Just back home from many spring trips reading/enunciating my new book and now trying to get my own head back which means riding my bike 20 minutes to my favorite Bay Area town through redwoods, acacias and forsythia we go with much pollen dusting golden our helmets, then sliding into cozy red booth in diner with fluffy biscuits and gravy and even chicken fried steak if one dares and needs THAT much head-clearing, then, finally,  one block down to the divine–– a fine friendly and rare book store in the odd and comforting shape of a sort of flat-iron hallway––  where, lo and behold––  here is a copy of Joe Brainard's C Comics, Vol 1 of only two volumes printed in 1964-65, surely one of the original magazines issuing in the great mimeograph period of literary publishing.   An exotic pearl arisen out of the dust!  A book I so wanted to touch!

Which I could not afford. I can not afford anything in the Heldfond Book Gallery LTD. in San Anselmo, California www.heldfond.com but  they let me take several pictures of Brainard's great comic  for you and here is the cover:


Stapled.  About 9 by 13". Cover drawing by Brainard, who drew the entirety of the issue, making collaborative comics with other first and second generation NY School poets and artists Bill Berkson, Ted Berrigan, Robert Dash, Edwin Denby, Kenward Elmslie, Barbara Guest, Kenneth Koch, Gerard Malanga, Frank O'Hara, Ron Padgett, James Schuyler, Johnny Stanton, Tony Towle, Tom Veitch.   The comics are non-narrative, hysterical, decadent and light,  with that deft touch of the sacramental Brainard gilded upon the ordinary.  And one of the first comics to be adult (yes, even before R. Crumb)––brashly and openly, especially for the time, championing homosexuality, drugs, any alteration of consciousness. Most poets will of course be familiar with the great I Remember and the huge project of collages, drawings and assemblages made of Nancy (see The Nancy Book, Siglio Press www.sigliopress.com/books/nancy.htm).  But the C Comics are super super rare––done in very small editions, passed around among friends, at poetry readings, maybe a few independent bookstores.

Espying a copy in a bookstore in 2010 gives one heart palpitations.

And here is a photo of the contents:


And here is a closeup detail of the photo of the contents:


And that is all the kind folks at Heldfond Book Gallery would let me shoot.  But they let me stand there, inhaling the history and the joy and the books we all feel we have stepped out of, if we could step out of books, which we have, which is why I am telling you about this now.

Originally Published: April 21st, 2010

The daughter of radio station owner-operators, poet, editor, and translator Gillian Conoley was born in Austin, Texas. She was raised in Austin’s rural outskirts, where “the only art around was film,” Conoley recalled during a 2010 conversation with Sara Mumulo for The Offending Adam. This early exposure to film would...