics.

As defined by Comixjoint, small press comics encompass a broad range of sub-genres, including comic zines, minicomics, newave comix, and full-size printed comic books produced by very small-scale publishers or individuals.

Believe me, I recognize the heresy that my definition represents to many who work within these sub-genres. "Minicomics are not small press comics!" scream the newavers. "Zines aren't printed by small press companies!" scream the ziners. "Small press comics are REAL comic books, not photocopied minis!" scream the small pressers. Fuckin' chill out, you bitches. This site is designed for easy navigation, not to pacify all your categories. The fact is, whether it's a photocopier, an ink jet printer or a Komori L420, they can all print comic books and most of the creators who have comics printed by those machines are not doing work for Fantagraphics or Last Gasp. My rationale for classifying non-mainstream comics is linked here, but in a nutshell, the similarities between all these sub-genres is more than enough to lump them together in this section.

Comic Zines Begin the Amateur Revolution
The range of subject matter covered in zines is quite diverse, so it's important to note that comic zines are Comixjoint's focus when it comes to zines (with a touch of sci-fi fantasy tossed in). Zines (aka fanzines) were pioneered by fans of science fiction in the 1930s. Comic zines began in 1947 and grew exponentially with the EC Comics era in the early '50s. They kept growing through the next four decades, until the internet became popular and webzines began to replace fanzines. Printed zines are still produced today and are often delightfully adventurous and experimental in design and content. The rich history of comic zines is a testament to the passion and determination of amateur creators.

While underground comics opened the doors to commercial comic books created by previous unknowns, zines easily predate the underground and were the first publications to give amateur creators an opportunity to share their work with like-minded people. Some zines from the early '60s include contributions from Jay Lynch and Skip Williamson, and a variety of underground comics creators experimented with home-made magazines. However, many of the better zine creators never achieved (or never pursued) a career in professional comics, though some did go on to great success.

Minicomics Let Everyone in on the Fun
Smaller-than-normal comic books were being produced long before Justin Green's Spare Comic? appeared in 1972, but only a few of those truly had an anti-establishment spirit. Certainly the Tijuana Bibles exemplified that spirit! But Green redefined the minicomic and Gary Arlington and San Francisco Comic Book Company quickly picked up the torch, producing dozens of minicomics featuring mostly (but not entirely) underground creators in 1972-73. A variety of people and publishers put out hundreds more through the '70s, but minicomics really flourished in the '80s, leading to the most significant change in the comic book landscape since the dawn of the undergrounds.

Publishers like Comix World, Everyman Studios and Starhead Comix led an onslaught of minicomics, but it didn't take a real publisher to get in on the fun. Individuals far and wide took advantage of the common availability of photocopiers to produce thousands of minicomics, which were sold and traded primarily to other creators and a small fan base. Minicomics remain a popular option for both new and veteran comic book creators who seek a completely uncensored outlet for their work.

Amateurs Become Pros Through the Small Press
Beyond zines and minicomics, ambitious comic book creators who can't get noticed by the major publishers are turning to small press publishers to get their work out to the masses and turn a few dollars of profit. The advent of print-on-demand digital printing technology has spurred enormous growth in small press comics that take traditional form, if not traditional content. Marketed through hundreds of internet sites, today's small press comics enable creators to pour their heart and soul into their work and reap at least some financial reward.

Comixjoint does not have a large inventory of modern small press comics or zines, but I expect our collection to grow in the years ahead. If you are a creator or publisher who produces comic zines or alternative-style comic books and would like additional exposure, send me a copy and if it makes the grade (namely, looks like it wasn't done by a fifth-grader) I will review it in this section of the site.