1963: The “Mystery of Edwin Drood” of Comics.

§ November 25th, 2015 § Filed under publishing § 13 Comments

In response to my having noted the inclusion of the previously-unpublished conclusion in the Puma Blues hardcover, reader bad wolf wrote

“[It] makes me wonder how many other series/runs could be completed with only an issue or two’s worth of material, that would add immeasurably to their interest/resale value?”

In particular, he (I’m assuming “he,” apologies if I’m wrong) specifies the Silver Age Marvel pastiche 1963 by Alan Moore and pals, and Rick Veitch’s run on Swamp Thing. Now, Veitch’s truncated Swamp Thing run, for better or worse, was picked up, continued, and wrapped up kinda/sorta by other hands, so likely as far as DC Comics is concerned, that specific period is packagable and marketable as a completed product, should they decide to release trades of that material. Not that it seems likely…they’ve only reprinted Veitch’s run up to issue #81, and that was in a trade paperback that was released in 2006. DC has since skipped ahead to reprinting the Mark Millar (with Grant Morrison on the earlier installments) that start at #140, skipping right over the end of the Veitch run and the conclusion by the replacement creative team. I would love to have a paperback with Veitch’s “alternate” (i.e. original) ending, but unless there’s a sudden explosion of Swamp Thing-mania, I’d be surprised if anyone would go through the trouble to make that happen.

Ultimately, in retrospect it seems so silly. DC objected to, and killed, a story in which a time-traveling Swamp Thing encounters Jesus in what, as far as I can tell, seemed a relatively reverent manner (well, as far as you can go with the Messiah hangin’ with a swamp monster, I guess), and then later publishes Preacher in which God is just straight-up the bad guy. Just goes to show you…well, something, I guess.

Now, the 1963 series was planned to run six regular issues, and then it would be wrapped up in the 1963 Annual, where the retro-styled heroes introduced in the main series would encounter the “Image Universe.” This Wiki entry pretty much sums up why it will probably never happen, even though being able to publish “THE COMPLETE 1963” in a fancy hardcover would probably sell…well, slightly more copies than the series is currently selling now out of quarter boxes in comic shops across the world. Not having that final annual doesn’t hurt the entertainment value of the other six issues, but once you reach that last issue with the cliffhanger ending, you can’t help but wonder what could have been.

Bad wolf wonders about other stories cut down before their conclusions, and other reader Touch-and-go Bullethead suggests a few good ones, especially that Sergio Aragones “T.C. Mars” serial from Sojourn. I’ve actually come across copies of Sojourn over the years, which was a tabloid-sized comics newspaper, so I have seen T.C. Mars (who’s also appeared on a cover, or back cover, of my favorite fanzine Comics Reader). I wouldn’t mind seeing Sergio returning to that.

A couple story endings I wouldn’t mind seeing, though these ships have sailed, sank, and been covered with silt long ago: the Andrew Helfer/Kyle Baker Shadow, which over Conde Nast’s dead body would that be allowed to happen, I’d suspect; and Sonic Distruptors, though after reading Andrew’s review, perhaps I’m better off leaving that in the past.

Oh, and I’d like to see the ending to Eye of Mongombo too, so long as I’m wishing.

13 Responses to “1963: The “Mystery of Edwin Drood” of Comics.”

  • philfromgermany says:

    It has been a couple years since I read it, but I remember Alan Moore setting up a pretty nice Youngblood reboot for Rob Leifelds Awesome Entertainment.
    It only ran for 2 issues, but Moore did a great story in 3 issues for Judgment Day at around the same time.

    I’m sure there are many other examples.

  • Thom H. says:

    I was going to mention the Helfer/Baker SHADOW in the comments, but you did it for me in your post. I loved that run so much, and there was a planned single-issue wrap-up that never happened. Here’s hoping? :(

  • googum says:

    Marvel’s Star Trek: Early Voyages straight up ends on a cliffhanger, which I wouldn’t mind seeing resolved. I think Abnett&Lanning were like, hey, we’re not getting paid for it, so…no.

  • AlanM says:

    Big Numbers?
    Scarlett / Brilliant – both by Bendis

  • JohnJ says:

    Hepcats by Martin Wagner. Didn’t finish first story and started a second. Last time I looked him up, he’s a busy little Texas atheist.

    Darklight by Teri S. Wood. She started that after finishing Wandering Star but abandoned it after two issues,I think.

    These both got good reviews in CBG.

  • Hypo-Calvinist says:

    DC objected to, and killed, a story […] and then later publishes Preacher in which God is just straight-up the bad guy.

    Preacher was Vertigo. The proposed ST story was issues 88-91 and Swamp Thing was still straight DC back then, the DC/Vertigo banner doesn’t start till Saga of the Swamp Thing 129. So maybe that explains it. Not excuses it, mind you…

  • philfromgermany says:

    Or how about an ending for Battle Chasers? Aah, a man can dream…

  • Jeff Goodman says:

    What happened to 1963 1/2, as seen on the back cover of #6? Alex Cox and Paul Mavrides? I want!!!!

  • BobH says:

    JohnJ, regarding DARKLIGHT, Dover has already announced a single volume WANDERING STAR for next year, so I imagine DARKLIGHT will be on their radar if that does well and if Wood is still interested.

    Dover is quickly turning into my favourite publisher. They’ve already announced five books for 2016 I’m sure to buy (WANDERING STAR, Jim Lawson’s PALEO, Jeff Nicolson’s THROUGH THE HABITRAILS and two Sam Glanzman books, ATTU and USS STEVENS, both containing some previously unpublished material), and are at the point that I’ll give anything else they publish a look just on general principle.

  • Jeff R. says:

    I’d rule out Hepcaps on the grounds that it would take a lot more than one or two issues to finish that up as it was planned. I could argue for Miracleman:The Silver Age, which is coming soonish, although there’s a sense that the real ‘work’ is Golden Age/Silver Age/Dark Age combined, which is going to take a bit more time.

    (Big Numbers goes under ‘barely begun’ alongside D’arc Tangent and Sweeney Todd.)

    And I’d put Moore’s Supreme in the same category as the Veitch Swamp Thing run; even though we have an ending mostly by someone else I’d still love to see the original full ending sometime.

  • Dave says:

    I once asked Baker about how abruptly The Shadow ended, and he told me that Conde Nast had nothing to do with it (as I always suspects); it was strictly bad sales and they wanted to go out on a big note.

    Most underrated series of the 80s.

  • Snark Shark says:

    “1963” in a fancy hardcover would probably sell…well, slightly more copies than the series is currently selling now out of quarter boxes in comic shops across the world”

    I gave away a huge pile of those- that I also got for free- there’s just no demand for an overprinted comic with no ending!

  • Snark Shark says:

    Did Steve Bissette ever finish TYRANT?