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Peter Leggieri’s East Village Other


Earlier this week, the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute launched “Blowing Minds: The East Village Other, the Rise of Underground Comix and the Alternative Press, 1965-72,” with a rousing discussion that’s now archived on the exhibit’s Website, along with new audio interviews with veterans of the Other. Over the course of seven weekend editions of The Local, we’ve heard from all but one of the EVO alumni who spoke on Tuesday’s panel. Here now, to cap off our special series, is the story of Peter Leggieri.

GIL WEINGOURT PHOTO 1968B54B2LEGGERIA-PETER_SPAIN-EVO copyGil Weingourt Left to right: Peter Leggieri, Peter Mikalajunas, and Spain Rodriguez.

From the first day that I began working at The East Village Other, I was overcome by the sense that it was not only a newspaper but a strange and magical ship on a voyage with destiny. It seemed as though each issue printed was a new port of call, and the trip from one issue to the next, a new adventure. Many of EVO’s crew members expressed that same weird feeling – a sense of excitement and creative power.

And what a crew that was! No one was recruited. I don’t recall a resume ever being submitted. They all simply showed up and started working. EVO’s crew might just have been the greatest walk-on, pick-up team in the history of journalism. She was The Other but her staff of artists, poets, writers, photographers and musicians affectionately called her EVO. Her masthead bore a Mona Lisa eye. EVO created a cultural revolution and won the hearts and minds of a generation. She was the fastest ship in the Gutenberg Galaxy.

In the Beginning
I was the anonymous Other, the one editor-owner unknown to the public. I did not party. I did not schmooze with the literati or seek publicity. I had no time for such things. I worked seven days a week, 20 hours a day and, because of law school, I had to be sober. My friend, the poet John Godfrey, told me that I was afflicted with a Zen curse: a hermit condemned to be surrounded by people and events. That was certainly the case for me in the 1960s. Read more…

Where Underground Comix Lurched Into Life


The Local East Village continues its celebration of the pioneering alternative newspaper of the late 1960s and early 70s, The East Village Other. This weekend, further to last week’s piece by artist Trina Robbins, we’re keeping our attention on the paper’s trailblazing illustrations, starting with an essay from Patrick Rosenkranz, the author of “Rebel Visions: The Underground Comix Revolution 1963-1975.”

Crumb Gothic Blimp Works first issue Cover of the first Gothic Blimp Works issue, by Robert Crumb

I never worked for The East Village Other but I was a captivated reader from the first time I picked up an issue in 1966. As an 18-year-old naïve Catholic scholarship student at Columbia University, I was ripe for the revolution. My roommate introduced me to smoking dope that winter and my enhanced appetite often drew me to the student cafeteria, where I couldn’t help but be attracted to the radical contingent from Students for a Democratic Society sitting around their regular table. They looked to my eyes like bomb-throwing anarchists who were having wild sex every night. They often left behind copies of The East Village Other, which I picked up. It was love at first sight.

I’d never seen a publication like this before. It was full of wild accusations and bawdy language and doctored photographs. It had President Johnson’s head in a toilet bowl. It had naked Slum Goddesses, truly bizarre personal ads, and a whole different slant on the anti-war movement than my hometown paper upstate. But best of all, it had the most outrageous comic strips. The continuing saga of Captain High; the psychedelic adventures of Sunshine Girl and Zoroaster the Mad Mouse; Trashman offing the pigs and scoring babes left and right. While I enjoyed many aspects of EVO, I liked the comics the most. Read more…