The Comic Biography of Underground Publisher & Political Writer, John Wilcock

He describes him­self as a “peri­patet­ic patri­arch of the free press,” and so he may be. John Wilcock, a British ex-pat who helped found the Vil­lage Voice in 1955 went to work as the New York Times’ trav­el edi­tor. His Europe on $5 a Day was sem­i­nal in the trav­el guide­book pub­lish­ing world. His sub­se­quent Mex­i­co on $5 a Day was a trail­blaz­er.

Wilcock, who lives in Cal­i­for­nia and pub­lish­es the online Ojai Orange, was the ulti­mate gad­fly. His 1971 Auto­bi­og­ra­phy and Sex Life of Andy Warhol includ­ed inter­views with Nico, Lou Reed and oth­er asso­ciates of the enig­mat­ic artist. Wilcock was also a found­ing edi­tor, with Warhol, of Inter­view Mag­a­zine in 1969. He accom­pa­nied Warhol out the night that the Vel­vet Under­ground played its first gig and wrote lin­er notes for Nico.

Pub­lished online in graph­ic nov­el form, John Wilcock: The New York Years chron­i­cles this peri­od in Wilcock­’s life with an exten­sive inter­view and sump­tu­ous car­toon illus­tra­tions by artists Ethan Per­soff and Scott Mar­shall. Chap­ters one and two are deli­cious­ly fun read­ing, as Wilcock recounts his arrival in New York City from Eng­land and his ear­ly inter­views with Leonard Bern­stein, Rock Hud­son and Mil­ton Berle and launch­ing the Vil­lage Voice.

It’s an impres­sive site that cap­tures the Bohemi­an cir­cles Wilcock moved in. Per­soff and Mar­shall have just released chap­ter three, which includes Wilcock’s time edit­ing Nor­man Mail­er and his inter­views with actor Jean Shep­herd and Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe. Stay tuned for more. Chap­ter three brings us up to 1957 so there should be plen­ty more to share.

Kate Rix is free­lance writer. Find more of her work at

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