Graham Nash, the singer/guitarist of durable British Invasion band The Hollies and the eponymous Nash of Crosby, Stills, and Nash (and sometimes Young), has consigned an impressive collection of original comix art by underground godhead Robert Crumb, including an intended original cover for Zap Comix #1. This may not have been THE intended cover—Crumb drew and rejected a fair few versions, and the original art for that comic was lost before it was published.
Underground comix fans will likely know the basics of this tale, but it’s assembled from various accounts, so God only knows, but what’s beyond dispute is that the comic that was released as Zap #1 was in fact the second Zap. Lore has long held that intended publisher Brian Zahn fucked off to India, possibly with the original drawings still in his possession, so Crumb drew an altogether new comic, and Don Donahue released that work as Zap #1, paying for it by trading a tape deck, and in the process, founding Apex Novelties. After Crumb re-inked the lost pages, using as guides not quite print-worthy photostats that he may have recovered from the possession of Viking Press, the intended debut issue ended up being the third, finally released in 1968 as Zap Comix #0, and with a very similar but significantly less penisy cover. Whether and when Crumb ever recovered the originals from Zahn is unclear, and sources differ on the matter. And given that in this case “sources” mostly means guys around 70 who used to take a lot of drugs, that they’d all remember things differently should hardly come as a surprise.
The top prize among the Nash’s offering of art by master Robert Crumb likely will be a dramatic Robert Crumb Zap Comix #1 Cover Original Art (1967), which carries a pre-auction estimate of $100,000 and up. The image is a perfect example of Crumb’s refusal to hold anything back, with the word “Zap” being written across the top in electrified lettering over the image of a nude man being jolted through a cord attached to an electrical outlet. The image was intended by Robert Crumb to be on the cover of Zap No. 1.
Also expected to sell for as much as $100,000 is an extraordinary Robert Crumb American Splendor Complete Six-Page Story Original Art (Harvey Pekar, 1979). Crumb and the story’s author, Pekar, were friends before Crumb became famous; one of the interests they shared was collecting records. Pekar lacked artistic ability, but convinced his friend to do the artwork for his stories by acquiring 78 RPM records – often blues, one of Crumb’s favorites – for Crumb.
Here’s that Zap cover, followed by the one that actually ran as #0, and the framed lot that includes Crumb’s hand-inked color masks—no rubylith for him, he was probably too broke. Then, just because we could, we composited the colors, sampled from those masks. For whatever it’s worth, this could be the first time ever that anyone’s ever seen this artwork more or less the way Crumb intended it.
Click to enlarge
Here are a few more samples from Nash’s collection. In the same auction, there are other Crumb pages to be had, from the renowned collection of Eric Sack, and you can see those—and read the whole Pekar story—at Heritage Auctions’ web site. The auction runs from August 10-12, 2017. Just this past May, Crumb’s original cover art for Fritz the Cat sold for almost three quarters of a million bucks, so if you’re bidding, best of luck to you. And if any gracious DM reader wants to buy me that Pekar story, I’m certainly not above accepting preposterous gifts.
All images are via Heritage Auctions.
Much gratitude to Derf for a helping hand digging up info for this.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
David Crosby and Graham Nash at Occupy Wall Street
‘The Complete Zap Comix’ box set is the greatest thing in the history of the world, ever
‘Black Sabbath—The Ten Year War’: Amazing promo artifact from 1978, with R. Crumb style artwork