Illustrating the Psychedelic: Comics and Poster Art
AN AESTHETIC OF THE CULTURE
Concert posters became increasingly psychedelic during the Summer of Love. Artists incorporated Art Nouveau, Dada, and Pop Art to create surreal imagery and fluid typography.
Poster artists used the psychadelic imagery to create and project an aesthetic of the culture. Unlike photographs printed in the mainstream media, these images were created from within the community and leave a legacy of how the hippies on the Haight saw themselves.
DR. STRANGE and the PSYCHEDELIC ART OF COMICS
Doctor Strange, "Master of the Mystic Arts," was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (creators of Spider-Man) in 1963. A mystical character, Dr. Strange could occupy a "dream dimension" of bizarre alternate worlds. This combination of Eastern mysticism with psychedelic reality reflects the values of the hippie movement of the 1960s.
A Tribute to Dr. Strange is considered the first psychedelic dance concert in San Francisco. Organized by the Family Dog collective, the event took place on October 16, 1965 at the Longshoreman's Hall (the same day as an anti-Vietnam protest in Oakland organized by the Vietnam Day Committee), and featured the Charlatans, the Marbles and the Great Society, featuring Grace Slick. San Francisco Chronicle music critic Ralph Gleason wrote of the event,
"Free form improvisation (“self expression”) was everywhere...[The dance floor] is becoming a training ground for the free-est generation this country has seen and they dance beautifully."
“Wild Weekend around the Bay.” San Francisco Chronicle October 18, 1965: 51.
ZAP COMIX and YOUTH CULTURE
R. Crumb moved to San Francisco in 1967 and became known for his representations of drug-induced states, particularly bad LSD trips. He founded Zap Comix with publisher Donald Donahue, which became a popular underground comic of 1960s youth culture. Crumb's Keep on Truckin' comic became a symbol of the optimism of the hippie movement.