Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Brendan McCarthy has taken to Facebook to plug the upcoming Dark Horse collection The Best of Milligan and McCarthy. He’s been using it to spread rather fetching memetic images from the classic strips in the book: so far, “Freakwave,” “Paradax” and “Skin” have gone up, presumably with similar designs for “Sooner or Later” and “Rogan Gosh” to follow.
I have to admit, I have a horse running in this race, because Brendan and Pete asked me to write an essay for the book, and it proved damned hard getting the reasons of why and how much I love this material down to less than a thousand words. Anyway, I feel jealous of anyone getting to experience this (inspirational, influential) material for the first time. It’s been downright criminal that its been out of print for so long. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll fall in love, you’ll walk funny for a week.
To quote our very own Michael May, “wish this was real”: Brendan McCarthy plugs the release today of IDW Publishing’s The Complete Zaucer of Zilk by slipping this sketch out into the ether, of the three magic-wielding characters he’s drawn over the years: the Zaucer, Doctor Strange, and Mirkin the Mystic, of the all-too short-lived Paradax! comic from 1987 (two issues, and one was all-reprint).
It comes with a companion piece: this sketch, of Paradax himself meeting Doctor Strange. As I never tire of pointing out, Pete Milligan and McCarthy’s Paradax (in Eclipse comics’ Strange Days) pretty much invented the whole “superhero as an unlikeable wannabe celebrity” subgenre, three years before Morrison’s Zenith in 2000AD, and 15 years before Warren Ellis’ The Authority made that trope de rigueur for mainstream comics for an extended period. And also in passing invented that whole “leather jacket over your superhero costume” thing that ruled the 1990s.
The greatest comics of all time don’t appear on bestseller charts or canon lists or big-box bookstore shelves. They are the property of the back issue bins and thrift store crates and convention hawkers of America, living like the medium itself in the unseen crags and pockets of publishing history…
Paradax! Remix, drawn by Brendan McCarthy, colored by Frankie Stein and McCarthy, scripted by Peter Milligan. Cover-dated August 1987. Published by Vortex Comics.
How acquired: As a major proponent of old-school analog back issue hunting, it pains me to admit that everything leading to my ownership of this comic happened online. Brendan McCarthy is one of a very few great cartoonists whose complete works can be feasibly tracked down by normal dudes with rent to make and girlfriends’ acting classes to pay for, and having decided to become one such dude, I used the unofficial guide that can be pieced together from this Comics Comics Magazine comments thread as a road map for a shopping spree at an online back issue retailer. Two weeks later a box of McCarthy comics, including this one, showed up.