So since I’m sure you were wondering, I finally checked at the shop for those Grendel issues I skipped all those years ago, and it turned out we had them all save one. AUGH. …That’s okay, since the one we’re missing is easily obtainable on the eBay for next-to-nothing Buy It Now prices and usurious shipping costs, so I’ll get around to picking it up eventually.
I did finishing rereading the Christine Spar Grendel run (issues #1-#12 of the second Comico series, 1986-7), and…man, I’d forgotten about how crazy the Pander Brothers art was on this series. Well, okay, I actually hadn’t forgotten, but I was certain my memory of it was exaggerating just how out there it was, but nope, I was remembering it just about right. …That’s not a criticism of the art, by the way…it did take a little getting used to, and it is a bit on the wild side, but it would be hard to imagine this series drawn any other way.
I’m sure that’s just because I’ve had 25 years to let these comics swirl around in my head since I first read the things, but I do adore the look of these comics. It’s…well, it’s hard to explain, and I hope you folks understand what I’m getting at here, but in a strange way the art is both sort of dated and cutting edge at the same time. It has this retro “we have seen the future, and it is mid-’80s MTV videos for New Wave bands” look, while maintaining a level of fast-paced and occasionally shocking storytelling that compares favorably, if not surpasses, most superhero comic work on the shelves now.
Plus, those guys sure did like their big jackets:
Reader Tom commented on the “misplaced futurity” of this initial storyline, with the floating phones and flying cars and such. (It did get flatscreen TVs right, though, but that’s pretty much a gimme as far as tech predictions go…I mean, the viewscreen on Star Trek was pretty much a giant flatscreen.) It had me thinking about the exact timeframe for the story, which is mostly pinned on Spar’s comment in the first issue that television interviewer/personality Phil Donahue is “70, at least. More?” Since Donahue is 76 now, that puts the time of the story at about…well, today, or maybe within the last few years. Probably after 2004, as one of the supporting characters has a “FRANCE 2004” poster on his wall.
So yeah, flying cars aren’t commonplace in the real world, so Grendel‘s usefulness as an accurate indicator of social / technological development is pretty much nil. Sorry, gang! But seriously, would you want a world with flying cars? I’ve seen how people drive on the road, man…I wouldn’t want ’em in the skies.
Another thing that slipped my mind until I pulled these comics out for the Great 2012 Grendel Rereading Project was the fact that most issues of this particular series had wraparound covers. You can see the fronts of them here, but aside from this smallish scan of a later non-Pander issue, there doesn’t seem to be an online source showing the full covers. If there is one, someone out there let me know so I can point folks to those swell full images of the Pander Brothers’ work on the first twelve covers. (The rest are pretty good, too.)