Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Top 10 Defunct Comic Book Publishers: Kitchen Sink Press

For the next ten Wednesday's, I'm going to feature a series of posts that take a fond look back at my personal picks for the "Top 10 Defunct Comic Book Publishers" of all time. Given that Wednesday is the standard "new comics" day for incoming stuff in direct market shops around the USA, it seems like the exact day of the week in which to recall some of the great publishers of the past who helped carry the torch in days gone by.

As you'll see, some of these companies specialized in specific content or genres, some practiced the fine art of licensing properties from other media outlets for adaptation to the four-color world, and some simply marched to the beat of their own peculiar drummer. I do not intend to rank the publishers that will be spotlighted in any particular order, so without further ado, let's get down to business.

Kitchen Sink Press was founded by Denis Kitchen way back in 1969. Kitchen owned and operated the company for an impressive thirty years until it folded in 1999. Kitchen Sink Press was a pioneering publisher of underground comix including Bijou Funnies, Bizarre Sex, Cherry, Dope Comix, Grateful Dead Comix, Mom’s Homemade Comics and Snarf. Kitchen Sink Press also released numerous republications of classic comic strips in both hardcover and softcover volumes, reminding fans new and old of the joys of Alley Oop, Flash Gordon, Li’l Abner and Steve Canyon, among many others. One of Kitchen's greatest accomplishments was the first total reprinting of Will Eisner's The Spirit first in magazine format and later in color.
Taking full advantage of the rise of the direct market in the 1980's, Kitchen Sink Press introduced new characters, concepts and creators in such series as Atomic City Tales, Black Hole, Death Rattle, Megaton Man, Omaha the Cat Dancer and Xenozoic Tales.

A small sampling of industry legends and talents whose work appeared under the Kitchen Sink banner includes Howard Kruse, Kim Deitch, Will Eisner, Justin Green, Harvey Kurtzman, Scott McCloud, James O'Barr, Trina Robbins, Art Spiegelman, Reed Waller, S. Clay Wilson, Kate Worley and Denis Kitchen.
Denis Kitchen also ushered in The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, which first began as a means to pay for the legal defense of Friendly Frank's comic shop manager Michael Correa, who was arrested in 1986 on charges of distributing obscenity (primarily titles published by Kitchen). Kitchen Sink Press carved its own niche in the world of undergrounds, independents and direct-only comics & "comix" over a three decade run that was highly entertaining and unique among its peers; it definitely deserves a place among the best comic book publishers of all time. Consider Kitchen Sink Press "gone, but not forgotten".

3 comments:

Denis Kitchen said...

Hi Chuck. Enjoyed your Kitchen Sink Press entry on "Top 10 Defunct Comic Book Publishers." Gratifying to know I'm gone but not completely forgotten.

---Denis

Chuck Wells said...

Denis, I'm glad that you took the time to let me know that you had stopped by the Catacombs too. It's been a while since I got to say "hello" in person, in fact I've only had the privilege once (in Atlanta back in the 90's) so trust me when I say that I'm looking forward to seeing you again at this years Baltimore Con in August.

Jeff Overturf said...

Denis Kitchen is one of my heroes. His work to preserve classic comic work and support independent comics art will live on. He's definitely NOT forgotten.

Cool that he stopped by to see he's remembered fondly!