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Zap Comix #9 2nd
excellent writing
exceptional art
historical bonus 4
total score 10
Zap Comix #11
Zap Comix 11 Back CoverBack Cover
(click for larger image)

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1st Printing / 1985 / 52 pages / Last Gasp
Zap Comix #11 sees Rick Griffin's return to the comic after a prolonged absence, an atypical story from Robert Crumb, and the first appearance (in Zap) of Spain Rodriguez's signature character Trashman.

It all begins with Robert Williams' terrific front cover art, which declares it's the "'Dare to Moon the Devil' Issue!" Williams also gets the lead story, the six-page "Coochy Cooty in Mega-Mischief." Coochy is somehow stuck in a correction program for social misfits, but as always he rebels against the system. But this time the authorities toss Coochy into a toxic dump, which transforms him into a blithering idiot and leads him to become the next urban poet genius, Dada Boy! As always, good stuff from Williams and quite on target for de rigeur cultural events in the mid '80s.

Working opposite of the times is Robert Crumb in "Patton," a biography of legendary blues musician Charley Patton. In this 12-page story, Crumb chronicles Patton's life and times in the early 20th century, which included plenty of chain smoking, loose women, moonshine and violence (often at the same time). Crumb firmly establishes that Patton was a chauvinist and one mean motherfucker, but also very talented and highly influential. The story is fascinating to read, but it's probably not for everybody, especially those who like their Crumb with plenty of sex and satire (there is a little sex here, but the biography is a serious narrative devoid of satire).

Rodriguez gets things back in Zap style with "Trashman, Agent of the 6th International." The story is a decent one, with Trashman, apparently dreaming or tripping on drugs, gets paired up with one of his arch enemies, Nasty Elaine, in domestic bliss. The effort is a little disjointed, but it's nice to see the invincible Trashman back in action.

After a couple of intricate one-pagers by S. Clay Wilson (the vampire one is particularly stunning) and Williams' two-page illustrated composition about evolution, Williams returns again for "Depopulating Debutante!" This four-pager is about a murderous woman named Rachel Lance-St. Fontaine who begins an art movement with dead bodies. It's so off the wall it's more funny than gruesome (almost hearkens back to early Mad).

Crumb contributes the brief but excellent "Jesus People, U.S.A. Interviews R. Crumb, Underground Pornographer and All-Around Lost Soul." The title alone is enough to give you the giggles and Crumb delivers with a funny, surprisingly well balanced and generally sympathetic (for Crumb) piece.

Rick Griffin, the real Christian in the Zap Collective, returns after a three-issue, 10-year absence to deliver "Arthur PEN Dragron," a fantastic yarn that tracks Griffin's (perhap reluctant?) commitment to produce five comic pages for this issue of Zap. Presented as part spiritual quest, part fantasy-adventure, Griffin appears as himself, but in the form of an artist's poseable, ball-jointed (but entirely anthropomorphic) figure. Of course, Griffin's objective to create the five pages is achieved as he documents his assignment, and he presents the finished work to Zap's massive headquarters (almost as ambitious as Gilbert Shelton's hilarious rendering of Rip Off Press' dreamy headquarters in Rip Off Comix) just in time to "stop the presses!" A true classic from Griffin.

Rodriguez returns with the 11-page "Lily Litvak, the Rose of Stalingrad," another non-fictional story based on the life of Lydia Litvyak, a Russian fighter pilot who fought the Nazi air force and was the first female pilot to shoot down an enemy plane and earn the title "fighter ace." Rodriguez clearly researched the life of Litvyak, which was even more remarkable than his story makes it out to be, especially considering that she was shot down at the age of 21. Like Crumb's story about Charley Patton, if "Lily Litvak" inspires its readers to pursue more information about the title character they won't regret the research.

Wilson closes the book with his third one-pager of the issue, all of them outstanding examples of his inimitable style. Rodriguez tosses in one of his best full-page illustrations on the inside back cover to put the cherry on top of the frosting of this issue. Zap Comix #11 might take a little more effort from its fans to reap its tasty rewards, but it's well worth making the investment.

There are four known printing variations of this comic book, all by Last Gasp. The 1st printing produced 10,000 copies. I'm not aware of the quantities for the other printings, and the 3rd and 4th printings do not state any printing quantities in the book. The following describes the identified print variations:
1st printing - $2.50 cover price
2nd printing - $2.95 cover price
3rd printing - $3.95 cover price
4th printing - $4.95 cover price
The comic jam on page 2 includes a credit to "Bosirus Eerie." Since five other members of the Zap Collective signed their own names to the jam, it is presumed that Rick Griffin was actually Bosirus Eerie (since Gilbert Shelton either lived in Europe at the time or was traveling back forth from the US to Europe; and he didn't take part in comic jams anymore). I can't find much in the jam to prove that Bosirus Eerie was Rick Griffin, but the "flaming behinney" is definitely in Rick Griffin's style, so we'll run with that until proven wrong.
Robert Williams - 1, 2 (collaboration), 3-8, 26-27, 29-32
Robert Crumb - 2 (collaboration), 9-20, 33-34
Spain Rodriguez - 2 (collaboration), 21-24, 40-49, 51
S. Clay Wilson - 2 (collaboration), 25, 28, 50
Victor Moscoso - 2 (collaboration)
Gilbert Shelton - 2 (collaboration), 52
Rick Griffin - 2 (collaboration, as Bosirus Eerie), 35-39
Zap Comix 11 3rd
3rd Printing

$3.95 cover.
Zap Comix 11 4th
4th Printing
$4.95 cover.