Rip Off Comix (#17) – Various

3 out of 5

Just ’cause it’s underground don’t mean it’s good.

I’ve read select issues of Rip Off; most of them don’t do much for me.  There’s a particular splinter of 60s / 70s / 80s underground comix dudes and dudettes who I acknowledge as influential, but who also… rankle.  Like, fine, The Pizz is a name in lowbrow art and did the Hot Rod culture thing, and you can say the rampant sexism in his comics is part of that scene, but I dunno.  To me, it’s a big turn off.  Then you got the “slice of life” writers who double down on indulgence as therapy and trade in – prepare for harsh words – the kind of bullshit information exchanges we mistake for conversation.  And then there are the folks who I feel like did the scene shuffle of hanging around in the right comix contexts and with the right bands or whatnot and made their mark, when there work on its own merits ain’t that interesting.

So, yeah, what I’ve read in Rip Off mostly falls into that category.  Meanwhile, there are some people that dipped into this “splinter” – Worden; Lafler – who I dig, and so here I am.  And that three stars is an acceptance that this stuff might not be for me, but I can accept the appeal for others, as well as see (mostly) the skill that likely made this work stand out amidst that of peers.

However, even with that classification, this isn’t the best issue, as its guest-editor (R.L. Crabb) theme of “true arrest stories” is either completely missed by some contributors, or leads to the kind of stories I excel at telling; you know, the ones without any sense of beginning or end or an interesting conclusion.  Most of it is at least un-boring to read (until you get to the last panel of any given strip and a lonely womp-womp trumpet plays) – like nothing here felt like a drag – but neither is any of it particularly memorable, save maybe Dori Seda’s (final?) strip, which is full of her delightful irateness, and Larry Welz’s (Cherry) story about his being accused of murder, though this is mainly fascinating for its “and the murder is still unsolved!” stinger conclusion, which has prompted some vague googling from me to see if it still holds true.

Only recommended if you have pre-existing fanship for any of the featured artists.  Otherwise, though it’s technically solid and certainly consistent tonally with other similar books from the scene, I think there are better offerings from everyone here, and anthologies with a higher hit rate per issue.