Exploration & Escape: The Frank L. Waynewood Underground and Alternative Comix Collection

An online exhibition presented in conjunction with Silence Speaks: The Quiet Power of Wordless Novels, currently on display at Special Collections, Western Libraries Heritage Resources, Western Washington University.

Introduction

Portrait of Frank L. Waynewood

Displayed here are selections from the underground comic book collection of Frank L. Waynewood (pictured at right), donated by his wife, Catherine R. Tate, in 2017. This unique collection of nearly 1,200 titles documents the 1960s-1970s underground comix scene as well as the emergence of the Pacific Northwest as a hub of alternative comics in the 1980s and 1990s.

Frank Louis Waynewood (1937-2016) was born on November 15, 1937, in Abilene, Texas, where he was raised by his mother, Louise Burns. Before moving to Seattle in 1961, Waynewood was enrolled in the first integrated class of the University of Texas. Frank Waynewood spent a career in public service with the City of Seattle, State of Washington, and King County METRO. In his personal life, he was an enthusiastic traveler, and a passionate collector. In their journeys together, said Catherine Tate, Frank was easy to spot. Just go to the nearest used bookstore or antique shop and you’d find him sitting on the floor, paging through the comics.

“Frank loved mainstream comics,” explained Tate, “But he came of age with Mad Magazine. In particular, he loved the tiny drawings in the margins. That’s what really led him to underground comix: it was the stuff you had to work at, to decode.”

This online exhibition introduces the Waynewood Underground and Alternative Comics Collection in Special Collections at the Western Washington University Libraries. The materials are on display in the Special Collections research room on the sixth floor of Wilson Library from September 22, 2021 through June 10, 2022.

Content Warning

This exhibition contains images that some viewers may find disturbing. Western Libraries Heritage Resources aims to foster academic dialogue and contextualize its collections of historical material in a respectful manner. We welcome feedback on any issues of concern, and you can write to us at speccoll@wwu.edu.

Credits

Curated by David Schlitt, Special Collections Manager, with assistance from Grafton Grimm (WWU '23).