The best publications about comics are those that reflect the idiosyncratic interests and viewpoints of its creators. Mineshaft's Everett Rand and Gioia Palmieri are interested in comics of the underground era, dating up to the early alternative years. What's remarkable about this unassuming little zine is the stunning array of art and talent they're able to assemble in each issue. Issue #19, for instance, sports a front cover by Peter Bagge, a back cover by Robert Crumb, and inside illustrations by Carol Tyler and Mary Fleener. The 52-page zine is packed with rare art and strips from a list of artists that reads like a who's-who of underground stars.
What takes Mineshaft above the status of simply being an interesting depository for underground comics art are the essays, poems and other bits of writing ephemera. Palmieri's account of meeting Peter Bagge at Heroes Con was fascinating because it came from someone who does not have the perspective of being a comics insider. Bruce Simon's illustrated essay on cartoons about television was brief but both amusing and incisive. The letters page is another little treasure trove of interesting material, including a long letter from Crumb. Mineshaft has a fairly narrow focus in the comics it chooses to run and examine, but any fan of the artists from the underground/early alternative era will find it to be essential reading. About the only thing I would have like to have seen more of in this issue are reviews, especially by artists about other artists.
Mineshaft has a lack of pretension and mercifully lacks the name-dropping tendencies of similar magazines devoted to collecting comics art from one's collection. The publishers love comics, love certain artists in particular and publish a humble magazine dedicated to seeing that love through in print. It'll be interesting to see if they ever choose to focus beyond the 1960-1990 roster of talent and devote an issue to more contemporary work.