As the past decade in film attests, comics (or at least film and television adaptations thereof) are very much back in style. Though Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse have and continue to dominate the scene, zines and comics are as vital to transgressive subcultures as they are to mainstream popular culture, with no better example than the radical indie comics publisher Silver Sprocket, based in San Francisco.
Founded by Avi Ehrlich in 2007, Silver Sprocket practices what it preaches. The publishing house platforms art and artists whose values are consistent with Sprocket’s espoused revolutionary leftist politics, resulting in a series of subversive, penetrating, and often acerbic comics and zines that revolve around queerness, mental health, punk culture, anti-establishment politics, and marginalized communities.
We’ve assembled a handful of some of Sprocket’s recent and most biting titles to help those testing the waters of countercultural comics.
Published in 2021, this uproarious satire critiques right-wing discourse surrounding ANTIFA (anti-fascism) by literalizing the caricature so often invoked by conservatives to incite fear: the ANTIFA super soldier. By humorously appropriating this caricature, Lubchansky defangs these attempts to demonize anti-fascism and reveals that there’s nothing scary about being opposed to fascism; instead, what’s much scarier is how opposed conservatives are to anti-fascism.
This light-hearted comic series centers on two lovable stoners, Noah and Calla, whose quest for a bite to eat is constantly thwarted by the outside world (and how much it sucks). The painstakingly crafted art recalls the simplistic but expressive character design of mid-2000s cartoons, of which Adult Swim’s Aqua Teen Hunger Force is a classic example.
Written by trans and nonbinary members of TransFighters Oakland, a queer self-defense program, this guide contains practical means, physical and non-physical, to retaliate in or de-escalate a dangerous situation in which a member of the genderqueer community might find themselves. Informed by the lived experiences of members of the local genderqueer community, this piece of informative literature reflects the necessity for art and education by and for marginalized folk.
This dynamically illustrated compendium of various talented comics artists tracks the history of cults - religious and otherwise - in America, from the utopian-socialist communities of the 1960s and 70s to the contemporary cults of personality enveloping self-help charlatans and those who peddle get-rich-quick schemes. A must-read for history buffs and those who wish to quell the rise of demagoguery in modern society.
This stunningly illustrated graphic novel, drawing inspiration from H.P. Lovecraft’s classic short story Color Out of Space, elegantly weaves a queer romance into a cosmic horror tale. Follow couple Briana and Cassie as they move to a remote Texas farmhouse, discover an unknown object that just plummeted to their property from the depths of space, and navigate the nightmarish events that follow.
Silver Sprocket’s innovative, genre-defying array of comics, graphic novels, and zines continues to push the boundaries of what comics as a medium can do. Best of all, they have a physical bookstore in the heart of the Mission at which you can purchase any of the above titles!
Visit them at 1018 Valencia Street.
Photography by: Cottonbro/Pexels