Monday, 25 August 2014

Big Apple Comix

Flo Steinberg is one of those semi-legendary figures in comics history who wasn't actually a writer or an artist, but nevertheless made her mark in various ways.

Fabulous Flo was Stan Lee's secretary in the early years of Marvel, answering fan mail and helping to put together The Merry Marvel Marching Society. Later on, she also ran Jim Warren's Captain Company, y'know, those endless pages of ads for old movies, books and monster masks that ran in the back of every Warren mag. And she may also have been, according to some, the inspiration for Betty Brant.

In between however, she was briefly an underground comics publisher. In the early '70's, Flo was in San Francisco, and met Trina Robbins, who subsequently introduced her to other alternative cartoonists like Kim Dietch, Spain Rodriguez and Art Spiegelman, all of whom were beginning to produce the early Californian undergrounds.
Flo didn't see why there couldn't be a New York underground mag, and called in her extensive industry contacts ( honestly, you won't believe the line-up in this book ) to tell their personal stories about the city you love to hate, hate to love and hate to hate.

This is fantastic stuff from top to bottom, with the viewpoint and attitude only a New Yorker can give you, but sadly, there's a couple of stories I can't post here, due to their explicit sexual content. ( It'll sting even more when I tell you they're the ones by Wally Wood, Neal Adams & Ralph Reese, but I don't want to risk it, and I'll show you what I safely can! )

As one of the first properly alternative comics, Big Apple did quite well. Here's Flo: I made the money back and a little more...They ( the contributors ) got about $10 a page...I was hoping it would sell well, and it did get some nice write-ups. It's sort of politically incorrect when you look at it now, and while I was embarrassed about it for a few years, now I think it's a riot! I'm really fond of that book.

And here's what I can comfortably show of Wally Wood's contribution, an update of My World, his '50's EC strip. My World was hopeful and joyous, a celebration of the artist's imagination. This is the flipside, after years of alcoholism and disappointment, and it's the angriest piece in the book.

And this is all I can really show of Adams & Reese's collaboration. It's two strips in one, each side of the page telling the joint tales of a New York secretary and a New York prostitute. It's sort of like a Ralph Bakshi comic strip with suitably heavy gender politics. Nice splash though, eh?


  1. Thanks for posting this, Pete! I've only ever seen a few snippets from this legendary comic so it's great to take a closer look. What an awesome artistic line-up! And wasn't Fabulous Flo a cutie?

  2. Shame you couldn't show more of the Wally Wood piece - from the bit that's here it looks totally fantastic.

  3. Yeah, thanks for posting this; I don't think I've ever seen more than a few scanned pages here and there.

  4. I know, I hate not posting the whole thing, but believe me, ' politically incorrect' doesn't even begin to cover it...

  5. Having seen Wood's Snow White, I can well believe it!
    Still a great post though, and I should have said thanks for doing it earlier.