DC Comics' "Rebirth" Character Designs for Batman, Wonder Woman and More
Late last year a huge batch of production art, proofs and other items from defunct comics publisher Comico was listed on eBay. Comico co-founder Gerry Giovinco, now with CO2 Comics, questioned whether the seller, Coyote Surplus, had the right to sell it.
“It always was Comico policy to return all art to the creators. If there is art that was not returned, we are in total agreement that it should be returned to the rightful owners of the work. If you are a creator that believes your work could be among this lot, we would suggest you fight to get it back,” he said on the CO2 blog in December.
So whatever happened to the big batch of Comico production art? In a post titled “Finder Keepers,” Giovinco offers an update on the art and other items — they’ve been purchased by Collector Haven in Arizona. Photos of many of the items can be seen at comicoart.com.
According to a post on the site, Collector Haven bought more than 2,500 pounds of production artwork:
Publishing | Eiichiro Oda’s blockbuster pirate manga One Piece has sold 32.34 million copies in 2010, more than double what it sold the previous year. According to Japanese market survey company Oricon Communications, the series’ five newest volumes have sold a combined 12.5 million copies. [Anime News Network]
Publishing | Comico co-founder Gerry Giovinco weighs in on an eBay listing that includes original artwork apparently left in the stewardship of his former partners Dennis and Phil LaSorda when the company went bankrupt in 1990: “It always was Comico policy to return all art to the creators. If there is art that was not returned, we are in total agreement that it should be returned to the rightful owners of the work. If you are a creator that believes your work could be among this lot, we would suggest you fight to get it back.” [CO2 Comics Blog]
Legal | New York federal judge Colleen McMahon made several decisions last week in the case of Jack Kirby’s heirs attempting to terminate Marvel’s copyright of his works. The judge agreed with Marvel that it would be premature to make an accounting of how much money is at stake, but rejected a bid by Marvel to throw out the Kirby estate’s main counterclaim. She also ruled that the Kirby estate’s attempt to reclaim original art is barred by the statute of limitations, counterclaims of breach-of-contract and violation of the Lanham Act were tossed, and Disney will be part of the case, even though Marvel said it shouldn’t be.
“In sum, the judge has narrowed the case to its most crucial issue. Both sides disagree about Kirby’s working environment in the 1950s and 1960s when he, along with Stan Lee, conceived many of Marvel’s most popular characters. The judge will soon be tasked with looking at Kirby’s work history and some of the loose contracts and oral agreements that guided his efforts in those years,” wrote Eriq Gardner. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Creators | Artist, letterer and colorist John D’Agostino died Nov. 29. D’Agostino started his career as a colorist for Timely Comics and was head of their coloring department for several years. He also worked for Archie Comics, Charlton Comics and Marvel Comics, and lettered the first few issues of Amazing Spider-Man in the 1960s. Tom Spurgeon offers an obituary. [Mark Evanier]
C02 Comics, the reborn web version of 1980s publisher Comico, has a new animation thing featuring Bernie Mireault’s The Jam, a character I haven’t seen in quite awhile. Each panel is static, but if you click on it, it does something. Head over there to check it out.
The birth of the direct market brought a slew of new independent publishers in the 1980s, including First Comics, Eclipse and Comico. It was the latter that really made an impact on both myself and Strangeways creator Matt Maxwell at the time.
In an email discussion earlier this week about 1980s comics, the subject turned to Comico, and Matt and I started listing some of our favorite series by the publisher. So when I decided to make them the focus of this edition of Six by 6, I reached out to Matt to see if he’d be interested in helping me out this week. “I started expanding my horizons right about the time they started publishing comics,” he told me, a sentiment I can echo. Elementals, in fact, may have been the first non-Marvel/DC comic I ever bought.
So without further ado, here are six great titles (actually seven, if you’ll note how Matt slipped in an extra title in his last entry — sneaky!) that Comico published back in the day.
1. Grendel, written by Matt Wagner, art by Matt Wagner and a host of others: I missed out on the Comico Primer and the very early Grendel material, but I came on board for Devil by the Deed, which was a graphic novel retelling of those stories that came out about the time that the Devil’s Legacy (written by Matt Wagner with art by the Pander Brothers) started up. In short, I was blown away by the range of the themes at play in Wagner’s storytelling (and by the hyper-stylized renderings of the Panders.) The first convention sketch I paid for was a Christine Spar Grendel (right before I got Stephen Bisette to draw Cthulhu). Grendel really was a comic for grownups when such a thing was a comparative rarity. I can’t do it justice in the time I have here, but really, every fan of sequential storytelling owes it to themselves to catch up on this book, which I believe is being reprinted in its entirety by Dark Horse. Romance, treachery, betrayal, crime, noir, science fiction, dark fantasy, even straight superheroics can be found in the pages of Grendel, not to mention an incredible range of formal techniques and experimentation, and work by artists who are both superstars now and all but forgotten, sadly. (Matt Maxwell)
Almost 30 years after it was born — and about 20 years after declaring bankruptcy — Comico is back, sort of. Comico co-founder Gerry Giovinco and his colleague Bill Cucinotta have launched CO2 Comics, a webcomics site that’s hosting several of the comics that debuted in the Comico Primer anthology back in the early 1980s. The site currently features comics by Chris Kalnick, Joe Williams, Andrew C. Murphy, Reggie Byers, Bernie Mireault, Bill Anderson, Rich Rankin and Neil Vokes.
“We recognize that comics are a medium of freedom,” Giovinco writes on the site. “Versatile use of words, pictures, space and time that flow freely from a creative hand onto a page that can wrap the world in seconds communicating the clearest vision of the artist to the largest possible audience. Independence is still our motto, as it was in the ’80’s, but today the internet presents itself as the ultimate tool of that liberation from traditional comics to the potential of the future. Tradition, however has its place, and comics in print will be as much a goal using new technology and distribution venues to put books in the hands of readers.”
Founded in the early 1980s, Comico Comics introduced the world to a number of comic properties, including Matt Wagner’s Mage and Grendel, Bill Willingham’s Elementals and Chuck Dixon’s Evangeline. They also published several licensed comics, including Steve Rude’s Space Ghost comic, several Robotech comics, Jonny Quest, Star Blazers and Gumby. Before the end of the decade, however, the company went bankrupt, and in 1992 it was sold. The new owner published only a few titles in the mid-1990s before eventually fading away.
To keep up with updates, check out the site’s blog.