Monday, April 27, 2009

The Checkered Demon (in Space; No. 3, 1979)

I picked up this copy of The Checkered Demon from ‘Charms Boutique’ in upstate New York in the early 80s. Back then ‘underground’ comix (a variant spelling of ‘comics’) were still regarded as clandestine literature, and you found them on the racks at ‘head shops’ that sold hippie clothes, incense, and ‘paraphernalia’ (i.e., pipes, bongs, and roaches). Interestingly, ‘Heavy Metal’, the closest kin to the comix, didn’t appear in these shops; since it was a ‘slick’ magazine published by the National Lampoon, it was eligible for shelf space among other magazines in more respectable retail outlets.

Steve Clay Wilson (b. 1941) was unique among the underground cartoonists for his intricate drawings and perverted, ultraviolent imagery. Most of his work provoked considerable ire even from those sympathetic to the underground comix scene. Sadly, in November 2008 Wilson suffered a serious head injury through circumstances unknown and is undergoing a lengthy rehabilitation.

Wilson’s favorite character was the Checkered Demon, who usually encountered pirates, lesbians, and aliens in his sanguinary travels. This particular issue No. 3 (it lacks a formal title) was first published in 1979 and sees our hero having all sorts of crazy adventures in outer space. While the front and back covers are reasonably ‘safe’ to post online, it’s difficult to find more than a few interior pages that I can post without earning an ‘Adult Content’ warning from Google Blogger….so, the pages I have posted are PG-13. However, they display Wilson’s peculiar genius to good effect. Along with the Demon himself, the strips feature recurring characters ‘Star-Eyed Stella’ and ‘Ruby the Dyke’.

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