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No one could have known that when struggling illustrator R. Crumb self-published Zap Comix #1 in 1968 and began hawking copies in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district, history would be made. By the arrival of issue #4 (1969) and Crumb’s Zap collective (S. Clay Wilson, Victor Moscoso, Rick Griffiin, Gilbert Shelton, Robert Williams, and Spain Rodriguez) fully formed, the artists had broken every Comics Code taboo imaginable — and then some. Zap spawned an entire underground comix industry, establishing an adult market for the comics medium that, in turn, set new standards for creators’ rights and ownership that one day would liberate mainstream comic books from the tyrannical grip of corporate publishers, paving the way for literary work by the likes of Art Spiegelman, Lynda Barry, Chris Ware, and Daniel Clowes, among others.

This two-floor retrospective of original ZAP artwork, curated by Monte Beauchamp, editor of The Life and Times of R. Crumb (St. Martin’s Press, 1998), presents key pieces by Zap artists R. Crumb, S. Clay Wilson, Robert Williams, Victor Moscoso, Spain Rodriguez, Rick Griffin, and Paul Mavrides culled from the underground art collection of co-curator Eric Sack, with contributions from Gilbert Shelton, Paul Mavrides, Scott Eder, John Lautemann, and James Halperin.

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