Into the Underground.

R. Rand Holmes moved to Vancouver in 1969 and found work as an illustrator at The Georgia Straight, a weekly underground tabloid. The Straight's publisher, Dan McLeod, would later say of him:

"Here was one of the greatest artists in the history of underground comics, living in our building and churning out major satirical work about those who were out to destroy us, turning them into buffoons. He was a sweet, gentle man who helped us to seize the moral high ground when we were feeling beaten."

(from Wikipedia)

I can only imagine what it must have been like to be a young man coming of age in the high water of the Hippie movement, especially in a liberal enclave like Vancouver, making illustrations for the free newspaper (their equivalent to The Village Voice).

I key into the word 'Underground.' It implies there was something to stay hidden from, to go underground and away. To be sure, America (and Canada too probably) didn't really start appropriating the counter culture at the top level until the Clinton administration, where 'I didn't inhale' became tantamount to planting the flag on Iwo Jima.

Here's the launching point for Harold Hedd. He first appeared in The Straight in one-page stories, eventually getting the full treatment in an adventure-length comic book. Titled 'Anus Clenching Adventure with Harold Hedd', this was my talisman.

I missed the boat. I didn't live in this culture. I was in the suburbs, nestled firmly in The Establishment's grip. I fantasized about living in a 'cool' neighborhood like The Haight Ashbury or in Berkeley California. I imagined all these people did was get high all the time, have wild parties and hang out.

I had this thick book about the underground comic artists, its cover illustrated by R Rand Holmes no less. The 'U' in underground of course looked like a hanging testicle. Inside this volume were a page or two of ACAWHH: a panel here, a page there.

Once I got a real copy of the comic I knew I needed to do nothing but keep making stories just like this one. I was enthralled with its complete-ness, its sense of gravitas, like there was just on the other side of the page a real 'hippie world' out there.

By the time I moved to San Francisco in 1992 the last hippie left the area. I didn't care. I was contented to sit amongst the bones.

(Buy History of Underground Comics HERE)

(Buy Anus Clenching Adventures with Harold Hedd HERE)

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