The Occult Files of Doctor Spektor (1970’s)

After his first appearance in a 10-page story in Mystery Comics Digest #5, Dr. Spektor was spun off into his own title, The Occult Files of Doctor Spektor. The series ran for 24 issues (May 1973 – February 1977). His final original story appeared in one issue of Gold Key Spotlight (#8, August 1977). Jesse Santos replaced Spiegle as artist on the series, and remained there for the entire run.

Dr. Spektor appeared in all four issues of Gold Key’s Spine-Tingling Tales (1975–76), where he provided linking narration for some of the stories within. (These stories were reprints from Mystery Comics Digest that dealt with characters who later appeared in his title). He also had stories he narrated in Mystery Comics Digest #10, #11, #12, and #21, and articles in Golden Comics Digest #25, #26, and #33.

Under the Whitman Comics name, issue #25 was released in May 1982. It reprinted issue #1, but with a line-art cover instead of the original painted cover.

In 2014, Dynamite Entertainment released a new version of “Doctor Spektor”, written by Mark Waid and drawn by Greg Pak, as part of the company’s revival of several Gold Key characters (which also included Magnus, Robot Fighter, Dr. Solar and Turok)

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Vampirella (1969)

Vampirella is a vampire superheroine created by Forrest J Ackerman and costume designer Trina Robbins in Warren Publishing‘s black-and-white horror comics magazine Vampirella #1 (Sept. 1969). Writer-editor Archie Goodwin later developed the character from horror-story hostess, in which capacity she remained through issue #8 (Nov. 1970), to a horror-drama leading character. Vampirella was ranked 35th in Comics Buyer’s Guide‘s “100 Sexiest Women in Comics” list.

The Rocketeer – Special Edition (1984)

The Rocketeer’s first adventure appeared in 1982 as a backup feature in issues #2 and #3 of Mike Grell‘s Starslayer series from Pacific Comics. Two more installments appeared in Pacific’s showcase comic Pacific Presents #1 and 2. The fourth chapter ended in a cliffhanger that was later concluded in a special Rocketeer issue released by Eclipse Comics. The complete story was then collected by Eclipse in a single volume titled The Rocketeer.

The Rocketeer Special Edition #1 VF+ $8

Nexus V2 – Capital Comics (1980’s)

Nexus is a comic book series created by writer Mike Baron and penciler Steve Rude in 1981. The series is a combination of the superhero and science fiction genres, set 500 years in the future.

The series debuted as a three-issue black-and-white limited series (the third of which featured a 33 RPM flexi disc with music and dialogue from the issue), followed by an eighty-issue ongoing full-color series. The black-and-white issues and the first six color issues were published by Capital Comics; after Capital’s demise, First Comics took over publication.

On the creation of the series: Baron noted that they had originally pitched a series called Encyclopaedias to Capital Comics, but the company rejected this, saying they were looking for a superhero title. Over a drink at a restaurant, Baron outlined his ideas for Nexus to Rude.

Nexus was entirely Baron’s idea. He even came up with the lightning bolt for the costume. All that we needed then was a name… a few weeks passed. Baron calls, and, without preamble, just says “Nexus.” We finally had our name.”

Judge Dredd – Eagle Comics (1983)

Judge Dredd is a fictional character who appears in British comic books published by Rebellion Developments, as well as in a number of movie and video game adaptations. He was created by writer John Wagner and artist Carlos Ezquerra, and first appeared in the second issue of 2000 AD (1977), a weekly science-fiction anthology. He is that magazine’s longest-running character.

Joseph Dredd is an American law enforcement officer in the dystopian future city of Mega-City One. He is a “street judge“, empowered to summarily arrest, convict, sentence, and execute criminals. Dredd’s entire face is never shown in the strip. This began as an unofficial guideline, but soon became a rule. As John Wagner explained: “It sums up the facelessness of justice − justice has no soul. So it isn’t necessary for readers to see Dredd’s face, and I don’t want you to”. Time passes in the Judge Dredd strip in real time, so as a year passes in life, a year passes in the comic. The first Dredd story, published in 1977, was set in 2099, whilst stories published in 2015 are set in 2137. Consequently, as former editor Alan McKenzie explains, “every year that goes by Dredd gets a year older – unlike Spider-Man, who has been a university student for the past twenty-five years!”. Therefore Dredd is over seventy years old, with over fifty years of active service (2079–2136), and for some time characters in the comic have been mentioning that Dredd is not as young and fit as formerly.

Megaton Man – Kitchen Sink (1984)

Megaton Man is a creator-owned comic book series published by Kitchen Sink Press beginning in 1984. Donald Simpson wrote and drew the series, in which the title character first appeared and starred. The original Megaton Man series ran for ten issues, but the character was later revived in a limited series, The Return of Megaton Man, and a series of one-shot issues spun off from the concept. In 1994, Simpson left Kitchen Sink to form his own company, Fiasco Comics, through which Simpson self-published his new title Bizarre Heroes, featuring Megaton Man (and many members of his old supporting cast) as part of a large ensemble cast.

American Flagg! (1983)

American Flagg, which ran 50 issues (Oct. 1983 – March 1988), was one of the first titles to be published by First Comics, an early alternative press comics company founded in Evanston, Illinois in 1983. Unusually for the time, the company offered its freelance writers and artists creator rights, including ownership of their creations.Regardless, writer-artist Howard Chaykin, then living in New York City, felt trepidation when First Comics approached him to do a project. He recalled in 2010,

        “My concern had all and everything to do with the fact that this was a brand new company, located in [a suburb of] Chicago. I’d always worked for companies I’d visited and had day-to-day-dealings with. [But they talked about a financial plan that would make it possible for me to get out from under the debt I had accrued working for [publisher] Byron Preiss[illustrating early graphic novels]. It was encouraging, so I went home and concocted a scenario, a pitch document, and that was it.”

Chaykin devised a series set in 2031, a high-tech but spiritually empty, consumerist world in which the American government has relocated to Mars, leaving what remains of the U.S. to be governed by the all-encompassing corporation the Plex. The series star is Reuben Flagg, a former TV star drafted into the Plexus Rangers and posted as a deputy in Chicago, Illinois.

The first 12 issues, running through cover-date September 1984, consisted of four interlocking, three-issue story arcs. Chaykin recalled his difficulty in producing 28 pages of art and script monthly. “I was still a smoker and a drinker at the time. And [the output was such that] I’d never done anything like that before, and it was insane. It just devoured my life I had no assistants. I didn’t how to work with an assistant at that point, and it was a very difficult process. … I was trying to do a fairly high-quality product and I didn’t want to slough it off.”

 

Pacific Presents (1982)

The Rocketeer’s first adventure appeared in 1982 as a backup feature in issues #2 and #3 of Mike Grell‘s Starslayer series from Pacific Comics. Two more installments appeared in Pacific’s showcase comic Pacific Presents #1 and 2. The fourth chapter ended in a cliffhanger that was later concluded in a special Rocketeer issue released by Eclipse Comics. The complete story was then collected by Eclipse in a single volume titled The Rocketeer. It was published in three versions: a trade paperback edition, a trade hardcover, and a signed, limited edition hardcover. Noted fantasy author Harlan Ellison, a fan of the Rocketeer and also an acquaintance of Dave Stevens, wrote the introduction to the collection; both Dave Stevens and Harlan Ellison signed the limited edition on a specially bound-in bookplate.

The story was continued in the Rocketeer Adventure Magazine. Two issues were published by Comico Comics in 1988 and 1989; the third installment was not published until 1995, six years later by Dark Horse Comics. All three issues were then collected by Dark Horse into a glossy trade paperback titled The Rocketeer: Cliff’s New York Adventure that quickly went out-of-print.

The Badger – Capital Comics (1983)

The Badger was originally published by the short-lived Capital Comics company and then First Comics. He was created by writer Mike Baron in 1983 and published through the early 1990s in a titular series that ended when First Comics also ceased all publications. Since the ongoing series ended in 1991, new Badger titles have been released through Dark Horse ComicsImage Comics and IDW Publishing.

Cerebus (1979)

Cerebus the Aardvark is a series created by Canadian cartoonist Dave Sim, which ran from December 1977 until March 2004. The title character of the 300-issue series was an anthropomorphic aardvark who takes on a number of roles throughout the series—barbarian, prime minister and Pope among them. The series stands out for its experimentation in form and content, and for the dexterity of its artwork, especially after background artist Gerhard joined in with the 65th issue. As the series progressed, it increasingly became a platform for Sim’s controversial beliefs.

The 6000-page story is a challenge to summarize. Beginning as a parody of sword and sorcery comics, it moved into seemingly any topic Sim wished to explore — power and politics, religion and spirituality, gender issues, and more. It progressively became more serious and ambitious than its parodic roots — what has come to be dubbed “Cerebus Syndrome“. Sim announced early on that the series would end with the death of the title character. The story has a large cast of characters, many of which began as parodies of characters from comic books and popular culture.

Starting with the High Society storyline, the series became divided into self-contained “novels”, which form parts of the overall story. The ten “novels” of the series have been collected in 16 books, known as “Cerebus phonebooks” for their resemblance to telephone directories. At a time when the series was about 70% completed, celebrated comic book writer Alan Moore wrote, “Cerebus, as if I need to say so, is still to comic books what Hydrogen is to the Periodic Table.”