Zap: An Unpublished Victor Moscoso Interview

The Zap Interviews, Volume 9 of The Comics Journal Library, hits stores this month, collecting all the Zap-related Comics Journal interviews, plus several previously unpublished conversations with the Zap cartoonists. In celebration of this release, we're going to do something a little different. Instead of sampling the book with excerpts from the interviews, we will be supplementing the book with interviews that didn't quite fit into the 264-page anthology. Please enjoy an unpublished Zap-related conversation with Victor Moscoso, conducted by Patrick Rosenkranz.

All art by and © 2014 Victor Moscoso unless otherwise noted.

Woodacre, Calif., May 17, 1972


PATRICK ROSENKRANZ: You were doing a good deal of painting before you turned to cartooning?


ROSENKRANZ: How old are you now?


ROSENKRANZ: Did you do any cartooning when you were younger?

MOSCOSO: Stuff like Disney. Disney was very influential to me. One time I wanted to go work for Disney, up to about age 14, that was my goal.

ROSENKRANZ: Animation or comic books?

MOSCOSO: Animation. It was his movies that really turned me on. Up until I got to be 14 or so, my plans were to go to Burbank and get a job as an in-betweener and work my way up to the Disney trip — to get to the point where I could make those kinds of movies. I dropped out when I got to high school. I began to see that there were a lot of other things that were involved with Disney than that. I got into his politics. He’s a fascist. He’s a capitalist pig, is what it came down to, as a person, as far as the man went. So that turned me off. I started to get older and get into other forms like advertising art and illustration, and then finally I got to painting. That’s where I stayed from about 1958 to 1969. For about 11 years I painted. I considered myself a painter.

ROSENKRANZ: Did you do a lot of work in black and white?

MOSCOSO: Like drawings, yeah. I always drew, and got into printmaking, did lithographs. My paintings, although I used color, were pretty graphic in the sense that they didn’t rely strongly on color for their effect. I painted drawings more than a different kind of trip.

ROSENKRANZ: Well then, working in comic books was an easy switch for you.

MOSCOSO: No, it was very difficult.

ROSENKRANZ: What was the first comic art you did?

MOSCOSO: Zap Comix. Practically all my stuff has been in Zap, three pages in Snatch and Jiz, just a couple of other things, like the buses. I’m now getting into it more. I haven’t done that many comics.

ROSENKRANZ: You never did anything for the underground newspapers?

MOSCOSO: Not much, no.

ROSENKRANZ: Your first Zap work was in #2?


From "Luna Toon" in Zap #2 © 2014 Victor Moscoso
From "Luna Toon" in Zap #2 (June 1968)

ROSENKRANZ: That was using quite a bit of the Disney characters?

MOSCOSO: Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck especially.

ROSENKRANZ: Did you get any trouble from Disney for using them?

MOSCOSO: No, it was far enough away that they wouldn’t have stood a charge in court anyway. It has to look close enough that it would fool people. If it doesn’t look close enough, even though it’s based on it, then you can’t sue somebody, because he’d say, “Hey, I changed it.” I figured that out up front. I wasn’t looking for any trouble with Disney anyway. I didn’t want to be hassled by him. So I made it as close as I could without getting to the point where he would bother with it, because it wasn’t important enough to him or because he wouldn’t have been successful if he had done it.

ROSENKRANZ: Was that after Disney had given Joel Beck trouble for that Daisy Duck poster that he did?

MOSCOSO: How do you know he got trouble for that? The only other one I heard about was Wally Wood’s poster with all the Disney characters in a landscape scene — all of them fucking.

ROSENKRANZ: Was that the one that was in The Realist?

MOSCOSO: Probably.

ROSENKRANZ: Beck won the case. Did Wood get sued for it?

MOSCOSO: They stopped it. I don’t know why really. Maybe it was offensive enough. Do you know how the verdict came down?

ROSENKRANZ: Not on that one. Daisy Duck was significantly different from the Disney character because she had tits. That was a significant difference.

MOSCOSO: Far out. Dan O’Neill’s [Air Pirates (sued by Disney) has] got tits. That’s interesting.

ROSENKRANZ: That might be the thing that wins it.

MOSCOSO: That’s not what they’re approaching it on. They’re approaching it on the level of parody. If it’s parody, it’s socially relevant. Therefore it’s not pornographic. That’s their trip, although any information would help.

From the Mouse Liberation Front's Air Pirates Pirate Edition, artist unknown

ROSENKRANZ: O’Neill was talking about some other line they were using. I can’t recall what it was offhand, but it sounded pretty convincing.

How did you happen to get involved with Zap. Did you know any of the artists like Crumb beforehand?

MOSCOSO: I got to meet Crumb through Zap. Rick and I were working on a book. Some of it appears in Zap #2. We were going to do it as a magazine, kind of an offshoot from our posters. We were doing color posters that were like comic strips. We did a couple of comic-strip posters. We decided to do a whole book like that. Forget the posters, just do it as a comic strip, in color, a real high-class job, come out as an offshoot of the psychedelic poster. That’s what we were both into. Then Crumb printed Zap #1 and that really turned us around. He asked us if we wanted to be in the next one, cause he wanted to do another one.

ROSENKRANZ: I saw a postcard recently of a strip you had done as a poster, something about Trip to Mars.

MOSCOSO: That was a page illustration for the LA Times. I later made it into a poster when a friend of mine approached me for something to be made into a poster. It was never made into a poster, though; it was just made into a postcard.


ROSENKRANZ: What was this book that you and Griffin were working on?

MOSCOSO: It never happened.

ROSENKRANZ: Will it happen in the future?

MOSCOSO: Not that way. It could. I just got a price on a slick comic book to be this size. It will be just like this, slick paper, four colors throughout, and would feel like this. It would be about this weight. When you get coated stock like this, you can get very tight registration, so you can get really far-out color strips that you can’t get on newsprint. That’s getting closer to the first idea I had with Rick for doing comic strips.

ROSENKRANZ: Would you publish it yourself?

MOSCOSO: Right, like I published my other comic book. Have you seen Color Comics?

ROSENKRANZ: Yeah, I liked it very much.

MOSCOSO: I published that myself.

ROSENKRANZ: And you distributed it through Print Mint?


From Moscosco's Color Comics (1971)
From Color Comics (1971)

Seeing Zap really turned you around.

MOSCOSO: I was ready for it. We were already getting ready to do a comic-book trip. Then Crumb came out and laid out the form, just like that. The form was perfect. Crumb had to change it — there have been a lot of variations, but the form is like the form. A comic book that size, on newsprint, black and white. We didn’t even think black and white, when Rick and I were working on it. We automatically thought color. That’s where our heads were at. Except what that does is make it too expensive.

ROSENKRANZ: That’s what the overground comics have been doing all this time.

MOSCOSO: Which is all right. It’s getting to the point where we’ll be getting into color now too. Young Lust is coming out as an all-color comic.

ROSENKRANZ: Up From the Deep is planning a second one with color insert.

MOSCOSO: I’m planning to do some more color. I don’t know when I’ll get to it, but I will.

ROSENKRANZ: You hadn’t seen any other comics at the time, like God Nose or Feds 'N' Heads?

MOSCOSO: Sure, I’d seen God Nose almost two years before. Jaxon gave me a copy of it when he was working for the Family Dog. He was then in charge of the posters. But it didn’t click. I said that’s nice. It’s nice and old-fashioned that somebody’s doing a comic book like this.

ROSENKRANZ: What was so different about Zap?

MOSCOSO: The time, the form, the price, and Crumb’s attitude towards it, how he saw it. The way he was relating to it was something I had totally forgotten about since I was a kid. It was a means of expression. I hadn’t been thinking about it that way. When I saw the way he was relating to it — you could do your trip in this form, and how far out he was getting in that form, which I had considered a secondary form or kid stuff. It’s OK for Marvel Comics. It’s not where my head was at at that time. By him doing it that way, I saw a potential in it that I wasn’t seeing up until that point. It opened the door. It said, “See this.” I said, “Yeah.”

ROSENKRANZ: So you approached him for the second Zap.

MOSCOSO: No, he approached us. He had seen our posters with the comics in them. He’d been turned on by them. Abstract expressionist comics was his takeoff on the stuff that, Rick in particular, Rick and I were doing at that time in our posters.

ROSENKRANZ: Were you both working for Avalon or freelancing?

MOSCOSO: We were both freelancing. We were both doing a lot of work for the Avalon Ballroom. All the work we did for the Avalon Ballroom was freelance.

ROSENKRANZ: Did you have anything to do with the printing? You mentioned you were involved in lithography.

MOSCOSO: Sure, we’d go down to the printers to make sure that the stripping and camera work, when it was necessary, was done just right. It was very hard to communicate sometimes in words to the printer what we wanted in order to have it come out the way you were imagining it. You could say this is what I want. The printer would say, uh-huh, uh-huh, and do something totally different. So we went down there. Sometimes we’d also work into the film itself. We were really into the photographic process, the stripping. Once you get to the plates, that didn’t matter too much.

ROSENKRANZ: Were any of these posters silk-screened?

MOSCOSO: No, not the Family Dog ones. They were all lithograph.

ROSENKRANZ: Do you and Griffin do work on the same strips?

MOSCOSO: We have. Not in this case, we haven’t.

ROSENKRANZ: Your work looks like it would integrate pretty well.

MOSCOSO: On the posters, we would work on the same poster. We’d alternate on sections. We could do any one of the functions. Sometimes Rick would lay it out, sometimes I’d lay it out. Whatever it was, whenever we came to one of the functions, one or the other would do it. One or the other could do it.

ROSENKRANZ: I can understand a lot of the recurrence of the Disney character as a riff on Disney, but what about some of your other recurring characters? For instance, there are a lot of pyramids and bordello-type women. Do they mean something to you as symbols?

MOSCOSO: For the pyramids, I dig the symbol value of it.

Zap #3-05JO-M

ROSENKRANZ: What is the symbol of a pyramid?

MOSCOSO: It’s a lot of things. It depends on the context.

ROSENKRANZ: Was this your idea to do half the comic upside down?

MOSCOSO: Because it was the 1969 issue and that drawing, yes. It happened I did this drawing like this first — sideways. It was going to be in the magazine sideways, ’cause I dug the idea, the 69, the Ying and the Yang. We’re laying out the comic, and I said put it this way. Crumb said, “I don’t like it that way.”

So I thought about it, and it came to me. What bothered him was the sideways, which is true, ’cause it was the only thing in the book that would be sideways, to be read like that. So I turned it around and added the other sections onto it. As soon as I thought of that, I thought we’d make the book one side one way, one side the other way. It was the perfect extension of the original idea, which was 69.


ROSENKRANZ: The comic books in the early ’40s did a lot of experimenting with all sorts of techniques like upside-down books. Did you see any of these? Do you know much about comics from the ’40s?

MOSCOSO: I do, but I don’t remember any of those. If they played a part in this, it wasn’t a conscious part.

ROSENKRANZ: There seems to be much revived interest with the underground comix, in the use of the comic form as an art form. There’s all sorts of experimentation and new techniques being tried just like in the late ’30s and early ’40s when the new comic form came out. Do you think they’re going to go further than the comics went then?

MOSCOSO: How far have the comics gone now?

ROSENKRANZ: To superheroes, that’s about as far as they went.

MOSCOSO: Does that mean that we’re going to go to superheroes?

ROSENKRANZ: No. What do you think the comix are going to go to? Are they going to remain as a 50¢ underground comic on newsprint, or is it going to go into filmmaking?

MOSCOSO: If it goes into animation, it doesn’t mean it’s not going to stay as a 50¢ pulp thing. They’re not exclusive. That’s not the way I see it. It already has gone into films — Fritz the Cat.

ROSENKRANZ: I was thinking of a better job.

MOSCOSO: But that’s quality. As far as the function or the form, it’s already done that. I could see where it could be done a lot better, a lot more creatively, but that’s just an improvement on the form.

ROSENKRANZ: What I’m trying to say, in a way, is that posters led into comics. Comics, as they are becoming more popular and more artists are doing them, the quality of the work in a lot of the new books, has fallen off. It seems to me that this comic form is going to lead into something else.

MOSCOSO: Sure, but then everything does.

ROSENKRANZ: I realize that, but I wondered if anything was under way that I wouldn’t know about?

MOSCOSO: You probably know about as much about it as I do, as I can say about it. All I have is a lot of feelings, but these feelings are about my own work. When you ask me about where the comix are going to, your guess is as good as mine.

ROSENKRANZ: Do you keep close contact with many of the artists?

MOSCOSO: Pretty much so.

ROSENKRANZ: You live outside of San Francisco. That would be a reason why you wouldn’t just run into a lot of them?

MOSCOSO: That is a reason why I don’t run into a lot of them. When I was living in town I’d run into them a lot. Just driving around, you’d go by somebody’s house, you’d stop off to say hello. Being out here, that doesn’t happen so much. Now I have to make a point of stopping by, so it’s not as casual as it used to be. That’s one thing that I miss about not living in the city. There are other ways. We put together the last couple of Zaps out here. So the artists come out for a day and hang out. If you want to see what’s going to happen in the future, the best way to do it, is to look at what’s happened up till now. Already in the amount of time that the comics have been called underground comix, there have been extreme changes.

ROSENKRANZ: This Zap #4 that was busted for a while … did that cost you money?

MOSCOSO: They effectively suppressed it for about a year and a half, two years.

ROSENKRANZ: They didn’t come after you, with the court charges?

MOSCOSO: No, the bookstores, the retail stores got busted.

ROSENKRANZ: And Print Mint?

MOSCOSO: It got busted as a retail store, though. It didn’t get busted as a distributor of books.

ROSENKRANZ: Now, have there been several reprintings of Zap #4?

MOSCOSO: Now, it’s a good seller. We’re making up for it now, but they stopped us for a while.

ROSENKRANZ: Was this story here supposed to be a takeoff on some of these eight-pagers, using other comic characters?

MOSCOSO: In that sense, yeah, but that wasn’t the way it was started. I took Maggie and Jiggs from the eight-pagers, the idea of seeing Maggie and Jiggs balling each other, going through one of those eight-pager trips. It wasn’t intended as a riff on them. It was the idea of the upside-down thing going on for six pages.

ROSENKRANZ: More of the same idea then from the previous Zap.

MOSCOSO: Right, except there were some differences.

ROSENKRANZ: Do you think psychedelics were any kind of a main force in changing the comic art so radically as this did?

MOSCOSO: I think they’re somehow related. I’m not quite sure how they’re related. In other words, if there were no psychedelic drugs, what difference would it have made. I know they made some difference, but it’s hard to tell how much difference, cause how could you possibly check that one out.

ROSENKRANZ: That’s true in not being able to check it out, but it seems like some ideas, particularly in your work, where you have a lot of free-form association. That might go down a little easier with the reader if he had experienced hallucinations, say.

MOSCOSO: Possibly. I’d hate to say yes to that, ’cause I don’t know. I know there’s a relationship, but it’s hard for me to tell just what that relationship is, especially because it varies from person to person, and since some people would be able to understand you anyway without having taken any drugs. Drugs aren’t necessary. If you want to take them, it says a lot of things, but it says as many things about your social stance as it does about the work. If someone’s taking drugs, it means they’re already thinking like you think, kind of. Then the jump isn’t as far. Just on the social level, it works out. Now long hair has changed, but when long hair first came out, it was very cool. It was a stance too. Already you knew. You’d run into an old high-school buddy, and you already had something in common. You didn’t have to know each other even. Just the fact that you both went to the same high school, or you were both Masons. It gets very general, but that’s all part of it. It matters.

Moscoso GPT

ROSENKRANZ: Why the cyclic form in Color Comics?

MOSCOSO: ’Cause it’s such a good idea and I really dig it.

ROSENKRANZ: Is there any reason that you chose that particular panel for the cover as opposed to any of the others?

MOSCOSO: It seemed like a good place to break the story and to wrap it around.

ROSENKRANZ: Is that where you started writing it?

MOSCOSO: No, I started writing it all over. They’re pieces that I put together and I kept working them into each other. The place that this comes from is a storybook for a film.

ROSENKRANZ: What do you do with your original artwork? Do you keep it?


ROSENKRANZ: Do you sell any in galleries, do you trade it for comics?


ROSENKRANZ: Do you collect other comics then?


ROSENKRANZ: What ones do you particularly go for?

MOSCOSO: A lot of them. They’re all interesting, some more interesting than others. I collect them all.

ROSENKRANZ: Including newspaper strips?

MOSCOSO: Just the underground comix and sometimes the overground comics, if I see something I like. I also collect old comics too.

ROSENKRANZ: Do you think it takes two different kinds of artists to work on strip cartoons, like a newspaper strip; or working in a book, where you have several pages and a story? Can you see yourself doing both?

MOSCOSO: Yeah, they’re different. It’s like slalom and downhill skiing. They’re both skiing, but they’re different events. Sometimes, a guy like you will do equally well in both, but usually a guy specializes in one or the other. But they don’t have to. Only if they want to get that specialized and if they can’t make the changes. Are you talking about a syndicated newspaper strip?

ROSENKRANZ: No, I was just thinking about the form more than anything else. Some artists, for instance Willy Murphy …

MOSCOSO: Yeah, but the form in what world, with what kind of attitude? The form in the overground strips is totally different. Although it’s the same form, you’re operating in a whole other world. So it’s not the same form any more.

ROSENKRANZ: You have something like the Sunday paper, that’s one-day gag strip. Then you have a comic book like Insect Fear that has stories that are several pages long. The stories might have been continuing in the Sunday paper, but nonetheless you have to have a punch line or a gag every time. Some artists can see themselves doing one but not the other. That's why I asked you.

MOSCOSO: Would I feel like doing one but not the other?


MOSCOSO: Right now, I’ve been feeling like doing comic books. That’s the choice that I’ve made. I could have done strips like Gilbert Shelton does, like things for the LA Free Press, but I haven’t. It doesn’t turn me on as much.

ROSENKRANZ: What was the print run on the Color book you did?

MOSCOSO: 20,000.

ROSENKRANZ: You haven’t sold out of the first run?


color-comixROSENKRANZ: Is it selling well?

MOSCOSO: So-so. It’s a buck. I think it’s too high. I think it’s also too small. I’m considering when I get to reprint it, making it bigger and making it cheaper. It was one of the first color comics. I just took a guess as to the right form, plus the form that I could do, and the price. It looks like the price is going to be 75¢ for color, not a dollar. Young Lust is coming out full size, for 75¢. Up From the Deep is 75¢. Greg Irons’ comic was 75¢.

ROSENKRANZ: I saw both his and yours at the same time.

MOSCOSO: They both came out at the same time. All of us came out at the same time.

ROSENKRANZ: Did you know of his project when you were working on yours?

MOSCOSO: Not until we were already into the projects, about a month or so before he printed his. There was a spontaneous outburst of Up From the Deep, Color Comics, Light and Uncle Sham. They all came out within a week or two weeks of each other. They were all started independently. Now there’s been a big breathing space. I have the feeling they’ll be coming out again. Up From the Deep is coming out again, and Young Lust. Young Lust is a big seller, so if it does well, that’s it, ’cause the form is ready. The time is now ready for that form — 75¢, color, underground comic. It’s a viable form. That’s what I think is going to happen. Then we’ll do a Zap in color.


ROSENKRANZ: Is the next Zap going to be in color?

MOSCOSO: No, black and white. We’ve already got that one into black and white.

ROSENKRANZ: Why has it taken so long for this issue to come out?

MOSCOSO: Who knows? Twenty different reasons.

ROSENKRANZ: It isn’t because … well, do you foresee 10 Zaps coming out?

MOSCOSO: Who knows? I don’t predict things like that any more. Every time I predict, it comes out wrong.

ROSENKRANZ: Are you affiliated with the Cartoon Workers Union?

MOSCOSO: I don’t have a card, but I’m in sympathy with whatever they have to say.

ROSENKRANZ: Has there been any instance where you needed their support?

MOSCOSO: In a way. The was one incident that came down with a guy named Chris Condon, who wanted to put together an anthology. It ended up with all the cartoonists getting together, bumping heads, and trying to figure out whether we should do it or not. We ended up not doing it. The Cartoon Workers is a loose group, but we got together. We did have one meeting. I think they even called it that.

ROSENKRANZ: This Condon guy, he was talking a lot of money and some big publisher.

MOSCOSO: Yeah, he was talking a lot.

ROSENKRANZ: Was he a hype?

MOSCOSO: No, I think he would have done what he was talking about, or at least the part that benefited him. He was a rip-off artist. He was a con man.

ROSENKRANZ: It was him personally rather than the project?

MOSCOSO: Right. He was the kind of guy who, if he saw a train coming down the track and dug the train, wanted to jump on and become the engineer. He wasn’t satisfied with riding along on the train. He’s at this meeting and one of the things he’s talking about that he wants to do is he wants to have no competition with any other book like it, like an anthology. We said why, why should we do that. He wanted a guarantee in the contract. We said, no, we don’t dig that. We’ll give you the work that we’ll give you, and that’s all that you’ll have rights to. We go through a trip and finally get to the point where he writes out a contract and our lawyer’s reading it to us, the contract that he has drawn up for our approval. It turns out, and it’s worded in a way that it’s not obvious at first, when we signed that contract, we were signing over the rights to him of all our printed work. Not one piece, all the printed work.

ROSENKRANZ: Everything that you had ever done?

MOSCOSO: Right. Either that or to the present, but probably for the future. That didn’t come across at first, ’cause he came on like a nice-personality guy. So finally we got around to figuring out where he was at. I got a lot of feelings about it, ’cause I don’t dig those kind of guys. I don’t dig that trip — fucking standard New York hustler is how it feels to me and how I’ve described it.

ROSENKRANZ: Someone mentioned the money coming in from Zap royalties being higher than he offered in the long run.

MOSCOSO: I’ll give you another way it came down to. When you go to a standard New York publisher, the artist gets what amounts to about 10 percent. Norman Mailer, when he writes a novel, he gets personally 10 percent of the total that’s made on the book, the publisher’s profit. Between the publisher and the artist there’s a 90–10-percent split. Chris Condon was getting that 10 percent because he was working as the artist’s agent, and then breaking it down. He ended up getting about 75 percent of that 10 percent, which meant that the rest had to be split with all the artists. He was getting the lion’s share and then telling us that he’s doing us a big favor.

ROSENKRANZ: Griffin did that Man From Utopia thing recently.

MOSCOSO: That was a while ago, almost two years.

ROSENKRANZ: What’s he done recently?

MOSCOSO: T-shirts, stuff for the Surfer Magazine, he’s had his own show.

ROSENKRANZ: Is he more or less out of comix, and doing other things instead?

MOSCOSO: No, he’s going to have some stuff in the next Zap.


ROSENKRANZ: His comics and your comics never have much of a story line to them. Are you going to try working with a story line?

MOSCOSO: I am working with a story line now.

ROSENKRANZ: What kind of story line is it?

MOSCOSO: There it is on the wall.

ROSENKRANZ: It’s going to be quite a long story?

MOSCOSO: There are several different stories. There’s one on top that’s six pages. It’s the story of Rumpelstiltskin. This one down here I’m taking off from the bus cards that I did. It will be similar. Some parts will be similar, but some parts will be different.

ROSENKRANZ: It will be a followable story line, with a plot, start and finish?

MOSCOSO: Well … a plot yes. The top one has a plot. It’s classic. There’s a beginning, a middle and an end.


ROSENKRANZ: This looks like one of the dwarves.

MOSCOSO: It is, it’s Dopey and Doc. They live down the hall.

ROSENKRANZ: Can you tell me how the bus posters came about?

MOSCOSO: Jeanne Diamond who works at publicity at KSAN called me up and presented me with the idea to decorate the bus cards, the entire bus or entire buses, and to advertise KSAN.

ROSENKRANZ: I thought it was done originally as a contest.

MOSCOSO: No. There was a billboard that was happening at the same time, but I had nothing to do with that. They were both going down simultaneously to advertise KSAN, but there was no other relationship.

ROSENKRANZ: Does KSAN have ownership of the bus lines?

MOSCOSO: No, but the company that owns KSAN, Metro-Media, also owns the bus advertising. They might even own the buses. No, these are municipal buses. It’s a lease they get from the city.

ROSENKRANZ: How many buses were actually decorated?

MOSCOSO: About a hundred buses.

ROSENKRANZ: Out of several thousand?

MOSCOSO: No, not several thousand, but however many buses there were, I don’t think there’s 2,000, about 100 of them had the strips on them. So you wouldn’t always be able to hop on one and see it. It was just a random trip.

ROSENKRANZ: How long ago was that?

MOSCOSO: That was around Christmastime.

ROSENKRANZ: How long did they leave them up?

MOSCOSO: About a month, they got ripped off eventually.

ROSENKRANZ: I had really looked forward to seeing some. I’m sorry they’re all gone.

MOSCOSO: [Bill] Blackbeard has a set and has them in a situation where he can show them to you.

VM-5-72-KSANROSENKRANZ: The movie you made for the Science Fiction Funnies poster … was that planned out or done on the spur of the moment?

MOSCOSO: We planned it out. The whole thing came down in a period of about a couple months. Myself and my friend John Milligan got together. He had the bread and I had the contacts. We started talking about it and we thought it would be a good idea. We had just put a Zap together. It seemed like a logical natural thing to do. It came out pretty well. For a first film, it’s a good first film.

ROSENKRANZ: Was that poster, Science Fiction Funnies, done specifically for the movie?

MOSCOSO: And the movie was about making the poster.

ROSENKRANZ: What was done with the poster afterward?

MOSCOSO: We sold it, through Print Mint.

ROSENKRANZ: Is it still being sold?

MOSCOSO: I don’t know. We only gave them about a thousand posters, to see how they went. They went, but they probably didn’t go that fast.

From a jam that included Harvey Kurtzman
From a Shelton, Williams, Moscoso, Wilson, Crumb and Spain jam that also included Harvey Kurtzman

ROSENKRANZ: There was another poster that was done for a show at the Phoenix Gallery?

MOSCOSO: Right, that’s that one right over there. It’s other people’s work plus my own, but it’s my collage.

ROSENKRANZ: I see. It looks quite a bit different. I didn’t know it was a collage. Was that the show where Snatch got busted?



ROSENKRANZ: Was any of the Snatch original artwork up on display?

MOSCOSO: I don’t know. It’s possible, but I don’t remember.

ROSENKRANZ: Did they confiscate the artwork also?

MOSCOSO: No, just the comic. They didn’t touch the artwork at all. Somehow a cop bought a copy of Snatch, an undercover agent. I don’t know what he was doing there. They busted it for the charge of selling Snatch.

ROSENKRANZ: Was there any profit involved in Snatch?

MOSCOSO: No, it was a labor of love for all concerned. Maybe a few pennies were made.

ROSENKRANZ: What about the court costs in the trial?

MOSCOSO: The Phoenix Gallery managed to absorb them. I don’t know exactly how they did it. They might have gotten cheap rates from the lawyers. We turned them on to our lawyer, Michael Stepanian, and his friends, plus they also had a lawyer too. Probably what they did is give them reasonable prices, cause it was a groovy trial. I don’t know the details on it. It was a clear-cut victory. They won it on the basis of a caricature. It had socially redeeming value because it had caricature that you can recognize. If anything, we think it is pornographic. Well, that’s not true, because their standards are so full of bullshit. Even by their standards, it’s not pornographic, because it does have socially redeeming value. That whole thing is just a crock of shit anyway. It’s just one people wanting to impose their will on you. The rest of it is just like the rules of the game.

ROSENKRANZ: Then the court accepted parody as a valid art form?

MOSCOSO: Parody is, and caricature, in the case of Snatch, is a precedent. Similar cases have been won already. That’s a good point because it’s a point on which people have won in the past. In law, you always go on precedent. You don’t invent things. You build on what’s already there.

ROSENKRANZ: Were you called on to testify?

MOSCOSO: No, not for that.

ROSENKRANZ: Any of the other Snatch artists?

MOSCOSO: Not that I can think of. They brought in respectable people, like Peter Selz, curator of the University of California, who cracked up the jury. He was very funny about it. In the course of them cracking, he said, see, you’re laughing. It was a groovy jury. They knew what was happening. They said, sure, this is silly.

ROSENKRANZ: The sex and violence themes that are in so much of the underground comix, do you think those Comics Code people had anything when they talked about violence in comics encouraging violence?

MOSCOSO: They had a lot, but it had nothing to do with what they were saying. They weren’t being out front. They didn’t dig that EC was doing them in, business-wise, plus, there’s that hysterical quality, that especially the ’50s had, the witch-hunting trip.

ROSENKRANZ: Women’s groups had a lot to do with the Code, all those women asking for the comics to be cleaned up. Do you think there’s any connection with the women’s-lib pressure?

MOSCOSO: Well, that wasn’t women’s lib. That’s just the standard way politicians work, like the guy who made marijuana illegal, Anslinger. That was the tactic that he used. He went around to all these women’s clubs, who had nothing better to do, and he got them all enraged. That was after prohibition. It had been repealed. He was into that trip, so what’s he going to do with all his zeal and energy? He went out to find something else, and it was grass, ’cause there was just enough grass around. He trumped it up. He probably had more to do with the propagation of grass than any other single individual in this country. He took it to the women’s clubs. The women’s clubs took it to the congressmen. The congressmen passed legislation. That’s the technique. That’s the technique you use with smut: Go to the women’s clubs — similar civic-minded organizations that want to be moved, because they have nothing to do.

ROSENKRANZ: Even in the so-called hip community, these women’s organizations are putting censorshi- type pressure on underground comix.

MOSCOSO: I don’t make the jump from these women’s groups to women’s lib. There’s no connection. Just cause they’re women doesn’t make it the same. These ladies were like the Ladies Auxiliary of the American Legion. These women aren’t for women’s lib as groups. They may be as individuals. I see women’s lib as being something that’s happening that’s a new social phenomenon, a social institution. They’re not saying the same thing. They’re saying something else.

ROSENKRANZ: You don’t see like the Suffragettes.

MOSCOSO: The Suffragettes were more like women’s lib. When you get to the Ladies Auxiliary of the American Legion, they’re not like it any more. As they get successful, as they get fat, they’re going through the same trip their old men are into, which is you gotta keep it, don’t change it. Anything that’s a threat, anything that’s going to change you, watch out — get rid of it.

ROSENKRANZ: Have you had any flack from women’s lib for any of your artwork?


ROSENKRANZ: They didn’t respond too well to Snatch comics though.

MOSCOSO: I haven’t gotten any bad feedback. Crumb has gotten some. Wilson may have, I don’t know. Crumb did one far-out page on women’s lib, which tells them to go fuck off. If a woman really wants to attack the comix, the best thing for her to do is to do them. There’s already been a couple of women’s-lib comics. There’s an outlet there. It’s not happening the way you seem to be asking me. I can see where they would have some objections, but they can make their own comic books. That’s the way it comes out, which is a lot more creative, instead of trying to kick something down.

ROSENKRANZ: Spain was telling me a story about some self-appointed women’s group who took Denis Kitchen up on a rooftop and threatened to throw him off.

MOSCOSO: Let me put this off. I personally haven’t gotten any static from women’s lib. It could be like the other guys are. I don’t hang around with them that much, especially up on rooftops.

ROSENKRANZ: Were you born and raised in this area?

MOSCOSO: No, I was born in Spain and raised in New York City.

ROSENKRANZ: What drew you out here to San Francisco?

MOSCOSO: The coast. When you live in NYC, a kind of mystique gets built up, because to a large part, it’s true about the West Coast.

ROSENKRANZ: When was it you came out here?


Back cover to Zap #7 (1974)
Back cover to Zap #7 (1974)

ROSENKRANZ: Why do you think the underground cartooning center has been drawn here from all over the country?

MOSCOSO: It’s hard to say, but it’s a very comfortable place to live, so it draws anybody out here. Compared to New York, it’s much more human. It’s interesting that a lot of the comic artists who started in New York have already moved out here. It started there like the way it happened here, but they didn’t keep going there. The environment was not hospitable to it. Spain came out, both the Deitches came out here …

ROSENKRANZ: Do you think it’s good that so many artists are concentrated in one area?

MOSCOSO: What’s nice about it, is that you can be personally in touch with the other guys. I dig that.

ROSENKRANZ: What do you think about the group up in Wisconsin, Krupp Comic Works?

MOSCOSO: I think that’s nice what they’re doing.

ROSENKRANZ: They’re quite a bit less offensive than San Francisco comic books.

MOSCOSO: There’s probably a more hostile environment. I don’t know. I can only guess. I’ve noticed that they’re not as hard-biting. They say things like “pee-pee.”

ROSENKRANZ: Did they come to you to do anything for Pro Junior?

MOSCOSO: I was approached, but I was busy at the time, so I didn’t get around to it.

ROSENKRANZ: What do you think about jams?

MOSCOSO: I think they’re fun.

ROSENKRANZ: Do you think they come off well in a comic book?


ROSENKRANZ: There aren’t so many being done any more.

MOSCOSO: They aren’t, that’s true.

ROSENKRANZ: A lot of people seem to be working on their own comics or their own projects.

MOSCOSO: Right, which is doing comics with other guys. They’ll get it together but in different ways.