Mister X (1980’s)

Created by album and book cover designer Dean Motter, Mister X was developed for a year in close collaboration with comic artist and illustrator Paul Rivoche, whose series of poster illustrations stirred up great interest in the project. The series published early work by comic artists who would later emerge as important alternative cartoonists, including Jaime Hernandez, Gilbert Hernandez, Mario Hernandez, Seth, Shane Oakley and D’Israeli.

A highly successful promotional campaign with posters and ads followed for the next year, while Motter and Rivoche struggled to produce an actual issue of Mister X. When Rivoche quit, Vortex Comics president Bill Marks became more skeptical than ever that Motter would be able to produce the series on time, and decided to turn the work over to the Hernandez brothers. The first four issues were written and illustrated by Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez, with additional writing by Mario Hernandez. The Hernandez brothers quit over payment delays from Vortex. Issues 5 through 14 of the series were then written by Motter, with issues 6 through 13 illustrated by Seth.

Mister X’s influence can be seen and was acknowledged in films like Terry Gilliam‘s BrazilTim Burton‘s Batman, and Alex ProyasDark City.

Advertisements

Strangers in Paradise V2 (1995)

SiP, as it is commonly known, began as a three-issue mini-series published by Antarctic Press in 1993, which focused entirely on the relationship between the three main characters and Francine’s unfaithful boyfriend. This is now known as “Volume 1”. Thirteen issues were published under Moore’s own “Abstract Studio” imprint, and these make up “Volume 2”. This is where the “thriller” plot was introduced. The series moved to Image Comics‘ Homage imprint for the start of “Volume 3”, but after eight issues moved back to Abstract Studio, where it continued with the same numbering. Volume 3 concluded at issue #90, released June 6, 2007.

Grendel V2 (1980’s)

The Grendel ongoing series published by Comico started in 1986 and lasted 40 issues. It was written by Matt Wagner and drawn by a variety of artists, including the Pander Brothers, Bernie Mireault, Tim Sale, John K. Snyder III and others. It began with a story set in the near future, with Christine Spar, Hunter’s posthumous biographer, taking on the identity of Grendel to pursue a mission of revenge. The identity passed briefly, and tragically, to her deluded boyfriend Brian Li Sung. After a brief return to stories of Hunter Rose (actually two in-universe fictional novels written by Captain Wiggins, a supporting character from the Christine Spar arc), Wagner then spun the series further into the future, with the Grendel identity affecting a variety of people. The name “Grendel” took on several meanings as the stories portrayed a dystopian future. Grendel became a synonym for The Devil with the title held by the emperor of the world, (Grendel-Khan) and members of a warrior society identical to samurai.

Forgotten Realms: Homeland (2005)

Based on the best selling Forgotten Realms novel by R.A. Salvatore, Homeland is a volume full of intrigue, beauty and the struggle for position. Based in the underground drow city of Menzoberranzan, this story begins the legend of the dark elf ranger Drizzt Do’urden, and his struggle to find himself in a world whose practices and beliefs do not match what he finds in his heart.

Madman – Kitchen Sink/Tundra (1993)

Created by Mike Allred, the character first appeared in Creatures of the Id (Oct. 1990). Frank Einstein was born Zane Townsend, an agent of the Tri-Eye Agency. Townsend was killed in a car accident, then stitched back together and brought to life by two scientists, Dr. Egon Boiffard and Dr. Gillespie Flem. This resurrection left him amnesiac, and the resurrected John Doe was named after Boiffard’s artistic and scientific heroes, Frank Sinatra and Albert Einstein, respectively. The procedure left Frank with supernatural reflexes and a slight degree of precognitive and empathic power; however, he remembers nothing about his former life, but faint, troubling memories relating to his death. Madman’s costume is based on the only thing he can clearly remember: a fascination with a comic book character called Mr. Excitement.

Love and Rockets (1981)

The Hernandez brothers self-published the first issue of Love and Rockets in 1981, but since 1982 it has been published by Fantagraphics Books. The magazine temporarily ceased publication in 1996 after the release of issue #50, while Gilbert and Jaime went on to do separate series involving many of the same characters. However, in 2001 Los Bros revived the series as Love and Rockets Volume 2.

Love and Rockets contains several ongoing serial narratives, the most prominent being Gilbert’s Palomar stories and Jaime’s Hoppers 13(aka Locas) stories. It also contains one-offs, shorter stories, surrealist jokes, and more.

Palomar tells the story of a fictional village in Latin America and its inhabitants. Its vibrant characters and sometimes-fantastic events are sometimes compared to the magical realism literary style of authors such as Gabriel García Márquez. The series is also sometimes referred to as Heartbreak Soup, after the first story set in Palomar.

Hoppers 13 follows the tangled llives of a group of primarily chicano characters, from their teenage years in the early days of the California punk scene to the present day. (Hoppers, or Huerta, is a fictional city based on the Hernandezes’s home town of Oxnard, California.) The series is also often called Locas (Spanish for “crazy women”) because of the many quirky female characters depicted.

The Crow – Tundra (1992)

The Crow was created by James O’Barr. The series was originally written by O’Barr as a means of dealing with the death of his girlfriend at the hands of a drunk driver. It was later published by Caliber Comics in 1989, becoming an underground success, and later adapted into a film of the same name in 1994. Three film sequels, a television series and numerous books and comic books have also been subsequently produced.

The story revolves around an unfortunate young man named Eric. He and his fiancée, Shelly, are assaulted by a gang of street thugs after their car breaks down. Eric is shot in the head and is paralyzed, and can only watch as Shelly is savagely beaten and raped. They are then left for dead on the side of the road.

He is resurrected by a crow and seeks vengeance on the murderers, methodically stalking and killing them. When not on the hunt, Eric stays in the house he shared with Shelly, spending most of his time there lost in memories of her. Her absence is torture for him; he is in emotional pain, even engaging in self-mutilation by cutting himself.

The crow acts as both guide and goad for Eric, giving him information that helps him in his quest but also chastising him for dwelling on Shelly’s death, seeing his pining as useless self-indulgence that distracts him from his purpose.

Rai – V1 (1992)

Rai (pronounced “rye”) appeared in books published by Valiant Comics. Rai was the first original hero created by Valiant and had its beginning as a flipbook back-up feature in Magnus Robot Fighter issues #5-8. The popularity of the flipbook back-up story later led to an ongoing series. Valiant Entertainment is the current owner of Rai and the rest of the original Valiant Comics characters.

In his original incarnation, Rai is the spirit guardian that protects the nation of Japan in the 41st century. It is a mantle passed down from father to son through the generations. As such, the series chronicled a number of protagonists.

A new Rai ongoing series was launched in April 2014 by the creative team of writer Matt Kindt and artist Clayton Crain, selling out of its initial print run.

 

Miracleman – Eclipse (1980’s)

In August 1985, Eclipse began reprinting the Marvelman stories from Warrior, colored, and re-sized. They were renamed and re-lettered throughout as Miracleman to avoid further problems with Marvel Comics. Issues 1-6 reprinted all the Warrior content, after which Eclipse began publishing new Miracleman stories from Alan Moore and new artist Chuck Beckum (now better known as Chuck Austen), soon replaced by Rick Veitch and then John Totleben. Eclipse split the rights to the character, with 2/3 going to Eclipse and 1/3 split between the current writer and artist of the series. Moore wrote the series until issue 16.

Writer Neil Gaiman picked up the series at #17 and developed it further in the 1990s, working with artist Mark Buckingham. He planned three books, consisting of six issues each; they would be titled “The Golden Age”, “The Silver Age” and “The Dark Age”.

 

Batman / Grendel (1993)

A two-part Batman/Grendel crossover, Devil’s Riddle and Devil’s Masque, was written and drawn by Wagner and colored by Wagner at the time of the Comico series, but was delayed by Comico’s bankruptcy. It was finally published by DC in 1993.

The story assumes that Hunter Rose and Batman live in the same fictional universe and are contemporaries. Bored with Argent the wolf and the NYPD, Hunter Rose comes to Gotham City to challenge the city’s protector to stop him before he commits an audacious crime. Hunter Rose becomes increasingly impressed with Batman but is still able to pull off his crime. However, Batman’s interference proves to be more trouble than he expected and Grendel winds up unintentionally endangering the life of a child and indirectly causing the death of a person he did not consider an enemy. Grendel and Batman’s final battle ends with the assassin just barely escaping Gotham, his arm broken by the Dark Knight in the process.

Although this story can be seen as out of continuity, Hunter Rose is depicted with a broken arm in the “Devil’s Advocate” short, featured inGrendel: Black, White, & Red.