Saturday, November 19, 2011

Goin' Underground: Color (Print Mint, 1971)

I've been buying a lot of Underground Comix from the early seventies lately, and came across this beautiful artifact created by renowned underground artist Victor Moscoso. Color shares more than a few historical references within the Underground Comix realm. It was the first underground work published in full color, as well as the first to become a full-fledged 11-minute short film entitled Cosmic Comics.

Moscoso rose to fame with his contributions to R. Crumb's Zap Comix during the scene's heyday, and his brand of cute, bendable characters within psychedelic worlds became his trademark artistic style. This work in particular was used as a storyboard for an animation project that never got off the ground, but was picked up years later by Amsterdam film-maker Olaf Stoop as a short film project (the aforementioned Cosmic Comics) which is currently out of print.

Victor Moscoso's Color is a psychedelic trip of funny, violent, and sexually explicit artwork. The whole experience begins within the cover itself, where a spaceship orbits another planet. The spaceship turns into a fish, and the fish swims in a fish tank. The fish tank sits on a table in a living room, where a couple are shooting the breeze on a couch. The couch turns into some sort of bad guy, who proceeds to beat the living hell out of the couple. From there, the strip descends into a wave of violence as the man attempts to deal with the intruder.

Once the villain is taken care of, the strip proceeds to get sexually explicit as the couple get hot and heavy with each other. I've decided not to share these pages here, but you get the idea....the couple go at it until a climatic ending, where they explode as the man yells, "Nothing Lasts!". The spaceship enters the frame and also gets it's freak on with a woman while birds crash into the planet in the background.

More sexually freakish insanity ensues as a man turns into a giant penis and is used as a mount for a servicing prostitute. The strip ends as the spaceship heads back out into space as a giant robot-bird grabs the ship and brings it back to the mothership, which proudly claims the backpage of the issue.

Moscoso's artwork really shines in Color, and you can see his various inspirations as homages to M.C. Escher and Salvador Dali make appearances here. His use of inks and coloring should also be noted, as they really add literally another dimension to his artwork.

Color may have been just another artistic acid-trip from the era of Underground Comix debauchery, but it also served as inspiration for art aesthetics and stands as a microcosm for it's time. The sex, drugs and violence of the early 70's still drip off the pages of my worn and tattered copy, albeit full color.


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