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Today we break with tradition, as Joe McCulloch is moving house and cannot file his usual report. Good luck, Joe! Instead we bring you a special holiday feature by John Kelly: A look at Seattle alt-weekly The Rocket's tradition of holiday covers, featuring everyone from Lynda Barry to Ed Roth to Milton Glaser.

In the spirit of the New Year, and in an effort to further explore some historical connections between comics and other forms of popular culture, today we will be focusing on some of the Christmas-time covers done by an extraordinary group of cartoonists and illustrators for Seattle’s The Rocket, a magazine that helped launch the the careers of many rock musicians, cartoonists and graphic designers.

The Rocket was an extremely influential music/art/political alternative monthly (later, bi-monthly) magazine/newspaper that happened to be located in Seattle during a key moment of that city’s comics, and pop culture generally, history.  The Rocket existed from 1979 to 2000, a period in which Seattle became the home of Fantagraphics, Peter Bagge moved to town and became editor of Robert Crumb’sWeirdo, and the whole “grunge music” thing happened.

“For a lot of people, the only place you could get any attention or any action or get published was in The Rocket,” said Art Chantry, whose latest book is Art Chantry Speaks: A Heretic’s History of 20th Century Graphic Design.  “So it served a the hub of a wheel.  It was a very important magazine for a lot of things.  Sub Pop Records actually started as a column in The Rocket.  Bands like Nirvana and Soundgarden actually met each other through the classified ads in The Rocket.  It was that kind of a hub to what was happening there.  And of course, it pissed people off all the time so it’s been kind of erased from the history books.  But as a place for the illustrators and cartoonists, it was a place for people to start doing their work and developing their voice.  It was interesting and fun to work with a lot of these people and watch them develop very rapidly into what they became.”

 

Elsewhere:

The Panelological Pantheon has returned -- a favorite old comics blog of mine, and should of yours, too!

I'm not sure why these photos of Buster Keaton and George McManus delight me so much, but they really do.

Raymond Briggs is a lovable curmudgeon.

 


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