Above is a detail from a cartoon published in The Realist in 1967. [Mature viewers not offended by moderately graphic sexual and scatological satire can click here to see the whole thing.] I'll
never forget how happy it made to see this cartoon for the first
time. I was seventeen then — I saw it in the dorm room of a
fellow student at my prep school who had a staggering
collection of underground publications, including a complete run of
Paul Krassner's The Realist.
I can't believe the school authorities knew how much subversive
literature he had stowed away in his room — or how widely it was
corrupting the imaginations of his fellow students. The Realist was truly shocking stuff in 1967.
The image made me happy not because I hated the classic Disney cartoons
and characters — but because I loved them. I loved them too
much, and unconsciously. They were embedded in my psyche on
deeper levels than I ever suspected. To see them dragged
unwillingly into the light of an adult consciousness, mocked and
defiled, sexualized, allowed me to engage them as an adult — to try
and assess how they had affected me. And it allowed me to
appreciate them as great works of art — not just as cultural
baggage. That appreciation has only grown over time.
culture works in counter-intuitive ways. By breaking spells, it
can lead to deeper realms of magic and enchantment . . . which
themselves will one day have to be transgressed and subverted.
Issues of The Realist are being archived on the web now — you can peruse them here.