THE SUBGENIUS DIASPORA
“There was that moment of realizing that this thing goes further than I ever imagined.”
– Puzzling Evidence (Doug Wellman)
In late 1979 Stang and Drummond, with the help of their wives, brainstorm what would become perhaps the single most significant marketing effort made at the inception of the Church of the SubGenius – the writing, design, printing, and distribution of Pamphlet #1. The doctrine of the Church quickly spreads, and the word of “Bob” and the teachings of JHVH-1 teach “time control” as a way to wrest “Slack” from the ‘Pinks’ and ‘Normals.’ The Church, it seems, has struck a nerve amidst the deadening consumer culture, the evisceration of basic social services, and the worship of wealth that occurred during the Reagan/Thatcher years.
As “Bob”’s pamphlet continues to travel the world, the emergent punk publishing scene and new wave comic writers seize on the humor and cultural critique of the Church’s doctrine. In San Francisco it is fished out of a trashcan by cartoonist and artist Paul Mavrides, igniting a SubGenius cell that gives the movement some of its most enduring art and performances through LIES (Paul Mavrides), Dr. Howland Owl (Hal Robins), Puzzling Evidence (Doug Wellman), Janor Hypercleats and Pope Sternodox.
“Bob” captures the zeitgeist of the day. Cartoonist Robert Crumb reprints Pamphlet #1 in the first issue of his comic Weirdo. A few years later Simon and Schuster publish The Book of the SubGenius. Acclaimed film director and SubGenius Alex Cox channels Church mythology in Repo Man as the glowing, alien-owned Chevy Malibu soars high above Los Angeles with Otto (Emilio Estevez) and Miller (Tracy Walke) inside, their faces shining with Slack as Bud (Harry Dean Stanton) watches from below.
Dr. Howl and Puzzling Evidence conduct legendary “Devivals,” radio shows (More than an Hour, Less than a Show), and introduce the word of “Bob” to Burning Man. The Stark Fist of Removal newsletter, The Hour of Slack podcast, an MTV special, and countless cassette tapes, posters, comics, videos, websites, and Facebook groups perpetuate the word of “Bob.”
By the turn of the century, publications as powerful as TIME Magazine begin to get the SubGenius joke when “Bob” is voted ‘Fraud of the Century” by readers of its online poll. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, the “Free Party” constituents of Brighton in Great Britain voted “Bob” Dobbs as an M.P. to the House of Commons three times.
Today, “Bob”’s hucksterism and the wisdom of JHVH-1 is apparent in all fifty states and a multitude of countries across the globe!