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Alternative Weekly Comics
March 4, 2015 @ 10:00 am - May 2, 2015 @ 4:00 pmFree
Opening reception: Friday, March 6, 2015 beginning at 6:00 PM
The alt-weekly world traces its roots back to such newspapers as The Village Voice, which began its weekly schedule in 1955. The 1960’s gave rise to a number of weekly newspapers , characterized as ‘underground’ newspapers such as New York’s East Village Other and Washington, D.C.’s Quicksilver Times. These underground papers were driven mainly by the politics of the 1960s’ and as those issues receded, the underground press began a rapid decline through the 1970’s.
Taking a different perspective on the weekly newspaper, the late 1970’s saw the resurgence of the weekly newspaper genre. Between 1977 and the early 1980’s, such cities as Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, Washington and Baltimore saw their own alt-weekly newspapers come into the marketplace. But this new incarnation had a very different editorial focus. These new entrants took a more local and cultural view of the news by focusing on a given cities art, museums, food and music. The stories they wrote about the city they served were ones that the regular newspaper establishment either would not or could not cover.
And nowhere was this difference clearer than with the comics page. The editors of these new newspapers looked to very different artistic styles than those found in either the comic strip or comic book world. These styles ranged from the surrealist Kaz, to the darkness of Charles Burns, to the primitivist comics of Lynda Barry, to the fine artistic lines of Tony Millionaire and to the cartoon exaggerations of Derf.
Eschewing the daily/Sunday newspaper comic strip format, the size and panel structure of these new comics also differentiated the alt-weekly comics. Matt Groening’s Life in Hell could be one panel or a few dozen. Chris Ware experimented with innovative panel sequencing of the comic form. Mark Newgarden morphed the old fashioned gag cartoon into cacophony of pop culture images and references. And The Village Voice itself gave Jules Feiffer the space to redefine the structure of the political cartoon into a panel-less, multiple scene story.
The editorial chances taken by the alt-weekly newspapers of the 80s and 90s led to the establishment of dozens of cartoonists who helped redefine the structure, style and subjects of the comics world as we know it today.