Void Indigone.

§ June 9th, 2023 § Filed under marvel, publishing § 17 Comments

Okay, you characters in the comments from Wednesday’s post got all Void Indigo on me, so I thought I’d look into that situation a bit further.

Void Indigo was a graphic novel and short-lived comic series by Steve Gerber and Val Mayerick, released in the mid-1980s under Marvel’s Epic imprint of mostly creator-owned material. Here’s what the cover to the initial installment, released in sequence in Marvel’s graphic novel line between Rick Veitch’s Heartburst and…Dazzler: The Movie?

It made…quite the stir when it was released, for its violent content, upon which I cannot report as Void Indigo remains a blind spot in my Gerber reading. And due to its truncated nature, I never sought it out, since I figured “it never finished, why bother?” But one shouldn’t be so cavalier about dismissing a Steve Gerber script, especially since we’re not getting any more, so someday I’ll get my hands on these and check them out myself.

My expectation is that, by modern standards, the “shocking” content will be less shocking to current eyes (as noted in one of the responses to Wednesday’s post), but I would like to see it myself.

Since I had my 1980s Comics Journals out, I flipped through to see if I could find their article on the whole situation, and lo, there it was, in #95 (February 1995). Here I have a scan of the just the first part of the article, as it goes on for another half-page:

Apparently lateness was being pushed as much of a reason for cancellation as whatever horrible, soul-searing content within the comics themselves. Low sales at would-be-a-huge-hit-today numbers were also a problem. The article mentions later that the customs seizure basically amounted to nothing, as with the book’s cancellation the problem had solved itself.

There’s also a note in the article about Marvel not taking returns on the two issues of this aborted series, saying everyone was sufficiently warned about the book and thus shared the risk is carrying the thing. Which is absolutely bonkers, and I don’t know if they eventually relented or not. I’ll have to search further up in The Comics Journal‘s numbers to see if there’s a follow-up report.

On top of all that, there’s a retailer…actually, the owner of a comic store…actually actually, the “President” of the company, so I’m changing my title at my shop straight away…who expressed a “moral objection” to carrying Void Indigo. So, damn, I have to read this comic now. Just what is going on in this thing?

One additional note: I remember, at the previous place of employment, in a box of papers and other promo materials, there was a Void Indigo thing, apparently released by Gerber his own self, that was either a script for the unreleased #3, maybe outlines for future issues, something. But it was definitely a stack of stapled paper with otherwise unavailable Void Indigo content. What the provenance of this item was, and where it may be now, following the shut-down of that shop and the scattering to the winds (or to my former boss’s storage, or even to my own backroom) of much of that stuff. Wish I could tell you more about it, or that I even looked inside, which I didn’t since I hadn’t read the other entries in the series, so reading later installments wouldn’t have done me any good.

What makes me wonder, though, is that the article says Gerber was behind, so I don’t know that there was even a script for #3 ready. Unless, of course, he finished it later to try to sell the book elsewhere, but…I don’t know, seems very unlikely. I guess that mysterious stack of paper will remain mysterious ’til I track it down.

So, Void Indigo…I’m betting folks would hardly bat an eye at the content today, or at least it wouldn’t be any worse that Crossed or Faust or Eo…you ever see Eo? No, not the Michael Jackson thing, the Tim Vigil comic? Boy, if that retailer above had a moral objection to Void Indigo, he’d probably renounce all worldly possessions and join a monastery if Eo was shoved into his hands. Assuming he didn’t catch on fire.

I guess I’m now on a quest to find Void Indigo. This is terrible. My site is making me buy more comics. That’s not how it’s supposed to work, I’m supposed to be making you all buy more comics from me. This isn’t fair.

17 Responses to “Void Indigone.”

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    Bringing FAUST and EO in for comparison seems misguided to me. Those comics were from small publishers, and were marketed from the start with claims such as “This goes further than anyone has ever gone before!” and “You will not believe how sick this is!” Comics shop owners knew what they were ordering, and in my experience they all took care to put those comics on the highest shelves, often with notices such as “you must be 18 years or older to buy this.” VOID INDIGO was a Marvel comic, and my recollection (which I will obviously qualify by noting how many years have passed) was that the marketing was not “Marvel takes things to a whole new level!” but “here’s the latest masterpiece by beloved writer Steve Gerber–if you liked Howard the Duck, you’ll love this.” In other words, the problem was not that people were ridiculously naive in those days, it was that comics sellers and readers were not adequately prepared for what was coming.

  • Chris says:

    Gerber.was taken off of Howard the Duck for missing deadlines, I wonder if part of the contract to release Void Indigo included keeping to a set deadline, which he couldn’t? He seems to suggest as much in that Comics Journal article. After the whole ‘Howard the Duck’ situation, I can’t imagine Marvel had much patience with him, I’m surprised they even agreed to work with him again ( maybe releasing Void indigo was part of that settlement agreement?)

  • Johnny Bacardi says:

    I had both the comics and the GN; I must have liked it enough to keep it when I sold my original collection but I don’t remember a lot about it now. I’m pretty sure you see worse stuff in Batman comics these days.

  • Chris K says:

    One of the 2 comic book issues (not the GN) had some transgender content, that I’m sure was a red flag to certain “think of the children” types at the time. I’ve never read that it was the specific thing that was objected to, but I always assumed it was one of the big ones.

    The trans representation in question is… not good. It was a pretty cheap shock value moment that was thrown in as another one of Gerber’s “Criticizing society with a submachine gun!” moments. Which I usually love, but this one was, uh, ill advised. (Gerber dealt with trans characters with much more sensitivity years later in “Hard Time”

  • Chris K says:

    Re: Void Indigo “3: Steve Gerber’s old website from the 90s had his script for the unpublished Howard the Duck issue from the 80s (I printed it out and filed the pages in the box with my Howard issues). It’s been a while but I believe that the site also had either the script or plot synopsis for the unpublished VI #3 (I think I remember meaning to print that one out as well, but not getting around to it.) That could be the source of the pages you found.

    By all means, pick up Void Indigo #1 and 2 if you come across them. (The GN is mostly overcomplicated set-up, and is skippable IMO). They are a mess, but that is what I love about them; probably the purest uncut Steve Gerber there is. (Just be prepared that due to the cancellation, they obviously don’t go anywhere. File it next to Omega the Unknown, I guess)

  • Chris V says:

    It was published through the Epic imprint rather than Marvel though. I’m not sure how much “mature” content Epic had produced at the point when Void Indigo was published, as it was early in the imprint’s existence, but the Epic line was non-code approved.

    Apparently, Steve Gerber did finish the plot outline for the proposed six issue series. You can find it on the internet. From everything I have seen, it was a legitimate outline from Gerber which wrapped up the series. It’s not a full script though.

    One of the comic stores I used to frequent (long since out of business) refuses to carry Marvel’s Trouble mini-series on moral grounds. He said he refused to sell a comic which would tarnish the reputation and memory of Peter Parker’s Aunt May. That’s the only time I remember retailer refusing to carry a book due to its content.

  • Chris V says:

    Oh gee, Chris K. Yes, it must have been on Gerber’s website I saw the remainder of the VI plot. That would be how I knew it was legitimate.

    Continued thoughts…
    Yes, I know how it feels when one of your favourite writers does and you realize that once you finish their entire output, there will never be anything else new from that person to read again. I felt that way after finishing my last Philip K. Dick story. Gerber was one of my favourite comic writers. His run on Man-Thing and his Howard the Duck stand as my two favourite books published by Marvel. I remember feeling that way after he died. I had read everything he wrote and I would never find anything I hadn’t read yet by them. Then, I discovered Gerber had a Poison (the Cuban immigrant woman forced to become a prostitute who gains mystical powers from the Nexus of All Realities) serial in Marvel Comics Presents I had been unaware of all these years…so, I did get to hunt those issues down and read that story.

  • Mike Loughlin says:

    I read the two VI issues before the graphic novel, not realizing the GN came first. I’ve only read them once, and was confused as to what was going on. The GN is a bit more coherent, but I didn’t like it all that much. I’m a huge Gerber fan, the story and art just didn’t grab me.

    I still haven’t read “Poison,” but I should track it down. I bought a run of the first twenty or so issues of Marvel Comics Presents, and was happy to read a Gerber Man-Thing story I’d never come across. I miss his writing. At least Gerber’s last major work, Hard Time, was such a good read.

  • Mikester says:

    Turan – yes, yes, you’re right, but I was mostly making a humorous observation more than drawing an explicit (so to speak) line from one to the other. I’ve observed before that the content issues people had back in the ’60s and ’70s seem quaint compared to today’s comics. This was just another example.

    Everyone else – I think I found the source of the Gerber scripts etc. Will update.

  • Argh!Sims says:

    I must ask… was the retailer who was morally appalled by VI Buddy Saunders? Seems likely.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    If memory serves, Marvel released a three issue Man-Thing mini-series around 2012, which contained Gerber’s final Man-Thing script along with Kevin Nowlan art and Art Adams covers. It seems that Marvel should likewise make arrangements with Gerber’s estate to release the the unpublished Howard the Duck script as a one-shot or even prestige format graphic novel. Of course, like Gerber, Gene Colan has passed away, but either Frank Brunner or Val Mayerik would be a good candidate to illustrate Gerber’s script. There are definitely enough Gerber fans still out there that Marvel could probably sell through this. Hell, they could even build hype by making it a limited edition thing, like the recent reprint of the late great George Perez’s JLA/Avengers story.

    As to Void Indigo, assuming Val Mayerik has any interest in illustrating and concluding the story based on Gerber’s script and outlines, it might be cool if Image Comics or some independent comics company (Frank Miller’s new imprint, maybe?), or even through a kickstarter campaign, it could be seen through to the end…although it would make sense to first reprint the original graphic novel and first two issues, or else recap events so that new readers would know what has gone before. It might also be a deal where it would be noted inside the front cover that this story was conceived in the ’80s and, as such, is a product of its time as regards some controversial content or negative stereotypes of some of the characters depicted therein. I guess the main question here, beyond how much of a market there would for Void Indigo being seen through to its conclusion, is who would be the best writer to assist with fleshing out Gerber’s outline? Would Mayerik just work with what exists and co-write it, or would one of Gerber’s contemporaries help complete it? I mean, I don’t know which other comics writers Gerber was particularly close with, but maybe Steve Englehart, Jim Starlin, Doug Moench, Mary Skeanes or someone else could help wrap it up while sticking pretty close to Gerber’s vision.

  • Chris V says:

    I was so pleased to see that the Gerber/Nowlan Man-Thing graphic novel was able to be completed. It was a very worthy addition to Gerber’s 1970s Man-Thing work.
    For those unaware, it was a sequel to what I consider to be Gerber’s greatest Man-Thing story, “Song Cry of the Living Dead Man”, which may make it my favourite comic story published by Marvel.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Chris V. :

    Agreed that it was well worthy of being published! I got lucky and had both Art Adams and Kevin Nowlan sign the three issues at various conventions.

    Gerber’s unpublished scripts should, likewise, see publication as completed projects as much as possible.

    Here’s a thought…what if Alan Moore could be brought in to work with Gerber’s outlines and see Void Indigo through to completion?

  • Mikester says:

    Argh!Sims – no, it was the Canadian retailer whose shipment was hit by customs.

  • LouReedRichards says:

    “Yes, I know how it feels when one of your favourite writers does and you realize that once you finish their entire output, there will never be anything else new from that person to read again. I felt that way after finishing my last Philip K. Dick story.”

    I know what you mean Chris V.

    I get that feeling a lot, esp. with music.

    I have one issue (#237) of Byrne’s Fantastic Four run that I have, but haven’t read. I know it’s not even one of the good ones, but I just like the feeling of “there’s still one more left!”

    ’84 is when I got into comics and so many of the titles from that period all blur together for me. Six From Sirius, Swords of the Swashbucklers, Sisterhood of Steel (that’s an awful amount of alliteration) and Void Indigo, I can’t keep them straight.

  • Mike Loughlin says:

    LouReedRichards: I know the “there’s only one left” feeling. I got it when I finally got around to reading the above-mentioned Man-Thing mini, as well as the last issue of the Kurt Busiek/John Paul Leon Batman: Creature of the Night series from a few years ago. I also felt it this year, when I found the last ten issues of Sandman:Mystery Theatre, even though the principal creators are still alive. That was a great comic.

  • Snark Shark says:

    “or at least it wouldn’t be any worse that Crossed”

    Nothing I’ve seen published is worse than Crossed.

    “My site is making me buy more comics. That’s not how it’s supposed to work, I’m supposed to be making you all buy more comics from me.”

    the irony! The Vicious Irony!

    “I’m pretty sure you see worse stuff in Batman comics these days.”

    Certainly much worse artwork!

    “Six From Sirius”

    Oh, I liked that one! Great Paul Gulacy art!