Meet The Panelist: Richard Gehr

UNDERGROUND USA will culminate in a panel discussion led by Richard Gehr, who skillfully moderated a 2014 SVA panel discussion featuring Sam Gross, Arnie Levin, Lee Lorenz and Victoria Roberts, four of the artists profiled in his book,  I Only Read It For The Cartoons: The New Yorker’s Most Brilliantly Twisted Artists.  

Richard asks the best questions. “Did you set out to be a trangressive cartoonist?”, he asks politely.

Richard’s other hat, besides writing/thinking about cartooning, is writing/thinking about music. He’ll be talking about his evolution as a music listener, and music journalist and critic, at UNDERGROUND USA.

What was Richard’s connection to Portland’s underground press? The Scribe was sold on the street, for 25 cents (later 35 cents), and Richard, in high school,  was one of the Portlanders who did the selling.

I asked a Scribe staff member which outlet reliably did the most sales. She said no single outlet led in sales, but the neighborhood which did the best sales was Portland’s downtown business core. Far  and away, she said, it was the sellers standing on downtown street corners who sold the bulk of Scribes.

There is a history of Portland newsboys making good. Ernest Haycox, Mark Rothko, Max Gordon, Mel Blanc all started out selling newspapers on the streets of downtown Portland. Pretty good company, Richard!

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UNDERGROUND USA is a public history/art education event made possible in part by a grant from the Kinsman Foundation and by a grant from the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation. It is presented by Oregon Cartoon Institute in partnership with UO Comics & Cartooning Studies and PSU Comic Studies, with support from Oregon Historical Society and McMenamins.

Comic City USA, the first exhibit to look at Oregon print cartooning history, is at Oregon Historical Society, 1200 SW Park Avenue, through Jan. 31, 2017.

“People who read them when they first came out remember the initial impact — like getting whacked in the head with a two by four.” Patrick Rosenkranz, on underground comics

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