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spotty writing
competent art
historical bonus 3
total score 5
Suds Back Cover
Back Cover
(click for larger image)

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Only Printing / July 1969 / 44 pages / Print Mint
Buckwheat Florida Jr. has an enigmatic past that probably has nothing to do with buckwheat or Florida. He was apparently living in San Francisco during the dawning of the underground comix era and contributed to early Yellow Dog tabloids. The Print Mint, which published Yellow Dog, gave Florida Jr. a one-man book in 1969, after which he essentially disappeared from the comic-book landscape altogether.

Suds is an especially peculiar underground comic, with 40 interior pages comprised of mostly single-panel drawings and tightly integrated text. There's only a smattering of dialogue and no particularly story; it's mostly state-of-mind nonsensical rambling by Florida Jr., who doubtlessly was stoned on LSD and other drugs at the time he created it. There's a few pages that describe "poids," which are human-like creatures that live in harmony in the "Land of the Narapoids," where computers do all the work and poids are left with a lot of free time to create art, music and books.

But structure is not a strong point of Suds. Here's a brief excerpt from one panel of writing: "Here we are ALL of us gathered around in a group listening to the BLACK CATS pound their conga's. Just this side of YOURSELF can play games — Dance all nite in front of the hollow rain — but dancing all the same — and you finally stumbled — and you were here — on this side of the wind 'yourself' — Reminds me of those hungry kids we started on an epicure (stupid) — Ah, but we came hungry for more…."

And so it goes, on and on, fairly but not entirely incoherent but illustrated with scenes that appear related to the incoherence. The drawings include surreal assemblages of abstract shapes, paneled partitions, human figures and lots of nearly random, swirling words that intertwine with the objects, sometime half hidden and often drawn in different type styles, even within single words.

If the objective was to produce a comic book that would have no peer, Suds is remarkably successful. It won't appeal to most people, but some will find it endlessly fascinating. Personally, I was pretty quick to dismiss it but I have to admit I enjoy looking through it on occasion because I can always see things I hadn't noticed before. Some historians have already dumped the book in with some of the worst undergrounds of all time and it's hard to come up with a compelling argument against them, but the demented logic of Suds still appeals to my weakness for Alice-in-Wonderland absurdity.

There's little to find on the Web about Buckwheat Florida Jr., but one obscure blog post indicates that he has lived in Chiang Mai, a mountainous region in north Thailand, for many years and spends a lot of time painting in between travels.
The Print Mint produced approximately 5,000 copies of this comic book. It has not been reprinted.

Buckwheat Florida Jr. - 1-44