Stoner Comics Definitely Part Of Comprehensive Boston University Exhibit

Artwork by Denis Kitchen

Check out this interview with underground comic book icon Denis Kitchen

Editor’s Note: The last thing that we want to do is distract from the main subject in the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism article, A Medium, Not A Genre: On Curating A Comprehensive Chronicle Of Comics. Any fan of comic books should not only check out that feature, but also consider actually going to the exhibit at Boston University that award-winning cartoonist, author, and historian Joel Christian Gill curated. Highlighting more than 200 pieces of influential work, it’s on display at BU’s Stone Gallery through March 24. 

Speaking of stoned galleries (sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves), we also had to point out that for his piece, reporter Dana Forsythe interviewed Denis Kitchen, a godfather of alternative comics who is responsible for, among other things, the 1972 underground comic the Great Marijuana Debate in which he and artist Kim Deitch took the pro side to argue against the obvious losers Jay Lynch and Peter Poplaski opposing.

Kitchen also manages the estates of a number of artists who you might say helped invent the stoner comic concept, however inadvertently—Steve Krupp, for example. An excerpt from Dana’s excellent feature follows …

Denis Kitchen

For the BU exhibit, Joel Christian Gill reached out to Kitchen for what he described as some “true gems” including underground comics from the ’50s and, in particular, an early collaboration between Harvey Kurtzman, founder of Mad magazine and comic book legend Bill Elder.

Kitchen, who is known for creating black and white “underground” comic books and the now-defunct Kitchen Sink Press, said each generation of alternative and underrepresented voices finds its own most efficient way to spread their message, adding that comics have remained a universal medium for such expression. During his time as a publisher, Kitchen released titles like Kings in Disguise (an early example of historical fiction with political passion) and Omaha the Cat Dancer, an erotic soap opera that touched on themes of feminism, gay relationships, and disabilities. He also launched Gay Comix in the late ’70s.

“I always encouraged female writers and artists, and supported projects I loved, even if the marketing prospects might have seemed dim,” Kitchen said in an interview. “I see many people out there now with comparable passion and it makes me optimistic that we’ll continue to see amazing works continue to emerge. … I’m delighted to see such a wonderful exhibit of original comic art at Boston University with prime examples of the many facets of this magical combination of words and pictures we call comics.”

Kitchen added, “I’m thrilled that Joel Christian Gill is helming the new department at BU and that students interested in comics will get a first class education on the subject and opportunities to experience exhibits of such quality. Something really special is happening.”

Comics Is A Medium, Not A Genre Design is on display through Mar. 24, Tuesday – Saturday, 11am – 5pm. Admission is free. BU Stone Gallery, 855 Comm Ave, Boston.