1986: Spaced

Spaced (1986) #10-13 by Tom Stazer and John Williams.

What’s this then?

Spaced was originally self-published by Stazer (under the name Unbridled Ambition) and was moderately successful, I think. I think it was part of that self-publishing wave post Dave Sim’s Cerebus, and like virtually all of them, Stazer took his comic to a larger company after a while.

So Eclipse started “distributing” the book with issue ten, which I take to mean that they included it in their solicitations to the comic book stores, and handled the money flow.

(I was going to do this book in-sequence when I wrote about all the other Eclipse books published in 1986, but then I decided to not cover the Eclipse-distributed books because I was going I”M DROWNING IN COMICS. But now that I’m winding down the blog, I find myself unable to resist the temptation to do a more “complete” Eclipse coverage. Which is why this blog post about a 1986 comic is among the 1993 comics.)

AAANYWAY. The first Eclipse issue starts with a summary of what’s gone of before, and I think it can best be summed up this way: “Eh?”

I did have a couple of the Unbridled Ambition Spaced issues back in the 80s, and I liked them, but it was impossible to find all the issues, so I was never quite sure what was going on exactly.

And the first Eclipse issue starts off in a particularly boring way that I’m sure didn’t attract many new readers (which I must assume was part of the reason to band up with Eclipse, anyway). (And Eclipse probably got in on the action because this was smack dab in the middle of the black-and-white boom, where you could publish anything black and white and collectors would snap up all the copies while screaming MINE PRECIOUSES.)

But this issue is mostly characters standing around talking about feelings and stuff, mostly in very vague surroundings consisting of little more than tone.

And the storytelling is rather choppy, but traditional, with “meanwhile…” drop ins with some absurdity or whatever.

See? Most of the issues were sold out! No wonder I couldn’t buy them in the 80s…

The mania for cartoon-looking male characters being attractive to attractive realistic-looking female characters is a thing, I guess, but it doesn’t make it any more attractive.

Things do pick up during the final three issues. We get more action and more jokes and less incessant deep(ly boring) dialogue. The plot is satisfyingly insane, so it’s got that going for it.

Wow! That’s a really Sam Kieth-looking Isz! (Or is is Izs? Ess before zed?)

Oh, Kieth drew it himself…

I remember reading earlier issues in the 80s and wondering why one of the characters looked like William Messner-Loebs’ Wolverine McAlistaire, but I guess that Spaced is rather a hodge-podge of a bunch of indie comics at the time…

That’s some jukebox.

Stazer teases the possibility of Spaced ending at some point in #12…

… and then it ends in #13. It was a quite satisfying end, even if apparently the bad guy (a teddy bear) killed off everybody who lived on a planet. Or something.

Spaced is, perhaps, the kind of comic that you don’t want to examine too closely.

Stazer explains that the reason Spaced was cancelled was due to a serious dip in sales: #12 was down 50% from the previous issue, which sounds more or less typical for the black and white bust.

Spaced has never been reprinted. You can buy a complete set on ebay right now for $249.99, which is cheap compared to $250.

Mile High Comics doesn’t have all the issues in stock, but sells many of them for $30.

So while the demand for these comics is probably not huge, it’s weird that nobody had collected them. It’s a complete 300-ish page story, and it definitely has its charms.

Here’s what Dale Luciano has to say about it in The Comics Journal #94:

Spaced could be a tiresome business, but co-writers John Williams and Stazer, to some extent inspired by Dave Sim’s facility with verbal wit, pull this one off. The• book’s primary appeal resides in the funny, droll dialogue which sustains a quirky nonsense logic that often doubles back on itself in weird quips and lopsided throwaways, (l must note that Stazer’s cartoony drawing is only now and then better than promising, though the clunkiness of the images in its own way complements the jokey, debunking proceedings.)

[…]

The humor is sophomoric, but I found the situations, the characters, and the vaudeville patter irresistible. It’s crudely done by professional standards, but there’s wit and invention at work here. Spaced is funny stuff, and I’ll take my laughs where I can find them.

Stazer still seems to be active and has a nice Youtube channel.

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