"Recently I've spent time going back and reading old issues of MINESHAFT. Man, it holds up well over time, very high quality content, mercifully free of the usual commercial crap or pretentious arty-farty nonsense that pervades 99.9 percent of all print media. Mineshaft is anti-propaganda, anti-public relations. It is a modest little package speaking honest truths in words and pictures, thanks to you and Gioia's sharp editorial judgement." -Robert Crumb in a letter, January 1, 2014
People often ask us how Mineshaft began working with Robert Crumb. In 2000 Everett and I were living in Guilford, Vermont where we started publishing Mineshaft in January, 1999. We lived in a small shack that was 15 feet by 15 feet and had no running water or electricity. We did all of the computer work for the magazine at the library in Brattleboro where I worked. I rented a darkroom walking distance from the library in an old brick building near the Common Ground Cooperative Restaurant where Everett was working at the time. Sometimes in the evenings Everett would rent movies that he watched on a VCR and tv that were stored in the studio area of the darkroom while I developed film or printed black & white photos, or sometimes I would join him. One night he rented the movie CRUMB that we had wanted to see for a while. When the movie was originally released in 1995, Everett happened to see it listed in the paper at a movie theater in Eugene, Oregon, an hour's drive from where we lived at the time out in a small cottage in the woods near the Umpqua River. We weren't familiar with Crumb's work, but had heard good things about the movie. We drove to the theater one night soon after, only to find that CRUMB had been removed earlier than the date listed in the paper. After finally watching this excellent movie directed by Terry Zwigoff, Everett was inspired to write a letter to R. Crumb in which he included a copy of Mineshaft #4 which at the time was the most recent issue. A couple of months passed by when Everett and I were out making our almost daily walk to the mailbox. This was an enjoyable route on a rutted dirt road that passed by a beaver pond. We'd often see blue herons there. We shared the mailbox with a couple of other people and it was often over-stuffed with mail since Everett and I were the only ones that regularly picked up our mail. As Everett pulled out the mail, I could see he was excitedly holding an envelope with handwritten lettering that would become familiar and always a pleasure to see. Everett opened the envelope and looked inside to see a packet of sketchbook drawings and a letter from R. Crumb! We hurriedly walked back to our cabin where we poured over the wonderful treasure of drawings. Everett put together the front cover of Mineshaft #5 using the sketchbook drawing, "EWW Your Innards!", that Crumb had sent. At that point we didn't know any comics artists and were fairly isolated, so Everett thought that he would do the hand lettering himself. It was a great issue with six sketchbook drawings by Crumb and a special feature, "Freedom in the Death House: The Art of Tommy Trantino", by Everett. The cover offended the one bookshop in Brattleboro that had carried Mineshaft and now they wouldn't sell it, and a patron in Japan cancelled his order of 50 copies because of the front cover. One evening about a month after Mineshaft #5 had come out and Crumb had been sent his box of contributor copies, I was working in my darkroom. Everett knocked on the door and said he had a surprise for me. When I came out, he showed me two pages covered with Mineshaft logos that he recieved in the mail with a letter from Robert! We've been using Robert's fantastic logos ever since in the magazine, on our website, flyers, and other material.
Since that time, Robert Crumb has continued to send envelopes filled with his incredible artwork. He also includes fascinating letters that we began to publish in Mineshaft #10. Our admiration for Crumb inspired us to dig deeper into the amazing world of Ungerground Comix. We began to order numerous old comics from Don Donahue's shop, Apex Novelties. Everett contacted many of the underground artists and found them not only doing beautiful and creative new work, but also interested in collaborating with Mineshaft. Crumb also encouraged wonderful artists such as his wife, Aline Kominsky Crumb, and daughter, Sophie Crumb, to contribute to the magazine. In addition to this he introduced us via mail to artist Peter Poplaski and writer J.R. Helton. R. Crumb has not only been a contributor to Mineshaft but an inspiration and great promoter of the magazine that we truly appreciate.
To date Mineshaft has had the pleasure to publish ten front covers by R. Crumb: Mineshaft #5, #6, #7, #9, #10, #11, #13, #15, #21, & #25 (with Sophie Crumb), plus three front cover logos for Mineshaft #14, #17, & #29; thirteen back covers: Mineshaft #7, #8, #12, #14, #16, #19, #20, #22, #23, #24, #26, #27, and #28; and a total to date of 185 pages of artwork, writing, and letters appearing in every issue since Mineshaft #5.