1987: Hotspur

Hotspur (1987) #1-3 by John Ostrander, Karl Waller, Ben Dunn et al.

1987 was a busy year for Eclipse. They published 52 first issues in that year, which makes it their #1st year. One major part of that was the black and white boom that went bust in the first few months of the year, but another contributing factor was Timothy Truman.

This book doesn’t have the “4Winds” label anywhere on it, but I think it can be considered to be the first of the mini-wave of mini-series and books instigated by Timothy Truman (either as editor or co-creator; both on this book) and his friends (like John Ostrander and Charles Dixon).

And I’ve read none of these books, but I find myself looking forward to reading them, because I was really surprised at how entertaining Truman’s main series Scout was.

So what do we have here? Serious barbarian swordplay action adventure yada yada?

No! Well, at least not the serious part. This book takes all the fantasy/barbarian/magic conventions and runs them through a shredder and glues them back in an amusing manner. So Our Hero is an actor, of course.

Who’s magically transported to another planet that he has to save because… because… It’s too complicated to get into here, but it’s funny.

I’m not familiar with Karl Waller’s work, but it’s fine, I guess. Nothing that really stands out, but it the storytelling is solid.

The first issue has some character design sketches by Truman.

But he does do some very appealing creatures and monsters. And by appealing, I mean “amusingly creepy”.

“You ahemed?” I liked “you ahemed”.

The last two issues were mostly drawn by Ben Dunn, and it’s stilted and not very interesting to look at. The storyline continues on its merry way, in a almost-being-obnoxious manner, but staying just on the right side. It all takes a genuinely surprising turn and keeps you off balance, and you just have to surrender to the sheer buoyancy of it all.

The editor explains that Waller fell ill, so he couldn’t complete the series. Why they didn’t just postpone the issues instead of substituting a new artist isn’t explained. I mean, it’s a three monthly issue mini-series: The second issue had to be in the can before the first issue was at the printer…

I feel like that’s a question we all should ask ourselves when we go about our daily lives. WWDFD?

Ben Dunn takes it all into a cartoonish territory for a panel here and there, and that’s just fine.

Aha! 4Winds! I knew it had to come up at some point.

Comicmix collected the series in a single volume in 2016, so it should be available everywhere. I was unable to find any reviews of the book, so I guess it didn’t make much of an impression.

I only hope that the rest of the 4Winds books are as good…

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