Summer Exhibits Highlight the Counter-Culture in our Manuscript Collections

Currently on display in the Special Collections Reading Room at Strozier Library is an exhibit of ‘underground comix’ from the Robert M. Ervin Jr. Collection and an exhibit of highlights from The Yeti Collection, one of our newest manuscript collections.

‘Underground comix’ are small press or self-published comic books which contain salacious and satirical commentary on social and political issues. These works emerged in the late 1960s alongside the youth counter-culture movement, often depicting content that was forbidden to mainstream comic book publications, such as explicit sexuality and drug use. The term “comix” was popularized by its appearance in the title of the first issues of Robert Crumb’s Zap Comix, and was used to differentiate underground comix from mainstream comic books, with the “X” also emphasizing the X-rated contents.

These publications illustrated a new awareness of socio-political issues in the emerging ‘hippie’ counterculture movement of the time, such as environmentalism, civil rights, women’s liberation, the sexual revolution, the Vietnam War, recreational drug use, and new-age mysticism. The Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco was the epicenter of the movement and the home of major printer/publishers such as The Print Mint, Apex Novelties, and Last Gasp. Comix were often sold in alternative venues such as head shops and enjoyed their strongest success in the United States between 1968 and 1975.

This exhibit features a small sampling of underground comix by Robert Crumb, Skip Williamson, Greg Irons, Trina Robbins, and John Thompson from the Robert M. Ervin Jr. Collection.

The Yeti Collection exhibit displays materials that were donated to FSU Special Collections in March 2011 by the editors of The Yeti, an independent student news publication that serves Florida State University and the greater Tallahassee community as an alternative source for local news. The exhibit features some unique items, including a beer bottle and a collection of mysterious postcards which contain bizarre stories and drawings, as well as a November 2005 issue of The Yeti that is autographed by comedian Lewis Black.

The collection is a colorful addition to FSU’s manuscripts collection that offers a glimpse into the alternative culture of FSU students and Tallahassee during the first decade of the new millennium. The Yeti was  founded in April 2005 by a small group of FSU students and covers many local and grassroots topics that often get overlooked by larger commercial media outlets. Their stated goal has been “to provide our university and community with in-depth coverage of topics that impact the community.”

Adrienne Serra, the 2010-2011 graduate assistant for Special Collections, was responsible for curating and arranging the exhibits, as well as creating promotional posters and bookmarks. It is hoped that these two exhibits, which focus on counter-culture, will expose more students and library patrons to Special Collections and the unique materials that our manuscript holdings have to offer, especially as new students arrive with the beginning of the fall semester.

To view the online finding aid for the Yeti collection, visit http://fsuarchon.fcla.edu/index.php?p=collections/controlcard&id=3512&q=yeti

To learn more about The Yeti, visit their website: http://www.theyetionline.com/

To check out the finding aid for the Ervin collection, visit http://www.lib.fsu.edu/~speccoll/ervinjr2.htm

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