Steed, Peel and John Drake – Silver Age

In 1968 Gold Key reprinted a couple of TV Comic Avengers strips as a one-shot comic for the US market. For trademark reasons, since Marvel had the Avengers comic trademark in the USA, the comic was titled after the featured characters, John Steed and Emma Peel.

The Avengers is a spy-fi British television series created in the 1960s. The Avengers initially focused on Dr. David Keel (Ian Hendry) and his assistant John Steed (Patrick Macnee). Hendry left after the first series and Steed became the main character, partnered with a succession of assistants. Steed’s most famous assistants were intelligent, stylish and assertive women: Cathy Gale (Honor Blackman), Emma Peel (Diana Rigg), and later Tara King (Linda Thorson). Later episodes increasingly incorporated elements of science fiction and fantasy, parody and British eccentricity. The Avengers ran from 1961 until 1969, screening as one-hour episodes its entire run.

In 1966, Gold Key Comics published two issues of a Secret Agent comic book based upon the series Danger Man (titled Secret Agent in the United States), a British television series which was broadcast between 1960 and 1962, and again between 1964 and 1968. The series featured Patrick McGoohan as secret agent John Drake.

Prisoner fans frequently debate whether John Drake of Danger Man and Number Six in The Prisoner are the same person. Like John Drake, Number Six is evidently a secret agent, but one who has resigned from his job. Moreover, in the surreal Prisoner episode “The Girl Who Was Death“, Number Six meets “Potter”, John Drake’s Danger Man contact. Christopher Benjamin portrayed the character in both series.

 

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Stray Bullets (1995)

Stray Bullets is an independent American comic book series published in black and white (with color covers) by El Capitan Books. It is written and drawn by David Lapham.

The story deals with the often criminal and sometimes tragic misadventures of a large cast of characters and takes place from the mid-1970s through the mid-1990s.

In March 2014, Image Comics ended the hiatus of Stray Bullets with the publication of the final issue of the HiJinks and Derring-Do arc, and the simultaneous launch of a new arc entitled Killers. A giant-sized softcover trade paperback edition (The Uber Alles Edition) collecting all forty-one issues of the original series was also released by Image Comics. Killers ran for 8 issues throughout 2014, then after a brief hiatus, Lapham returned in early 2015 with Stray Bullets: Sunshines & Roses. Lapham plans to continue publishing Stray Bullets in this fashion at Image, with each arc treated as a discrete miniseries.

The series has been nominated for numerous awards. Stray Bullets won the 1996 Eisner Award for Best Writer/Artist, Drama, and the trade paperback collection Stray Bullets: Innocence of Nihilism won the 1997 Eisner Award for “Best Graphic Album-Reprint” the Comic Book Awards Almanac and was a top votegetter for the Comics Buyer’s Guide Fan Award for Favorite Reprint Graphic Novel/Album for the same year.

 

 

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.”

Creepy – Harris (1992)

Harris Comics brings the old Warren magazine back from the dead, as it were, in this monstrous 1993 title. Creepy follows a familiar format, telling horror stories interspersed with comments from ghoulish hosts—in this case a sadistic couple of cousins. The stories hark back to the great EC horror titles such as Tales From the Crypt, featuring all number of vampires, witches, demons, and dark sorcery. And of course, there’s always Vampirella.

If there is one way in which Creepy sets itself apart from old-style horror, it’s that in classic horror comics, evil was (almost) always punished, and good always won out in the end. Creepy, on the other hand, makes no such distinction—preferring, as it might say, to be an “equal opportunity destroyer.”

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.”

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.

Grafik Muzik (1990)

Madman first appeared as Frank Einstien in Creatures of the Id and Grafik Muzik published in 1990, but it wasn’t until March 1992 that the first Madman miniseries debuted from Tundra Publishing. The series gained further recognition with its move to Dark Horse Comics in April 1994, where it was relaunched as Madman Comics and went on to be nominated for several Harvey AwardsMadman Comics ran for 20 issues and ended in 2000. From 2007–2009, Image Comics published Madman: Atomic Comics for 17 issues.

Lone Wolf and Cub – First

When Lone Wolf and Cub was first released in Japan in 1970, it became wildly popular (some 8 million copies were sold in Japan) for its powerful, epic samurai story and its stark and gruesome depiction of violence during Tokugawa era Japan.

Lone Wolf and Cub is one of most highly regarded manga due to its epic scope, detailed historical accuracy, masterful artwork and nostalgic recollection of the bushido ethos. The story spans 28 volumes of manga, with over 300 pages each (totaling over 8,700 pages in all). Many of the frames of the series are hauntingly beautiful depictions of nature, historical locations in Japan and traditional activities done in the classical ukiyo-e style.

Lone Wolf and Cub was initially released in North America in a translated English edition by First Comics in 1987, as a series of monthly, comic-book-sized, square-bound prestige-format black-and-white comics containing between 64 and 128 pages, with covers by Frank Miller, and later by Bill Sienkiewicz, Matt Wagner, Mike Ploog, and Ray Lago. Sales were initially strong, but fell sharply as the company went into a general decline. First Comics shut down in 1991 without completing the series, publishing less than a third of the total series in 45 prestige-format issues.

Starting in September 2000, Dark Horse Comics began to release the full series in 28 smaller-sized trade paperback volumes, similar to the volumes published in Japan, completing the series with the 28th volume in December 2002. Dark Horse reused all of Miller’s covers from the First Comics edition, as well as several done by Sienkiewicz, and commissioned Wagner, Guy Davis, and Vince Locke to produce new covers for several volumes of the collections. In October 2012, Dark Horse completed the release of all 28 volumes in digital format, as part of their “Dark Horse Digital” online service.

Jim & Frank (1993)

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).