Underground and Independent Comics, Comix, and Graphic Novels Series | Alexander Street
Underground and Independent Comics, Comix, and Graphic Novels Series

Underground and Independent Comics, Comix, and Graphic Novels Series

Comics have become an increasingly popular area of academic study, and yet the typical library has only a small selection of graphic novels in the catalog. Underground and Independent Comics solves this problem, collecting thousands of comics—many extremely rare and hard to find—in one, easy-to-use online collection.

Underground and Independent Comics, Comix, and Graphic Novels is the first-ever scholarly online collection for researchers and students of adult comic books and graphic novels. This multi-part resource covers the full spectrum of this visual art form, from pre-comics code era works to modern sequential releases from artists the world over.

From the shocking and explicit work of young artists exploring newfound freedoms to intricate and beautiful designs of aesthetic craftsmanship, the comic book has shown itself to be a medium capable of both the offensive and the sublime. Now users can experience the full range of this offbeat art form by exploring 200,000 pages of original material alongside interviews, commentary, criticism, and other supporting materials.

Underground and Independent Comics, Comix, and Graphic Novels: Volume I

Volume I covers major works from North America and Europe, beginning with the first underground comix from the 1950s and continuing through to modern sequential artists.  It incorporates 75,000 pages of material from artists such as Basil Wolverton and Harvey Kurtzman, R. Crumb, Gilbert Shelton, Harvey Pekar, Spain Rodriguez, and Vaughn Bode, and modern masters including Peter Bagge, Kim Deitch, Dave Sim, Dan Clowes, and Los Bros.

The collection contextualizes these original works with 25,000 pages of interviews, commentary, theory, and criticism from journals, books, and magazines, including The Comics Journal. Also included in this collection is The Seduction of the Innocent by Dr. Frederick Wertham—the book that led to one of the largest censorship programs in US history—and the complete transcripts of the senate subcommittee hearings that birthed the Comics Code Authority and, inadvertently, the underground comix movement.

Underground and Independent Comics, Comix, and Graphic Novels: Volume II

The second volume expands on the debut database by offering an additional 100,000 pages of important, rare, and hard-to-find works, scholarly writings, and more.

Volume II adds extensive coverage of the pre-Comics Code era horror, crime, romance, and war comics that fueled the backlash leading to one of the largest censorship campaigns in US history. Selections include works by visionaries such as Alex Toth, Boody Rogers, Fletcher Hanks, Steve Ditko, Joe Kubert, Bill Everett, Joe Simon, and Jack Kirby, along with essential series such as Crime Does Not Pay and Mister Mystery, and many others both famous and infamous.

Volume II also contains tens of thousands of pages of non-mainstream, post-code comics and secondary materials from around the world, including the US, Canada, France, Italy, Spain, England, Sweden, Norway, Australia, Korea, Japan, and more. Notable titles include:

  • Essex County by Jeff Lemire (Canada, Top Shelf)
  • The Adventures of Hugo Tate by Nick Abadzis (UK, Blank Slate)
  • From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell (UK, Top Shelf)
  • 120 Days of Simon by  Simon Gardenfors (Sweden, Top Shelf)
  • Gen Manhwa by various artists (South Korea, GEN)
  • Lucille by Ludovic Debeurme (France, Top Shelf)
  • Werewolves of Montpellier by Jason (Norway, Fantagraphics)
  • Tango by various artists (Australia, Cardigan Comics)
  • God of Comics: Osamu Tezuka and the Creation of Post-World War II Manga  (University Press of Mississippi)
  • Drawn and Dangerous: Italian Comics of the 1970s and 1980s (University Press of Mississippi)
  • Komiks: Comic Art in Russia (University Press of Mississippi)

Ancillary materials within Volume II render the collection ideal for students and researchers seeking a holistic perspective on the historical role of underground comics. Dozens of associated scholarly writings and commentaries add perspective and enrich understanding of the works and their cultural significance.

Underground and Independent Comics, Comix, and Graphic Novels: Volume III 

The third volume provides contemporary primary sources for comic studies research focusing on the Modern Age of comics from 1986 to the present.  It examine trends and developments particular to the Modern Age of comics in North America — digital creation tools, innovative shifts in art and narratives, and the rise of independent publishing houses and diverse voices. 

Notable titles to Volume III include: 

  • Kagagi: the Raven- a graphic novel featuring an indigenous superhero created by Jay Odjick, a member of the First Nations in Canada.
  • Comic Book Artist- Multi-Eisner award winner! Celebrates cartoonists, writers, and editors from various eras through interviews, feature articles, and unpublished art.
  • Draw! - A professional "How-To" magazine on cartooning and animation, offering in-depth interviews and demonstrations from comics professionals, with mature content for figure-drawing instruction.
  • Write Now! - Explores the creative and business aspects of narrative fiction writing, featuring insights from industry professionals on creating desirable stories for readers and editors.

Teaching Power

Because Underground and Independent Comics, Comix, and Graphic Novels is available on Alexander Street’s powerful online interface, exploring and discovering content has never been easier. Using multiple combinable search fields, users can search comics by material type, coloring, publication date, writer, character, genre, and more. Patrons can explore answers to such questions as:

  • Show the comics referenced in the 1954 hearings of the Senate Subcommittee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency.
  • Show me examples of African-American characters in works by Jaime Hernandez.
  • Find examples of anti-war sentiment in comics published between 1942 and 1950.
  • What were the political, cultural, and economic conditions that led to the rise of the superhero in US comics? Why didn’t European comics follow the same trend? 
  • Find interviews with Alan Moore from 1985 through 1990.
  • Who was the primary audience for Simon and Kirby’s romance comics? How might these stories have differed had they been written and drawn by women?

About the Advisory Board

The collection incorporates content from the field’s leading partners and features an expert editorial board that advises on the inclusion of materials. Board members include:

  • Denis Kitchen: As a writer, cartoonist, editor, publisher, entrepreneur, and scholar, Denis has been involved in the underground comix movement since its birth. Through his publishing company Kitchen Sink Press, Denis has worked with virtually every artist to have produced underground comix since the 1960s.
  • Jim Danky: Jim is the author and editor of dozens of books on topics as varied as African American newspapers, women's publications, and the Native American Press. He is on the faculty of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he also founded and directed the Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture.  Jim is the co-author of Underground Classics and Wisconsin Funnies, both with Denis Kitchen.

Publication Details

Underground and Independent Comics, Comix, and Graphic Novels is a multi-part collection available to libraries worldwide, through annual subscription or one-time purchase of perpetual rights, with prices scaled to library size and budget. Volumes are available individually or as a series.