The Final ’80s Countdown, Part Seven.

§ May 10th, 2023 § Filed under final countdown § 6 Comments

Still going through those one-vote wonders from your feedback on the best ’80s indie titles. Like I said before, nothing wrong with only getting one vote in my pseudo-poll…it’s an indication of just how much good stuff there is to choose from for there to be an easy consensus.

Journey (Aardvark-Vanaheim/Fantagraphics 1983-1986)

William Messner-Loeb’s magnum opus, this series featuring the adventures of frontiersman Wolverine McAlistaire in the 1800s had a not-long-enough run of 27 issues. There were a couple of back-ups in Cerebus that precede the series, and there was an aborted follow-up mini Journey: Wardrums that only had two of its proposed six issues released. The Fantagraphics benefit series Anything Goes (#5 in 1987) includes a Journey short, and in 2008, pal Nat published Many Happy Returns, which contains the latest, and last, new story for the property.

It’s a great series, beautifully illustrated in black and white, and Loebs’ style is perfect for the wilderness settings. There are some funny anachronistic bits — anachronistic on purpose — and a mix of actual historical figures appearing alongside with the supporting cast. …It’s been a while since I’ve read through these, to be honest, but I do recall it was a wonderful comic and I would highly recommend it.

There are a number of reprints out there, the most comprehensive being two volumes from IDW in 2008-9 which reprint the 27 issues of the original series. They’re out of print, but you might be able to find them on the aftermarket. The Cerebus back-ups are in the first volume. Fantagraphics published two reprint volumes, Tall Tales and Bad Weather, which include issues #1-8 and the back-ups.

Of particular note is #13, which crosses over with Jim Valentino’s superhero parody book normalman. Yes, you read that right. That would be the first issue of the series I’d ever picked up, and I liked it so much I hunted down the rest of the comics and have them here today, for me to someday reread because boy they were good. See, that’s how crossovers are supposed to work.
Lloyd Llewellyn (Fantagraphics 1986-1987)

I saw the first issue of this magazine-sized publication on the shelf at the comic shop, and as a teenager who still liked superhero comics but was always on the lookout for something new and weird, I immediately picked it up, and all the follow-up issues as they came out besides. Strange, funny adventures by a nascent Dan Clowes, with more than a touch of influence from the Silver Age. You can see the beginnings of what would later blossom in Eightball, only barely constrained to the conceit of the title character’s detective-y endeavors.

Lloyd first popped up in a preview story in Love and Rockets #13 in 1985, and he would also appear as a back-up in the aforementioned Doomsday Squad (in his first color story appearance, I believe).

There would be some later appearances, including a Lloyd Llewellyn Special that was comic-sized, unlike the previous ongoing. Then in Eightball Lloyd turned up a couple of times, but was pretty much discarded in favor of other fare.

For reprints, there’s the late ’80s paperback release of #$@&!: The Official Lloyd Llewellyn Collection, which includes a number of stories from the magazine and the special (but not all), as well as a new story. The ultimate reprinting would be the Manly World of Lloyd Llewellyn, which seems to include everything. This was a limited hardcover with a 2,000 copy print run, so it may be a little harder to find, and likely more dear in cost.
Mighty Mites (Eternity 1986-1987)

Well, here’s one of those series where I don’t have a lot to say about it, aside from what I already wrote about one specific issue, oh, about 13 years ago. That issue was chock full of parodies and mostly (presumably) unofficial cameos of other characters, both mainstream and small press, and I presume the rest of the series was likely the same. I thought it was amusing, and it was no less a personage than Rusty Shackles who noted the spot-on Chris Claremont parody in another issue. With only these two data points in hand, I’m going to say this series might have been one of the better results of the black and white boom.

There was an initial three-issue series from Eternity starting in 1986, followed by a new two-issue series in 1987. Then in 1991 another new three issue series came out from Continüm, followed by yet another three issue mini from the same publisher in 1993. What is this, Aspen Comics? As far as I can tell, this was never reprinted in trades or anything, so you’re dependent on finding the single issues in bargain bins or in old stores that have been around a while and still have copies floating about. But if you do seem ’em…heck, try one out. I liked the one I bought.

• • •

Once more, lots of typing…thanks for plowing through all that, pals. There’s no short way of doing this that I’d be happy with, so, well, here we are! Back Friday with more goodies!

6 Responses to “The Final ’80s Countdown, Part Seven.”

  • Cassandra Miller says:

    I was in my local for FCBD on Saturday and looked through a lot of 50 cent bins. Found a LOT of 80s comics I remembered seeing back in the day, including one I was almost sure I’d hallucinated…but no, Miami Mice was real! (I did not buy the issue. Now I am feeling regret.)

  • John Platt says:

    Journey! The absolute best.

  • Chris Gumprich says:

    How could I have forgotten normalman? Mikester, I want to change my answer again.

  • ExistentialMan says:

    It is such a blast reading your commentary/synopsis on all of our votes for favorite 80’s comics, Mike. I especially enjoy hearing of your personal recollections regarding some of the titles. The “Teenage Sterling Lens” must be added to all literary criticism in the future!

  • Sean Mageean says:

    I lloved Lloyd Llewellyn …and I had Clowes sign a few issues in the mid-’80s when he and Xaime and Beto came to Andromeda Bookshop in Santa Barbara.

  • Snark Shark says:

    “you guys”

    There’s actually a total of four of those “classic comic book cover” figures being made!