Thursday, June 22, 2017

Middle Class Fantasies by Jerry Lane

I don't know who Jerry Lane is, but I dig his limited (to my knowledge) comic book output in the 70's. I first came across his work in the early to mid 90's when I was buying undergrounds through the mail from Don Donahue. My method of purchasing comix pre-internet was perusing The Illustrated Checklist to Underground Comix which had been released in 1979. So I was looking at these small cover images in black and white and deciding if it looked cool enough to buy blind. Then I would call Don and make sure he still had any copies for sale. I'd mail off a money order and hope for the best. Because that's what we did in the dark ages of America's youth.

Middle Class Fantasies was one of those titles I gambled on. Only two issues were published, issue one in 1973 and issue two in 1976. Issue one was the first issue published by Cartoonists Co-Op, which was a company that consisted of renown underground artists Kim DeitchBill GriffithJay LynchWilly MurphyDiane Noomin, and Art Spiegelman. Issue two was published by Industrial Realities, which I have never heard of, so there is a possibility it was self published. More info can be found here

Lane's art is a bit of an anomaly among his fellow Cartoonist Co-Op creators. While most of them have influences that stretched back to the golden age of comics and comic strips, none really displayed much of an influence from mainstream comics, or mainstream comics that were super-hero based. First off, the design of the title Middle Class Fantasies is an homage to early DC Comics titles such as Action Comics, Adventure Comics, etc. Second, the style of the Frogmen, while obvious influences of surrealism and pop art are overt, have strong ties to "realistic" mainstream comics of the time as brought to the medium by Neal Adams and perhaps a bit of Jim Steranko? Between the two issues, there also seem to be traces of Robert Crumb, Spain Rodriguez and Victor Moscoso. 

Lane obviously had a fascination with old television and film culture beginning with the Rita Hayworth film Gilda inspired cover to issue 1. There are also strips starring The Marx Bros., a how to draw Strother Martin page and a strange tribute to George Reeves, who played Superman in the 1950's TV show. 

While these two artifacts of the underground era will never have the prestige of other deserving artists and their contributions to the form, you can't deny the creativity and obvious love that Jerry Lane put into these comics. 

Middle Class Fantasies #1 1973

Middle Class Fantasies #2 1976

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