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)