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Zap Comix #8 1st
excellent writing
exceptional art
historical bonus 4
total score 10
Zap Comix #8
Zap Comix 8 Back CoverBack Cover
(click for larger image)

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1st Printing / August 1975 / 52 pages / The Print Mint
After four front covers by other members of the Zap Collective, Robert Crumb finally makes his way back to the front of the pack for Zap Comix #8 with a fine illustration that portrays some head-popping neuroticism. Crumb also gets the lead story in the book and it's one of his better Zap contributions in quite some time. The 10-page "What Gives?" features a pair of aliens who travel to Earth to "see what can be done to save us and our planet from our own destruction."

This being Crumb, it's not surprising the aliens believe that consumerism, bourgeois brainwashing and (especially) science and technology threaten to destroy both American society and the world. The aliens, both cute cartoon types with funny personalities, head to the Pentagon to warn the big wigs that "The planet is endangered! This game you're playing has got to stop!"

The alien duo have to make their way through too many lower-security levels of the Pentagon to arrive at their final destination, but "What Gives?" is one of Crumb's more effective rantings on the horrible fate of the world if those in power allow technology to run amok. Back in the '70s, Crumb may have been writing about nuclear weapons, but today his rant is equally apropo for artificial intelligence and technological singularity. I hope today's teenagers become well prepared to tackle these issues and that reading Robert Crumb will become a required part of that preparation (haha, as if).

S. Clay Wilson follows "What Gives?" with a stylish adventure of dock-bound pirates called "The Swap," in which a group of pirates conspire to kidnap Star-Eyed Stella from the Blue Ewe Inn in order to ransom her for all manner of "riches and relics" held by the inn-keeper. Their nefarious plans are foiled by the Checkered Demon, who beats them to the punch by grabbing Stella himself and leaving a less comely (and more explosive) replacement in her stead. Of course, Wilson is in his wheelhouse here and near the top of his game, making "The Swap" simultaneously sassy, bawdy and putrid.

Crumb returns for a one-pager about a housewife and her vibrator, which was doubtlessly daring in its day, but not so daring by the eighth issue of Zap (Crumb even hides the "money shot" outside the panel). Robert Williams follows up with "Coochy Cooty in Gizmo Therapy," in which Coochy seeks to determine his "true self" with the help of the National Self Location Foundation. Williams scorches Zen-inspired self-actualization practitioners with this wicked satire.

A couple pages later, Williams provides the brilliantly absurd "Innocence Squandered." This six-pager features a pathetic everyman named Mr. Baldpubis, who becomes enraptured and obsessed by an innocent-looking porn model in a smut magazine and sets out to rescue her from her "seethy captors." However, upon discovering the model engaged in fellatio during a cheap porn-movie production, Mr. Baldpubis flies into a rage, beats the actess to death and ends up in jail for murder. The absurdity hits its zenith with the trial of Mr. Baldpubis, during which Wiliams mocks the justice system with his usual razor wit and accuracy.

Spain Rodriguez contributes another a violent biker story ("Field Meet") featuring the Road Vultures Motorcycle Club. The Road Vultures were based in Rodriguez's home town of Buffalo and he was their "Minister of Propaganda" after they participated in a march on the the Pentagon in 1967. The 10-page "Field Meet" details a traditional gathering of several motorcycle clubs that devolves from a series of competitions into an alcohol-induced brawl. "Field Meet" is one of several stories compiled in Rodriguez's 136-page 1994 graphic autobiography My True Story that celebrated his radicalism.

After Gilbert Shelton's four-page illustrated poem "The Hairmobile" and a one-pager from Wilson about the Checkered Demon and Star-Eyed Stella, Victor Moscoso closes the book with another playful sequential strip called "Rumpelstiltskin, The Real Story."

Zap Comix #8 arrived in 1975, well after the end of the golden age of undergrounds, but it rightly takes its place as another exceptional issue of Zap. There's scarcely a weak story in its pages and it offers many highlights from Crumb, Wilson, Williams and Moscoso.
There are five known printing variations of this comic book, though there are a couple of early ones that cannot be distinguished from one another. Kennedy's Price Guide states there were four printings for a total of 70,000 copies, and that was only through 1982 (and only two identified printing variations). The following describes all of the identified print variations:
1st printing - 75-cent cover price
2nd printing - $1.00 cover price
3rd printing - $2.50 cover price
4th printing - $2.95 cover price
5th printing - $3.95 cover price


Robert Crumb - 1, 2 (collaboration), 3-12, 21
S. Clay Wilson - 2 (collaboration), 13-20, 26-27, 48
Robert Williams - 2 (collaboration), 22-25, 28-33
Spain Rodriguez - 2 (collaboration), 34-43
Gilbert Shelton - 2 (collaboration), 44-47
Victor Moscoso - 2 (collaboration), 49-52