Behind the Scenes of Last Gasp Publishing

A behind-the-scenes look in San Francisco's legendary Last Gasp Publishing house, the largest publishing house in the world devoted to underground comics.

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Joe Rosato Jr.
Last Gasp founder Ron Turner sits at his desk, buried beneath a pile of eclectic art. Turner founded Last Gasp 40 years ago to publish underground comics.
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Joe Rosato Jr.
In many ways, the Last Gasp offices are as much a work of art as its books. Turner collects vintage sideshow posters which adorn the walls of the offices. When Turner would go to the circus as a kid, his favorite attractions were the sideshows.
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Joe Rosato Jr.
A door originally used at Alcatraz leads to a room containing Turner's strange and wonderful art collection.
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Beneath a canopy of model airplanes, Turner holds a painting by serial killer John Gacy.
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Joe Rosato Jr.
An original R. Crumb drawing that was featured in Slow Death Funnies, the first underground comic that Turner put out. The original comic book was created to raise money for Turner's cash-strapped college ecology class.
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Joe Rosato Jr.
A life-size Bruce Lee figure guards over Turner's collection.
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Joe Rosato Jr.
A two-headed calf amid paintings by some of the world's great underground comics.
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Joe Rosato Jr.
A wall of original art by some of the great underground comics Last Gasp has published.
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Joe Rosato Jr.
An illustration of Ron Turner inside his gallery.
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Joe Rosato Jr.
A vintage sideshow poster features the Woman Without A Head. “I remember when the circus would come to town in Fresno where I grew up,” Turner said. “The best place for me was the sideshow with the freaks.”
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Joe Rosato Jr.
Turner holds another piece of art from his collection. Over the years, Last Gasp has published artists like R. Crumb, Justin Green, Robert Williams and Spain Rodriguez.
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A collection of books published by Last Gasp. "The things I like is anything strong that tells a good story," said Turner. "As well as fantastic artwork." Last Gasp has also put out educational books with lessons on everything from dealing with herpes, to confronting cultural ignorance.
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Turner looks over a collection of publications by Last Gasp. This Thursday will mark the 40th anniversary of the company. "The history of comics is also a history of fighting against censorshi," said San Francisco artist Spain Rodriguez.
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Joe Rosato Jr.
A ceiling of model airplanes swoops over Turner's collection.
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Joe Rosato Jr.
Underground cartoonist Spain Rodriguez works on a drawing in his San Francisco home. ”It’s been key to the production of underground comics," Rodriguez said of Last Gasp."Just providing some forum way that comics can get out there."
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A cartoon by Spain Rodriguez. Rodriguez has had a long relationship with Ron Turner and Last Gasp. "Ron is a unique guy," he said. "He’s personally dedicated to free expression."
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Tools of the trade in Spain Rodriguez' San Francisco studio.
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Joe Rosato Jr.
Last Gasp logo designed by Spain Rodriguez. Last Gasp will celebrate its 40th anniversary with an art show called Last Gasp: A Who's Who of Lowbrow Art. The show opens Thursday April 1st at 111 Minna in San Francisco.
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