1987: Fusion

Fusion (1987) #1-17, Dr. Watchstop: Adventures in Time and Space (1989) #1, Weasel Patrol (1989) #1 by Steve Gallacci, Lela Dowling, et al.

I didn’t read this book when I was a teenager, for some reason or other. I was a great fan of its sister publication, The Dreamery, and I loved Gallacci’s Albedo Anthopomorphics, so that’s a mystery.

Since this was presented as The Dreamery’s sister publication, and that’s an anthology, I thought Fusion had to be an anthology, too.

But it’s not really: Its lead feature (about the crew of a starship that goes on adventures and get into trouble) command the vast portion of the pages. Since anthologies traditionally are harder to sell than single-feature books, I wonder why they didn’t stress this feature of the book more.

Anyway, the main artists on this main feature are Steven Gallacci and Lela Dowling. Gallacci is most famous for his Erma Felda, IDF and Albedo series, while Dowling is a successful fantasy illustrator, and was also publishing things like the Alice in Wonderland adaptation over at The Dreamery.

The storyline is arranged into three-to-five issue arcs, with different authors contributing various bits. The first arc is by Steven Barnes, the science fiction author. The story is perhaps less than well-constructed, with the first issue mainly being taken up by various bar brawls and other scenes that don’t really contribute all that much to the plot that’s to follow. But it’s fun enough, and it’s low-level amusing, like the panel above. I mean, it’s writing on auto-pilot, but it reads well.

I wouldn’t really have guessed from the artwork that either Gallacci or Dowling had been involved. It looks like none of them. They’ve sort of melded into a third person with a different style. Dowling’s style is perhaps the one that emerges the most, but she keeps her signature designs only to certain characters, like that cat one above. That’s Dowling, all right.

The “conceptual editor” is Lex Nakashima, and he was apparently the one who came up with the concept, and he owns the trademark and the copyright to everything in the book, which is very unusual for Eclipse. Did Gallacci and Dowling do this “work-for-hire” style or something?

But even if this isn’t an anthology, there’s room for backup features in ever issue. Ken Macklin provides about a third of them with his three to six page Dr. Watchstop character. They are gorgeous and amusing, but pretty slight. But as he does all the pages in this style (two vertical panels), it’s hard to get a lot of substance in.

I love Gallacci’s series, but one of the frustrating thing about his books is that he has a tendency to not bother to put any backgrounds in. In this book, too, he vacillates wildly, but there aren’t many pages that look this unfinished. Perhaps this was just a production snafu?

As in The Dreamery, Nakashima has a new competition every issue. Not all the competitions are as exciting as this one, though.

The letters pages are quite lively. Many of the writers are critical, especially with the storytelling of the first arc. And I agree, it wasn’t ideal: Too many characters and concepts being dumped on the reader, but without really creating a feeling that we’re being immersed in a well-imagined universe. There were many stock set pieces that could have been in any sf story.

But still, pretty entertaining.

The real pleasure, though, is in the humour and the artwork. How can you not love that otterly adorable creature?

Nakashima was really embarrassed about doing the toilet competition, so he doesn’t really publish any of the responses. Boo!

But! We get a bonus instead where we get to follow the creative process.

And…

The interesting bit here, I think, is that apparently Gallacci photocopies the artwork (after Dowling has inked it), and then does the airbrushing (or washes) on that photocopy. I guess it’s done that way because it’s too easy to make a mistake when airbrushing?

The criticism continues.

But! We get The Weasel Patrol, created by Ken Macklin and Lela Dowling, as the other backup feature, and they appear in most issues where Dr. Watchstop doesn’t. It’s probably the funniest part of the entire Fusion package.

Run away!

After every four or five issues, Gallacci and Dowling gets the issue off, and we get various fill-in writers and artists. Here’s Larry Dixon.

And here’s Phil Foglio.

One of these are better than the others.

Ironically enough, a reader writes in to ask what the “Films by SM graphics” in the indicia means, and Nakashima explains that they’re the company who shoots the original artwork and prepares the negative for the printer, and they’re really good (and cheap). And that’s the issue where one third of the pages are shot way too lightly, so it looks like it’s been printed with grey ink instead of black.

Gallacci takes over the plotting with the second arc, and things get sillier, as several characters enter mating season.

Hey! Puzzles!

This is an anthropomorphic comic, so you get the inevitable “what’s food and what’s not” gags. But it’s cute.

For the last eight issues, Joe Pearson and Dave Simons contribute double-page spreads like this. How could a book like this afford an expenditure like that? But it does bring a feeling over “overflowing horn” to the series, so perhaps it helps with readership retention.

We get the inevitable Dr. Watchstop/Weasel Patrol crossover, and it’s just as good as you would imagine.

What doesn’t help are the fill-in issues. None of them are horrible or anything, but the artwork is seldom more than serviceable (here’s Pearson, Tim Burgard and Simons).

The editor announces that they’re selling the original art. But what they’re selling are the photocopies that Gallacci made of the inked artwork before airbrushing/toning it. And it’s the same size as the published comics pages.

Calling that “original pages” is… er… I think they could explain better just what they’re selling here.

So one detrimental factor are the fill-in artists, but on the final arc, they have a bewildering array of writers, too. The editorial pages doesn’t explain this at all. So here we get Peter Morwood with Michael Reaves…

Then next issue there’s Morwood with Brynne Stephens…

And then just Michael Reaves?

And then… Oh, just read it yourself.

You’d imagine that this would take a toll on the consistency of the storyline, but the new writers have to have been briefed well, or the editor fixed most of the errors after the fact.

But still, there are glitches like this. She got pregnant in the Gallacci-written issues, and she was completely sure that she wanted the chicks. But now she’s unsure all of a sudden.

At least Gallacci/Dowling are back on the artwork, even if they’re not writing it.

We also get more solo weirdness from Dowling, which is nice.

For the last half dozen issues, conceptual editor Nakashima doesn’t appear in the letters pages at all. Instead they’re compiled by Gordon Garb, which makes me wonder whether the editor had slightly lost interest.

Gallacci writes the final two issues, and things return to the normal abnormalities, which is nice, but by now, things have gotten kinda scattershot, and the storyline has lost most of its momentum. It’s fun, but we’re treading water.

A Weasel Patrol special by Dowling and Macklin is announced, and Dowling does this homage to Stig’s Inferno as the ad. Nice!

Around this time, room temperature fusion is announced. It later turned out not to be a real thing, but we get jokes like the above…

… and the above. Why not?

Larry Dixon returns to do the artwork for the final issue.

And the production manager announces that Fusion has been cancelled. Dowling is adapting Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonflight novels into a comic book series, and besides, Fusion is apparently losing money. I wounder who’s footing the bill. Nakashima?

“You, our readers and fans, hanve made it clear to us that you prefer Steve and Lela’s art to that of any other artists we’ve tried.” Indeed.

So that’s it: It’s a fun book, well worth seeking out. The main feature has been reprinted in three volumes by About Comics recently. But it’s not a completely satisfying series, because it reaches nothing that even vaguely reminds you of a conclusion. Not that there was much of a feeling that it would: It could probably have gone on forever.

So then we have the two spin-offs. Well. The first one is just a reprinting of Ken Macklin’s Dr. Watchstop strips.

Science fiction writer Raymond E. Feist does the introduction.

Half of these pieces were originally published in Epic Magazine (published by Marvel Comics). They’re all in the same style, and they look great on these glossy, vibrant printing. Mostly four-ish pages, and they all have a somewhat humorous twist ending.

The rest of the pieces are reprints from Fusion, and these are in black and white. But the larger size and better printing makes then look lusher and nice.

The other book is a proper spin-off: The Weasel Patrol in their own comic book.

The longer format gives Dowling and Macklin more room for their silliness, and it works great.

Oh, that’s such an evil scheme.

Conceptual editor Nakashima explains how the Weasel Patrol originated. He created the characters himself, and then turned them over to Dowling and Macklin.

It’s a fun book, and unsurprisingly enough, About Comics has released a hundred page book that presumably collects both this book and the shorter pieces from Fusion.

1986: The Dreamery

The Dreamery (1986) #1-14, Stinz: Horsebrush and Other Tales (1990) #1 conceptually edited by Lex Nakashima.

In the midst of the black-and-white comics boom of the mid-80s, we get a series that’s probably not part of that cynical speculator’s craze. Instead it seems like Lex Nakashima’s earnest dream project: A pair of old-fashioned great anthologies. This one, The Dreamery, focuses on humour and whimsy, while its sister publication, Fusion, is about… er… furry sf? I haven’t read it yet!

That is, I haven’t read these books since I was a teenager, and I loved this book to bits back then. I don’t really remember much about Fusion, but I guess we’ll find out tomorrow when that blog article goes up.

The reason I’m featuring the indicia up there is that apparently “LX, Ltd” (which I guess is just Lex Nakashima) has trademarked “The Dreamery”. That’s rather unusual for a small-time comics anthology. You get the feeling that he had grand plans…

I love Donna Barr’s Stinz comics, and she’s (and he’s) in almost every issue. It’s about these half-horse peasant valley Germans from the early 1900s. That sounds awfully high concept, but these are very down-to-earth stories in execution. Barr’s artwork is always super-energetic; the panels are always bursting with action and people are usually shouting at each other. How she manages to do this without exhausting the reader is a mystery.

Lex Nakashima is the “conceptual editor” of this book. I have no idea what that means. Perhaps he’s the guy who got these people together, but he doesn’t do any of the practical stuff, like bug people about deadlines, or proofread anything? I have no idea.

The other major contributor to The Dreamery is Lela Dowling. And let’s face it, she’s also the major commercial draw. She was, even back then, a pretty famous science fiction/fantasy illustrator, most known for her dragons, I think. For The Dreamery she did only adaptations of other people’s writing. Here’s Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll. When she does the adaptations all on her own, they’re wildly incongruent with what the writer probably had in mind, which makes them all the more fun to read.

And that beautiful artwork. Man. The only slight quibble I have is that her grey washes sometimes makes it difficult to pick out what mayhem is going on. It’s usually not a problem, but some of the Alice in Wonderland “panels” can be confusing until you get it. At least in the first section; perhaps she wasn’t used to this kind of reproduction?

The Alice in Wonderland adaptation was written by Chris Weiman, and is a lot more straightforward than the ones she does on her own. But still hilarious. I mean, it’s Alice in Wonderland. And Lela Dowling.

Of course, with a roster this delightful, the letters pages gets a lot of action from overjoyed readers. But to put things in overdrive, most issues also have a competition where you can with Big Prizes.

I think you can perhaps say that The Dreamery and Fusion mark the end of something for Eclipse. It’s the final series of original material they published that went into double digits. (Their next commercial successes were reprints of Japanese comics.) I’ve reached the halfway point in this blog series issue-wise, but have only done one third of the titles.

These are the final comic book series (with original material) that Eclipse will start that went on publishing for a noticeable stretch (over two years). From now on out it’s just Japanese comics, mini-series, failed adventure series and graphic novels.

Oh, there was a preview of The Dreamery in Zell? Is that the book that Steve Gallacchi published?

Of course Lela Dowling draws the best Cheshire Cat ever.

EVER!

And apparently her husband is doing artwork for the sister publication, Fusion. Keeping it all in the family.

These issues are pretty jam-packed, but occasionally they find room to print some sketches and nonsense.

The only problem with this series is that the issues are too short. When you’re doing an anthology and only have room for about 28 story pages, after slotting in the regular features, there’s no room for surprises. And most issues that had Alice in Wonderland, that ran for more than 20 pages. I have no idea why they didn’t spread it out longer. Perhaps they didn’t think the series would last that long?

Anyway, there’s room for a few short surprises, like the Phil Foglio short (and groan-worthy, but in a good way) story seen an excerpt from above. “This story was done entirely on a Macintosh”? Hm. I guess he meant that he scanned in the artwork and then perhaps did the tones and stuff on the computer? Because those lines look very much like ink lines.

I can’t resist including this Mock Turtle page. That joke is just so bad, I love it.

And then it’s over in the 7th issue. What now?

Well, we get more random bits, like this Lydia Marano/Monika Livingston piece. But what I wanted to mention here was really that list of people working on the book by now. In addition to the conceptual editor, we also have a “real” editor, Letitia Glozer (cat ⊕ yronwode’s sister) and a production manager, Gordon Barb. That’s a lot of people for a little black-and-white anthology.

One oddity I wanted to mention about the Stinz series is that about half the stories are done in magazine aspect ratio. Were these done before The Dreamery had been created, and done for a different venue?

Anyway: The series that took over for Alice in Wonderland is unfortunately The Tale of Ivan the Not-Too-Experienced by Diane Duane and Sherlock. The latter person is the artist, about whom I know nothing, but is the main problem here. It’s amateurish, is unpleasant to look at, and doesn’t read well. That huddle at the bottom of the page above is a separate panel, and not just a huddle a crouching giant woman is looking at.

This is artwork that Solson could have been publishing at the time.

Stinz continues apace, though, and Barr gets slightly more risque. Nakashima said in the editorial in the first issue that this book is way to the north of undergrounds, and he kept it that way. This is as racy as it gets, which is a nice change of pace.

And that’s something the other readers seem to appreciate. “The light, whimsical tone of the book. You never descend into ‘cuckoo for cocoa puffs’ inanity, but rather maintain a wistful, gentle nonsense.” Exactly, Jefferson Swycaffer!

One of the newcomers that slot into this ethos perfectly is Cathy Hill with her mad raccoons. Aww.

Kim Thompson, the co-owner of Fantagraphics, Eclipse’s mortal enemy, writes in to say that he really likes Stinz. (This is foreshadowing.)

But back to Diane Duane: Remember what the guy with that excellent name said up there? About The Dreamery avoiding inanity for whimsy? Well. This may be somewhat amusing, but it’s inane and doesn’t really fit with the rest of the book. I was a major Diane Duane fan when I was younger, but she’s fallen off the radar for me now. (I mean, her science fiction books.)

Kathy Hills shows how the right way to do it. Just perfection.

The most random thing to appear in these pages is this four-page strip by Tim Sale. It has a funny ending, but, man, that’s a different vibe…

I would guess that the sales of The Dreamery was in the toilet by now, but they make a final effort with an all-ninja issue of The Dreamery. (“The Ninjery.”)

So we get Stinz as a ninja, of course.

Who confronts the evil warlord Shimanaka, who has nothing to do with conceptual editor Nakashima, is my guess.

Except that it’s not an all-ninja issue: It’s just Stinz. But we get Lela Dowling back for a final, funny adaptation, this time of The Owl and the Pussy-Cat by Edward Lear, so I don’t think anybody were complaining.

For the final letters page, they had letters from the mothers of everybody involved. That’s whimsy.

Surprising nobody, the reason it’s cancelled is because of low sales.

But Stinz will continue in its own series… published by Fantagraphics!

But Eclipse published a collection of the Stinz stories in this nice volume.

Kim Thompson writes the introduction.

In addition to all the stories from The Dreamery (except the one from the ninja issue), we get four new eight-page stories, and they’re fine as always. Some of the horse drawings are outstanding. What does that remind me of? Matthias Schultheiss? Hermann? Anyway, it’s great.

The paper Eclipse has printed this on is a bit unpleasant, though. It’s very white, but has a bit of bleed-through, which is particularly irritating when the artwork is as detailed as this.

Barr has continued to publish Stinz with a dizzying array of publishers, and I kept track until late 90s, when I just forgot to pay attention. But she released two 500 page omnibuses in 2015, I see now, and I’ve just ordered them now. I think it might make sense to read them in smaller portions and not all 1K pages in a sitting.

About Comics published a collection of Lela Dowling’s Alice in Wonderland in 2015.

Even The Misadventures of Prince Ivan was collected by About Comics in 2012, so this is one of those rare anthologies that have had most of the major series collected.

1986: Portia Prinz of the Glamazons

Portia Prinz of the Glamazons (1986) #1-6 by Richard Howell.

With the black and white boom had almost gone bust by this time (comics store would start going bankrupt hand over foot over the next six months), Eclipse was apparently still gearing up production. But since this was published in December 1986, it means that it had been solicited in October, when it was still in full swing.

Or perhaps it had nothing to do with that at all, but was a project Eclipse genuinely believed in. The introduction in the first issue is by Wendy and Richard Pini, the creator and editor (respectively) of Elfquest. They explain that Howell had created and self-published Portia Prinz in the 70s, and that both cat ⊕ yronwode and Dean Mullaney, the editor-in-chief and publisher (respectively) of Eclipse, had been supporters of the series back then.

What they don’t do, however, is explain whether this is a reprint of the old series or a continuation. Reading it, it’s a bit of a head-scratcher: There are all these characters, some with funny names but most without, and they engage in endless witty repartee (some of which is funny), and it’s like we’re joining a party midway. Who are all these people? What are they talking about?

If it’s a reprint, they obviously didn’t start at the beginning, and if it’s a continuation, it’s a really, really weird way of introducing a new readership to the series.

Visually, it’s rather cluttered, especially with them all talking so much. My eyes skidder around a lot, but it’s certainly readable…

… and amusing. Some of the many, many, many puns and jokes land. I mean, I don’t think I laughed out loud at any point, but I certainly smiled a lot.

And when the puns get too terrible, the characters point that out, too.

Still: Ouch. That pun should get a prize for something.

The first issue is a self-contained quest, where Portia Prinz visits several literary hells, Dante (seen here), Sartre and Milton. Yes, it’s pretentious, but in a fun way.

And, oy vey, Howell has certainly mapped out the Glamazon world well.

Aha! In the second issue, we get a hint that this is new material. Vol II!

And Vol I!

And then Howell graciously tells us what’s what: The first issue (and the framing story in the second issue) is new material, and then there’s going to be almost three issues of reprints, and then two new issues at the end, finishing the story begun in the 70s.

After doing some subsequent research on the googles, it seems like there were five issues of the self-published series in the 70s. The first two (?) issues are not being reprinted, but we’re getting #3-5 here. In total? Or with bits left out? Howell doesn’t say, and the googles don’t do nothing.

The 70s Howell isn’t very different from the 80s Howell. His women look even more like chipmunks back then, though (I tried measuring some of their heads to find if any of them actually had heads that were wider than tall, but he squeaked by… just…), and he experimented more with weird angles…

… that he didn’t quite pull off all the time. (We’re looking at the pair from above here.) But I’m all for experimentation. And he uses the washes thoughtfully.

There are flashbacks in these issues that he draws in a cruder style. Are these taken from older work, by any chance? But, yeah… Not immediately obvious what’s going on here, but that’s a hat.

Eclipse was pushing this graphic novel a lot around this time, and I wondered whether I’d missed it when gathering material for this blog series. But apparently not: This is the only web page on all the googles that contain the phrase “Georgia Tom and The Gang”. Well, now there’s two, I guess.

It’s not the first time Eclipse did heavy advertising for comics they never published.

But back to the Glamazons: While it’s basically a soap opera, it has a plot filled with conspiracy and mischief, and I found myself surprisingly engaged in the storyline by the third issue. I can totally see why this is a book that people remembered from the 70s and were excited to have come back.

Carol Kalish? Wasn’t she in the marketing department at DC Comics? Hm… Oh, Wikipedia seems to say that they were married or something.

I bought these comics used, and for some unfathomable reason this page was dog-eared. I guess that’s just one of life’s many unexplainable mysteries.

The reproduction of the older material is very nicely done, but there’s one single page that looks like shit. Did they shoot it from the printed comic book or something?

Golly! Right again!

That face made me get my ruler out again, but no, the head really is higher than it’s wide. Only just, though.

Optical illusion.

But, man, those are some big cheeks.

In the final stretch of reprinted comics, there’s a handful of pages that are like this: Some panels haven’t been inked. Are these previously unpublished pages? That Howell didn’t ink back then so he didn’t do that now, either? Or did they just forget?

The backmatter is silent on the issue.

And then we’ve reached the new comics, and Howell starts with a recap of the previous issues, which seems rather unnecessary, since we’ve just read them. But perhaps he did that to catch people up who’ve only read it in the 70s and are only picking up the two new issues.

Which is nice of him.

The two new issues double down on the soap opera aspect of the series.

But also ties up the plot neatly. Unfortunately, it does so by having the villain infodumping on her victims (as villains are apt to do). It’s tedious in the extreme, and getting through the final issue was a chore.

Mark Evanier provides an afterword where he takes the credit for the book existing. He’d been told that the Eclipse people “were looking for something special to publish in black-and-white-format?” Oh, well. Seems like my guess that this publication was more prompted by the black-and-white boom than any lingering yearnings on Mullaney’s part to see how Glamazons ended was correct.

Man, I’m so right about everything these days.

Evanier says that he’d bet that the Portia Prinz back issues would increase in value over the years. Let’s check!

First of all: They use “Kalish” as a selling point? For co-plotting half of one issue? Wat.

But second of all: Seems like Evanier was right! The original cover price for these six issues was $12, and you’d have to pay $15 (including shipping) to buy them from Amazon now!

Inflation-adjusted, though, it doesn’t seem like the bet really paid off.

I was unable to find any contemporary critique of Portia Prinz in the Comics Journal index, and the googles doesn’t seem to yield much, either.

There’s this, which is my least favourite kind of writing about art (a plot recap), but this seems more interesting:

It takes time to develop the skills necessary to tell stories with very great brevity. and Portia Prinz came early in his career. Whatever the reason, her stories were unusually text-heavy, and readers praised them because they were also unusually heavy on intellectual content, with discussion of the nuances and implications of its many allusions forming a major portion of the verbiage.

Richard Howell went on to have a long and successful career in comics, both working for mainstream super-hero comics, as well as starting his own company. Portia Prinz has never been reprinted or collected, though.

1986: Villains and Vigilantes

Villains and Vigilantes (1986) #1-4 by Jack Herman, Jeff Dee, et al.

Huh. A four-issue super-hero series? That’s unusual for Eclipse…

Oh, it’s a parody book? “Stormlord”? “Manstar”? That hairy troll in the back of the truck?

We’re introduced to about three gazillion heroes and villains, and they all bicker, and sometimes they’re kinda funny, but it doesn’t really read like a parody, so I think they’re just going for a classic slightly humorous super-hero team dynamic.

The plot is rather incomprehensible. We’re not really introduced to anybody of these people, and their motivations seem totally whack.

OH FUCK! It’s another comic based on a fucking role playing game! That explains the incoherency of it all.

It doesn’t really explain all the weird choices the artist makes. Why is this three panels? Must the “ssss”-es be kept in separate panels? Did time pass? Did the artist just do something random? My guess would be the latter, because it’s really hard to make heads or tails of this book on a panel-by-panel basis. It doesn’t read well.

It’s a role playing comic, so you get the all-important stats on the characters.

This gag made me kinda smirk. Remember up there the super-hero was talking about how gauche it was with a “C”-shaped table just because their group is called “The Crusaders”? The villains have taken it over and scribbled their own name over it (“Crushers”). That’s plotting!

In the history of perspective drawing, that’s… something.

But I have to say that it got better over the four issues. The first couple of issues were muddled messes, but the fourth issue had several scenes that worked, were kinda exciting and read well.

So… It’s a better book than The Champions, so there’s that going for it.

But I’m obviously not the target demographic for this book, so let’s see whether anybody has reviewed it… Yes! I found a gamer:

Lets talk about the art first. I have to admit that Jeff Dee fans will be a bit disappointed. While Jeff Dees style is evident, his works are mostly ruined by bad inking (although it does improve with each issue). Also some figures are a bit disproportioned at times, and some of the movement looks awkward. I was really surprised to see how fast it looked like Dee ripped out the pictures. Not near the quality of his illustration work.

[…]

The script is really a mixed bag. At times they do some really brilliant things (the opening page, where Marionette is controlling all the prison cops minds, and has them “fire” the warden, for instance) at others they use some terrible cliches, at others they just say stupid things. There are times when Jack and Jeff really can’t decide what they want to do, sometimes being deadly serious, and others slapstick funny.

So there you go.

1986: P.J. Warlock

P.J. Warlock (1986) #1-3 by Bill Schorr.

We’re deep in the black-and-white mid-80s boom preceding the bust of 87, so Eclipse is picking up projects seemingly at random. Bill Schorr had apparently not done a comic book before, but he’d done several syndicated strips, most, er, famously Conrad.

And it kinda shows. He doesn’t really have comic book mechanics down… Why is that own thinking the exposition to himself?

Oh, I get it. The though balloon things are speech balloons from the owl? Or something? I’ve seen other strip artists use the same convention, and it’s kinda weird.

And, yes, the jokes in this book (and there’s a lot, at least four per page) are all in that general vein.

The groany kinda vein.

Schorr seems incredibly influenced by Vaughn Bodé whenever he’s drawing women. I mean, the wizard is also not completely nonbodicious, but all his women look like they’re traced straight from Cheech Wizard.

The production job is rather sloppy.

At least Schorr acknowledges his influences.

He doesn’t just do groan-worthy verbal jokes, there’s also groan-worthy sight gags.

The third and final issue has a Frankenstein monster who’s been given the brain of a Las Vegas stand up comic who tells jokes that are so painfully bad that they kill monsters, so, again, Schorr acknowledges the obvious parts others notice when reading the book.

Schorr went into editorial cartooning later in his career.

This series has never been reprinted.

1986: Destroy!!

Destroy!! (1986) #1 by Scott McCloud.

Eclipse published extremely few comics outside the standard formats (i.e., normal American floppy size or normal magazine/album sizes). I think this was their very first, and only a handful of these projects are to follow. So they’re not particularly into the materiality of the books, perhaps. Or perhaps it’s just too expensive.

This book is (as the cover promises) mostly just people fighting and reducing New York to rubble, but it does have a storyline and jokes and stuff, so it’s not as pure as you may have surmised.

It does make pretty good use of the huge pages. The format of this book is slightly larger than Raw Magazine… so it’s a bit smaller than tabloid. I should get a ruler out or something, but I’m on the couch and I’m too lazy. It was also released in normal comic-book size, but in 3D.

McCloud says that it’s the loudest comic in history, but I think that prize goes to Yuichi Yokoyama these days…

I think McCloud covers all the major New York tourist attractions.

But there’s also small pieces of destruction.

Pathetically small!

It’s pretty fun, and it’s a breezy read.

McCloud sold the original artwork pretty cheaply. Done one very large pieces of paper.

McCloud explains why he made this book: To get it all out of his system while planning the next incarnation of his main book, Zot!. Which has half as many exclamation points in the title, and a lot less destruction in the issues he made after Destroy!!, so I guess it worked?

I was unable to find any contemporary reviews of this in the Comics Journal.

1986: Luger

Luger (1986) #1-3 by Bruce Jones, Bo Hampton, Tom Yeates, et al.

Bruce Jones wrote a bunch of comics for Pacific Comics, and was (sort of) inherited by Eclipse when Pacific went under. But this is his first new work for Eclipse he’d done, I think.

As you may have guessed from the name “Luger”, this is an action/adventure story, and Hampton and Yeates does that stuff perfectly. There’s a lot of extremely well-rendered guys punching each others for pages.

And, since this is a Bruce Jones book, there’s at least one random scene of gratuitous (i.e., that doesn’t lead anywhere plot-wise) violence against women per issue.

But this is a very entertaining book. A recurring theme on the letters page is that every twist in the plot (and it’s a very twisty plot) comes as a genuine surprise… but they aren’t random plot developments, either. They make sense, and that can be exhilarating.

Oh! This book was originally written when Jones was at Pacific? So I guess he didn’t really do any new work purely for Eclipse? Except a couple of issues of the horror/sf anthologies later…

Plot twist ahead!

You have to wonder how much thought Jones put into this book. Here’s a standard rape-as-viewer-titillation scene, right?

And in the next panel Jones makes the implied explicit; making fun of the reader perving out on teh sexay rapee. Or is he? Jones is slippery.

There’s a backup feature in only one of the issues, and it’s the most random of random things: It’s a three page tribute to Carl Barks by Vittorio Giardino, translated from the original Italian. It’s a really sweet strip, but… what? Why here?

But then again, why ask why?

Oh, I didn’t mention what this book’s about, did I? No. But I think the panel above is sufficient explanation.

This story has never been reprinted, which is really weird. It’s a self-contained, entertaining, very pretty story. You’d think there’d be a market for it. Perhaps 65 pages makes for a too-slim volume for a reprint project these days?