'Gentles Tripout' (The East Village Other #16, 15 July 1966).

Nancy Kalish-Burton, who used the pseudonyms "Panzika" and "Hurricane Nancy", is an American underground comix artist. She published several comics in the mid-1960s, including the feature 'Gentles Tripout' (1966) in The East Village Other. Kalish also contributed to the first all-female underground comic book 'It Ain't Me, Babe' (1971).

Early life
Interviewed by Alex Dueben for The Comics Journal (18 August 2016), Nancy Kalish said that her family lived in Far Rockaway, Queens, New York. Her father was part of a union and held left-wing opinions. As such, she grew up in a socially conscious environment and often joined demonstrations. She protested for civil rights and against the Vietnam War. Kalish already enjoyed drawing in school. She went to Buffalo State Teachers College, where she attened a few art classes. Among her graphic influences were abstract-expressionism, art nouveau, Gustav Klimt, Mark Rothko, Alphonse Mucha, Hieronymus Bosch and John Stanley's 'Little Lulu'.

In adulthood, she married a poet named Panzika and joined him on a backpacking trip through Europe between 1963 and 1964. In Hamburg, Germany, Kalish worked in a pudding factory alongside Turkish migrants. The couple even visited Hungary in the Eastern Bloc, which opened her eyes about the harsh realities of Communist regimes. While in Spain, they also crossed the Mediterranean to visit Morocco for a month.


'Gentles Tripout' (The East Village Other #9, 1-15 April 1966).

Gentles Tripout
Back in New York City, Nancy Kalish made a psychedelic comic strip titled 'Gentles Tripout' (1966). She simply stepped into the office of the underground comix magazine The East Village Other, and received permission to publish it in its pages without payment or contract. Rather than sign it with her own name, she used her husband's last name as a pseudonym: Panzika. The main character in 'Gentles Tripout' was based on Jesus Christ, depicted as a gentle alien. Her messsage was: "Have adventures and find your own truth." The series ran for a few months on a regular basis, starting in issue #9 of 1 April 1966. After a new chief editor was put in charge, her comic was dropped. 'Gentles Tripout' left a strong impression on Trina Robbins who described it as a "psychedelically decorative strip in the style of Aubrey Beardsley". In Robbins' book 'Last Girl Standing' (Fantagraphics, 2017) she elaborated: "What impressed me the most was an abstract and designy full-page comic, called 'Gentles Tripout', signed Panzika. I suddenly realized: the little drawings of people on paper that I produced were actually comics. I could do comics like that!" Nevertheless, it took two years before she found out that Panzika was a woman!


'Busy Boxes' (from: Gothic Blimp Works #4).

Move to San Francisco
In 1967, Kalish felt frustrated about both her comics career and her marriage. Like many hippies she moved to San Francisco, where she enjoyed the freespirited atmosphere and attended the first rock festival in history: Monterey Pop. During the "Summer of Love" in 1967, she took on a new pseudonym: Hurricane Nancy. Her work circulated in several underground publications in San Francisco and Los Angeles. One of them was the fourth issue of Gothic Blimp Works (1969), for whom she made a psychedelic comic titled 'Busy Boxes'.

It Ain't Me, Babe
In 1971, Trina Robbins asked Kalish to contribute a two-page story to 'It Ain't Me Babe', the first all-female underground comix magazine. Communication between both ladies was all done by mail: they never met in person. 'It Ain't Me Babe' also features a comic strip by a certain Carole, whose last name is lost in history. Some sources claim her last name is Kalish, which suggests that Carole and Nancy might've been related. Interestingly enough, both their contributions appear next to each other in the final pages. But Carole did appear in the group photo, and Nancy didn't (because she never met the crew in person). This makes a family connection and a shared last name less likely...

Retirement and revival
Sadly enough, 'It Ain't Me, Babe' would be Kalish's final contribution to the comics world. Her personal life was troubled by drug abuse and a lack of real stability. For decades, she didn't make any drawings. In 2009 she was diagnosed with breast cancer, but was declared cancer free a year later. During her treatment she had begun to draw again and she kept doing this after she was cured. Finding a new spirit in life, Kalish decided to keep making new cartoons and paintings. She presents her artworks, nicknamed 'Krazi Kartoon', on her website hurricanenancy.com and on her YouTube channel. In an official statement on her site she said: "After doing so many wonderful things over the past 40 years, I became re-interested in my ability to create relevant, valuable communication, and I found the increasing acceptance of commercialized art and the status quo infuriating. Underground Artists have the ability and position to take on politically incorrect to very incorrect subjects and get away with it, and I like that."


'Food Fairies' (Krazi Kartoon).

www.hurricanenancy.com

Series and books by Nancy Burton in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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