SUBSCRIBE | LOGIN | Forgot Password?
 Home | GPA Features | News/Articles | SUBSCRIBE | LOGIN | Links | Contact GPA: Comic Book Pricing & Analysis
 
   GPA Newsletter, Articles, Press Releases
 

 Back to main news section

A Good Mouse Falleth Not by Joseph Fiore

Joseph Fiore, GPAnalysis' Underground Comics Advisor continues to write on the history of Undergrounds.

If you’ve ever seen or owned a CGC graded copy of Air Pirates Funnies (Hell Comics, 1971), and wondered about an odd notation on the label which reads: “Banned from future sales and reprinting after courts sided with Disney lawsuit”, then this months article should help shed some light, and will include a brief account of this groundbreaking books fascinating history.

An example of a CGC label which reads "Banned from future sales and reprinting after court sided with Disney lawsuit."

In 1971, Dan O’Neill was not only at the center of a Disney copyright lawsuit, but the event itself would mark a defining moment in the underground comix movement. An important story that would begin to delineate the relationship between comic books and the law, and set many of the parody laws that are still in place today. It happened during a time which saw an American society transformed by a youth culture that reclaimed art, writing, music, and ultimately comic books from the guardians of propriety. A moment in American history appropriately pegged the “counter-culture” era. The Disney empire would spend nearly two decades defending the great colossus of Americana: a mouse that went by the name "Mickey."

In the early 1960’s, and still in his early 20’s, Dan O’Neill became a syndicated artist with the San Francisco Chronicle, devoting himself to a comic strip known as Odd Bodkins. It was during his tenure with the San Francisco Chronicle that Dan O’Neill would become disenchanted, specifically with such things as conformity and pressure on the creators of comic books which resulted in products that upheld proscribed American values. In a sense, he was being held captive by predictable mainstream cartoon characters and strips that were puerile, and tiresome.

Although the Odd Bodkins cartoon strip appeared in nearly every major newspaper across America, it was due to the provocative nature of the strip that O’Neill was let go. With the departure, the constraints on creativity and artistic boundaries were lifted, and may well have marked the moment when he began to explore the idea of busting stricture, and downing the character which epitomized the neutering of comics and their creators. O’Neill would join a generation of frustrated cartoonists with pent-up inhibitions that demanded venting. Named after a band of adversaries with intentions of running down Mickey Mouse in the original Disney cartoon strips, O’Neill assembled a band of cartoonists appropriately called the “Air Pirates.”

In the summer of 1971, in a run-down warehouse, O’Neill and the Air Pirates released the most controversial comic book of our times -- "Air Pirates Funnies" numbers 1 and 2, in print runs of 15,000-20,000 copies, and under the auspices of Hell Comics. The highlights were stories that showed Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters in distinctly offensive situations. But for all the references to sex and drugs, the Air Pirates' work was fairly mild compared to other underground comix of that same era, which tended to feature disturbing examples of sexual bizarreness. By contrast, "Air Pirates Funnies" were professionally drawn to imitate the warm and angular style of the Mickey Mouse strips of the early 1930s.

GPAnalysis reports a CGC NM 9.4 copy of Air Pirates Funnies #1 selling for $1,207.50

GPAnalysis reports a CGC NM- 9.2 copy of Air Pirates Funnies #2 selling for $603.75

Air Pirates Funnies #1, which carried the actual front cover title "Mickey Mouse Meets the Air Pirates Funnies" appeared under the counter in head shops and radical bookstores around the globe. Within 90 days of the book being published, the Walt Disney Empire, in all of it's might, moved in to stop O'Neill from ever again publishing these obviously proud and hackneyed pornographic comic books. This war which lasted for the next 20 years is now remembered mostly by the spoofing manner of Disney characters in ways that Walt Disney never imagined. It would be a lawsuit which brought widespread interest to the Air Pirates Funnies title, and made it an archetype befitting a counterculture movement anxious to make its mark. For an in-depth and superb retelling of this incredible story – one of the most amazing legal battles in all of American judicial history – I strongly encourage readers of this column, and fans of the counterculture, to obtain a copy of Bob Levin's “The Pirates and The Mouse.”

Sources used for this article:

- The Pirates and the Mouse. Bob Levin. 2003, Fantagraphics Books.

- The Official Underground Comix and New Wave Price Guide. Jay Kennedy. 1982, Boatner Norton Press.

- GPAnalysis Website http://comics.gpanalysis.com

Joseph Fiore has been a collector of Golden, Silver, Bronze and Modern book since the early 80's, with a specialization in Underground Comix. As a completest, Joseph has put together some impressive runs on well-known comics books, and nearly 97% of the books appearing in Jay Kennedy’s 1982 Underground Comics and New Wave Price Guide, as well as other rarities that Jay Kennedy missed. He is also the moderator for the Underground Comix section at ComicsPriceGuide, which includes an FAQ, and can be found at http://ugfaq.comicwiz.com. When Joseph is not developing websites or troubleshooting IT related issues, he is both a casual reader and an avid collector of comic books, original art, and fantasy books and magazines. He can be contacted at jfiore@comicwiz.com.

**Special acknowledgments are given to numerous members of the CGC forums who have provided Joseph with their attention and assistance in spreading the word on Undergrounds**


 
     
     
 

Join today start trading smarter!

GPA Facebook Fan Page
Checkout ...
Hobby leaders talk GPA
"GPA has become a resource that is imperative for all collectors and dealers of CGC comics. With the release of GPA 2.0, the first significant redesign, GPA as become easier to use and further assures its place amongst the most important resources available online in the comic book hobby"
Mark Haspel
CGC Comics
 
"The data GPA provides on current sales and the state of the market is an invaluable resource for dealers and collectors alike. GPA has provided the collecting community with an incredible service that our company has referenced time and time again"
Vincent Zurzolo
Metropolis Collectibles
 
"GPA has proved to be an indispensable tool in comic book investing, as much as CGC. It’s the essential road map to successful trading in our burgeoning market"
Matt Nelson
CGC Comics
 
GPA Recent Stats - Last 30 days
Total Turnover:
$6,337,149
Top Price Paid:
$143,400
Total Books Traded:
21,749
 (GPA Market Reports)
Check out Heritage Auctions...
Bonhams Auctions...
Recent Chart Busters
Heritage Auctions
Avengers, The (1963) #4 CGC 9.8
$143,400
Pedigree Comics
Tales of Suspense (1959-1968) #39 CGC 8.5
$28,500
Investment Grade Key Comics
Brave And The Bold, The (1955-1983) #28 CGC 7.5
$18,000
Greg Reece Comics
Startling Comics (1940-1948) #49 CGC 9.0
$16,000
My Comic Shop
Amazing Fantasy (1962-1996) #15 CGC 2.5
$12,360
DTA Collectibles
Amazing Fantasy (1962-1996) #15 CGC 1.8
$9,500
Heritage Auctions Comic Market
Weird Science-Fantasy (Annuals) #1 CGC 5.5
$2,000
Quality Comix
Tomb of Dracula (1972-1979) #10 CGC 9.6
$1,550
Heronext
House of Secrets (1956-1978) #92 CGC 8.0
$1,100
Visit our Sponsors
Cool Jerk!
 
 
 
© 2017 GPA for Comics Pty Ltd