The Print Mint, Inc.
Founded1965; 59 years ago (1965)
FounderDon Schenker and Alice Schenker[1]
Defunct1978 (as publisher; continued as a poster shop, Reprint Mint, which closed in 2016)
Headquarters location830 Folger Avenue, Berkeley, California, and San Francisco, California
Key peopleBob Rita and Peggy Rita
Publication typesComic books, posters
Nonfiction topicsSocial commentary, politics, environmentalism
Fiction genresUnderground comix

The Print Mint, Inc. was a major publisher and distributor of underground comix based in the San Francisco Bay Area during the genre's late 1960s-early 1970s heyday. Starting as a retailer of psychedelic posters, the Print Mint soon evolved into a publisher, printer, and distributor. It was "ground zero" for the psychedelic poster. The Print Mint was originally owned by poet Don Schenker and his wife Alice, who later partnered in the business with Bob and Peggy Rita.[2]


Berkeley retailer

Don and Alice Schenker started The Print Mint as a picture-framing shop and retailer of posters and fine art reproductions on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, California, in December 1965, originally sharing a store with Moe's Books, but later on moving into a separate location down the block.

Moe's Books owner, Moe Moskowitz, and the Schenkers had been friends back in New York City during the 1950s Beat era, so this association was a continuation of that connection.[3] Schencker's first comic book release was a reprint of Joel Beck's self-published Lenny of Laredo, published by the Print Mint in April 1966.[4]

Berkeley poster wholesaler

The Print Mint soon opened a wholesale division, publishing and distributing posters. The dance venues at The Avalon Ballroom and The Fillmore were advertised by posters designed by artists Stanley Mouse, Rick Griffin, Alton Kelley, Victor Moscoso, and others. These posters were soon in much demand, and The Print Mint distributed many of them along with work by Peter Keymack, Hambly silkscreens, Solo Period posters, M. C. Escher prints, Neon Rose, Bob Frieds Food line, and many others.

Haight, San Francisco retailer

In December 1966, the Print Mint opened a second store on Haight Street, in the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco, in a building that Moskowitz had purchased to install a bookstore. The city refused to give Moskowitz a permit to sell used books, so his plan was never realized.[5] 1967 was an eventful time, and the store became a center of neighborhood activities and a main source of countercultural information and creative energy to the huge influx of young people coming into San Francisco that summer. It grew from being a simple retailer into a complex cross-country distribution and then publishing operation. In December, however, Moskowitz forfeited the building and his plans for a second location for Moe's Books, bringing a demise to Print Mint in San Francisco.[6]

Berkeley underground comics wholesaler

Beginning in 1968, but really getting going in 1969, publishing and distribution of underground comics became The Print Mint's major endeavor. With their partners the Ritas (employees that the Schenkers had offered a partnership to in 1967), Don did the organizing, editing, and layout of the books, working with the artists. Bob and Peggy Rita and Alice handled the distribution and the day-to-day operations of the business. Bob Rita had previously run Third World Distribution out of a Haight Street location.[7] Alice also oversaw the Berkeley store. The company's main office was located at 830 Folger Avenue in Berkeley.

The first comix Print Mint published was the (initially) weekly tabloid Yellow Dog, edited by Don Schencker.[8] They also re-issued Gilbert Shelton's Feds 'n' Heads, which he had initially self-published.[8] Eventually, the Print Mint published such underground comix notables as Robert Crumb, Trina Robbins, Rick Griffin, S. Clay Wilson, Victor Moscoso, Gilbert Shelton, Spain Rodriguez, and Robert Williams. Titles they published included Zap Comix, Junkwaffel, Bijou Funnies, and Moondog. In addition, they published one of the first ecologically themed comics, The Dying Dolphin, a solo effort by rock poster artist Jim Evans with contributions by Ron Cobb and Rick Griffin.

As the first publisher to invest heavily in the underground comix movement (and its distribution), the Print Mint was instrumental in the form's popularity and widespread reach in the late 1960s and early 1970s. As they were growing the market and putting money in the hands of the cartoonists, however, their business practices were called into question by a number of the more popular artists. A few of those, including Gilbert Shelton and Frank Stack, broke off in early 1969 to form their own publisher, Rip Off Press, taking some of the more established cartoonists (like Crumb) with them. The 1973–1974 venture Cartoonists Co-Op Press was formed out of a similar motivation. From that point on, the Print Mint focused more on bringing new talent into the burgeoning underground industry.[9]

The Print Mint's bold experiment with Arcade: The Comix Revue, started in 1975 and edited by Art Spiegelman and Bill Griffith, with most issues sporting a cover by R. Crumb, paved the way for RAW! just a few years later.[citation needed]

Underground comics "pornography" arrest

The Print Mint weathered a lawsuit filed over the publication of Zap Comix, particularly issue No. 4 (published in 1969). The Schenkers were arrested and charged with publishing pornography by the Berkeley Police Department. Previous to that, Simon Lowinsky, owner of the Phoenix Gallery on College Avenue in Berkeley, had organized an exhibition of the Zap collective's original drawings, and had been arrested on the same charge.[10] His case came to trial first. He was acquitted after supportive testimony from Peter Selz, a prominent figure in the art world. At that point, the city dropped the charges against the Print Mint.[citation needed]

Retail and wholesale split

By 1975 the partnership with the Ritas was not going smoothly. Alice Schenker says that an agreement was made to split the business between retail and wholesale, the Schenkers taking the retail store — "Reprint Mint"[11] — and the Ritas the wholesale and publishing. The Print Mint ceased publishing comics in 1978, with the last two titles published being the comics anthologies Lemme Outta Here, edited by Diane Noomin, and The Human Drama, edited by Jim Madow.[12]

The retail poster shop continued. In 1985 the Schenkers sold the retail store. Reprint Mint closed in late November 2016.[11][13]

Titles published



  1. ^ Dalzell, Tom (Feb 20, 2020). "Remembering Alice Schenker, whose Print Mint on Telegraph Avenue sparked the 1960s poster revolution". Berkeleyside.
  2. ^ "An Interview with Victor Moscoso". The Comics Journal. No. 246. Interviewed by Groth, Gary. Sep 2002.
  3. ^ Estren 1993, p. 50, 250.
  4. ^ Fox, M. Steven. "Lenny of Laredo". ComixJoint. Retrieved Nov 24, 2016.
  5. ^ Cushing, Lincoln (2011). "San Francisco Bay Area Posters: 1968–1978". In Carlsson, Chris; Elliott, Lisa Ruth (eds.). Ten Years That Shook the City: San Francisco 1968-1978. City Lights Books. p. 287. ISBN 978-1931404129.
  6. ^ Elliott 2011, p. 287.
  7. ^ Rosenkranz 2002, p. 75.
  8. ^ a b Estren 1993, p. 54.
  9. ^ Estren 1993, p. 250.
  10. ^ Fox, M. Steven. "Snatch Comics". ComixJoint. Retrieved Dec 9, 2016.
  11. ^ a b Dalzell, Tom (Dec 5, 2016). "Photos: The early days of Berkeley's now-gone Print Mint". Berkeleyside.
  12. ^ Fox, M. Steven (2013). "Lemme Outa Here! Only Printing / October, 1978 / 36 pages / The Print Mint". ComixJoint. Retrieved Mar 18, 2024.
  13. ^ Dropout, Steed (Jan 28, 2016). "Telegraph Avenue's Desolation Row". Berkeley Reporter.