Although Image Comics has staked out territory as both the premier publisher for creator-owned work and a proving ground for fledgling writers and artists, it was another 1990s company that served as an entry point for many of today’s top talent: Caliber Comics.
Launched in 1989 by retailer Gary Reed, Caliber Comics was a harbinger of the coming wave of creator-owned titles. Launching with two flagship books — Deadworld and The Realm — Reed quickly expanded the line with his in-house anthology book Caliber Presents and a entire sub-line of illustrated books similar to Classics Illustrated. But perhaps its enduring contribution was as a doorway into the comics industry for writers and artists who are today marquee names
The list of A-list creators whose comics debuts were made possibly by Caliber is mind-boggling: Brian Michael Bendis, Stuart Immonen, Michael Lark, James O’Barr, Brandon Peterson, Dean Haspiel, Georges Jeanty and Jason Lutes all made their comics debuts here. In addition, Caliber also was where many budding creators made their first recognizable work; it was at there that Mike Allred created Madman, and Guy Davis blossomed with Baker Street.
The news was delivered last night on Facebook by his aunt Valerie Pruett Smith, who wrote, “Please say prayers for my nephew, Joe Pruett, he’s the father of six and is at the hospital with possible stroke.”
Perhaps best known as creative director of Caliber Press and editor of its acclaimed Negative Burn anthology in the 1990s, Pruett went on to write several issues of Marvel’s Cable and X-Men Unlimited. In 2004, he founded Desperado Publishing and, initially in partnership with Image Comics, revived Negative Burn and released such series as Flaming Carrot, Hatter M, Deadworld, Roundeye and The Revenant.
Pruett most recently contributed a story to IDW Publishing’s Rocketeer Adventures, and, according to his Facebook page, has been collaborating on a project with artist Michael Gaydos.
“I trust Joe Pruett will soon realize he’s too young to be laid up from a stroke and will instead fully recover and get out of the hospital before long,” IDW Publishing Editor-in-Chief Chris Ryall wrote last night. “But until he does, please send best wishes his way to help him along in that recovery. Those six kids, as well as the rest of us, need you back on your feet soon, Joe.”