In 1963 Dan O’Neill dropped out of college and started his comic Odd Bodkins for the San Francisco Chronicle. The strip was soon syndicated to over 350 papers, with a combined readership of 50 million. For seven years O’Neill proceeded to entertain readers and offend editors by satirizing religion and politics, targeting characters from Superman to Abraham Lincoln to Jesus Christ. He managed lose 90% of the feature’s sydication before finally being fired by the Chronicle. These strips are collected in two books,
Hear the Sound of My Feet Walking Drown the Sound of My Voice Talking (1969) and The Collective Unconscience of Odd Bodkins (1973, Glide Publications). In 1970, at the height of the underground comix movement, O’Neill met four cartoonists who would form the core of his infamous comics collective, The Air Pirates: Ted Richards, Gary Hallgren, Bobby London and Shary Flenniken. They produced three issues of Dan O’Neill’s Comics and Stories, which consisted largely of satires of Disney cartoon characters, two comics and a tabloid of Air Pirates Funnies and several books by individual members of the collective. O’Neill’s intent was to provoke a reaction from the Disney empire and in 1971 he succeeded. The highly-publicized court case dragged out for nine years, eventually resulting in an injunction against the Pirates and a financial judgement that was never collected by Disney. Dan returned to newspaper comics with his Dan O’Neill strip that continues today in The San Franciso Bay Guardian and other papers. This period was collected in Farewell to the Gipper (1988, Eclipse Books). The story of the Air Pirates’ legal battle with Disney is recounted in the book The Pirates and the Mouse by Bob Levin (2003, Fantagraphics).
Dan’s comics adaptation of The Man Who Could Work Miracles appears in Graphic Classics: H.G. Wells. He adapted one of Bierce’s fables for Graphic Classics: Ambrose Bierce, and contributed an illustration to the first edition of Graphic Classics: Mark Twain.
Graphic Classics: H.G. Wells
Graphic Classics: Ambrose Bierce
144 pages, b&w, $10