Friday, September 2, 2016


"The content was something like I'd never seen before, anywhere, the level of mayhem, violence, dismemberment, naked women, loose body parts, huge, obscene sex organs, a nightmare vision of hell-on-earth never so graphically illustrated before in the history of art.... Suddenly my own work seemed insipid..." - Robert Crumb on S. Clay Wilson

Steven "S." Clay Wilson (b. 25 July 1941) was not one of the group that produced SKULL COMICS. Instead, he was busy making a name for himself in other San Francisco-based comics with delightful titles such as PORK, SNATCH and FELCH. Robert Crumb admired his work so much that he invited Wilson to join him, Victor Moscoso, Rick "Murphy" Griffin, as well as a few other choice cartoonists to add to the outrageous mayhem and hilarity that was ZAP COMIX, perhaps the most well-known of the so-called underground comics scene of the late 1960s.

Wilson has the dubious distinction of creating some of the most sick, offensive, perverted and brilliant counterculture of the 1960s. It can be safely said that he was right up there with the likes of Crumb and Shelton in talent and could pack a page with more ink than even Robert Williams. His work was all over the underground comix scene with characters like The Checkered Demon, Ruby the Dyke, Star Eyed Stella and the Hog Riding Fools, forever testing the limits of good taste. In short, he was a genius.

This was, until one night, while walking home from a friend's house, his career was brought to a halt when he either fell or was ambushed and assaulted (the later is more likely), sustaining a debilitating head injury that has left him all but incapacitated (see the story below).

Pictured here is one of many of Wilson's panoramas with densely populated scenes of "hell on earth", this time with a monster theme. This is an "orgy of vampires" that only Wilson could pull off and is only one more excellent example of his incredibly detailed work. Accompanying the images is the description of the auction lot.

S. Clay Wilson "Vampires With Their Dates" Limited Edition Print #11/100 (1990). Low number alert! #11 of only 100 produced. A full-color "dense pack" print from Zap Comix artist S. Clay Wilson that is definitely NOT for the faint-hearted! Wild stuff, with an image area of 22.5" x 15". matted and framed with glass for an overall size of 32" x 26". The print had at one time been rolled, and a crease developed; it's been partially touched up in the black areas. The crease is visible through the orange and green dress down through the pair of yellow wings; it goes on through the black area where it was touched up. Very Good condition. Adult content. Signed and inscribed along the lower border.

Wilson, S. Clay:Steven Clay Wilson is an American artist and cartoonist. He was one of the artists chosen by Robert Crumb to contribute to his Zap Comix (along with Rick Griffin, Victor Moscoso, Spain Rodriguez, Gilbert Shelton, and Robert Williiams), and Wilson's work has appeared in every issue since #2. Wilson's best-known cartoon character, the Checkered Demon, has appeared in other comics, including Weirdo. Wilson was an active artist since childhood, producing many pages of sketches, comic strips, even paintings. Wilson currently lives with his wife in San Francisco, and has retired from drawing due to health issues . Underground cartoonist best known for his contributions to Zap Comix, and the creation of the Checkered Demon character.

NOTE: The following is from the S. CLAY WILSON TRUST site.

S. Clay Wilson in the 1960s.

S. CLAY WILSON…The night that changed his life….

November 1, 2008, the night his life changed forever. We will never be certain if he fell or was attacked, since he has no memory of it. The numerous injuries on his face and head made him look like he was beat up. Two good samaritans found him unconscious between parked cars, face down in the rain, and called an ambulance. (I have tried to find them in order to express my gratitude for saving his life, but have had no success.) He’d suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury, bleeding in three hemispheres of his brain. He spent three weeks in a coma, and we had no idea how severely impaired he was for many months. Once he began to speak again we realized he hadn’t just “awakened” to resume life as it had been before.

We’d been flirting since we met in 1968. I have been living with him since June 2000, visited him every day for the year he was in the hospital, and brought him home November 10, 2009. Taking care of him 24 hours a day is a daunting task, but one I am devoted to. He cannot go out on his own or he would get lost immediately, nor can he be left alone in the house. He cannot problem-solve, nor do anything for himself. Yet somehow he is aware of this loss of freedom, and some days I can tell it saddens him.

Wilson's specialties: A Demon, a chopper, and a Cycle Babe.

The days he spent drawing were his happiest, but after the first year at home, he stopped doing it. He did about 15 drawings the first summer he was home, but by the next Christmas he would no longer go in his studio. Yet he thinks about drawing all the time, and frequently brings piles of his art supplies onto the bed. I continue to hope this means one day he will resume drawing. He loves movies, so we haunt the libraries, renting up to 20 at a time.  We exercise every day, take walks, and friends sometimes take him to lunch, museums, or art shows.

He is very quiet now after being a motor mouth all his life. But he is not a blank slate. His short term memory is shot, and with increasing aphasia, often has trouble expressing himself. (I frequently “put words in his mouth” to help him, and he’s usually able to tell me if I got it wrong.) He is more sensitive now, and needs reassurance every day. He’s always asking if I still love him, and reaches for my hand when we’re walking or watching a movie.

One of Wilson's "tamer" drawings -- a Freak Show
"Lobster Lady",

I have put together a Special Needs Trust for him since he is no longer capable of earning a living. He will need 24 hour care from now on since the little details of daily life are a mystery to him now, and he is easily confused. This gifted artist worked as hard as he partied and was a playful, brilliant person.  Although he is still capable of worrying about the future, he does not fully understand what has happened to alter it. He is now in need of  help. This is a tragic turn of events for a proud man.

The Trust is set up so it can only be spent on him. We pool our meager resources for basic expenses. I hope people will find a way to donate what they can to give him a better quality of life and assist in his ongoing care.

Donations can be made BY mail to PO Box 14854 San Francisco CA 94114

Thank you!

Lorraine Chamberlain

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