Saturday, June 03, 2023

Today in Comics History, June 3: Happy Birthday, Allen Ginsberg!

Born on this date in 1925: Beat poet, essayist, and philosopher Allen Ginsberg (Howl, Kaddish, Cosmopolitan Greetings, The Fall of America and more)! He was (and still is) considered, along with William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac, one of the greatest voices of his generation, and one of the writers who put the renowned and vital City Lights Bookstore at the forefront of fifties' history when they published Howl and defended against obscenity.

You all are, I presume, familiar with getting together a list of famous people born on this day and then go researching their comic book appearances, but becomes suprised and disappointed that there are no appearances in comics of Larry McMurtry or Boots "Yakety Sax" Randolph. But then along comes Allen Ginsberg with a surprisingly large number of comic book guest-starring appearances, even if you don't count Marvel's 1968 Dr. Strange/Allen Ginsberg Team-Up #1-6!

from Meet the Beats (Water Row Press, 1985 series), by Robert Crumb

In fact it's's definitely more than one time that Ginsberg pops up in the work of his contemporary R. Crumb:

from "(More Than) Thirty Years of Zap Comics" in Zap Comix #14 (Last Gasp, 1998), text and letters by Gilbert Shelton,photograph by Bob Gruen

Not pictured here, but Ginsberg is quoted on his fandom of Crumb's work in this back cover from an early Crumb anthology (the one Crumb was furious with because they censored some panels and changed others):

from R. Crumb's Head Comix (Viking, 1968), by Robert crumb

Ginsberg appears and plays a major role in this scene in Zippy the Pinhead creator Bill Griffith's biographical comic about his family:

from Invisible Ink: My Mother's Secret Love Affair with a Famous Cartoonist (Fantagraphics, September 2015), by Bill Griffith

Another comics fan who's a huge fan of Al Ginsberg is the comic book creator and great gorilla detective Sam Simeon!:

from Showcase #77 [Angel and the Ape] (DC/National, September 1968), plot by Howie Post (?) or Al Jaffee (?), script by E. Nelson Bridwell (?), pencils by Bob Oksner, inks by Tex Blaisdell, letters by Ray Holloway (?)

Proving he's not just a sixties star, Allen Ginsberg even pops up in contemporary-to-us cartoons by the great Tom Gauld:

from Baking with Kafka (Drawn + Quarterly, October 2017), by Tom Gauld

Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Burroughs (L-R) are "on the road"...and playing silly car games:

from "Car Games" in Step Aside, Pops (Drawn + Quarterly, September 2015), by Kate Beaton

So we're all pretty big fans of Allen Ginsberg, right?...but did you order his dreamy 2½ by 3½ foot wall poster (not pictured) to swoon over?

advertisement from Teen Love Stories #3 (Warren, January 1968)

Happy birthday, Allen Ginsberg! Without you and the others in your Triumverate of Beat, we would never have had this page from the greatest comic book in the history of the medium!:

"Generation X vs. The Beat Generation" from Generation X Underground #1 one-shot (Marvel, May 1998), by Jim Mahood

Oh! And happy birthday to you too, Boots Randolph!

"Yakety Sax" by Boots Randolph (Monument, 1963), written by Spider Rich and Boots Randolph


Blam said...

Yeah, I think Ray Holloway’s a good bet. His work doesn’t jump out at me the way many other letterers’ stuff, but I know he tended to use all italics like that around this time working for DC.
Today I learned that Ginsberg’s full name was Irwin Allen Ginsberg, and good thing he didn’t use it because that could’ve been disastrous…

Blam said...

(I got distracted looking up biographical data because I had no idea/recollection that he was still alive in 1990 [per that Zap!] let alone a while after yet.)

Bully said...

Thanks, Blam! I knew you might have a more informed idea than mine!