|Description||Les Coleman's comic book collection is comprised primarily of North American comics from the underground comic [sometimes referred to as 'underground comix'] movement [1968-1980] and the subsequent alternative comics movement [1980-present]. Underground comics describe the art form which originated in the US in the 1960s and reflected the counter-cultural movement of the time. Indeed many of these titles where published by San Francisco based publishing houses [Last Gasp, The Print Mint, Rip-Off Press, Apex Novelties] - the epicentre of the 60s counter-cultural movement. They were vastly different from their contemporary mainstream counterparts which were mainly action based superhero, detective or war stories aimed at male adolescents. Alternatively underground comics generally, but not exclusively, dealt with more adult themes, including drug use, sexuality and violence. Moreover underground comics also examined and expressed changing social attitudes about race, women's rights and the environment. |
Unlike mainstream comics, underground comics had a more personal or homemade ethos and aesthetic with comic book creators writing, drawing and editing their own work. Notable artists of the underground era include Robert Crumb, Art Spiegelman, S Clay Wilson, Spain Rodriguez, Gilbert Shelton, Bill Griffith, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Kim Deitch, and Trina Robbins. Some of the more significant runs in Coleman's collection include 'American Splendor', 'Arcade', 'Bijou Funnies', 'San Francisco Comics' and 'Wimmins Comix'. The underground comic era came to an end in the late 1970s alongside changing popular trends and declining interest in the counter-culture of the 1960s. It was in 1980s that an increasingly diverse and non-conformist titles known as alternative comics replaced underground comics place in US comic history.
Building on the radical foundations of underground comics, alternative comics became more diverse in terms of appearance and artistic style, genre, and subject matter. The majority of comic runs in Coleman's collection are identified as alternative comics, and they represent the range and diversity of the movement. It is apparent from the collection that Coleman had a particular appreciation of female alternative comic book artists. In addition to Julie Doucet [whose work has been allotted its own series], Coleman sought out the work of North American as well as British female artists.
In attention to comic books Coleman amassed a range of pieces produced by underground and alternative comic book artists, including prints, postcards and mini-comics