Mars attracts.

§ March 17th, 2023 § Filed under indies § 26 Comments

Chris crossed over with

“Here’s the thing I’ve found with Nexus, I’m a longtime fan, but if Steve Rude isn’t drawing it, it’s pretty much unreadable for me – same with American Flagg with Chaykin. Zot! Is probably one of my all time favourite series, love the colour and bw series.”

Steve Rude is, of course and will always be, Optimal Nexus. But I’m a little more forgiving of he guest-artists, I think…the character and setting designs laid down by Rude were so strong, that so long as you followed his lead to some extent, the visuals were passable. Like, that recent graphic novel release I was talkin’ about, Richard Bonk’s artwork was just fine. No, it wasn’t Rude, but it mostly did the job (the one confusing storytelling point I hit may have been just as much a scrip problem as anything else).

A couple of names I mentioned that had been guest-artists on the title include Paul Smith, whose tight, smooth lines were well-suited for the project, and Rick Veitch, whose penchant for strangeness accentuated the weirder side of the series. I know the artist who ultimately wrapped up the First Comics ongoing was…not a favorite, but even still I thought he did a passable job.

But the real lesson learned from this series is that, even if the guest-artists were talented, it was Steve Rude’s work that made the book sing. Most (but not all) of the post-First Nexii have been Baron/Rude collabs, which is why this most recent book with Bonk’s art came as bit of a surprise.

I will say Les Dorscheid, who colored many issues of Nexus, did a good job illustrating those painted covers on the regular series near the end there.

As to American Flagg! with or without Chaykin…I stated in a later post that I liked Staton’s work on the title, even if maybe it seemed a little too…”innocent,” I guess, in the face of all the shenanigans and goings-on in this book? Mike Vosburg worked perfectly well for me on the title as well, since, I mean, if you can’t get Chaykin, get Vosburg. The only artist on the book that put me off was Mark Badger, which, no offense, I liked him on other stuff, just didn’t care for him here.

“While we’re throwing out great 80s Indy series, let’s add Mars from First to the mix….”

Ah, yes, Mars, by Mark Wheatley and Marc Hempel, released for 12 issue sin the mid-1980s. This was a favorite series of mine, marred only by occasional back-up features I didn’t much care about beyond wondering why they were eating up 8 perfectly good pages that could have been devoted more to Morgana, Dawn, and the mystery of Mars. That cover pictured here grabbed my attention (“why is that lady’s face also on the robot?”) and only set the stage for the more serious weirdness to come.

Back issues should be cheap if you can find them. There was a trade (and signed hardcover) goin’ on nearly 20 years ago from IDW, but that’s long out of print. It could stand a new reprinting…it was a beautifully-illustrated and plenty-odd story that would be nice to hand over to some of my customers.

It’s mindboggling to think how many series just like Mars are out there. Short-run comics with great talents and unique stories that came and went, forgotten save for the occasional flip-by in the bargain bins. I’m sure many a person zipped right past it in the dollar box or quarter box or whatever without ever realizing what was contained inside would be right up their alley. At least Mars did get a trade, even if it was a while ago. So many worthwhile books never even got that chance.

26 Responses to “Mars attracts.”

  • Sean Mageean says:


    Did you dislike the Black Flame or the Dynamo Joe back-up features in Mars?

    What about Joe Staton and the late, great Nic Cuti and Marty Pasko’s revival of E-Man at First Comics–did you enjoy that? How do you think it stood up compared to Charlton Comics E-Man run?

    My favorite Joe Staton art was when he drew the JSA in All-Star Comics and the Secret Origin of the JSA (DC Special no. 29) — 1970s Joe Staton pencil art inked by Bob Layton was so good! His Plastic Man run in Adventure Comics was very fun as well.

    Paul Smith’s run on The Uncanny X-Men from no. 165-170 and 172-175 was so good; also Marvel Fanfare no. 4, and the handful of Doctor Strange and Iron Man stories he drew. And his Mike Mahogany stories in the back of Sun Runners were a fun read.

    Re: a few recent Tweets — I’d say that the physiognomy of the bad guy from that Batman panel was mostly based on actor Dan Duryea–who would have been popular in American culture in that era from his Film Noir villain roles Willem Dafoe was but a mere lad when that Batman story was printed.

    As to ’60s vs. ’70s Stan Lee–’70s hipster Stan Lee is the Stan Lee I generally think of Stan Lee as in my mind’s eye…I guess because as a little kid reading my first Marvel Comics in the ’70s that’s the Stan Lee I would see in house ads or whatnot. He does look quite square in the ’60s. Now we need to see photos of “The Man” through all the decades.

    Tom Scioli has a new Stan Lee biographic novel out, “I am Stan,” as a companion piece to his recent Jack Kirby biographic novel. Apparently there’s some Rashoman-like elements where we get to see certain things from Stan’s perspective this go-round!

  • Chris says:

    Well, first of all, what a singular honour to have my comment singled out by Mike on the worlds greatest comic blog! How humbled am I.

    I remember 80s teenage Chris liking the Paul Smith fill ins just fine, but when it comes to the dude on Nexus, there really no substitute, in fact I can’t think of any substandard Rude artwork on anything. Which got me thinking about comic book art in the 80s compared to now.

    I hold that nowadays with your computer assisted artwork and better quality of paper, who is writing your comic book is much more important than who is drawing it.

    In the 80s it was a really big deal who was drawing your comic – I think that trend probably really came into effect with Neal Adams, but I guess you could argue for Kirby before that.

    And it was doubly so for those 80s independents. These were creators working on their own characters outside of Marvel/DC – they poured they heart and soul into it to begin with. It began to really show when the artists got bored/ got better offers from the big 2. But those companies like First and Eclipse wanted to keep those titles going, when it might have been better to just let them stop until those original creators wanted to come back.

    Was anyone that invested in Flagg without Grell? Dreadstar without Starlin? Elementals without Willingham? Grimjack without Truman?

    Or maybe it was just me – even with the big 2 it felt at the time who was drawing was just as important or even more so important as who was writing. I never really cared much for Dave Cockrum, so his Xmen run didn’t really interest me, but I loved Byrne and Smith. I never cared for New Teen Titans without Perez, or those issues of Thor that Simonson didn’t draw (nothing against Sal Buscema, Rom is my all time favourite comic – but again, don’t care for it without Sal’s artwork)

    I love me some early Hellboy and I’m sure there’s many fine Hellboy comics I’m missing because they’re not drawn by Mignola.

    I guess it all culminated in the 90s with Image where the writing was superfluous to those superstar artists.

    It’s pretty hard to think of a comic these days that’s popularity rests mainly with the artist, (maybe Tradd Moore?) though I imagine someone will pop up with something. Just when did the age of the superstar artist die off? When did artists like Bryan Hitch, Alex Ross and Steve McNiven not become the drawcard they were? Was it with the advent of computer assisted art or when those superstars found a better living in covers and commissions? Will I stop it with the questions?

    Anyway, would love to hear your thoughts Mike on whether you get customers coming in looking for the latest comic by ‘artist x’ regardless of what writer or character that work might be.

    And again, I can’t recommend Mars more highly, well worth the hunt. I loved the Dynamo Joe backup, not so much The Black Flame. Dynamo Joe makes me think of that peculiar First Adventures title that Joe shared with Whisper (which was fine) and the very strange Blaze Barlow. I re-read those issues recently and still can’t make head nor take out of Blaze Barlowe . Something about the main character maybe being a man or a woman and these was a character who was made out of cake or something. Not all First’s comics were American Flagg quality, that’s for sure.

    Another couple of titles fondly remembered, Alien Fire (too few issues for such a fascinating series) Border Worlds, Somerset Holmes, Moonshadow, Black Dragon, Time Spirits (those last three from Marvels very good creator owned label Epic).

    And let us not forget the greatest comic of all time, The Flaming Carrot. I will die a happy man in the knowledge that I got to meet creator Bob Burden and his is every bit a reflection of his creation.

    And finally Mike, ever read any Australian comics? Southern Squadron, Dark Nebula, platinum Grit, Zooniverse?

  • LouReedRichards says:

    Rude is one of my top 5 all time favorite comic artists. Like Chris said, in his entire body of work I’ve never seen any book that look half-heated or rushed, even when they were rushed.
    Nexus is a personal favorite of mine. For a long time I’ve been picking up the endless mini series and any issues of 1-50 that I find.I’m looking forward to one day reading the series straight through, in order. One of the luckiest finds I’ve ever had was stumbling across 20+ issues in a dollar box at a used game shop within walking distance of my house!* I’ve got about 4 issues left to find (will probably just have to order those), but I’ve enjoyed the treasure hunt over the years.

    As has been pointed out, the guest fill-in artist were of a particularly high quality. Jose Garcia Lopez, Paul Smith, early Mignola, Rick Veitch, all great stuff!
    My favorite fill in is Keith Giffen’s from issue #23. Just a fun story with Giffen doing his mid-80’s Munoz riff. Plus it has the Badger in it, which is always fun in Nexus.

    Speaking of the Badger – issue #11 was the first independent comic I ever purchased. Even if it was just another superhero book, the fact that it wasn’t from Marvel or DC made it feel exotic. First comics always give me a light tinge of nostalgia, my first hit off the indie pipe.

    *Now like, Nexus, I’m driven mad by dreams, dreams of favorite all my favorite comics sitting unloved in stores tangentially related to comic. MADNESS I TELL YOU!

  • Daniel T says:

    “Was anyone that invested in Flagg without Grell?”

    Mike Grell drawing American Flagg is something I never knew I need to see.

    “I never cared for New Teen Titans without Perez”

    But…but…Eduardo Barreto!

    “I’m sure there’s many fine Hellboy comics I’m missing because they’re not drawn by Mignola”

    There are–especially the ones by Duncan Fegredo.

  • Daniel T says:

    I wish Dark Horse would redo the Nexus Omnibuses in larger size as they did the Grendel ones.

  • Chris says:

    Yeah, Grell on American Flagg would have been something…..

    I meant Chaykin of course.

    Duncan Fegredo is a fine artist, I guess my point is that for me, some characters just feel better when drawn by those involved in their creation

  • CalvinPitt says:

    I’ve got all of GrimJack. I like Truman’s art more than Tom Mandrake’s, but Mandrake being the artist doesn’t dissuade me from enjoying the book. Actually, I like comparing and contrasting how the 3 main artists (Truman, Mandrake and Flint Henry) depict the city and how it feels like Ostrander tailors the stories somewhat to their strengths (a lot more creepy monster stuff in Mandrake’s issues than Truman’s, which run towards more of a noir-feel, I think.)

    I will freely admit I always thought Chaykin did all the American Flagg. Ditto Grell and Jon Sable. But I hadn’t read the books, I just figured those were “their” characters and they wouldn’t hand them off to anyone else. Don’t know why, I knew Peter David wrote Dreadstar for a while.

    I picked up Mars last year, for about $2 an issue. Whatever it was trying to do did not work for me at all. But it was worth reading at least once, I guess.

  • Daniel T says:

    “some characters just feel better when drawn by those involved in their creation”

    Now I’m wondering what writer/artist has done the most work on a character of their own creation with no one else doing the writing or pencil art.

    Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez are the first ones that come to mind.

  • ExistentialMan says:

    Great thread here on 80’s indies, artists that define a character/title, and favorite runs. The past few weeks of PR have transported me back several decades and chewed up all of my spare time. Just now wrapping up my first rereading of Zot since the issues premiered (sooooo fantastic) and I’ve started a second reread of Nexus and, oddly Yummy Fur (which is making my brain explode a second time).

    As a child of late the 60’s and 70’s comics, I’m not sure there was a better decade for the industry given the burst of indie comics and sheer, unique creative vision unleashed over those ten years from 1980 to 1989. Even the B&W indie explosion opened so many doors for me with Trollords, Dragonring, Mr. Monster, Journey, Fish Police, Roachmill, and Xenozoic Tales. It was also the decade in which comics apparently “grew up” with the influx of British talent into the American comic industry providing much more mature, often political, content.

    I know I’m wandering a bit, but it’s such an odd and beautiful phenomenon how this hobby/passion/creative collection of words-and-pictures keeps giving over the decades. Earlier this year, I decided to fill a huge “gap” in my comics knowledge base by digging into the late 70’s and 80’s 2000AD comics. Holy Crackers! That stuff is glorious! I’ve finished most of the key Judge Dredd story arcs and am now deep into Nemesis the Warlock, ABC Warriors, Strontium Dog, Rogue Trooper, and Slaine. I remember always being aware of the occasional copy of a collected 2000AD trade that would appear on my LCS shelve but never felt compelled to pick one up until now. Crazy how much I was missing out.

    Ugh, now my 80’s reread list has expanded exponentially. Curse you Mike Sterling! But, really, more than anything else, thanks for what you do.

  • Sean Mageean says:


    I think you made so many good points. I always maintain that the Bronze Age of Comics (circa 1970 to 1985, by my estimation) was the best era of comics precisely because that was when the notion of creators bringing their A game to what they were doing was paramount. And it was the fans turned pros–Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams, Steranko, Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor Smith, Jim Starlin, etc. who basically raised the bar, which lead to the next wave of passionate and talented fans turned pros: Claremont and Cockrum/Byrne/Smith, Moench and Gulacy, Frank Miller, Wolfman and Perez, Mantlo and Golden, Grell, Levitz and Giffen, Sienkiewicz, etc. The best comics are either those written and drawn by one person who has a distinct vision and unlimited talent and imagination–Will Eisner, Robert Crumb, Dave Stevens, Jaime Hernandez, Gilbert Hernandez, etc.–or two or more talented individuals who each excel in their respective field –Alan Moore, Brian Bolland, etc.–and make great comics together.

    For me, because comics are a visual medium, I feel that quality artwork in a comic is slightly more important than the writing. I will buy a beautifully rendered comic, even if the writing is subpar, because viewing that artwork, even if I end up just occasionally flipping through the comic from time to time, will be aesthetically pleasing and enjoyable. But in the case of a very well written comic, if it has lousy artwork–that’s a deal breaker for me. Because it is boring to the eye.

    I think that after Image Comics happened (and I have picked up various early Image Comics in dollar bins over the last several years out of curiosity, because I never bought them when they came out…and most of what I’ve seen is pretty mediocre both in terms of art and story–but then I never jumped on the McFarlane or Liefeld bandwagon), Marvel and DC wanted to break the system of superstar artists. And then you had the rise in importance of superstar writers: Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, etc. Another factor is that as the late ’80s progressed into the ’90s the ” ‘roid rage/Rambo era” of comics began–with dumbed down storytelling (with a few exceptions–like Gaiman, Morrison, etc.) and over the top characters such as Bane and Doomsday. And the horrible mullets and Hal Jordon and whoever else turning evil. I was pretty much done with comics by then–except for Love & Rockets.

    When I came back to comics about a decade ago it was a bit of a shock to see how much things had changed. I still don’t like the decompressed storytelling and I honestly think that most of the Bronze Age writers wrote much better comics in terms of plotting, narrative flow, story beats, characterization and character arcs, and the hero or heroine’s journey than what I see now in contemporary comics. Maybe it’s largely tied in with nostalgia for my childhood/teenagerhood, but that’s how I see it. Definitely there were much better artists in the Bronze Age–which really was a renaissance for beautifully rendered comics: Steranko, N. Adams, A. Adams, G. Perez, F. Miller, Byrne, Cockrum, P. Smith, Barry Windsor-Smith, Golden, Rude, Stevens, Jaime Hernandez, Wrightson, Kaluta, Broderick, Starlin, Chaykin, Buckler, Gulacy, Ordway, Guice, P. Craig Russell, and on and on…plus, there was also the late period work of masters of the medium including Kirby, Ditko, Colan, Tuska, Cardy, Infantino, Wood, Gil Kane, Murphy Anderson, Joe Kubert, etc. And even some of the jobber Bronze Age artists at least knew how to pace a comic, and provide decent and varied page layouts with good “acting” depicted through the various characters’ body language. It seems that has become a bit of a lost art in current comics. And why were thought balloons done away with? I love thought balloons–and they were intrinsic to comics for at least fifty years.

    By contrast, a lot of the modern comics–though not all of them– have bland or static or cutesy wootsy art, with too many repeating panels of talking heads, very little action or sense of visual pacing–boring covers which generally lack any dramatic dialogue or often fail to depict an actual scene from the story, and there’s way too many variant covers (!) and way too much self-indulgent writing…Tom King and Bendis and lots of current writers totally fit into that category. Personally, I will take a solidly written, everything but the kitchen sink plotted Gerry Conway Bronze Age comic any day of the week over a modern T. King or Bendis scripted comic–because I know Conway will bring the humanity, the heroism, and the fun to his storytelling–and maybe even a moral to the story, whereas when I’ve read King it almost always feels like he’s working through PTSD, and Bendis tries too hard to be glib and falls flat.

    Similarly, the vast majority of Marvel and DC Comics from the Bronze Age were enjoyable and entertaining reading experiences –and the ’80s independent comics were creative and thought-provoking and fun to read; the was not an overabundance of zombie plagues, hipster vampires, etc. Now, Marvel and DC tend to try to rehash past concepts…there are an infinite amount of Infinite Crises and Civil/Secret Wars, Spider-verse shenanigans, and re-imaginings of Year 1 of hero/heroine X’s adventures…that just continue to make DC and Marvel a huge mess (because continuity also went out the window!)–plus there are way, way, way too many Batman family, Superman family, Wonder Woman family, and Flash family characters…especially sidekicks –many of which have the same superhero name (which is confusing if they are living on the same Earth–do we need infinite Robins, Wonder Girls, and Superboys…???), or have goofy or banal hero names like The Signal, Spoiler, Orphan…why? Also, there are way too many Green Lanterns coming from planet Earth. Maybe we need some Thanos snaps or Darkseid Anti-Life Equation zaps to cull the heroes and thin the herds at Marvel and DC so we reduce the overabundance of superheroes–at least for awhile. And even a lot of independent comics now are just overkill on the zombie and vampire themes and dystopia tropes. One exception would be Warrant Publications’ Shudder, and Vampiress Carmilla magazines, which are anthologies, don’t take themselves too seriously, and build on the legacy of Creepy and Eerie magazines, and old EC Comics horror titles–plus Don Glut and the other Warrant writers and artists are having fun and making cool stuff (Thank you, Mike, for carrying those)!

    Sorry to rant, and I’ve no doubt said variations on some of this stuff before, but that’s my take–and that’s why I’m mostly buying Bronze Age and earlier comics at this point; of which, thankfully, Mike Sterling has plenty at his shop.


    Daniel T:

    Yes, probably Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez would be the top choices for writer/artist who has done the most work on a character of their own creation with no one else doing the writing or pencil art. Or Dave Sim –but he had his assistant, Gerhard, helping out. Jack Katz would probably be up there as well, as First Kingdom was a fairly long and dense series. Maybe Robert Crumb, if you just look at if from the perspective of his entire output from his Id, and documenting of his life experiences, as opposed to just Fritz the Cat or just Mr. Natural stories. Honorable mention for Gilbert Shelton and the Fabulous Furry Freak Bros. I know they are two people, but Wendy and Richard Pini’s Elfquest would probably deserve honorable mention as well.

    As to creators including Mike Grell, Howard Chaykin, Jim Starlin, and other artist-writers, it can be argued that they should have stopped their books once they got burnt out on drawing their characters–but you can’t blame them for wanting to just shift to writing or plotting, or handing the characters off to other writers/artists entirely while retaining the rights and their brand recognition and keep the money coming in while also keeping First Comics, Eclipse Comics, Comico Comics and other independent comic companies afloat…even if Mark Badger was an odd choice to draw American Flagg (and what about Ernie Colon drawing Dreadstar?)!

  • Snark Shark says:

    “Dynamo Joe”

    I liked the one-shot issue!

    “what about Ernie Colon drawing Dreadstar?)!”

    Did he fight Richie Rich?

    “writer/artist who has done the most work on a character of their own creation”

    Erik Larsen on Savage Dragon!!! SAVAGE DRAGON SAVAGE DRAGON!!

    “Now we need to see photos of “The Man” through all the decades.”

    He looks quite odd without the toupe and mustache!

    “Grimjack without Truman”

    Yes, BUT that title had the same writer- John Ostrander- it’s entire run. and the last replacement, Flint Henry, became a new favorite artist of mine. (Though I dunno what he’s been doing recently).

    “Just when did the age of the superstar artist die off? ”

    Sometime after the IMAGE bubble burst, what with the late books, copycat ideas, and the lack of talent of some of those “HOT” artists, I think.

    “a lot more creepy monster stuff in Mandrake”

    Yes, he’s very good at mood/shadows. his run on The Spectre- also with Ostrander- is rather good. Ostrander is GENERALLY quite good, whomever he has doing the art.

    “Xenozoic Tales”

    OMG the 2nd coming of Wally Wood! Small volume of work, though.

    “do we need infinite Robins, Wonder Girls, and Superboys”

    I, frankly, don’t need ANY Robins! The only GOOD one turned into Nightwing! Well, Time Drake is OK, but I can’t stand the rest.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Snark Shark:

    Thanks for making me laugh!

    I realized after I wrote: “what about Ernie Colon drawing Dreadstar?” that I should have explained what I meant better.

    I’m not against Ernie or his art–I just meant that, similar to Mark Badger being stylistically very different from Chaykin, Colon is also very different from Starlin. If Starlin had got Alan Weiss or James Sherman or Pat Broderick or Butch Guice or someone like that to draw Dreadstar, it might have meshed better.

    But your comment was too funny about Dreadstar fighting Richie Rich…that would have been an Ernie Colon story for the ages! Take that, Archie vs. The Punisher!

    You are probably right about Larsen’s Savage Dragon –but I never got into that character or the comic. I guess it’s up to issue no. 265 or thereabouts–but did Larsen write/draw every single issue?

    I remember seeing early Larsen and Guice art in Megaton, where Vanguard and Savage Dragon duked it out.

    Glad we are in agreement that there are too many Robins.

    Re: Xenozoic Tales and Mark Schultz as the second coming of Wally Wood–yup! As a T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents fan, I’d love to see Schultz draw a Dynamo and Iron Maiden story in the style of Wally Wood–and throw in some dinosaurs, why not?!? Jerry Ordway is another artist who is able to channel Wally Wood’s style fairly closely.

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    “Now I’m wondering what writer/artist has done the most work on a character of their own creation with no one else doing the writing or pencil art.”

    I notice that everyone commenting on this is working on the assumption that “comics”=”comic books.” If one deigns to consider newspaper comic strips as worthy of notice, then the number of candidates increases greatly, with the championship presumably going to Charles Schulz, turning out “Peanuts” on his own (at least so far as writing and basic penciling go) for fifty years. George Herriman’s 31-year stint on “Krazy Kat” merits some notice, as well (you can tell he did it on his own, because no one else’s mind worked that way).

    If we limit ourselves to REAL COMICS, I think some mention should be made of Bill Everett’s 34 years with Namor. Of course, there were long gaps when he did no work on the character, and he did not always write the stories, but he was writing them at the start, and he was writing them at the end.

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    Let me acknowledge one good reason for preferring to leave newspaper strips out of this discussion, which is that it is hard to know who actually worked on them. There have been plenty of very long running comic strips that credited only single creators, but actually had many people working on them. Chester Gould, Harold Gray, Hal Foster, and Al Capp all employed assistants. Capp’s brother, Elliott Caplin, wrote a whole host of “soap opera” strips (“Abbie and Slats,” “Big Ben Bolt,” “The Heart of Juliet Jones,” etc.), without ever receiving credit. “Steve Canyon” at the end was written by Shel Dorf and drawn by Dick Rockwell, but Milton Caniff’s was the only name to appear on it. Alfred Andriola received sole credit for decades on “Kerry Drake,” a strip he neither wrote nor drew.

    With that qualification, I think we can safely give Schulz and Herriman primary credit for their strips. I am comfortable giving Frank Robbins sole credit on “Johnny Hazard,” but I concede the possibility that at times over the 34 years he needed help.

  • Sean Mageean says:


    I was thinking about newspaper strips as well. If we want to consider a situation similar to Everrett and the Sub-Mariner (but with newspaper strips and Sunday sections reprinted as comics, there’s Will Eisner’s The Spirit–but of course, Eisner had ghost writers and artists, including Lou Fine, during WW II and assistants, including Jules Feiffer and Wally Wood, after the war.

    But I think Frank King and Gasoline Alley could be a good candidate. Of course, the strip, which began in 1918,is still being published in some newspapers, and has had a total of five people as writer/artist since its inception. It is the longest running strip in the U.S. still being published. Frank King did the daily strips from Nov 24, 1918 – Dec 31, 1969, and the Sunday strips from Oct 24, 1920 – April 22, 1951, but, of course, he had assistants.

  • ExistentialMan says:

    Further reflection on strip: I’ve read many collections of classic collected newspaper strips (Prince Valiant, Ignatz and Crazy Cat, Phantom, Johnny Hazard, and my favorite, Pogo) as an adult, but my first encounter with serialized strips as a youngun’ were the Marvel strips Spider-Man, Conan, and Star Wars. I used to carefully cut each strip out of the daily paper and carefully affix them into a 70’s era family photo album. It’s one of the few comics-related memorabilia I no longer posses and have absolutely no idea what became of them. Of course, I have collections of these but seem to recall a Howard the Duck strip and a Hulk strip. I’ve tried searching online but just curious if there were any other Marvel strips in the 70’s/80’s.

  • Matthew says:

    Jim Lee drew an issue of Savage Dragon (#13), but Erik Larson went back and did his own #13 as well. Dragon’s also shown up in other comics that were written or drawn by other folks.

    There were a bunch of Elfquest series in the ’90s that were written and drawn by creators other than the Pinis.

    Maybe Groo for a character with the most issues only drawn by one person? Has anyone other than Aragonés ever drawn any Groo stories? I think there’s like 200 issues of that in total.

  • Chris says:

    Hoe about Bob Burden on Flaming Carrot? I know he had other hands draw Mystery Men stories. Paul Chadwick on Concrete?

  • Nicholas says:

    Larsen has written and drawn every issue of Savage Dragon, with the exception of the aforementioned “original” #13, and Aragonés has drawn every single Groo story. BUT no one’s mentioned Stan Sakai yet, and I think he’s probably got the record for most issues written/drawn by their creator with no (for lack of a better word) “fill ins.” At this point, he’s done around 250 issues of Usagi Yojimbo, handling all the writing, art, and lettering.

  • Mike Loughlin says:

    I bought 4 consecutive issues of Mars… not for me. I liked Hempel’s Gregory stories, however. The last story, tonally different from the first few, is utterly heartbreaking.

    Anyway, it’s interesting how many American ‘80s indies fit in with a late-Bronze Age Big 2 comics aesthetic. Grell, Chaykin, Rude, and others worked on Marvel and DC books, TMNT started as a Frank Miller parody, Xenozoic Tales and Rocketeer evoked comics and media of earlier eras, etc. Meanwhile, Marvel’s Epic Comics published work by a lot of established writers and artists as well as painted work.

    Then came the British comics Invasion followed by the superstar artists and comics got turned on their head. To me, the vibe I get from First, Pacific, Epic, and other publishers dealing with creator-owned material died down and was replaced. I started reading comics in 1989, and the comics being discussed feel as “before my time” as the Sal Buscema-drawn Hulk back issues I’d buy if I had an extra buck that week. That’s not a comment on quality, just how trends change. The equivalent of most ‘80s indies was the Vertigo line and its immediate pre-cursors. If you wanted something more mature than X-Men, you bought Sandman.

    And then there’s the indie books that seemed to come from another planet entirely- Love & Rockets, Eightball, Acme Novelty Library, etc. That was another thread of comics you could follow. And then there were European comics, manga, the artists who were part of Dark Horse’s Legends line, etc. etc. etc.

    I’m starting to ramble… Ultimately, I like seeing how comics grow and change over the years, and where and how people discover them and continue with the medium.

  • Jack says:

    Concerning Grimjack without Truman:

    The Flint Henry run is actually my favorite run of all of Grimjack, and it dying a premature death just when Ostrander was starting to ramp up into something bigger (you can’t tell me that he planned to end the book when and how he did; only Dreadstar ending on Peter David riffing on Star Trek, as funny as that was, was a more unsatisfying ending to a First Comics run.) I do think it’s fair to say that the issues between Truman’s departure and the Flint Henry “reboot” of the book weren’t the best part of the run, but that was as much a function of Ostrander’s writing as anything else. Truman might have been able to pull that up, but then we would have lost Scout, which was my favorite independent comic of the late 80s-early 90s, and I’m just not willing to make that trade.

    Grimjack, to me, was never John Ostrander and the artist, it was Ostrander’s baby. That may not be fair-I don’t know if Ostrander was a full script writer or a Marvel method one, so the artists might deserve more credit-but it just seemed to be animated by Ostrander’s interests and personality far more than any of his artists.

  • Snark Shark says:

    “I guess it’s up to issue no. 265 or thereabouts–but did Larsen write/draw every single issue?”

    Oh, it’s over 300! Over 350, I think! (I have most of them). He drew/wrote every issue, minus a switcheroo month wherein image artists did each others books. BUT he later did his own version of that issue, so he’d still have done the complete run.

    “too many Robins”

    That should be a song. “Too many Robins! Too many Robins! All we needed was ONE!”

    “Dick Rockwell”


    “Star Wars. I used to carefully cut each strip out of the daily paper and carefully affix them into a 70’s era family photo album.”

    I DID THAT TOO, W/ SW! I think Dark Horse reprinted some of those strips while they still held the SW license. The Al Williamson art is AMAZING.

    “Has anyone other than Aragonés ever drawn any Groo stories?”

    Don’t think so. Unless there was like a “Jam Book” or something. I wonder what a Neal Adams Groo would have looked like?

  • Nicholas says:

    Savage Dragon #264 came out last week, with #265 on-deck for 4/5.

  • Snark Shark says:

    I’m bad at numbers!

  • Scott Rowland says:

    Fred Perry’s GOLD DIGGER is nearing 300. I think he wrote and drew all the issues.

  • Nat Gertler says:

    I am one of the non-Pinis who worked on ElfQuest comics (albeit as a writer, not an artist, so not fully relevant to this discussion.)

    I do have to correct whoever suggested that Schulz did just basic pencils on Peanuts. He inked his own lines on the strip throughout his entire run. Except for a few strips late in the run where he reused panels from previous strips and a few uses of collage in strips, what you saw in Peanuts was fresh Schulz drawing every day. That’s why the line got so wiggly as he got older and went through some health conditions.