Founded in 1970 by Ron Turner to publish the ecologically-themed comics magazine Slow Death Funnies, followed by the all-female anthology It Ain't Me Babe, Last Gasp soon became a major part of the underground comics/comix movement. Notable artists published by Last Gasp include Tim Biskup, Robert Crumb, Richard Corben,Ron English, Camille Rose Garcia, Justin Green, Bill Griffith, Spain Rodriguez, Mark Ryden, Dori Seda, Larry Welz,Robert Williams, and S. Clay Wilson. In the early 1980s Last Gasp published some of the first books about the West Coast punk rock scene.
Today Last Gasp publishes few comic books, though they have published English-language versions of some mangatitles, including Barefoot Gen, Pure Trance and Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms. The company publishes art and photography books, graphic novels, fiction, and poetry. Last Gasp operates as a publisher, distributor, and wholesaler for books of all types, often with a lowbrow art and counterculture focus.