Jul 24, 2019
2019: Exploitation Nation, Mike Watt’s bi-annual journal in which he gives lowbrow entertainment a highbrow survey, is all about underground comix in its sixth issue. I’m always looking for an excuse to feature comics-related subjects on Mr. Media, so seeing previous Mr. Media guests Howard Cruse and Trina Robbins on the cover, plus art by Will Eisner – whose authorized biography I wrote 15 years ago – it was a pretty easy reach for me. In fact there is a story inside about Eisner that I edited and reviewed as a favor for Watt some time ago, not realizing it was intended for Exploitation Nation.
MIKE WATT podcast excerpt: "Mike Diana's 'Boiled Angel' comics were gross. They're disturbing. There's sexual connotations with children... Mike was definitely working out some horrifying issues. They were Xeroxed, they were mailed out from Tampa throughout the country. One undercover cop tried to tie him to a serial killer in Florida. And even though he was cleared, the police still decided to haul him in for obscenity charges. Not only that, he was convicted! He served some time! And part of his probation was that he wasn't allowed to draw!"
Another topic that caught my eye was a look back on the controversial underground comix of Mike Diana, who was a local First Amendment sensation here in the Tampa Bay area two decades ago with his comic, Boiled Angel. My friend Chuck Shepherd, long-time nationally syndicated “News of the Weird” columnist – and a former lawyer – covered the trial for alternative newspapers. This issue also remembers the late National Lampoon magazine artist Vaughn Bode and has a piece about comics artist Steve Bissette. So I’ve invited Watt here to talk about Exploitation Nation and hopefully introduce its content to a few new readers. You can find all six issues available for sale on Amazon.com. As for Watt, he is a writer, journalist and screenwriter whose work has appeared in Fangoria, Film Threat, The Dark Side, Cinefantastique, Femme Fatales and Sirens of Cinema. He also edited the 40th Anniversary printing of Paul Schrader's Taxi Driver screenplay, featuring a new interview with Robert De Niro.
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