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excellent writing
exceptional art
historical bonus 2
total score 8
Nickel Library
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Only Printing / 1973 / 64 sheets / Gary Arlington
The Nickel Library project, had it been completed, would doubtlessly be regarded as one of the great achievements in underground publishing. The brainchild of Gary Arlington, founder of the San Francisco Comic Book Company comic book shop, the Nickel Library was intended to run 500 pages as a series of single-sheet pages of comic artwork. Started in 1973, each sheet contained artwork from (usually) one artist and the majority were spoofs of old EC Comics front covers (e.g., Shock SuspenStories). Arlington sold the sheets for a five cents apiece and they were predrilled with three holes to enable storage in a three-ring binder.

Alas, the project hit the skids early on when William M. Gaines, who held copyright on all EC material, threatened to sue Arlington for $50,000 if he continued the series. It might have been argued that the artists were performing parody with their efforts (which was true), but Arlington didn't have the money to fight Gaines in court, much less the money to pay off such a judgement, and even less inclination to piss off one of his heroes (hard to find a bigger EC Comics fan than Arlington).

So the series stalled after 64 sheets, including the cover. There were a wide variety of artists who took part, including several non-underground legends like Will Eisner, Frank Frazetta and Wally Wood, and several artists had multiple pages (Larry Todd had seven and Charles Dallas had six...some of the best work, too, I might add). A few of the sheets are kinda blah, but many are fantastic spoofs of EC Comic covers. Just imagine what might have been with 500 pages of these!

Comixjoint lists the series as a single book, as it was ultimately intended to be, and provides images of many of the individual pages as samples of the project. The cover is also provided as a sample page to allow for easier reading of the text.
It is currently unknown how many copies of were printed of individual pages. None have been reprinted. There were two no. 43 sheets and Arlington skipped from no. 60 to nos. 91 and 92. Nickel Library sheets sold for a nickel, plus 20 cents for postage, if needed. Or buyers could purchase 10 sheets for $1.00 with postage included. Some sheets were printed on different colors of paper, which are also noted below.

Instead of feeling upset about William Gaines threatening to take legal action against him, Gary Arlington took great pride in receiving the cease-and-desist letter from Gaines attorney. He kept the letter and proudly showed it to anyone who might ask about the Nickel Library in the future.
Kim Deitch - cover, white paper
Reed Crandall - #1, green, yellow, and olive papers
Kim Deitch - #2, blue paper
Harrison Cady - #3, yellow paper
Frank Frazetta - #4, pink paper
Will Eisner - #5, mustard paper
Justin Green - #6, buff paper
C.C. Beck - #7, orange paper
Wallace Wood - #8, buff and white papers
Windsor McCay - #9, yellow paper
Jim Osborne - #10, blue paper
Don Towlley - #11, buff paper
Frank Frazetta - #12, pink paper
Will Eisner - #13, mustard paper
Bill Griffith - #14, green paper
George Herriman - #15, white paper
Cliff Sterrett - #16, yellow paper
George Herriman - #17, buff paper
Rory Hayes and Simon Deitch - #18, mustard paper
Disney Studios - #19, pink paper
Alex Toth - #20, orange paper
Will Eisner - #21, blue paper
Jack Davis - #22, green paper
Alex Toth - #23, blue and buff papers
Michele Brand - #24, blue paper
Roger Brand - #25, yellow paper
Arnold Roth - #26, green paper
Murphy Anderson - #27, red paper
Wallace Wood - #28, blue paper
Jack Kirby - #29, orange paper
Harvery Kurtzman - #30, gray paper
Jay Kinney - #31, pink paper
Bill Plimpton - #32, blue and white papers
unknown artist - #33
Charles Dallas - #34, white paper
unknown artist - 35
unknown artist - 36
unknown artist - 37
unknown artist - 38
unknown artist - 39
Bill Edwards - #40, white paper
Larry Todd - #41, white paper
Charles Dallas - #42, white paper
Jim Osborne - #43a, yellow paper
Larry Todd - #43b, white paper
Jack Jackson - #44, white paper
Rick Griffin - #45, yellow paper
Justin Green - #46, white and pink paper
Larry Todd - #47, buff paper
Larry Todd - #48, pink and white papers
Charles Dallas - #49, yellow paper
Robert Crumb - #50, yellow paper
Wallace Wood - #51, buff paper
Charles Dallas - #52, pink and buff papers
Larry Todd - #53, pink paper
Larry Todd - #54, pink paper
Charles Dallas - #55, pink paper
Jim Chase - #56, pink paper
Charles Dallas - #57, pink paper
Larry Todd - #58, white paper
Dave Geiser - #59, white paper
Charles Dallas - #60, white paper
unknown artist - #91
unknown artist - #92