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  • Adjacent Genealogies, Alternate Geographies:The Outliers of Underground Comix & World War 3 Illustrated

This essay considers how histories of underground comix consistently marginalize women's and gay series: Tits & Clits (1972–1987), Wimmen's Comix (1972–1992), Gay Heart Throbs (1976–1981), and Gay Comix (1980–1998). Centralizing these overlooked series—collectively conceptualized as "outliers"—and examining how they participate in social movements redefines the bounds and values of the underground movement. Through this alternate periodization, this essay argues for the continuation of the underground in the World War 3 Illustrated (1979–present) political comics series and identifies how such comics enact activism beyond merely representing it within the work.


Wimmen's Comix, Tits & Clits, Gay Heart Throbs, Gay Comix, World War 3 Illustrated, activism, social movements, second-wave feminism, gay liberation, politics, underground comix, comics history, genealogy

[End Page 92]


Underground comix function as a turning point in the history of American comics that revolutionize the form. Largely inspired by the 1960s-1970s countercultural scene in San Francisco, these transgressive, anti-establishment works offered cartoonists a place for free expression outside of the mainstream comics industry. Though often similar in physical size and page count to mainstream comics, they departed on nearly every other front, containing a "startling variety of styles . . . from amateurish to expert," treating a range of "'taboo' subjects," and circulating through separate publishers, stores, and distribution networks.1 This scene and these artistic freedoms resulted in "underground comix [which] offered political, sexual, and autobiographical narratives exploring countercultural themes including illegal drug-taking and 'free-love.'"2 Though these possibilities offered artists the ability to engage a wide variety of subjects, comics histories too often centralize one lineage and set of values within the movement, which Roy T. Cook encapsulates as: "the (white, male) underground [that] seemed all too willing to depict rape, violence, misogyny, and racial stereotypes."3 Cook and others do acknowledge comix created by a wider range of creators who treat gender, sexuality, and race in a more politically progressive manner, but these creators remain peripheral in comics histories. Their presence does not shift who scholars identify as carrying the torch forward in shaping the next generation of comics. Robert Crumb—with his taboo-saturated works that often involve incest, rape, and other sexist and racist stereotypes—is noted both for innovating the form with Zap Comix #1 (1968) and for ensuring the continuation of its ethos through the Weirdo series (1981–1993) when the underground scene fizzled out. Crumb's influence is recognized by the aforementioned scholars in works examining the underground as well as by thinkers like Charles Hatfield and Hillary Chute, who locate the underground as a foundation for many contemporary comics traditions.4 Another lineage is possible. If we look beyond Crumb, we can trace a genealogy of progressive underground comics that were connected to movements for social justice and pushed back against the misogynist underground. Tracing a genealogy through these works and their visual politics, we arrive at a different future for the underground in contemporary series like World War 3 Illustrated.

These other histories get ignored, in part, because of how scholars periodize. Patrick Rosenkranz, who wrote what is considered a definitive history of underground comix and which serves as a reference point for scholars writing about the period, identifies 1975 as the year when the energy and market forces that initially birthed underground comix were in decline as failing "distribution network[s]" and "diminishing readership" challenged the "cohesiveness" of the movement.5 Despite these challenges, a number of creators continued to work under the banner of the underground. By looking to comics series that this periodization omits—namely Tits & Clits (1972–1987), Wimmen's Comix (1972–1992), Gay Heart Throbs (1976–1981), and Gay Comix (1980–1998)—which I affectionately term the "outliers" of the underground, I not only suggest that these outliers deserve a [End Page 93] place within histories of the underground itself, but I also argue that they are the titles we should be looking to as carrying the spirit of the underground forward and that doing so revises both the history and present of the field.6 If we look a year past Rosenkranz's end point to 1976, we see a flourishing of marginalized perspectives as underground artist Larry Fuller released the first issue of the series Gay Heart Throbs and a number of individual and collective feminist titles were published: The Compleat Fart and Other Body Emissions, Dynamite Damsels, Tits & Clits #2, Twisted Sisters, Wet Satin #1, and Wimmen's Comix #7.7 This growth continued in subsequent years, welcoming new perspectives into a movement that Rosenkranz considered over.

Such editorial decisions illuminate the value judgments at work in periodization, which obscure creators who prioritized progressive explorations of gender, sexuality, and race in their comix. Rosenkranz implicitly encourages his readers to ignore the outliers by omitting them from his final chapter where he looks past 1975 to map out the trajectory and impact of the underground after its dissolution.8 This oversight makes little sense for comics like Tits & Clits and Wimmen's Comix, as both series were active both before and after 1975 and receive mention from Rosenkranz earlier in the volume. Despite the fact that neither Gay Heart Throbs nor Gay Comix had debuted until after 1975, the creators of both series, Larry Fuller and Howard Cruse, respectively, were active artists in the underground in earlier years. These artists, however, are strangely absent from Rosenkranz's history, given their significance acknowledged in other scholarship.9 Even before openly declaring their homosexuality with Gay Heart Throbs and Gay Comix, these artists mobilized a gay perspective in their work to counter the homophobic energy of the underground—in the same strip where he comes out, Cruse's Barefootz character Headrack successfully outmaneuvers a persistent and aggressively homophobic man.10 More than that, Fuller is unique in being an African American artist in an overwhelmingly white and often racist movement. Fuller's underground superhero comic, Ebon #1 (1970), may even be the first to cast a black superhero in a starring role in his own title.11 These omissions snowball into a larger problem when scholars base their understanding of the movement on Rosenkranz and unconsciously perpetuate his exclusions.12

As a corrective, I trace a genealogy of the underground through the outliers and argue for World War 3 Illustrated (1979–present), a political comics series embedded in grassroots activism, as an inheritor of this tradition. This is a history of the underground that celebrates the creation of feminist and progressive works in the face of adversity and connects these comics to the present, rather than one that must continually reference and apologize for the misogyny of its forebears. Conceptualizing these progressive practices paves a way towards a different heritage for the underground. The outliers create their content in a way that involves their audience in activist causes, functioning as what Michael Warner terms "counterpublics," an idea that he theorized across Publics and Counterpublics (2005). Warner illuminates how "Counterpublics are 'counter' to the extent [End Page 94] that they try to supply different ways of imagining stranger sociability and its reflexivity; as publics, they remain oriented to stranger circulation in a way that is not just strategic but constitutive of membership and its affects."13 Through close-reading these comics, their paratexts, and interviews with creators, I trace the "different ways" these works are jointly "imagining" activism and the comics form and participate in "stranger circulation" in how they invite new participants to the cause.

The outliers' tactics span movements and decades. Cartoonists in Wimmen's Comix (1972–1992) and Tits & Clits (1972–1987) created comix to serve as consciousness-raising devices. Artists from these comix as well as from the Gay Heart Throbs (1976–1981) and the Gay Comix (1980–1998) series organized and contributed to the benefit anthologies, Strip AIDS USA (1988) and CHOICES (1990), that financially supported HIV/AIDS activism and abortion rights at the end of the 1980s.14 Dozens of artists who regularly published in Gay Comix created a series of one-panel comics advertisements for the 1993 March on Washington.15 These examples demonstrate a variety of ways that underground comix participated in activist causes—both in the intent of their storytelling and in how they explicitly created comics to intervene in current events. The activist impulses differentiate these comix from the psychedelia, free-love trend of many underground comics, but it aligns them with other underground titles trained on larger social issues, like Abortion Eve (1973), After Shock: Bulletins from Ground Zero! (1981), Anarchy Comics (1978–1987), Corporate Crime Comics (1977–1979), and Slow Death (1970–1992).16 World War 3 Illustrated (1979–present) extends how comics engage activist practices, including comics that serve as activist manifestos, document social and political causes, advertise upcoming demonstrations, act as posters or banners during actions, etc.

In revising our understanding of the underground, I look to expand the time and space of the underground and argue that doing so reveals a rich history of comics participating in activist causes, thereby reshaping the form and purpose of comics. In the next section, I redefine the bounds and values of the underground movement through the outliers, using this new definition to argue for the inclusion of the long-running political comics series, World War 3 Illustrated (1979–present), in this tradition in the subsequent section. In aligning World War 3 Illustrated alongside other outliers, I make the case for a comic that often slips between the cracks of periodization and as a result, remains underdiscussed in scholarship, much in the way that the outliers as a whole remained more of a footnote—if that—in comics histories before deliberate attempts in recent years to not only mention but also to discuss them at length. We must shift our ways of seeing in order to perceive these comics and write them into our genealogies. A larger claim of this piece is that we comics scholars must be aware of the implicit values in our field that have continually venerated certain artists and works over and above the work of others, resulting in the exclusions that myself and others, including my fellow authors in this issue, are working to redress. [End Page 95]


The outliers operate according to a different set of politics that change how they translate the anti-establishment underground ethos to articulate feminist or gay and lesbian concerns. These comix were not lagging behind the underground, but rather responding to the temporalities of their other social movement affiliations and the publication networks of those movements. Women's and gay liberation parallel the underground, so the emergence of these comix into movements already underway signals at least two things about their content and trajectory: 1. By entering a conversation in media res, they can document the advances of these movements and bring these ideas to a new set of readers through their different form (rather than a pamphlet, newsletter, poster, newspaper, etc.). 2. Further, their emergence at this moment allows them to operate in a future-oriented manner where they look ahead to what comes next. Both of these movements undergo transformations in the 1980s due to the increasing conservatism in the American political climate in addition to the feminist sex wars and HIV/AIDS epidemic, so their presence in this moment allows them to comment on these changes and forecast what future changes await these movements. Looking at what the outliers accomplish within this alternate timeline, this section examines how they structure their participation in activist causes.

The outliers' future-oriented nature derives from their inclusive support of new voices, facilitating an intergenerational aspect to each series, particularly evident in the long-running Wimmen's Comix and Gay Comix anthologies. In its two-decade run that encompassed seventeen issues, Wimmen's Comix was edited by a rotating collective of women, and many of the women involved in the final issues published at the end of the 1980s had entered the cartooning field through the series. The nearly two decades and twenty-five issues of Gay Comix tell a similar tale where established artists kickstarted the series, creating a fertile ground where new artists came to participate and find their voice. Not only were the outliers working to welcome in their peers, but in valuing voices that were being left out and stories that previously had not been told, they were supporting the work of emerging artists, providing that testing ground for development.

That encouragement directly inspired contributing artists, while also indirectly inspiring future artists and far flung readers. Alison Bechdel cites encountering an early issue of Gay Comix in the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop as emboldening her to adopt cartooning as a way to explore her lesbian identity.17 Bechdel would later publish in a number of issues of Gay Comix, but this mode of influence touched even those who never published in the series, particularly in creating the space for community around marginalized identities and reaching new artists who would go on to publish comics in other spaces of production.18 Engaged letters published in Gay Comix #3 (1982) attest to how the series was finding eager readers in a range of geographic locations and moving them with its homosexual representations. Commenting on two comics by Lee Marrs and Howard Cruse about lesbian and gay life, a male reader from London opined in his letter: "I kept saying to myself, 'Yes, that's exactly it, that's me!' These are two cartoon stories I [End Page 96] read over and over again."19 In embracing multiple generations of artists and running for decades during a time when both social movements were undergoing immense changes, Wimmen's Comix and Gay Comix do not profess one view of feminism or gay and lesbian politics, but they encompass a multiplicity of perspectives, both across the run of the series and within individual issues.

Figure 1. Underground comix covers representing activism, front cover of Tits & Clits #3 (1977) and back cover of Gay Comics #16 (1992).
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Figure 1.

Underground comix covers representing activism, front cover of Tits & Clits #3 (1977) and back cover of Gay Comics #16 (1992).

Figure 2. Underground comix covers representing activism, front cover of Tits & Clits #3 (1977) and back cover of Gay Comics #16 (1992).
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Figure 2.

Underground comix covers representing activism, front cover of Tits & Clits #3 (1977) and back cover of Gay Comics #16 (1992).

When we focus on the outliers, the 1990s ushers in the new era, offering an extra decade of expression where these comics actively participate in this sea change by cultivating emerging artists.20 In his introduction to the No Straight Lines (2013) anthology of four decades of queer cartooning, editor Justin Hall describes Gay Comix as "one of the longest-running underground comix anthologies" and traces how the series supported a new generation of comics.21 In this discussion, Hall acknowledges, too, how Gay Comix reconceived itself for a new age, citing editor Andy Mangels who changed the title of the series to Gay Comics starting with Gay Comics #15 (1992), "dropping the 'x' [associated with underground comix] to reflect how the industry had changed."22 In recounting the [End Page 97] underground through the women artists in her impressive work, Drawn to Purpose (2018), which focuses on a broad history of American women as cartoonists and illustrators, Martha H. Kennedy first acknowledges how the industry "gradually waned" in the mid 1970s, but after going on to describe the work of individual artists and the Wimmen's Comix and Tits & Clits series, she moves that date forward, claiming, "the underground movement waned in the early 1990s."23 The temporality of the underground functions uniquely for these series, in much the same way that the comics industry itself worked quite distinctly for these artists and this kind of content. The outliers not only open onto a different expanse of comics and creators, but they also participate in and facilitate new histories.

It is through the outliers and their approaches that we can argue for the inclusion of yet another series, World War 3 Illustrated (1979–present), as associated with the underground. If we trace a history of the underground not through Crumb but instead through Trina Robbins, an underground artist active in the outliers, we neatly arrive at World War 3. In her comics herstories From Girls to Grrrlz (1999) and The Great Women Cartoonists (2001), Robbins introduces World War 3 in paragraphs immediately following her discussion of the underground.24 Of course, her inclusion of World War 3 in this location is influenced by her own participation in World War 3 Illustrated #14: New World Empire (1991) and World War 3 Illustrated #16: Herstories (1992), where she was able to continue to explore themes that guided her work in the underground, penning a textually-based article that investigated sexism in comics for the latter issue.25 Yet, she is not the only underground artist who participates in the series, nor is her participation in the series the primary metric through which I argue for World War 3 as an underground text. Rather, the ethos of World War 3 echoes the approach of the outliers of the underground, so it makes sense that Robbins especially would find a space for her work in this constellation. In the following section, I examine how World War 3 builds from the underground tradition of the outliers and ultimately transforms the activist praxis of comics.


To conceive of World War 3 Illustrated as part of the underground is to argue not only to expand the temporal but also the spatial boundaries of the underground to allow this New York City-produced comics series entry into the club. New York City is acknowledged in underground histories, but often as an originating force for the movement, whereby artists began producing comics in New York in titles like the East Village Other grassroots newspaper before eventually moving to San Francisco and formulating the movement proper.26 Histories of the movement acknowledge other geographies of activity for the underground, but the outliers especially embrace this range—sometimes in their very production.27 Tits & Clits is Los Angeles area-produced throughout its run while Gay Comix is created through conversations between the Milwaukee-based publisher, Denis Kitchen, and the New York City-based editor, Howard Cruse. With this alternate geography, [End Page 98] we see the underground from another perspective, and this difference was especially important to the outliers—Wimmen's Comix #5 (June 1975) celebrated its international contributors while later issues of Wimmen's Comix emphasized the disparate geographies of their contributors in the prefatory material for the comic.28 For all of the outliers and also for World War 3, the political visions that shaped the work were bigger than any one location. Though there's often a very distinct New York City grounding to World War 3's perspective, there are departures within individual stories as well as on the level of entire issues—for example, World War 3 Illustrated #17: L. A. Riots (1992) and World War 3 Illustrated #42: Tahrir: Liberation from the Mideast to the Midwest (2011)—especially as the series continues.29 In fact, the table of contents of the latter issue demonstrates how World War 3 transcends national boundaries by indicating the geographic location of each contributor in parenthesis following their name.30 This spatial expansiveness aligns with the inclusive nature of the outliers and World War 3, which facilitates their ability to make space politically for new causes and continue to evolve their series alongside their movements.

World War 3 begins through the vision of Seth Tobocman and Peter Kuper, childhood friends who were influenced by underground comix to create their own politically-minded, anti-war comic in 1979.31 In a 2014 reissuing of Kuper's wordless comic, The System (1997), Calvin Reid pens a preface that reviews Kuper's career and positions him and his peers at World War 3 as a "group of neo-undergrounders [who have] managed to build on that legacy in the 1980s and 1990s."32 From its first issue, World War 3 radiates outward from Kuper and Tobocman to bring in a variety of other artists. As feminist art critic Lucy R. Lippard describes the constellation of participants who make up the first ten issues of the series: "The artists/editors of WW3 are an ideologically diverse group, a 'puzzle' reassembled anew with each issue—people with different backgrounds, skills, styles, and politics drawn together by a deep abhorrence for the politics and the culture of the Reagan era, into which they emerged from their teens."33 With each subsequent issue and every new creator who participates, new social and political causes are taken up by the left-leaning comic, which aims to portray topics and perspectives insufficiently covered by the media otherwise. Over the course of four decades, forty-nine issues, edited by a rotating editorial collective that has included thirty-two creators in addition to Kuper and Tobocman, have been produced. Describing the range of politically left perspectives covered by the series, Tobocman posits: "There are liberals, libertarians, anarchists, feminists, squatters, renters, and a lot of people who don't fit under any category. We've featured a range of material and that includes some people who are very anti-state and very direct action oriented and some people who might not be."34 Almost from its inception, World War 3 was a more diverse publication than the outliers, not only including and centering populations we often think of when we evoke diversity—people of color, LGBTQ folks, and, when it comes to comix, women—but also incorporating other marginalized voices like incarcerated and homeless people. [End Page 99]

Over the course of its run, World War 3 has involved over 600 named people and organizations in its creation and production.35 This number comprises all contributors named in the tables of contents for all forty-nine issues, including visual artists and their sometimes textual collaborators in addition to those people listed as participating in the production of the issue in another capacity. In any one issue, dozens of artists share their work across its 100-plus pages. Of all the people involved in World War 3, 75% contribute just once, while roughly 85% contribute just once or twice. This high number of infrequent contributors bespeaks World War 3's coalitional politics practiced in every issue where a thematic approach—from World War 3 Illustrated #15: Park Issue (1991) to World War 3 Illustrated #32: 9/11 (2001) to World War 3 Illustrated #46: Youth & Climate Change (2015)—draws in new contributors and audiences.36 The infrequent contributors include a number of renowned contemporary comics artists, including Lauren Weinstein (#30, #49), Josh Neufeld (#32), Joe Sacco (#36), Kyle Baker (#38), Magdy El Shafee (#42, #43, #49), and Tom Hart (#45). A range of underground cartoonists also participate across the series: Peter Bagge (#1), Leslie Sternbergh (#6), Trina Robbins (#14, #16), Angela Bocage (#19, #23, #24), Howard Cruse (#20), Roberta Gregory (#30), Spain Rodriguez (#32, #36), Art Spiegelman (#33, #34, #37), and Jennifer Camper (#37, #40, #41, #42).

Despite the impressive number of contributors over its four decades, the count of creators is necessarily partial. The presence of collectives named throughout the volumes reminds us that often many more people participated on a piece than can be individually recognized. It also prompts us to consider all the activist organizations from different regions with stakes in these conversations. As an example of this phenomenon, World War 3 Illustrated #47: Climate Chaos (2016) printed a comic, "Keep It in the Ground" (see Figure 3).37 This three-page comic illustrates how corporations have polluted the earth for their own gain, balancing representations of their actions and resultant environmental destruction with the common people who rise up in protest. While panels function sequentially in this piece, they also speak more individually and could be carried as three-panel banners or as separate protest posters at an action. The streamlined screen-printed work gestures to a visual history of print-making forms being used for activist causes. On a page following the three pages of the comic, an artist statement describes the piece and its creation "as a popular education/performance and set of images for Break Free from Fossil Fuel global actions."38 The paragraphs on this page go on to detail contributors and organizations—beyond the two people listed in the table of contents—who helped create the multimedia, direct action project. The description of this "collaboration" explicitly names organizations from across the United States involved in the creation of the project—the San Francisco Projection Dept. collective, Paperhand Puppet Intervention (North Carolina), Beehive Collective (Maine)—as well as recognizing that ten sets of the work were produced as sewn banners and "[shipped] out to regional action coalitions across north america with how to instructions. Many groups carried the pages separately as banners."39 Peg Hunter documents in video the comic alongside a reading "by activist poet Drew Dillinger," [End Page 100] and this reimagined form goes "viral across the planet" on the "Facebook page" for

Figure 3. Page from "Keep It in the Ground" in World War 3 Il-lustrated #47: Climate Chaos (2016).
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Figure 3.

Page from "Keep It in the Ground" in World War 3 Il-lustrated #47: Climate Chaos (2016).

In addition to making visible how many hands were involved in this work, the piece itself reimagines the "political" and "formally experimental" qualities that Hillary Chute argues constitute underground work.41 The piece moves beyond simply representing a "political" view by being created for the purpose of directly intervening in grassroots political action. The many versions of this comic transform our understanding of "formally experimental" as something that moves beyond the aesthetics of the page to analyze how the comic is wielded in different configurations across multiple actions. Here and elsewhere, we encounter a multiplicity of ways that comics fuse with activism and circulate in the real world. [End Page 101]

World War 3 acts as a space to coalesce and connect activisms and actions. There's a bulletin board quality to the image-text advertisements included in each issue, which represent not simply radical businesses but also contain notices about upcoming actions or updates concerning past actions. Lippard echoes how all the different elements in each issue come together in an introduction to a volume that collects together work from World War 3's first ten issues: "Strips, stories, fillers, and ads all can announce demos and meetings, introduce grassroots organizations."42 The comics also perform this synthetic work within the pages of World War 3, as evident in the interplay of the "Fascism in America" and "Against Liberty" pieces in World War 3 Illustrated #10: Fascism (1988).43 The twelve-panel collaborative comic, "Against Liberty," is interspersed across eleven pages that also contain "Fascism in America," the textual transcript of a speech that the New York 8 + made in 1985 and that is reprinted in this issue with a contextualizing preface and afterword (see Figure 4). On the shared opening page of these pieces, we are first introduced to the New York 8 +, a group of "Black community activists," who "organize[d] demonstrations against police murder, and racist killings of Blacks in the New York area" following their arrest and later acquittal.44 The short description preceding their speech also visually introduces "Against Liberty," whose first panel occupies the lower half of the page and depicts an image of Oliver North accompanying text about his role at the National Security Council developing controversial "martial law plans," which came to light during the 1987 Iran Contra Hearings. The image is a grainy reproduction of North during the hearings that has been cropped in a manner that cuts off the top of his head and thereby further focuses the reader on the title of the piece that occupies the space immediately above his face. Together, this page speaks to politically motivated arrests on the local and national level, and this juxtaposition sets up the parallel tracks of how the pieces play off of each other in subsequent pages.

In developing an argument about how we can understand the growth of fascism within the contemporary American political climate, the New York 8 + speech catalogs a wide range of troubling government actions, with an attention throughout the text to how communities of color are targeted. The comic allows us to consider other flash points of government suppression—from "attempts at censoring rock music and magazines" to Los Angeles and New York City's recent actions to intern and institutionalize homeless people.45 While each image is composed by a different artist using distinct media to create their panel, an 8-bit font used for all the captions unites the frames together and visually emphasizes how difference (here of artistic styles) can come together in coalition. This visual range is a snapshot of the kinds of visual techniques—painting, printmaking, collage, new media works, drawing, etc.—used to make comics in any single issue of the series. Rather than an illustrated article where the images would support and depict the material contained within the text, the comic, a work in its own right, amplifies the speech and further expands the bounds of what we should protest. Each piece independently argues that we should connect seemingly disparate actions together in order to understand the contemporary prevalence of fascism in the United States. Having the two pieces share [End Page 102]

Figure 4. First page of the "Fascism in America" and "Against Liberty" pieces in World War 3 Illustrated #10: Fascism (1988).
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Figure 4.

First page of the "Fascism in America" and "Against Liberty" pieces in World War 3 Illustrated #10: Fascism (1988).

[End Page 103] page space reinforces this argument and further makes the visual justification for new potential affinities and solidarities for action.

The final paragraph of the speech brings us to the present moment, interleaving a conversation about the United States' imperialist actions overseas with the "murder of Michael Griffith in Howard Beach, Queens," which sparked "a year long series of militant meetings, programs, demonstrations and protests [that] peaked in Days of Outrage which confounded thousands of police and shut down the political, financial heart of the city."46 This paragraph demonstrates the kind of connective, internationalist thinking that is also formally used when bringing the two works together in shared page space.

The issue as a whole asks us to link movements together in the range of topics and geographic locations that we encounter across its 100-plus pages.47 At the very center of the volume, there's an explicit call to future action that utilizes a variation on the synthetic call of "Fascism in America" and "Against Liberty" by pairing a Seth Tobocman double-spread protest image together with a New York 8 + call for a general strike as the collaborative "General Strike" piece.48 Tobocman's image does not share page space with New York 8 +'s text, but the two coalesce together as one piece where the image and text work in conjunction to stir people to action.

The direct and varied ways that World War 3 artists engage activism in their comics take the spirit of the underground to another level. In scholarship theorizing how anarchist political principles impact a comic's form as well as its content, Frederik Byrn Køhlert builds his argument through an extended engagement with the underground, claiming "the underground cartoonists of the 1960s set out to redefine what a comic could, and perhaps should, be."49 This broader conceptualization of the underground welcomes in the feminist and gay and lesbian artists and is what continues to animate the World War 3 series. Repeated across World War 3's oeuvre by other constellations of artists and collectives, we see artists engaging with and further evolving what this underground project may mean. The visual representations in any single World War 3 issue often, as in the above examples, combine with political practice, answering and extending Køhlert's claim in his article that "the aesthetics of comics have the potential to be truly radical in their ability to suggest other ways of thinking, acting, and organizing in the world—ways, that is, that we may consider anarchic in their resistance to the hierarchically linear logic of state-sponsored capitalism."50 Across the series, artists variously integrate comics into activist actions, and the collaborative nature of many of these works emphasizes how the many hands involved facilitate the pieces taking action in many ways—both on the streets and in the pages of the comic.

Not all of the comics in World War 3 begin or end as part of direct action protests, but the series as a whole adopts a "truly radical" approach to the content that they represent. When Køhlert uses that phrase, he is theorizing the work that comics do through their aesthetics, focusing mainly on their formal aspects. I further extend his argument by relocating it earlier in the artistic process to consider how the World War 3 artists conceive of the kinds of content they should create and what work each aesthetically-diverse issue [End Page 104] of World War 3 is seeking to accomplish as an activist project in and of itself. Occasional World War 3 contributor Sue Coe pinpoints the primacy of content over form in her description of the series: "The driving motor behind World War 3 has always been the content of art, not the form. World War 3 works as a whole, the more established and technically experienced creating a shelter for those who have never been published."51 Though World War 3 is underdiscussed in scholarship more generally, a number of interviews conducted over the years with frequent contributors of the collective allow a direct glimpse at how these creators envision the work of the volume.52 Kuper, who not only started the series with Tobocman, but who has also contributed to forty-six of its forty-nine issues and participated on the editorial collective for twenty issues, describes the approach of the series as a whole:

By the third issue, though, we realized that we were getting most of our information for WW3 from the newspaper—already a faulty source. So we decided that the daily experiences of simply walking down the street in Manhattan and seeing homelessness or seeing what's going on with the squatters' movement were also important issues. All of this material was part of our direct experience, but it wasn't ever going to be covered by the newspaper. In fact, we realized that much of our personal experience wasn't being covered in the mainstream press. So, it seemed even more vital to try and address these issues. One of the things the magazine can be is a means of arresting history and passing it along. We want the magazine to say, "You know, you may not have heard about this, but this is what was going on in the 80s and this is what was going on in the 90s" and so forth.53

In this discussion, Kuper explores how the artists took the underground approach of centering self-expression, those "most personal and unguarded of revelations" as Charles Hatfield conceptualizes them.54 Here, however, the "revelations" that they revealed were trained on experiences in the world around them rather than the interior self. Like the underground artists, these artists want to bring attention to topics that weren't "being covered in the mainstream press," but they focused their attention on larger-scale issues of social injustice. With this different approach, Kuper considers these comics as historical documents that depict "what was going on in the 80s and . . . what was going on in the 90s' and so forth."

In another interview contemporaneous to this one, Tobocman, who has participated in the editorial collective for thirty-three issues and contributed to forty-eight issues overall, discusses how, with the advent of the Internet, the role of World War 3 has shifted to become "more a question of developing our point of view" because "What the Web did was to make it possible to find any point of view that's out there. I can go online and find out all kinds of outrageous stuff that's going on [in] the Middle East that the administration and the media would not want me to see. I can always find things that are completely fabricated, and things that are from a completely reactionary point of view."55 Though Tobocman made this observation over a decade ago, this statement about World War 3 acting [End Page 105] to parse and fairly represent pressing issues given the excess of and false information available seems especially insightful in our current moment. In fact, World War 3's attention to what's being ignored has often situated them in this prescient role; as an example, they spent much of the 1980s repeatedly focusing on police violence against people of color and other marginalized people long before it became a topic in the mainstream media. The aforementioned discussion of the New York 8 + is but a small drop in the bucket of engagement with the topic alongside broader considerations of race and ethnicity across the series. This position reflects World War 3's rootedness in grassroots activism.

The series' ability to touch on such a range of issues derives from its activist, collective structure that actively welcomes new voices and perspectives—both as contributors and as editors. In the same collective interview as the Tobocman observation above, Nicole Schulman describes attending her first World War 3 meeting "in the NoRio zine library . . . It was so crowded. There was no place to sit. I was on my knees by the door. Seth was in the corner, talking, and everyone was introducing themselves to each other."56 Schulman employs this memory to illustrate how the World War 3 collective operates, supporting both "core artists" who regularly publish in the volume, as well as "folks who come and go."57 The room for dialogue among a large "crowd" facilitates the breadth of coverage and further allows space for new voices to enter to propose topics that have yet to receive sufficient coverage.

We see this action taking place in the series itself when Sabrina Jones pushes the group to become more deliberately hospitable to feminist perspectives, which initially results in World War 3 Illustrated #16: Herstories (1992).58 Jones and fellow issue editor Tobocman explain the rationale behind the issue through a joint editorial.59 Running vertically down the sides of the inside cover, these editorials complement each other. Occupying the left-hand side of the page, Jones's editorial gets the first word on the topic and outlines how, despite its "variously leftist/radical/progressive/anarchist" bent, "the few feminist pieces we accepted just didn't seem to fit in" and that "the male-dominated editorial board" did not—at first—understand the need to make specific space for this topic. At this point, Jones had been participating in the series with regularity for several years and had served as one of the editors for the four issues prior to this one.60 She argues for World War 3 to "start building a reputation as a feminist forum," using the editorial as the platform to catalyze that action, embodied by her explicit call in the final paragraph: "So make it happen! Send your KICK ASS feminist work to WW3 and look out 'cause I'm not the only woman editor here any more—we're taking over!" Her editorial makes transparent the reasons that feminist material has not found a home yet in World War 3 and the corrective process going forward, which starts with the content of the issue itself. Tobocman's editorial pairs with Jones in contextualizing the issue in the contemporary moment and explaining how feminism is important as part of the World War 3 project, demonstrating an understanding of how World War 3 could be, as Jones puts it in her editorial, "a place to develop feminist ideas with a radical audience of BOTH sexes." Jones' insistence on "BOTH sexes" and Tobocman's collaboration with her as one of the editors for this issue [End Page 106] emphasizes that the male members of the collective are not only part of that audience, but they are also participants in that conversation who create comics on the topic.

This call ushered in more female participants as contributors and editors and more feminist work across World War 3, including in two further dedicated issues, World War 3 Illustrated #26: Female Complaints (1998) and World War 3 Illustrated #30: Bitchcraft (2000).61 Jones also carried that energy into the comics series, Girltalk (1995–1996), which she participated in editing alongside women that she worked with in World War 3 and which includes both male and female artists from that collective.62 The ability to promote and synthesize male and female perspectives transforms the work of Wimmen's Comix and Tits & Clits in creating spaces for the development of female cartoonists and feminist politics and echoes the drive of Gay Comix to equally represent male and female perspectives and artists in the pages of the series.


When World War 3 gets mentioned in scholarship, scholars often focus their remarks on a single issue that the series has covered, like the 9/11 issue.63 I have discussed the series more holistically by tracing out trends of how it is produced and what it covers across the series. This method resonates with how the series conceives of itself as participating in a continuing struggle, as articulated in the editorial for World War 3 #45: Before and After (2013): "The only reason anyone stays involved is because they believe in the intent of the magazine—to maintain a creative outlet for socially conscious work—and want to keep its heart beating for another issue. This idea inspired new generations of artists to join WW3 who were not even born when the first issue came off the presses."64 This retrospective sentiment focuses on how ideological commitments fuel the series, downplaying the efforts of any single individual. Though either Tobocman or Kuper has contributed in some way to every single issue of World War 3, we are reminded that this project has become bigger than the two of them and that, in fact, it is the "new generations of artists" who "keep [World War 3's] heart beating for another issue." The intergenerational has become an important facet of the series in terms of how the series conceives of its own history as it simultaneously operates in a future-oriented direction.

Over the course of its four decades, World War 3 has stopped to take stock of its history, hosting art exhibits and publishing retrospective volumes that recollect and recontextualize some of the comics from past issues of the series.65 They hosted an art exhibit, "Graphic Radicals," to celebrate their 30th anniversary and published a hefty retrospective volume, World War 3 Illustrated: 1979–2014 (2014) to mark their 35th anniversary.66 In reviewing the exhibit, Karen Green discusses how "a timeline down the center of the Exit Art gallery provides a 30-year history of political action . . . juxtapos[ing] the WW3 artists' involvement with those newsworthy events that helped galvanize them."67 Detailing this visual timeline in a lengthy catalog to make the scope of World War 3's involvement in social justice tangible to her readers, Green evidences the range of causes that has activated the collective throughout the years. Kuper and Tobocman reproduce and add to this [End Page 107] timeline when they edit the 35th anniversary collection.68 They include the timeline at the back of the volume, providing context for the previous content and how such a range of topics came together in this constellation.

Though anthologies like these are often published when a movement is over, this volume, like the other previous collections, acts to produce more movement, opening the series up to new audiences and presenting anew comics on social injustice that remain ever relevant. The timeline itself indicates this movement forward as its final line, under the 2014 subhead, intones: "WW3 contributors, old and new, begin work on another issue . . ."69 This simple phrase illuminates how the timeline is not one statically moored to the past, but one that dynamically continues beyond its own writing towards the future. In the years following the release of the volume, four more issues of World War 3 have been published.70 While every new issue shows the evolution of causes and adoption of new ones, they also demonstrate the need for a continuing struggle and a perpetuation of the underground ethos. One of the most recent issues, World War 3 Illustrated #48: Fight Fascism! (2017), echoes the theme of an issue published nearly three decades earlier, World War 3 Illustrated #10: Fascism Issue (1988).71 In both issues, over a quarter of the participants are contributing for the first time and may become part of a new generation of artist activists. The welcoming in and fostering of first-time contributors echoes the tactics of the outliers of the underground, as opposed to many underground titles who operated through insular cliques. In this reconceived genealogy, World War 3 is the underground with a future. [End Page 108]

Margaret Galvan

Margaret Galvan is Assistant Professor of Visual Rhetoric in the Department of English at the University of Florida. She is at work on a book, In Visible Archives of the 1980s: Feminist Politics & Queer Platforms, under contract with the University of Minnesota Press, which examines how contemporary publishing practices—and the historical archiving of those publishing activities—have played critical roles in the development of understandings of the visual within feminist and queer political activism during the 1970s and 1980s. Her published work, which analyzes comics through intersectional approaches, can be found in journals like Australian Feminist Studies, WSQ: Women's Studies Quarterly, Archive Journal, American Literature, and Journal of Lesbian Studies. See margaretgalvan. org for more information.


. I would like to acknowledge the community of individuals without whom this work would not exist. Karen Green, Curator for Cartoons and Comics at Columbia University, made this work possible by purchasing a full run of World War 3 Illustrated from Peter Kuper for the circulating comics collection housed in Butler Library and through all her work promoting comics and engagement with comics history. I first presented on this topic at the "The Counterpublics of Underground Comix" panel that Leah Misemer and I organized at the 2016 Modern Language Association conference, where I benefited from engaging with fellow panelists, Ian Blechschmidt, Jonathan W. Gray, Aaron Kashtan, Joshua Abraham Kopin, and Lara Saguisag, as well as with our audience. This essay was first drafted in its present form during the University of Florida's Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere humanities writing retreat, where my ideas were shaped through being in dialogue with my colleagues Kenneth Kidd and Jodi Schorb as we worked on our research. During the writing and revision process, this work was honed through conversations with Colin Beineke, Meredith Benjamin, Jeremy M. Carnes, Matthew Glass, Nicholas E. Miller, and Melina Moore.

1. Mark James Estren, A History of Underground Comics (San Francisco, CA: Straight Arrow Books, 1974), 17–20.

2. Stephen Weiner, "How the Graphic Novel Changed American Comics," in The Rise of the American Comics Artist: Creators and Contexts, ed. Paul Williams and James Lyons (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2010), 4.

3. Roy T. Cook, "Underground and Alternative Comics," in The Routledge Companion to Comics, ed. Frank Bramlett, Roy T. Cook, and Aaron Meskin, 1st edition (New York: Routledge, 2016), 36.

4. Charles Hatfield, Alternative Comics: An Emerging Literature (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2005), 7–20; Hillary L. Chute, Graphic Women: Life Narrative and Contemporary Comics (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010), 16; Hillary Chute, Why Comics?: From Underground to Everywhere (Harper-Collins, 2017), 13–15.

5. Patrick Rosenkranz, Rebel Visions: The Underground Comix Revolution, 1967–1975 (Seattle: Fantagraphics, 2002), 215, 235.

6. See also Nicholas Sammond's essay where he considers how women's and queer underground comix were produced within communities, documented today in how they are held within archival collections. Within this work, he also asks how these works both fit within and exceed the larger underground framework: Nicholas Sammond, "Meeting in the Archive: Comix and Collecting as Community," Feminist Media Histories 4.3 (2018): 96–118.

7. Roberta Gregory, Dynamite Damsels (Long Beach, CA: Self-published, 1976); Larry Fuller, ed., Gay Heart Throbs #1 (San Francisco: Ful-Horne Productions, 1976); Lee Marrs, The Compleat Fart and Other Body Emissions (Princeton, WI: Kitchen Sink Enterprises, 1976); Joyce Farmer and Chin Lyvely, eds., Tits & Clits #2 (Laguna Beach, CA: Nanny Goat Productions, 1976); Aline Kominsky and Diane Noomin, Twisted Sisters (Berkeley: Last Gasp, 1976); Trina Robbins, ed., Wet Satin #1 (Berkeley: Last Gasp, 1976); Melinda Gebbie and Dot Bucher, eds., Wimmen's Comix #7 (Berkeley: Last Gasp, 1976).

8. Rosenkranz, Rebel Visions, 235–60. Rosenkranz does briefly mention Wet Satin #1 in a discussion of Kitchen Sink Press, but he does not further engage any other similar works.

9. Both Justin Hall and Roy T. Cook acknowledge the significance of Fuller and Cruse in their histories, while Hillary Chute devotes some pages to Cruse in her recent monograph. Justin Hall, "No Straight Lines," in No Straight Lines: Four Decades Of Queer Comics, ed. Justin Hall, 1st edition (Seattle, WA: Fantagraphics, 2013), np; Cook, "Underground and Alternative Comics," 38; Chute, Why Comics?, 355–57.

10. Howard Cruse, "Gravy on Gay," in Barefootz Funnies #2 (Princeton, WI: Kitchen Sink Press, 1976). Cruse has recently reprinted this strip and his other gay-themed strips in a volume where he also discusses his evolution as a gay artist: Howard Cruse, From Headrack to Claude (Seattle: Northwest Press, 2012).

11. Cook, "Underground and Alternative Comics," 38. To read more about Ebon #1 and Fuller's career more generally, see M. Steven Fox, "Ebon #1," Comixjoint,; Caitlin McCabe, "Profiles in Black Cartooning: Larry Fuller," Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, February 17, 2016,

12. Rosenkranz's volume is widely cited and often directly suggested as an important source, along the lines of the following sources. In Alternative Comics, Charles Hatfield writes: "This era has at last been fittingly chronicled by Patrick Rosenkranz's Rebel Visions (2002), a long-gestating and stunningly detailed history (which readers are urged to seek out)." In an essay in The Rise of the American Comics Artist, Stephen Weiner writes: "An alternative comics sales model was exploited by 'underground' comix beginning in the late 1960s, a movement explored thoroughly in Patrick Rosenkranz's 2002 book Rebel Visions . . ." Hatfield, Alternative Comics, 7; Weiner, "How the Graphic Novel Changed American Comics," 3–4.

13. Michael Warner, Publics and Counterpublics (New York: Zone Books, 2005), 121–22.

14. Trina Robbins, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Robert Triptow, eds., Strip AIDS USA (San Francisco: Last Gasp, 1988). Trina Robbins, ed., CHOICES: A Pro-Choice Benefit Comic Anthology for the National Organization for Women (Oakland, CA: Angry Isis Press, 1990).

15. Tim Barela, Howard Cruse, Leslie Ewing, Roberta Gregory, Mark Durham, Julie Franki, Donna Barr, Fish, Diane DiMassa, Burton Clarke, Jeffrey Krell, Michael Wilhoite, A. J. Benny, and Robert Kirby, "March Toons 1," in Gay Comics #17, ed. Andy Mangels (San Francisco: Bob Ross, 1993), 18–19; Julie Franki, Mark Durham, Diane Germain, Fish, Burton Clarke, Nicole Ferentz, Alisa Gordaneer, Demian, Jeffrey Krell, Leslie Ewing, and Jennifer Camper, "March Toons 2," in Gay Comics #17, 30–31.

16. Joyce Farmer and Lyn Chevely, eds., Abortion Eve, (Laguna Beach, CA: Nanny Goat Productions, 1973); Becky Wilson, ed., After Shock: Bulletins from Ground Zero! (Berkeley: Last Gasp Eco Funnies, 1981); Jay Kinney, ed., Anarchy Comics #1 (Berkeley: Last Gasp Eco Funnies, 1978); Jay Kinney, ed., Anarchy Comics #2 (Berkeley: Last Gasp Eco Funnies, 1979); Jay Kinney, ed., Anarchy Comics #3 (Berkeley: Last Gasp Eco Funnies, 1981); Paul Mavrides, ed., Anarchy Comics #4 (Berkeley: Last Gasp Eco Funnies, 1987); Leonard Rifas, ed., Corporate Crime Comics #1 (Princeton, WI: Kitchen Sink Press, 1977); Leonard Rifas, ed., Corporate Crime Comics #2 (Princeton, WI: Kitchen Sink Press, 1979); Ron Turner, ed., Slow Death Funnies #1 (Berkeley: Last Gasp, 1970); Ron Turner, ed., Slow Death #2 (Berkeley: Last Gasp, 1970); Ron Turner, ed., Slow Death #3 (Berkeley: Last Gasp, 1971); Ron Turner, ed., Slow Death #4 (Berkeley: Last Gasp, 1972); Ron Turner, ed., Slow Death #5 (Berkeley: Last Gasp, 1973); Ron Turner, ed., Slow Death #6 (Berkeley: Last Gasp, 1974); Ron Turner, ed., Slow Death #7 (Berkeley: Last Gasp, 1976); Ron Turner, ed., Slow Death #8 (Berkeley: Last Gasp, 1977); Ron Turner, ed., Slow Death #9 (Berkeley: Last Gasp, 1978); Ron Turner, ed., Slow Death #10 (Berkeley: Last Gasp, 1979); Ron Turner, ed., Slow Death #11 (Berkeley: Last Gasp, 1992).

17. Alison Bechdel, The Indelible Alison Bechdel: Confessions, Comix, and Miscellaneous Dykes To Watch Out For (Ithaca, NY: Firebrand Books, 1998), 9.

18. To read how the Gay Comix series shaped cartoonist Jennifer Camper's career, see: Margaret Galvan, "Making Space: Jennifer Camper, LGBTQ Anthologies, and Queer Comics Communities," ed. Michelle Ann Abate, Karly Marie Grice, and Christine N. Stamper, Journal of Lesbian Studies 22.4 (2018): 373–89.

19. Jonathan Wood, "Letters," in Gay Comix #3, ed. Howard Cruse (Princeton, WI: Kitchen Sink Press, 1982).

20. The longevity of these series troubles the demarcations between underground and alternative comics. These markers are useful for understanding other comics properties, as Hatfield demonstrates in Alternative Comics, but the scholars cited later in this paragraph implicitly recognize how the outliers both adopt and transcend these categories. Within this scope, the series evolve to suit the new era, but build intergenerational bridges in so doing.

21. Hall, "No Straight Lines," np.

22. Hall, "No Straight Lines," np.

23. Martha H. Kennedy, Drawn to Purpose: American Women Illustrators and Cartoonists (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2018), 67–68.

24. Trina Robbins, From Girls to Grrrlz: A History of ♀'s Comics from Teens to Zines (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1999), 116–18; Trina Robbins, The Great Women Cartoonists (New York: Watson-Guptill, 2001), 113.

25. Trina Robbins, "Disastrous Relationships," in World War 3 Illustrated #16: Herstories, eds. Isabella Bannerman, Scott Cunningham, Sabrina Jones, Sandy Jimenez, Peter Kuper, Villa Piazza, and Seth Tobocman, (New York: World War 3 Illustrated, Inc., 1992), 22; Trina Robbins, "Sex and Sexism in Comics," in World War 3 Illustrated #16: Herstories, eds. Isabella Bannerman, Scott Cunningham, Sabrina Jones, Sandy Jimenez, Peter Kuper, Villa Piazza, and Seth Tobocman, (New York: World War 3 Illustrated, Inc., 1992), 23–27; Trina Robbins, "The War Game," in World War 3 Illustrated #14: New World Empire, eds. Peter Kuper, Seth Tobocman, Sabrina Jones, and Scott Cunningham, (New York: World War 3 Illustrated, Inc., 1991), 49.

26. Rosenkranz, Rebel Visions, 130.

27. Estren, A History of Underground Comics; Denis Kitchen and James Danky, Underground Classics: The Transformation of Comics into Comix (New York: Abrams, 2009); Rosenkranz, Rebel Visions.

28. Margaret Galvan, "Archiving Wimmen: Collectives, Networks, and Comix," Australian Feminist Studies 32.91–92 (2017): 22–40; Trina Robbins and Terry Richards, eds., Wimmen's Comix #5 (Berkeley: Last Gasp, 1975); Phoebe Gloeckner and Angela Bocage, eds., Wimmen's Comix #15 (Auburn, CA: Rip Off Press, 1989); Caryn Leschen, ed., Wimmen's Comix #17 (Auburn, CA: Rip Off Press, 1992).

29. Seth Tobocman, Peter Kuper, Sandy Jimenez, Scott Cunningham, and Isabella Bannerman, eds., World War 3 Illustrated #17: L. A. Riots (New York: World War 3 Illustrated, Inc., 1992); Seth Tobocman, Ethan Heitner, and Jordan Worley, eds., World War 3 Illustrated #42: Tahrir: Liberation from the Mideast to the Midwest (New York: World War 3 Illustrated, Inc., 2011).

30. Tobocman, Heitner, et. al., World War 3 Illustrated #42, np.

31. Though they conceived of the series in 1979, the first issue of World War 3 Illustrated is dated 1980. However, accounts of the series by the collective members, including on their website and in the most recent retrospective edition, often date the first issue at 1979. No matter the date, this series begins contemporaneously to two other series often seen as carrying the torch of the underground into the next generation: RAW #1 (1980) and Weirdo #1 (1981). Seth Tobocman, Peter Kuper, and Christof Kohlhofer, eds., World War 3 Illustrated #1 (World War 3 Illustrated, Inc., 1980); Peter Kuper and Seth Tobocman, eds., World War 3 Illustrated: 1979–2014 (Oakland, CA: PM Press, 2014), 306–07; WW3 Editors, "World War 3 Illustrated: Past Issues," World War 3 Illustrated (website), accessed April 15, 2019,; Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly, eds., RAW #1 (New York: Raw, 1980); Robert Crumb, ed., Weirdo #1 (Berkeley: Last Gasp, 1981).

32. Calvin Reid, "Bright Lights, Scary City," in The System, by Peter Kuper (Oakland, CA: PM Press, 2014).

33. Lucy R. Lippard, "Introduction," in World War 3 Illustrated: 1980–1988, ed. Peter Kuper and Seth Tobocman (Seattle: Fantagraphics, 1989), 5.

34. Kent Worcester, "The World War 3 Illustrated Interview," The Comics Journal, no. 276 (2006): 162.

35. The numbers in this paragraph come from my own documentation of the series's production history by manually tracking the participants listed in the front matter and throughout the issue. I built this spreadsheet initially through working with a full run of the series held in the circulating comics collection of Columbia University's Butler Library. Karen Green, Curator for Cartoons and Comics at the university, acquired this collection from Peter Kuper.

36. Scott Cunningham, Sabrina Jones, Seth Tobocman, Peter Kuper, and Villa Piazza, eds., World War 3 Illustrated #15: Park Issue (New York: World War 3 Illustrated, Inc., 1991); Seth Tobocman, Peter Kuper, and Jordan Worley, eds., World War 3 Illustrated #32: 9/11 (New York: World War 3 Illustrated, Inc., 2001); Paula Hewitt Amram, Hilary Allison, and Sandy Jimenez, eds., World War 3 Illustrated #46: Youth & Climate Change (New York: World War 3 Illustrated, Inc., 2015).

37. David Solnit, Jan Berger, and others, "Keep It in the Ground," in World War 3 Illustrated #47: Climate Cha os, eds. Seth Tobocman, Peter Kuper, Susan Simensky Bietila, and Jordan Worley. (World War 3 Illustrated, Inc., 2016), 140–43.

38. Solnit, Berger, et al., "Keep It in the Ground," 143.

39. Solnit, Berger, et al., "Keep It in the Ground," 143.

40. Solnit, Berger, et al., "Keep It in the Ground," 143.

41. Chute, Why Comics?, 15.

42. Lippard, "Introduction," 7.

43. Kenny Meansnecessary, Sabrina Jones, Seth Tobocman, Peter Kuper, Anna Lascari, and Eric Drooker, "Against Liberty," in World War 3 Illustrated #10: Fascism Issue, ed. Peter Kuper, Eric Drooker, and Seth Tobocman (New York: World War 3 Illustrated, Inc., 1988), 22–30, 32–33; New York 8 +, "Fascism in America," in World War 3 Illustrated #10: Fascism Issue, ed. Peter Kuper, Eric Drooker, and Seth Tobocman (New York: World War 3 Illustrated, Inc., 1988), 22–30, 32–33.

44. New York 8 +, "Fascism in America," 22–30, 32–33; Joy James, Imprisoned Intellectuals: America's Political Prisoners Write on Life, Liberation, and Rebellion (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2004), 153.

45. Meansnecessary, Jones, et al., "Against Liberty," 25, 33.

46. New York 8 +, "Fascism in America," 33.

47. In the text of the table of contents alone, we encounter Berlin, America, Nicaragua, Chile, New York, Palestine, and London. Kuper, Drooker, and Tobocman, eds., World War 3 Illustrated #10: Fascism Issue, 1

48. New York 8 +, and Seth Tobocman, "General Strike," in World War 3 Illustrated #10: Fascism Issue, edited by Peter Kuper, Eric Drooker, and Seth Tobocman, (World War 3 Illustrated, Inc., 1988) 56–58.

49. Frederik Byrn Køhlert, "Comics, Form, and Anarchy," SubStance: Graphic Narratives and Narrative Theory 46.2 (2017): 19.

50. Køhlert, "Comics, Form, and Anarchy," 17.

51. Sue Coe, "Introduction," in World War 3 Illustrated: Confrontational Comics, eds. Scott Cunningham, Sabrina Jones, Peter Kuper, and Seth Tobocman. (New York: Running Press, 1995), 7.

52. In addition to the interviews cited elsewhere in this essay, check out this collection of interviews with Peter Kuper, many of which touch on World War 3 Illustrated: Kent Worcester, ed., Peter Kuper: Conversations (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2016).

53. Jarret Lovell, "This Is Not a Comic Book: Jarret Lovell Interviews Graphic Artist Peter Kuper," Crime, Media, Culture: An International Journal 2.1 (April 2006): 78.

54. Charles Hatfield, Alternative Comics, 7.

55. Worcester, "The World War 3 Illustrated Interview," 176.

56. Worcester, "The World War 3 Illustrated Interview," 165.

57. Worcester, "The World War 3 Illustrated Interview," 165.

58. Bannerman, Cunningham, Jones, et al., World War 3 Illustrated #16: Herstories.

59. Sabrina Jones and Seth Tobocman, "About This Issue," in World War 3 Illustrated #16: Herstories, eds. Isabella Bannerman, Scott Cunningham, Sabrina Jones, Sandy Jimenez, Peter Kuper, Villa Piazza, and Seth Tobocman. (World War 3 Illustrated, Inc., 1992), np.

60. Seth Tobocman and Sabrina Jones, eds., World War 3 Illustrated #12: Biohazard (New York: World War 3 Illustrated, Inc., 1989); Sabrina Jones, Peter Kuper, and Seth Tobocman, eds., World War 3 Illustrated #13: Ripped Witness (New York: World War 3 Illustrated, Inc., 1990); Peter Kuper, Seth Tobocman, Sabrina Jones, and Scott Cunningham, eds., World War 3 Illustrated #14: New World Empire (New York: World War 3 Illustrated, Inc., 1991); Cunningham, Jones, et al., World War 3 Illustrated #15: Park Issue.

61. Samantha Berger and Sabrina Jones, eds., World War 3 Illustrated #26: Female Complaints (New York: World War 3 Illustrated, Inc., 1998); Sabrina Jones, Isabella Bannerman, and Denise Ozker, eds., World War 3 Illustrated #30: Bitchcraft (New York: World War 3 Illustrated, Inc., 2000).

62. Isabella Bannerman, Ann Decker, and Sabrina Jones, eds., Girltalk #1 (Seattle: Fantagraphics Books, 1995); Isabella Bannerman, Ann Decker, and Sabrina Jones, eds., Girltalk #2 (Seattle: Fantagraphics Books, 1995); Isabella Bannerman, Ann Decker, and Sabrina Jones, eds., Girltalk #3 (Seattle: Fantagraphics Books, 1996); Isabella Bannerman, Ann Decker, and Sabrina Jones, eds., Girltalk #4 (Seattle: Fantagraphics Books, 1996).

63. Crystal Alberts, "'I'm Only Just Starting to Look': Media, Art, and Literature After 9/11," in Transatlantic Literature and Culture After 9/11: The Wrong Side of Paradise, ed. Kristine A. Miller (Palgrave Macmillan: London, 2014), 177–97; Kent Worcester, "New York City, 9/11, and Comics," Radical History Review 2011, no. 111 (September 1, 2011): 139–54.

64. Peter Kuper and Scott Cunningham, "Editorial," in World War 3 Illustrated #45: Before and After, ed. Peter Kuper and Scott Cunningham (New York: World War 3 Illustrated, Inc., 2013), 2.

65. In addition to the retrospective editions mentioned in the following discussion, see: Peter Kuper and Seth Tobocman, eds., World War 3 Illustrated: 1980–1988 (Seattle: Fantagraphics, 1989); Scott Cunningham, Sabrina Jones, Peter Kuper, and Seth Tobocman, eds., World War 3 Illustrated: Confrontational Comics (New York: Running Press, 1995).

66. Holland Cotter, "'Graphic Radicals': '30 Years of World War 3 Illustrated,'" The New York Times, January 13, 2011,; Kuper and Tobocman, eds., World War 3 Illustrated: 1979–2014.

67. Karen L. Green, "The Rapidograph Is Mightier Than the Sword," ComiXology, February 4, 2011,

68. Peter Kuper and Seth Tobocman, eds., "Timeline," in World War 3 Illustrated: 1979–2014 (Oakland, CA: PM Press, 2014), 305–21.

69. Peter Kuper and Seth Tobocman, eds., "Timeline," 321.

70. Hewitt Amram, Allison, et al., World War 3 Illustrated #46: Youth & Climate Change; Seth Tobocman, Peter Kuper, Susan Simensky Bietila, and Jordan Worley, eds., World War 3 Illustrated #47: Climate Chaos (New York: World War 3 Illustrated, Inc., 2016); Jordan Worley, Peter Kuper, Isabella Bannerman, Susan Simensky Bietila, Sandy Jimenez, and Seth Tobocman, eds., World War 3 Illustrated #48: Fight Fascism! (New York: AK Press/World War 3 Illustrated, Inc., 2017); Susan Simensky Bietila, Rebecca Migdal, Kevin Pyle, Seth Tobocman, and Jordan Worley, eds., World War 3 Illustrated #49: Now Is the Time of Monsters (New York: World War 3 Illustrated, Inc., 2018).

71. Kuper, Drooker, and Tobocman, World War 3 Illustrated #10: Fascism Issue; Worley, Kuper, Bannerman, Bietila, Jimenez, and Tobocman, World War 3 Illustrated #48: Fight Fascism!.

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