Whether you call them comics or komix, those illustrated bundles of pulp humor, adventure and (sometimes) salaciousness are alternately a big business, then a not-so-big business, then a big business again. These days, they're not so big again, unless you're in the movie business, in which case old comic book heroes are big, so much so that Marvel has taken its musty archives and turned itself into the latest Hollywood juggernaut.
Through the boom, bust and boom cycle, Madison has built itself a tidy comic book tradition - actually, more of a komix tradition, but in the stream nonetheless. A long way from Huey, Dewey and Louie, Madison's comic book history got its start during the countercultural flowering of the '60s but reignited during the superhero regeneration of Reagan's America, in the '80s.
Chronicling this is Paul Buhle, former UW student of the late '60s and publisher from the left during the same period, who had actual contact back in that very distant day with some of its local perpetrators. Buhle reacquaints us with the folks who toiled in this most undisciplined of disciplines.
This is Buhle's second appearance in Isthmus. He has nailed down the '60s recidivist franchise. His previous contribution was a critique of David Maraniss' book They Marched Into Sunlight. That book juxtaposed the 1967 Dow riots on the UW campus with a military patrol on the same day in Vietnam. Buhle's story was titled "They Marched Into Tragedy" and was published in Isthmus on Oct. 3, 2003. Buhle was then identified as a "lecturer in history and American civilization" at Brown University. Word has it that he will retire soon from Brown and relocate in Madison.
Also supposedly relocating to Madison is Mike Baron, he of Nexus and The Badger fame. Baron has been living in Colorado. There is no indication on his website (bloodyredbaron.com) that he is anywhere else, except perhaps Kamehameha, Hawaii. If he is back in the Madison area, I challenge him to show himself! (We have history.)
I challenge the reader to complete the Madison's Favorites poll by the deadline, Thursday, June 19. It appears on page three of this issue, but you know we really want you to fill it out online. Read the instructions.