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Zap Comix #9 2nd
excellent writing
exceptional art
historical bonus 4
total score 10
Zap Comix #12
Zap Comix 12 Wraparound CoverWraparound Cover
(click for larger image)

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1st Printing / 1989 / 52 pages / Last Gasp
More than 20 years after its debut, the infrequently published Zap Comix came out with their 13th issue (actually numbered with 12, thanks to Zap #0), and it's just as good as ever. Spain Rodriguez, who has really been producing some fabulous pages in recent issues, gives us a terrific wraparound cover (seen in all its glory in the lightbox link on the right).

Rodriguez also gets the book started with another Trashman story, in which Trashman must deliver a mysterious package to "the ziggurat" (which were ancient, massive temples built by Assyrians and Babylonians, but I don't think that's what Trashman is referring to). Trashman's mission is interrupted by a hitchhiker who steals his pass for a U.N. checkpoint, and Trashman has to get it back. This 10-page adventure, which revolves around Ronald Reagan's stolen corpse (Reagan was fresh out of office but didn't die until 2004) is a bit silly but still entertaining. This would be Trashman's last appearance in Zap, and one of the last new Trashman stories to be published anywhere.

Robert Williams follows with "The 'Boned' Man and the Curse of the Mummy Monkey," which the narrator himself describes as a "preposterous set of events." It's about a spiritual leader named Bromm Chennault, an influential leader of malcontents and the beatniks that the "World Industrial Union" wants to neutralize. The union captures Bromm and removes all the bones from his body to make an example out of him, but Bromm's girlfriend recaptures his still-living but floppy, boneless body and they go on the run together. Eventually, the homicidal Mummy Monkey in the story's title is linked to Bromm's existence and their lives become intertwined forevermore...which isn't so bad for either of them!

The next seven pages of #12 belong to S. Clay Wilson, who provides four outstanding single-panel illustrations (one being the center spread in the book) and a two-page Checkered Demon story. The Checkered Demon story ("The Girl") is great, as he gets a whiff of pussy while strolling the neighborhood and tracks it down to a balcony on the second floor of a ramshackle house. Wilson's peerless writing deals a few raunch-infested lines ("The girl lolled on the railing...her little pink quim glistening in the summer sunlight"). The short tale ends with no tail for the Demon, but it gives us plenty to appreciate.

After a two-pager from Williams about profanity and a one-pager from Gilbert Shelton about human sound effects (straight outta Don Martin's thesaurus), Victor Moscoso contributes "The Artist and the Elves." This seven-pager portrays an artist who contracts with three elves to do his artwork for him while he sleeps. There are several divine panels of the elves interacting with artist tools that exhibit Moscoso's graceful ink work, and the strip concludes with an instructive moral of the story.

All seven members of the Zap Collective jam on the two-page "Rotten to the Core," specifically created to commemorate the Zap 12 Show at New York City's Psychedelic Solution Gallery in the summer of '87. It's a marvelous little story that focuses on some of the artists' characters attempting to get a cab ride to the show. I was glad to see Shelton got involved with this jam and that Rick Griffin's handiwork is well represented.

Robert Crumb finishes off Zap #12 with "Cave Wimp," a hilarious 11-page story that depicts Crumb as a caveman who wins favor (at least for a while) with jocks and babes alike by becoming "the first professional artist," who creates erotic figurines of women that captivate both genders. It's kind of a retread of the same old autobiographical tale for Crumb, but he gives it a new twist by setting it back in 111,989 BC. Nine years later in Zap #14, Wilson would call "Cave Wimp" a "masterpiece."

Zap Comix #12 is yet another solid outing for the Zap Collective, whose members may be past their most incendiary rabble-rousing years, but who are all operating at the top of their game. Tragically, this would be the last time the Zap Collective would collaborate on a comic book.

There are four known printing variations of this comic book, all by Last Gasp. The following describes the identified print variations:
1st printing - no cover price
2nd printing - $2.50 cover price
3rd printing - $2.95 cover price
4th printing - $3.95 cover price
The 1st printing had no cover price, despite some who claim it does (cough*atomic avenue*cough). The 2nd printing has a $2.50 cover price, not a $2.95 cover price as some people claim (ahem*atomic avenue*ahem). The actual sales price of the 1st printing was, indeed, $2.50.
Spain Rodriguez - 1, 3-12, 38-39 (collaboration)
Rick Griffin - 2, 38-39 (collaboration), 51
Robert Williams - 13-20, 28-29, 38-39 (collaboration)
S. Clay Wilson - 21-27, 38-39 (collaboration)
Gilbert Shelton - 30, 38-39 (collaboration)
Victor Moscoso - 31-37, 38-39 (collaboration)
Robert Crumb - 38-39 (collaboration), 40-50