Slow Death was an underground comix anthology published by Last Gasp in 1970, their first publication. Conceived as an ecologically themed comics magazine, in conjunction with the first Earth Day, the title's underlying theme was always about what the human race was doing to damage the native planet. Frequent contributors to Slow Death included Greg Irons, Jaxon, Dave Sheridan, Richard Corben, Jim Osborne, Tom Veitch, and Dennis Ellefson. Eleven issues were published over 22 years. And now it's back.
Just in time for the 50th anniversary of the legendary underground comix horror title, Last Gasp will be releasing Slow Death Zero, a graphic anthology of all-new stories including both old school Slow Death alumni William Stout (who contributes the lead story and cover art), Bryan Talbot, Tim Boxell, and Richard Corben.
Plus relatively newer names Rick Veitch, Hunt Emerson, Peter Bagge, Drew Friedman, Savage Pencil, Rick Altergott, Carel Moisewitch, Bob Fingerman, Danny Hellman, Mike Diana, and more, all sharing tales about the unfolding climate change cataclysm that's ruining our planet. 128 pages, edited by Jon B. Cooke and Ron Turner, price to be determined, and it will be available this summer.
The first issue of Slow Death, titled Slow Death Funnies, was produced by San Francisco State University graduate student Ron Turner as a benefit for a local ecology centre. Turner borrowed $2,500, and with the help of San Francisco Comic Book Company's Gary Arlington, printed 20,000 copies, which were published on April 15, 1970.
New issues, now simply titled Slow Death, were published annually through 1974, when the title went on hiatus until 1976. Two issues were published in 1977 and then the title went annual again through 1979. After a 13-year gap, the final issue in the series, Slow Death #11, was published in 1992. Until now.
Slow Death Funnies #1 featured a murderers row of underground comix stars such as Robert Crumb, Kim Deitch, Jaxon, Rory Hayes, Fred Schrier, Dave Sheridan, Gilbert Shelton, Gary Grimshaw, Greg Irons, and Jim Evans taking on such targets as the auto industry, corporate polluters, litterers, and other perceived abusers of the planet. The second issue took on a post-apocalyptic science fiction theme, with dark stories by Jaxon, Dave Sheridan, Jim Osborne, and Richard Corben.
Science fiction stories continued throughout the series, but with issue #5, each issue's theme became connected to real-world issues: Richard Nixon, true war stories, Greenpeace, nuclear power, cancer, and other topics. The final issue, published 13 years after issue #10, and focused on energy conservation, featuring stories by (among others) Alan Moore & Bryan Talbot, Graham Manley, and Wally Wood. Greg Ironscontributed to 8 of the 11 issues, while Jaxon had stories in 6 issue overall.
Here's the line-up of what was – and when:
(Apr. 1970) — contributors: Gary Grimshaw, Dave Sheridan, Jim Osborne, Jim Evans, Greg Irons, Gilbert Shelton, Fred Schrier, Rory Hayes/Jeffery Hayes, R. Cobb, Jaxon, Kim Deitch, Robert Crumb, Tony Auth, Randy Tuten
(Dec. 1970) — contributors: Jaxon, Sheridan, Osborne, Richard Corben
(Nov. 1971) — contributors: Corben, Sheridan, Osborne, Jaxon, Larry Welz, Irons
(Nov. 1972) — contributors: Corben, Sheridan, George Metzger, Tom Veitch/Irons, Jaxon, Eric Kimball
(Apr. 1973) — "We agree Nix–un!" issue; contributors: Rand Holmes, Sheridan, Veitch/Irons, Charles Dallas, Corben
(Jan. 1974) — "Call of the Wild" issue; contributors: Holmes, Ron Turner/Holmes, Dallas, Metzger, Jaxon
(Winter 1976/1977) — "True War Tales" issue; contributors: William Stout, Jaxon, Irons, George DiCaprio/John Edgar, William York Wray, Errol McCarthy, Melinda Gebbie, Irons
(July 1977) — Greenpeace issue; contributors: Stout, Irons, Brenda Bernu, Michael J. Becker, Doug Hansen, Michael T. Gilbert, Sam Wray, Roger Brand, Shelby Sampson, Dennis Ellefson, Tim Boxell
(Aug. 1978) — "Our Friend Mr. Atom" issue; contributors: Irons, Becker, Ellefson, McCarthy, Boxell
(Nov. 1979) — "Cancer special"; contributors: Irons, Ellefson, Guy Colwell, DiCaprio/Warren Greenwood, Janet Abbey/Irons, Boxell
(1992) — "Energy!" issue; contributors: Irons, Veitch/Irons, Alan Moore/Bryan Talbot, Peter Sinclair, Graham Manley, R. Waldmire, Edgar, Greenwood, Wally Wood
And now… (2020)