Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Moore Collection of Underground Comix
MS 052  
View entire collection guide What's This?
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Provenance
  • Restrictions on Access
  • Restrictions on Use and Reproduction
  • Preferred Citation
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content Note
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Moore Collection of Underground Comix
    Date (inclusive): 1907-1993
    Date (bulk): (bulk 1969-1992)
    Collection number: MS 052
    Creator: Moore, Michael
    Extent: 21 Paige boxes, 1 Hollinger box, 1 oversize box (26 linear feet)
    Repository: Special Collections and Archives, Robert E. Kennedy Library, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California 93407
    Abstract: Comic book publisher and collector Michael Moore donated this collection of underground comix in 1993. The collection contains comics from 1907 to 1993, with the bulk of issues representing underground comix in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Topics include feminism, marijuana legalization, Black Power, abortion, anti-war, and gay and lesbian issues. The collection reflects the resurgence of comix popularity as an alternative to mass-market mainstream comic books in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The collection also contains pre-press proofs, books about comix and the history of comics, catalogs, advertisements, rock n' roll flyers, and artwork. The collection is partially arranged.


    Donated by Michael Moore in 1993, the Moore Collection of Underground Comix is housed in and administered by Special Collections and Archives at Cal Poly.

    Restrictions on Access

    The collection is open to qualified researchers by appointment only. For more information on access policies and to obtain a copy of the Researcher Registration form, please visit the Special Collections Access page. The collection is stored remotely. Advance notice for use is required.

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    In order to reproduce, publish, broadcast, exhibit, and/or quote from this material, researchers must submit a written request and obtain formal permission from Special Collections, Cal Poly, as the owner of the physical collection. Researchers should also consult with an appropriate staff member regarding literary or other intellectual property rights pertaining to this collection.
    Photocopying of material is permitted at staff discretion and provided on a fee basis. Photocopies are not to be used for any purpose other than for private study, scholarship, or research. Special Collections staff reserves the right to limit photocopying and deny access or reproduction in cases when, in the opinion of staff, the original materials would be harmed.

    Preferred Citation

    Moore Collection of Underground Comix, Special Collections and Archives, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Calif.

    Biographical Note

    Michael Moore writes: "It all started with my parents making me burn my comic books. In 1954 Reader's Digest printed an article by Dr. Frederick Wertham that claimed that reading comic books resulted in "juvenile delinquency." My parents saw the article and called me and my comic books into the living room for an inquisition. Consequently I was soon standing in the back yard beside our rusty 55 gallon trash barrel watching my collections of The Vault of Horror, Mad and Weird Science, and others, going up in smoke. This was a defining moment for me; as the ashes spiraled up into the sky I realized how wrong my parents could be and thus began my lifelong negative attitude towards authority. In 1971 I got even with my parents by founding the Los Angeles Comic Book Company.
    "I was working in Westwood at the Free Press Bookstore when I noticed this intense, balding little guy hanging out around the comic book rack. We struck up a conversation. He introduced himself as Fred Walker, and we found we had a common interest in E.C. Comics (those same comic books that had caused so much juvenile delinquency back in the '50s). This conversation led us to contact Bill Spicer, a well known authority on E.C. Comics. All of us had a common interest in the comics medium, and its potential, and had been following the "Underground" comix scene ("comix" being the preferred spelling) that had begun with the first Zap. (I had picked up my copy - the one in this collection - at the City Lights Bookstore only a few days after its publication.) Fred was in contact with Gilbert Shelton, the creator of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, who was then living and working in Venice. Gilbert suggested we might start an underground comic book company in the Los Angeles area. Gilbert contacted Robert Williams, Robert Crumb and Spain Rodriguez and we all met and discussed the idea one balmy evening in a restaurant in Westwood. Inspired by this harmonic convergence of underground legends, Bill, Fred and I searched out Marty Novell our financial angel (whose parents as I recall put up the $5000) and so was founded the Los Angeles Comic Book Company.
    "Our first book was LA Comics and consisted primarily of Los Angeles artists. We later went on to publish Mickey Rat, Weird Fantasies (arguably the first color underground comix; priced at 50 cents it was the first nail in our financial coffin). LA Comics #2 and lastly Mutants of the Metropolis, a book so unique that no one bought it, assuring our demise. Bill still has a garage full of them to this day.
    "Distribution was (and still is) the crucial factor in publishing. In those days comix were sold in what were known as "headshops." For instance, the Free Press Bookstores in Los Angeles were really headshops selling drug paraphernalia surrounded by the protective cover of book sales. Instead of outright sales to distributors in other cities, the LA Comic Book Company would swap equal values of comix (i.e. 500 copies of "Mickey Rat" for 500 copies of Zap Comics) and then I would go out and sell these traded comix to the various headshops between Santa Barbara and San Diego. As you can imagine the market was not large for all of these titles and so the core of the present collection began to grow in my garage."

    Scope and Content Note

    The Moore Underground Comix Collection contains the comic books, comic strips, pre-press proofs, books, catalogs, advertisements, rock n' roll flyers and artwork donated by Michael Moore, underground comix publisher and collector in 1993. Moore was a part of the underground comix scene and with others started the Los Angeles Comic Book Company in 1971, which published and distributed comix such as Mickey Rat and Weird Fantasies.
    The collection includes a multitude of titles that emerged during the turbulent 1960s and is an excellent overall chronicle of underground comix, with the heavy bulk of its issues representing the surges in their popularity from 1969 to 1973, and again from 1984 to 1991.
    Of particular interest are the underground comix published in late 1960s and early '70s. The Bijou Funnies include Gilbert Shelton's "Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers" and Robert Crumb's crusty, white-haired "Mr. Natural."
    The New York Herald comic strips "Loony Literature" by Quincy Scott and "Little Nemo in Slumberland" by Winsor McCay comic strips, both published in 1907, are the earliest examples of comics in the collection. There are also comics from the 1930s and 1940s, such as Captain George Presents. Underground comix, reflecting the resurgence of creative comix in the latter part of the 1980s as a graphic and diverse alternative to mainstream comic books, are well represented in the collection.
    The last few years have seen a rebirth of interest, both popular and scholarly, in the anti-war and countercultural movements of the 1960s. And, while the Vietnam war is long over, we still struggle with many of the same issues that galvanized that decade: war, social justice, feminism, gay rights, and environmental issues.
    The collection is housed in 21 boxes. The collection is partially processed and arranged alphabetically by title.
    In addition to the inventory provided below, access to the processed portion of the collection is available via an online database at: http://lib.calpoly.edu/spec_coll/comix/index.html 

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    Adventure stories, American -- Illustrations
    American wit and humor, pictorial
    Caricatures and cartoons -- United States -- 20 th century
    Comic books, strips, etc. -- History and criticism
    Comic books, strips, etc. -- United States -- History and criticism
    Counterculture -- United States -- History -- 20 th century
    Detective and mystery comic books, strips, etc.
    Erotic comic books, strips, etc.
    Horror comic books, strips, etc. -- United States
    Jazz -- Comic books, strips, etc.
    Narrative art
    Newspapers -- Sections, columns, etc. -- Comics
    Rock musicians -- Comic books, strips, etc.
    Science Fiction Comic books, strips, etc.
    Sex -- Comic books, strips, etc. -- United States
    Western comic books, strips, etc.
    Wit and humor, Pictorial.
    Comic Books
    Pre-press proofs

    Related Material

    Materials Cataloged Separately:
    MARC records for 93 books have been cataloged separately.
    Related Collections:
    Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Lynn R. Hansen Comix Collection
    Special Collections, University of Missouri-Columbia Libraries The Frank Stack Collection: Papers, 1957-[ongoing]
    Special Collections Dept., Florida State University Libraries Robert M. Ervin Jr. Collection, bulk 1950-1970
    Special Collections Dept., Iowa State University Library Clay Geerdes, Historical Underground Photographs, MS 630
    Special Collections Dept., Iowa State University Library Underground Comix Collection, 1947-1995, 1971-1977, MS-636