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solid writing
exceptional art
historical bonus 5
total score 9
Back Cover
Back Cover
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Snatch Comics #3
1st Printing / August 1969 / 36 pages / Apex Novelties
Snatch Comics #3 expands its roster of contributors again, adding Robert Williams and Jim Osborne to the mix, as well as expanding the number of pages given to Victor Moscoso. Rory Hayes had devoted much of his spring and summer to drawing for Cunt Comics, so he only gets two pages here. This issue came out in August 1969, the same month as the greatest underground of all time, Zap Comix #4, so it's easy to imagine that Williams, Moscoso, S. Clay Wilson and Robert Crumb were more focused on Zap than Snatch that summer.

The artists themselves felt that Snatch #3 didn't hold up to the standards set by the first two issues and vowed to make up for it, but #3 proved to be the final issue of the series and comics devoted to smut tapered off by the end of the year.

I don't think Snatch #3 is as bad as the artists believed, as there's a nice diversity of content, but I agree the stories are hit-and-miss. Victor Moscoso's first story, "JOMC or The First Book of Fire," is flat and obtuse, but his second, a surreal two-pager about a complicated sex appointment is pretty good, though they both pale in comparison to his "Hocus Pocus" showpiece in Zap #4.

Williams three-page "Shit Hell Fuck Funnies" features a filthy encounter between Veronica Vaginalmucus and Ferdinand Feces, who fuck, suck and shit on each other. In the same vein, Hayes' two-page "Snot Nose Harold" mixes cum, shit and snot together in a surprisingly happy love session. Wilson has both a six-pager and a two-page spread about extremely well-hung dwarves, and neither really stands out (but they're okay). Crumb provides three one-pagers that are stylish as usual (the one with the massive cavern of a vagina is especially funny). His four-pager "Don't Touch Me!" also seems to have a creepy, menacing build-up towards a sexual assault, but then it turns into farce when the woman who's just been raped complains that "I never get to come!"

This flippant attitude about violence against women is one of the primary criticisms of underground comics and I've certainly acknowledged it many times in reviews. But I've also maintained that the underground comix era was about eliminating all barriers to creative expression, including those that prevent racist and sexist imagery from being leveraged to lampoon a racist and sexist society. I'm equally supportive of using racist and sexist imagery to express evil fantasies, bad jokes, and grievances against societal conventions and censure.

It's not enough to simply declare that all portrayals of violence and hatred against women or minorities is wrong, because if we disallowed every bit of it we wouldn't have Maus or A Clockwork Orange or The Color Purple. And if we tried to regulate it the people who decided where to draw the line would wield too much power of suppression, and nobody in the free world with any brains would want that.

As for "Don't Touch Me!" it's entirely possible to perceive the whole strip as a woman's rape fantasy. A significant number of women who have zero desire to be actually be raped have fantasies about being forced to have sex, and some legitimate studies have found these women have a more positive attitude towards sexuality and feel less guilty about sex (yes, go ahead and fucking Google it).

If one were to look at Crumb's story from this perspective, it actually works almost perfectly from panel to panel and enlightened women might find it genuinely funny at the end. I'm not claiming Crumb intended it to be perceived this way, but he would certainly not insist you were wrong if you did. I must admit that Crumb may have just gotten lucky that this particular story happens to work so well as a woman's dark fantasy with an unsatisfying ending. It's fair to say that the vast majority of depictions of violence against women, including most of Crumb's, could not be perceived this way. But that doesn't mean they should be banned either.

One of the later comic stories in Snatch #3 is Jim Osborne's two-pager "Paul & Marlon in Bottoms Up." This is a thinly veiled satire featuring Paul Newman and Marlon Brando as gay lovers. Back in the day, there was considerable innuendo about both Newman and Brando playing for the other team; Brando actually admitted to being bisexual a few years after Snatch #3 came out. In "Paul & Marlon in Bottoms Up" the movie stars get it on while playing a game of pool, but Paul's wife Joanne (Woodward) interrupts their fling. The satire is a little dated these days, of course, but still noteworthy given the legendary status of the actors.

And so Snatch Comics comes to an end after three issues. The series was expressly launched to shock readers by violating every moral code the artists could imagine, but it achieved much more than that. Don Donahue was absolutely right when he said that Snatch's creators were really producing avante-garde art, and they were doing it in the truest sense of the term. Snatch profoundly met all of the definitions of being avant-garde; it was experimental and innovative, it pushed the boundaries of what is accepted as the norm or the status quo, and it promoted radical social reforms.

The tenets of avant-garde art also include opposition to mainstream cultural values and rejection of artificially synthesized mass culture produced by industrialization. In a nutshell, this is the primary justification for the existence of underground comix, with the artificially synthesized mass culture being borne from political lobbies and government war machines to organized churches and Marvel and DC. Snatch Comics is just one of the quintessential titles that demonstrates just how avant-garde undergrounds truly were.
There are four known printings of this comic book. The first is from Apex Novelties and has a 50-cent cover price. The last three were produced by the Print Mint and the first two of those printings have 50-cent cover prices while the last has a 75-cent cover.
The 1st printing (unknown copies) can usually be distinguished by Apex Novelties skewed binding and rough or incomplete trimming, flaws that were all cleaned up when the Print Mint took over the title. To confirm a 1st printing, there must be faint lines at the bottom of the interior pages. Kennedy claims that these faint lines are on all of the pages, but some of the 1st printings I've seen only had faint lines on some (like 9 of the 32) interior pages. But they were obviously 1st printings, with severely skewed bindings and tattered trimming on the top edges. The interior pages are made of a slightly heavier newprint-type stock than the Print Mint used, as described below:
Don Donahue told Patrick Rosenkranz that he printed Snatch #3 in the basement of a Victorian house that became the headquarters of the San Francisco Good Times. "The pages of the first printing of Snatch #3 are printed on paper that resembles newsprint, but isn't. Up until then I had used newsprint for the pages of all the comic books I printed. This was not for the sake of economy, but to make the books look as much as possible like real comic books because that was what the artists wanted. That flimsy newsprint had been hell to feed through the press. I was such a novice printer that I didn't know I was doing things that experienced printers would consider too difficult to mess with. Then I got lucky and stumbled across a skid of pulpy book paper, so old it was already turning yellow in the basement of a paper broker, just in time for Snatch #3. It was substantial enough to be easy to print on, and looked enough like newsprint to fool people who didn't care anyway, which by that time was virtually everybody. Only the first printing of Snatch #3 is on that paper."

However, with the amount of time between the official 1st and 2nd printings (nearly three years), I imagine Donahue may have printed multiple printings that had rough trim and faint lines inside, but did not have the slightly heavier interior pages, so it's hard to say that every "1st" printing has the paper that Donahue described.

The 2nd printing (10,000 copies, June 1972) and 3rd printing (15,000 copies, 1973) were printed by the Print Mint with 50-cent cover prices and are considered indistinguishable from one another. The 4th printing (10,000 copies, 1973) is by the Print Mint and has a 75-cent cover price.
Robert Crumb - 1-2, 9, 23-26, 30, 36
S. Clay Wilson - 3, 10-15, 18-19, 32, 34
Victor Moscoso - 4-5, 16-17
Robert Williams - 6-8, 22, 29, 31, 33, 35
Rory Hayes - 20-21
Jim Osborne - 27-28
Snatch Comics 3 2nd
2nd/3rd Printing
Neatly trimmed, no faint lines inside.