Re/Read: Inner City Romance


Re/Read in a recurring column by Fantagraphics Bookstore curator Larry Reid that examines backlist titles you may have missed or are worthy of another read. This time we’ll look at Guy Colwell’s essential Inner City Romance.

Inner City Romance collects five issues of the transitional underground comic book series of the same name, originally published from 1972 to 1978. Colwell’s comix provide an unvarnished look at the impact of crippling poverty, substance abuse, and violent crime in the aftermath of the Bay Area’s sixties counterculture. His work is informed by his incarceration at McNeil Island federal penitentiary as a Viet Nam war draft resister. Emerging as an unrepentant political radical in a rapidly changing world, Colwell’s comix speak to the social injustice and marginalization of the urban underclass, in many ways foreshadowing the hip hop culture of the following decade.

The book also documents Colwell’s prolific fine art output during this period. In his insightful foreword, underground comix authority Patrick Rosenkranz describes the artist’s formal training at Oakland’s prestigious California College of Arts & Crafts with influences ranging from Northern Renaissance painters Van Eyck, Bruegel, and Bosch, to midcentury American realists Edward Hopper, Andrew Wyeth, Grant Wood and Norman Rockwell. A companion portfolio of Colwell artwork can be found in Street Scenes, from Fantagraphics adventurous FU imprint. And don’t miss his recent allegorical graphic novel In Fox’s Forest.

Find these and other comix, graphic novels and badass books at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery, located at 1201 S. Vale Street in the heart of Seattle’s historic Georgetown art community. Open daily 11:30 to 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00 PM. Phone 206-658-0110.