The PopCult Comix Bookshelf

Ink And Anguish: A Jay Lynch Anthology
by Jay Lynch, Ed Piskor, Patrick Rosenkranz
ISBN-13: 978-1683961468
$39.99 (discounted at Amazon)

Jay Lynch was a pioneer of the underground comix scene of the 1960s. As the founder of the Chicago scene, he acted as a publisher for Robert Crumb, Gilbert Shelton, Skip Williamson, Art Spiegleman and many other founding fathers of underground comix. He also managed to segue into a career at Topps, helping create The Garbage Pail Kids, and develop Wacky Packages.

Lynch’s main claim to fame in the underground scene was the strip, Nard ‘n’ Pat, which he wrote and drew. This was the adventures of a cat-owner who was regularly hectored and bullied by his obnoxious cat. He also wrote the long-running strip, Phoebe and The Pigeon People for The Chicago Reader, which was drawn by Gary Whitney.

Jay was also a colleague of mine at Non Sport Update Magazine, and we got to be Facebook friends for a few years before he passed away after a battle with lung cancer in 2017. It’s cool that, with this book, he’s finally getting the career recognition he deserves as a peer of Crumb, Shelton, Deitch, Spiegleman and Williamson.

Let’s go to the publisher’s blurb: “Jay Lynch was a counterculture Renaissance man whose career as cartoonist, satirist, and archivist spanned over six decades. This book is the definitive anthology of the artist’s life as he contributed to the earliest underground comix, designed timeless novelties, and eventually settled down as a painter.

Ink & Anguish: A Jay Lynch Anthology includes all his signature Nard n’ Pat stories; selections from comics like Bijou Funnies and Mineshaft; a sampling of his art for Bazooka Joe, Wacky Packages, and Garbage Pail Kids; and collaborations with Art Spiegelman, Robert Crumb, and Ed Piskor.

From his dysfunctional childhood to the day he picked out his head stone, Lynch’s life is also narrated throughout by comics historian Patrick Rosenkranz, adding to this retrospective of an American original and one of comics’ most beloved figures.”

Patrick Rosenkranz crafts a terrific, fast-paced narrative of Lynch’s life, weaving short chapters of biographical material between longer segments of Lynch’s comics and other work. Ed Piskor, Lynch’s collaborater later in his life, contributes more details and finished art for some of Jay’s last works. We not only see Lynch’s artowrk, but we get the context in which it was created.

Lynch, who would sometimes sign his work “Jayzy,” has one of those epic life stories that meanders from his childhood in New Jersey and Florida to his exodus to Chicago at the age of 17, where he became a key part of the city’s creative scene. In this book you’ll read about how he prepared the first issue of one of the key underground comix during the Chicago riots, and how he wound up writing Bazooka Joe comics for Topps, in addition to his work in the trading card industry.

This book collects a good chunk of Lynch’s work (we only get a few pages of Phoebe and The Pigeon People, which awaits its own collection someday), and in addition to the comix work, you’ll find examples of his merchandise design, trading card and packaging artwork, and in what was a little surreal for me, some of his covers for Non Sport Update, which happen to include articles that I wrote.

In addition to collecting the fine work that Lynch produced, the prose chapters paint a great picture of the life of an underground cartoonist, as he had to find a way to make a living that would allow him to practice his art.

Ink And Anguish: A Jay Lynch Anthology is a great introduction to an unjustly-overlooked cartoonist. Aside from being a key contributor to the undergound comicx movement of the 1960s, Lynch went on to teach at The Art Institute of Chicago, and write for Mad Magazine. This is a good step in recognizing the brilliance of someone who’s face belongs on the Mount Rushmore of Underground Comix.