The Print Mint
was a major publisher of underground comics
during the genre's
heydey. Starting as retailer of psychedelic posters
, it soon evolved into a publisher, printer,
and distributor. It was "ground zero" for the psychedelic poster.
The Print Mint was originally owned by poet Don Schenker
and his wife Alice, later
partnered in the business with Bob and Peggy
Alice Schenker started The Print Mint as a retailer of posters and
art reproductions on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, California, in December of 1965, originally sharing a store
with Moe's Books, but later on moving
into a separate location down the block.
(The Schenkers and
Moe's Books owner Moe Moskowitz
been friends back in New York City during the 1950s Beat era
, so this association was a
continuation of that connection.)
Posters and underground comics
The Print Mint soon opened a wholesale division, publishing and
distributing posters and underground comics. The dance venues at
The Avalon Ballroom and the
advertised by posters designed by artists Stanley Mouse, Rick
Griffin, Alton Kelley, Victor Moscoso, and others.
posters were soon in much demand, and The Print Mint distributed
many of them along with work by Peter
silkscreens, Solo Period
posters, M. C. Escher
, Bob Frieds Food
Move to The Haight
December 1966, the Print Mint opened a second store on Haight
Street, in the Haight
Ashbury district of San Francisco, in a building that Moe
Moscowitz had purchased to install a book store.
(Unfortunately, the city had refused to give Moscowitz a permit to
sell used books, so his plan was never realized.) 1967 was an
eventful time, with the store being a center of neighborhood
activites, a main source of countercultural
information and creative
energy to the huge influx of young people coming into San Francisco
that summer.The store grew from being a simple retailer into a
complex cross-country distribution and then publishing
Moscowitz forfeited the building in December of 1967, bringing a
demise to Print Mint in San Francisco.
Beginning in 1968
, but really getting
going in 1969, publishing and distribution of underground comics
became The Print Mint's major endeavor. With their partners the
Ritas, (employees that the Schenkers had offered a partnership to
in 1967), Don did the organizing, editing and layout of the books,
working with the artists. Bob and Peggy Rita and Alice did the
distribution and the nuts and bolts of running the business. Alice
also oversaw the Berkeley store.
The Print Mint published such underground comix
notables as Robert Crumb
, S. Clay Wilson
, Gilbert Shelton
, and Robert Williams
. Titles they
published include Zap Comix
, The Legion of Charlies
, and Cheech Wizard
The Print Mint's bold experiment with Arcade: The Comix Revue
, started in
and edited by Art Spiegelman
and Bill Griffith
, with each issue sporting a
cover by R. Crumb, paved the way for RAW!
just a few years later.
The Print Mint weathered a lawsuit filed over the publication of
Robert Crumb's Zap
, particularly issue #4 (published in
Schenkers were arrested and charged with publishing pornography by
Previous to that, Simon Lowinsky
, who had a gallery on College
Avenue in Berkeley and had put up an exhibition of the comic
artist’s original drawings, had been arrested on the same charge.
His case came to trial first. He was acquitted after supportive
testimony from Peter Selz
, a prominent
figure in the art world. At that point the city dropped the charges
against the Print Mint.
By 1975 the partnership with the Ritas was not going smoothly. An
agreement was made to split the business between retail and
wholesale, the Schenkers taking the retail store and the Ritas the
wholesale and publishing. The Print Mint ceased publishing comics
in 1978, but the poster shop continued. In 1985 the Schenkers sold
the store. It continues to this day, looking much the same.
- Groth, Gary
(2002?) Victor Moscoso. The Comics