The Hidden Utopia: Hobo Graffiti and Sixties Paranoia in ‘The Crying of Lot 49’

By Pepe Tesoro

Thomas Pynchon’s 1966 novel The Crying of Lot 49 is usually regarded as one of the best testimonies of Cold War paranoia and early psychedelic ’60s culture. Even though it is a keen and pointed exploration of the growing anxieties over the exponential post-war rise of mass media and market capitalism, the central conspiracy revealed in the novel doesn’t reproduce itself through the then-new and fascinating forces of radio waves or cathode rays…

Devil in the Details: ‘The Occult Coloring Book’, 1971

San Francisco’s Troubador Press, under the direction of founder and owner Malcolm Whyte, published a long line of innovative (and beloved, to many) coloring books from 1967 through the early ’80s. Often contracting illustrators with ties to the counterculture and underground comix, Whyte chose subjects that were sometimes anodyne—horses, ballet, wildlife, the Bible, dinosaurs—but often daring for the time…