FX Index

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In 1992, after focusing on publishing graphic novels (mostly adaptations), Eclipse started a bunch of new black and white floppy series. Prominent among these were the three FX books with “all the action of today’s hottest films”.

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In addition, most of these FX comics have scratch cards where you can win big prizes, like a trip to Hollywood and, well, comic books. All the issues I bought from ebay had the cards intact, so I guess not too many people went for the gimmick.

One of the comics, Parts Unknown, attempted a second series a year later, but without the FX designation.

Music Index

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Eclipse released a single LP, so it might seem like overkill to do an index page for that. But they also published three comics that included a flexi disc, so I thought it made sense.

Three of these four musical releases involved Timothy Truman, including the LP, so he’s responsible for (where’s my slide rule) 86% of all the music Eclipse released.

Book Index

Eclipse published a few handfuls of books with the “Eclipse Books” designation. There are two categories here, though: There’s books about comics (like Tips From Top Cartoonists), and there’s also newspaper strip reprints (like Krazy Kat and Farewell to the Gipper).

The list above is that last one I found, and it’s from 1990, so I expanded it below with other things that seemed to fit in this category.

Graphic Novel Index

In any history of Eclipse comics, it’s emphasised how they were the first US company to publish a graphic novel. And there are some quibbles both on the timing (Will Eisner’s A Contract With God was also published in 1978, but that’s a short story collection, and then there’s stuff from underground comix) and the format (the first few graphic novels Eclipse published were saddle-stitched, so they’re… magazines?), but anyway: They were early, and they were the only publisher who was focused mainly on graphic novels in the direct sales market.

That changed after a couple of years, and then it changed back in 1990, but here’s publisher Dean Mullaney talking about how Eclipse got started and how he managed to finance the first graphic novel Eclipse published, which was Sabre:

I brazenly asked them all to pay in advance for the orders. This money helped fund the project. Today, you need an investment banker; back then all we needed were fans starved for something good, and storeowners willing to pay up front in order to get new comics to sell. I also published a Sabre poster in December 1977, partially to appease people for the delay in the graphic album, but also to generate more working capital.

Then I went over the bridge to Brooklyn to talk with the Big Man himself—Phil Seuling, the only distributor to the comics market at the time. Phil put his reaction to my pitch on paper and handed it to me: a cartoon of Phil’s head, hair standing straight up, saying “$5.00 for a comic book!!!!”

Despite his bombastic outward appearance, Phil was one of the nicest people I ever met in comics. He was also one of the most encouraging to young publishers (I was 23 at the time). He agreed to take 200 copies and sent a solicitation out to his stores. A short time later, I got a call from Phil telling me to get over to his office. I thought he wanted his money back, but as it turned out, the reaction to his solicitation was so good that he wanted to double his order. Before Sabre saw print, Phil had upped his order several more times, and based on the strength of his continuing orders, we went into a second printing!

OK, so here’s an overview of all the graphic novels Eclipse published.

They used to include these pages in the back of some of the graphic novels, so that you can keep track of what to buy. I mean, if you’re obsessive. Also note that they have a separate category “Eclipse Books” that lists both books-about-comics like Women and the Comics, but also the Krazy + Ignatz newspaper comic strip reprint series.

Then Eclipse started numbering the graphic novels. Or albums. Note that in this numbering scheme, basically everything that’s squarebound has its own number, so Air Fighters Classics vol. 2 is number 20 here. And they stopped listing the books that were part of the “Eclipse Books” designation, presumably because there’s not enough space any more.

Then they changed their minds and started numbering based on semantics, not by the volume. So here all five volumes of Air Fighters Classics now get the number “15”, and everything from that point on has been renumbered. (And, curiously enough, Twisted Tales that used to be number 15 has now become number 16.)

(And also note that there’s two things that are numbered as “70”. And that all the Miracleman books share the same album number, even “Apocrypha”, while the two Valkyrie books get separate album numbers. And that Krazy + Ignatz is now a “graphic album” and not an “Eclipse Book”.)

I know, I know, that’s the nerdiest exegesis ever in the history of ever, but sites like comics.org have a tendency to say “and this is Eclipse Graphic Novel 27”, and these numbers aren’t stable. The horse has left the stable? Something like that.

And one more note until we get to the precious numbered list (based on the final Eclipse graphic novel that has a listing, which is Downside): When reading and writing this blog series, I concentrated on the first published instance of any work. Many of these graphic novels are collections of floppies, so many of the links below point to blog articles where I talk about the floppies, and not the graphic novels, I mean albums.

*phew*

Paper Doll Index

Paper dolls are a grand tradition in comics, and Eclipse embraced that fully by releasing two full volumes of paper dolls. But the regular comics also got in on the fun, and sometimes not the ones you’d expect, like Airboy…

Acme Index

In 1988, Eclipse started co-publishing, or distributing, or (as they called it in the indicia) “releasing” comics from Acme Comics. Cefn Ridout edited most of these, but they also had an editorial board that I assume like did something. Perhaps edited that board.

Many of these comics were printed in Europe, and many of them are reprints of material already published on the European mainland. So it’s a slightly odd setup where a British editor picks European comics to be (co-)published in the US, but Ridout has pretty good taste, so there’s a few good ones here. I can’t imagine that they did very well commercially in the US, though.

Oh Why

Hi, my name is Lars Ingebrigtsen and I wrote this blog about Eclipse Comics. That’s a strange thing to do, so I thought I’d perhaps better explain.

I was a fan of Eclipse Comics as a child, during their first phase when they were publishing things like Aztec Ace, Zot! and Destroyer Duck. I’ve recently finally gotten enough space that I could do some comics sorting, and I realised that re-reading those comics sounded kinda attractive. A nostalgic trip back to my childhood comics reading habits, even if they don’t exactly align with my current interests.

But looking at their 16 year publishing history, I saw how many strange twists and turns their publishing history took, and I grew interested in examining just what happened.

Eclipse is in many ways the quintessential 80s American independent publisher. They went through all the phases, from the early direct sales era, when you could publish as quirky comics as you wanted and still shift a lot of copies, to catering to the ever-more desperate shifting sands of comics collector whims and machinations from Marvel and DC Comics.

I also wanted to use this as an exercise in plain writing. I’ve lately become so tired of reading insider speak, so I’ve been using my most pedantic tone and spelling things out again and again. So it’s “during the Black and White Boom and Bust, Eclipse Comics editor-in-chief catherine ⊕ yronwode…” and not “during the B&WB&B, E-i-C cy…”. It’s a choice! I’m not really this boring usually! Honest!

If you feel like reading all these blog entries in the voice of the Simpson’s Comic Book Guy, please do.

But it’s really kind of silly using this voice for a subject as esoteric as Eclipse Comics. Anybody interested in the subject (and I would estimate that to be around four people) already knows what “E-i-C” means much better than I do, so it’s like eh.

Also, speaking of silly: I’m writing about comics that are almost 40 years old, and I’m writing about many of them very critically. I feel sort of bad doing that, because I feel like it might read like I’m going “YOU WROTE A BAD COMIC BOOK 40 YEARS AGO AND YOU SHOULD FEEL SORRY FOR WHAT YOU DID BACK THEN YOU BAD PERSON!!1!”, but… That’s not what I meant to do, and if I hurt creators’ feelings, I apologise. But I’m just a random Internet asshole, so you shouldn’t mind what I’m saying anyway.

And I hope I didn’t write anything too libellous, either.

But speaking of bad writing: If you notice a lot of speeling erors and hopeless grammer on these pages, that’s because… I haven’t read these blog posts myself. I just write them. Nobody has time for all that reading, eh?

Eh?

Oh.

Anyway, I had fun doing this series, but now I’m not going to read another 80s comic book for a year. But I must say that the idea of doing something that’s a bit closer to my heart, like Vortex Comics, or late-70s New York punk comix, sounds quite appealing.

I’ve also started eyeing the 80s output from Epic Comics, but hopefully that’s just a phase I’m going through and I’ll forget about that altogether. I’ll just keep repeating to myself: I do not want to do Epic Comics. I do not want to do Epic Comics. I do not want to do Epic Comics….

Since I’m a programming kind of human bean, and I’m an Emacs fan, I wrote an Emacs package to facilitate keeping track of the comics. Here’s the Eclipse data file I ended up with, which is mostly data from comics.org, but supplemented with the bits they lack.