Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Vol 1 (1980’s)

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was first published by Mirage Studios in 1984 in Dover, New Hampshire. The concept arose from a humorous drawing sketched out by Kevin Eastman during a casual evening of brainstorming and bad television with Peter Laird. Using money from a tax refund, together with a loan from Eastman’s uncle, the young artists self-published a single-issue comic intended to parody four of the most popular comics of the early 1980s: Marvel ComicsDaredevil and New Mutants, Dave Sim’s Cerebus, and Frank Miller’s Ronin. The TMNT comic series has been published in various incarnations by various comic book companies since 1984.

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Vengeance of Vampirella (1990’s)

Upon Warren’s bankruptcy shortly afterward, Harris Publications acquired the company assets at auction in August 1983, although legal murkiness and a 1999 lawsuit by Warren publisher James Warren resulted in his re-acquisition of the rights to sister publications Creepy and Eerie. Harris Comics published Vampirella stories in various series and miniseries from 1991 to 2007. Harris also published Vampirella #113, a one-issue continuation of the original series, containing solely reprinted stories, in 1988.

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.

 

X-O Manowar (1992)

X-O Manowar began as an original character by Valiant Comics with issue #1 with a cover date of February 1992. Less than a year after it began, with the Unity crossover and quality storytelling bringing attention to Valiant books, back issue prices rose dramatically due to limited early print runs. With comic book speculators buying multiple copies of each issue, sales reached as high as 800,000 copies for X-O Manowar #0 (August 1993) before dropping off. This original series ran for 68 issues before being canceled after the Sept. 1996 issue, of which only approximately 14,000 were printed.

Real Heroes & True Comics

One of the first series of comics dedicated to educational topics was True Comics, published by Gworge J. Hecht’s Parents’ Magazine Press, beginning in 1941. Designed to convey not only information but also wholesome attitudes, the series covered a variety of materials, but many issues were devoted to patriotic stories from American history or to biographies of famous American (and occasionally non-Americans, such as Winston Churchill) from the past. The series also included stories of the exploits of the FBI, designed to heroize law enforcers and demonize criminal. These fact-based comics were enough of a commercial success that the series ran until 1950.

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.”

THB (1994)

Paul Pope introduced THB in 1994, the same year he began work for Kodansha, Japan’s best-known manga publisher. Pope eventually developed the manga Supertrouble for Kodansha, which mined the “cutie-pie” girl adventure vein that THB exists in. Pope has self-published some of his work through his own Horse Press, with other work such as One-Trick Ripoff coming from Dark Horse Comics and Heavy Liquid and 100% published under DC ComicsVertigo imprint.

Pope’s work combines the precision and romance of the European artists he studies with the energy and page design of the manga tradition. His storytelling narratives continue to mature with well-paced, deftly-shaded combinations of science fiction, hardboiled crime stories and the Romeo and Juliet archetype. Pope’s two protagonist types are the silent, lanky outsider male of One-Trick Ripoff, Escapo and Heavy Liquid, or the resourceful, aggressive, humorous young teenage girls of THB.

Jim & Frank

Jim is a series created by Jim Woodring. It began in 1980  as a self-published zine and was picked up by Fantagraphics Books in 1986 after cartoonist Gil Kane introduced Woodring to Fantagraphics co-owner Gary Groth. The publisher released four magazine-sized black-and-white issues starting in September 1987. A comic book-sized continuation, Jim Volume II, with some color, began in 1993 and ran for six issues until 1996.

Jim, which Woodring described as an “autojournal”, contained comics on a variety of subjects, many based on dreams, as well as surreal drawings and free-form text which resembled Jimantha automatic writing. Besides dreams, the work drew on Woodring’s childhood experiences, hallucinations, past alcoholism, and Hindu beliefs. It also included stories of recurring Woodring characters such as Pulque (the embodiment of drunkenness), boyhood friends Chip and Monk, and, in Volume II, his signature creation Frank.

Doctor Solar Man of the Atom – Gold Key (Silver Age)

Doctor Solar premiered in issue #1 of Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom in Summer 1962 (cover date October 1962) in the first batch of comics released by Gold Key, with Solar being Gold Key’s first original character. Though Gold Key did not have as large a distribution network as Dell Comics, the Gold Key comics stood out on the newsstand shelves due to their cover art and a 12 cent price (Dell Comics sold for 15 cents). The first two issues of Solar appeared with cover paintings by Richard M. Powers; beyond the second issue the cover paintings were done by George Wilson. The interior artwork in the first several issues also had unique features: the superhero, Dr. Solar, did not have a costume until the fifth issue, rectangular word balloons and no black holding line around each panel. Following from practise of Dell Comics, and thanks to Western Publishing’s reputation of publishing other children-friendly books, Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom was able to be distributed without the Comics Code Authority symbol. The original creative team of writer Paul S. Newman and artist Bob Fujitani lasted until issue #5 when Frank Bolle took over the art work. With the exception of issue #7 written by Otto Binder, Newman wrote the comic book until issue #10 when Dick Wood took over for the remainder of the series. Other artists that contributed included Mel Crawford, Win Mortimer, Alden McWilliams (issues #20-23), Ernie Colón (issues #24-26), José Delbo (issue #27).