S. CLAY WILSON
Underground Comic & Cartoonist
Born: 1941 Lincoln, NE
S. Clay Wilson is an American underground cartoonist and central figure in the underground comix movement. Wilson is known for aggressively violent and sexually explicit panoramas of "lowlife," often depicting the wild escapades of pirates and bikers.
He was an early contributor to Zap Comix, and Wilson's artistic audacity has been cited by R. Crumb as a liberating source of inspiration for Crumb's own work.
Wilson was born in Lincoln, Nebraska and later attended the University of Nebraska. He was trained as a medic in the United States Army and held odd jobs before moving to San Francisco in 1968. He met up with Charles Plymell, who was publishing Robert Crumb's Zap Comix. Wilson had been drawing since he was 12, and needed little persuasion to contribute to Zap. His work was praised by such counterculture icons as William S. Burroughs and Terry Southern.
A striking feature of S. Clay Wilson's work is the contrast between the literate way in which his characters speak and think and the depraved violence in which they engage.
Wilson's later work became more ghoulish, featuring zombie pirates and visualizations of the Virgin of Guadalupe as a rotting vampire mother. In many respects, however, his work has remained consistent since his emergence in the 1960s. In contrast to the many countercultural figures who have moderated their more extreme tendencies and successfully assimilated into the mainstream of commercial culture, S. Clay Wilson's work has remained troubling to mainstream sensibilities and defiantly ill-mannered.
The main book collection of S. Clay Wilson's comics is the Checkered Demon Anthology Vol. 1 from Last Gasp. The Art of S. Clay Wilson, published in 2006 by Ten Speed Press, covers his prints and paintings as well as his comics work.