One evening in the mid sixties I accompanied a writer friend to the editorial office of an alternative “underground” newspaper that was just beginning to circulate around the streets of Hollywood, a weekly called the Los Angeles Free Press. My friend was picking up a manuscript he had submitted to the paper and thought I might be interested.
We arrived at the Fifth Estate coffee house, at the east end of the Sunset Strip. It was a popular hangout for ageing beatniks and youthful hippies. I knew the place fairly well and occasionally hung out there myself. However, I was surprised when my friend led me to the back of the table service area, through a door I had never noticed, and down a flight of stairs into a dimly lit basement. The place was cluttered with composing tables, various machines and old furniture.
This is where I met Art Kunkin, the publisher and editor of the “Freep”, sitting at an ancient roll top desk under a single light bulb, looking for all the world like a young Leon Trotsky. After a short tour around the office, I suddenly realised that I could submit my cartoons and get them published with limited censorship, so long as I didn’t ask to be paid.
I immediately offered Kunkin one of my rejected cartoons from Playboy Magazine. (I always carried them with me in a beat up old briefcase, you never know) and joined the staff of the Free Press as the editorial cartoonist for the next five years.
Toward the end of the sixties my cartoons were syndicated in over eighty counter cultural newspapers across the United States as well as in Europe and parts of Asia, even Australia. They included the Berkeley Barb, the Chicago Seed, the East Village Other, Lot’s Wife, Farrago etc.
By now I was getting paid but never enough to live on. For that, I had to do covers for Forest Ackerman’s magazine “Famous Monsters of Filmland”.