Comico: The Comic Company

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Comico: The Comic Company
Industry Comics
Founded1982
FounderGerry Giovinco, Bill Cucinotta
Defunct1997
Headquarters Norristown, Pennsylvania
Key people
Geraldine Pecht (art director)
Bob Schreck (administrative director)
Mark Hamlin (sales and marketing rep)
Diana Schutz (editor-in-chief) [1]

Comico: The Comic Company was an American comic book publisher headquartered in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Its best-known comics include the Robotech adaptations, the Jonny Quest continuation written by co-creator Doug Wildey, and Matt Wagner's Mage: The Hero Discovered and Grendel . Once considered a major contender on the American market, Comico went into bankruptcy in 1990, although it continued to sporadically publish books until 1997. In 2009, two of Comico's original founders launched an original webcomics site called CO2 Comics, which they explained was the reincarnation of Comico.

Contents

History

Origins

Comico was founded in 1982 [2] by a group of artists and publishers who had previously printed a local school paper called Duckwork in the Norristown area. Their first book, Primer #1, attempted to establish a large black-and-white line, featuring the premiere stories of Victor, Slaughterman, Az, Mr. Justice and Skrog. Slaughterman, Az, and Skrog made it out of the pages of Primer #1 and into their own brief titles, while Victor would continue to appear in each issue of Comico Primer.

Primer #2 would premiere what would be Comico's flagship title for most of its existence: Grendel. Matt Wagner's Grendel quickly leaped from Primer into three issues of its own black-and white-series before Comico ended its black-and-white titles in 1984 with Primer #6. Sam Kieth's character The Maxx—later to have his own Image Comics title—was first seen in Primer #5. Chuck Dixon's Evangeline debuted in Primer #6 and thereafter received its own standalone title.

The move to color

In March 1984 Comico introduced its color line of comics with:

Although an ownership dispute [3] led to Evangeline moving to First Comics to be continued for two more years, [4] Comico landed a major license in Robotech , with 1984 seeing the debut of Macross , which continued in 1985 as Robotech: The Macross Saga, along with the debut of two additional Robotech series, Robotech Masters (adapting Southern Cross ) and Robotech: The Next Generation (adapting MOSPEADA ). The three series produced a schedule that released a Robotech comic book once every two weeks, until the license for Robotech moved to Eternity Comics in 1988. Next Man debuted in 1984 and Justice Machine in 1986. Another ownership dispute led to Next Man moving to another publisher, but this was offset by Comico's acquiring Elementals from the defunct Texas Comics. [4]

The company continued to pick up other licenses, producing a Jonny Quest series (and Jezebel Jade spin-off), a Star Blazers series, and a planned Max Headroom 3-D issue (unpublished). [5] Ken Steacy illustrated a Harlan Ellison graphic novel. Dave Stevens's The Rocketeer and Space Ghost also made the line-up.

Other series included The Maze Agency and Ginger Fox .

Bankruptcy

While Comico had proven to be a serious contender as a major independent comic company, a mid-1986 decision to distribute to the newsstand market doomed the company. [6] The direction significantly raised the number of prints for each issue, but also increased the number of issues being sent back that did not sell. Refunds for those returned issues ate into the publisher's budget very quickly (and, among other things, they had trouble paying their printing bills). [7] In response to this, Comico began to push out a number of new titles, aimed at spreading out the number of returned comics between various titles. In 1988 they began distributing their titles to the bookstore market, [8] and in 1989 partnered with DC Comics to distribute their comics to a wider market. [9]

Despite these measures, however, and with the end of the Mage, Grendel and Robotech series, much of the reliable revenue for the company dried up. Many of the company's long-time artists and publishers jumped ship and, by 1989, Comico had cancelled half its titles [10] and was deep into bankruptcy. Fish Police and Trollords were picked up by Apple Comics, while The Trouble with Girls was acquired by Malibu Comics [11] and Justice Machine and The Maze Agency went to Innovation Comics. Comico suspended operations in 1990, [12] with E-Man #3.

Andrew Rev

In 1990, the owners of the company sold Comico [13] [14] to Andrew Rev, who released the rest of the original staff and began working on relaunching the company. [15] [16] [17] With the planned relaunch, Rev held onto as many of the original Comico series he could.

Most significantly hit were Matt Wagner's creations Mage and Grendel. Mage II: The Hero Defined, expected out in 1989, was not published until the late 1990s. Both Comico and Wagner had jointly copyrighted Mage and Grendel, and with Comico in bankruptcy, that half of the copyright was claimed as a company asset. [18] A two-part Batman/Grendel crossover, Devil's Riddle and Devil's Masque, was written and drawn by Wagner and colored at the time of the Comico series, but was delayed by Comico's bankruptcy. It was eventually published by DC in 1993. [19] Wagner regained sole copyright of Grendel that same year, and, much later, Mage, publishing the series through Dark Horse Comics and Image Comics respectively.

While losing Wagner's characters, Rev did manage to buy Elementals for his restart. [6] [20] Comico began printing again in 1992 with various Elementals-related comics, and in 1993 flooded the market with various one-shot Elementals specials. They also created the Northstar imprint, which published material from 1991–1995.[ citation needed ] Budgetary problems and conflicts with creators over payments [21] led to the company's presses going silent again until 1995, [22] with yet another Elementals title (running three issues), and various Elementals spin-offs never making it past their first or second issues. Comico's line ended in 1997 with Elementals Sex Special vol. 2, #2, illustrated by Frank Quitely and Elementals: The Vampires Revenge #2, the second installment of a four-issue limited series starring the spin-off character Ratman, illustrated by Kelly McQuain.

CO2 Comics

In July 2009, Comico co-founders Gerry Giovinco and Bill Cucinotta announced the launch of the webcomics site CO2 Comics. [23] The site hosted several of the comics from the Comico Primer, including work by Reggie Byers, Bernie Mireault, Rich Rankin, and Neil Vokes. [14]

As of May 2022, the website is no longer online. [24]

Titles published

Original titles

Other titles (selected)

Related Research Articles

Matt Wagner American comics artist and writer (born 1961)

Matt Wagner is an American comics artist and writer who is best known as the creator of the series Mage and Grendel.

<i>Grendel</i> (comics) Comic book series by Matt Wagner

Grendel is a long-running series of comic books originally created by American author Matt Wagner. First published in 1982 by Comico, Wagner later moved publication of the series to Dark Horse. Originally a noir comic in the style of European titles such as Diabolik, it has evolved into, in Wagner's words, a study of the nature of aggression. In 2009, Hunter Rose was ranked as IGN's 88th-greatest villain of all time.

Elementals was an American superhero comic book first published in 1984 and created by Bill Willingham, for which he was both writer and artist.

William Messner-Loebs American comic writer

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Starblaze Graphics was an imprint of The Donning Company, a publishing company established in 1978 to publish illustrated books in the United States. Notable Starblaze publications include Robert Asprin's MythAdventures series, as well as two trade paperbacks collecting the series based on the first book. Donning also published a graphic version of the Thieves' World shared world anthology series, with art by Tim Sale.

<i>Mage</i> (comics)

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<i>Evangeline</i> (comics)

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Ken Steacy Canadian comics artist and writer (born 1955)

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<i>Robotech</i> (comics)

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Texas Comics

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Eternity Comics Comic book publisher

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Diana Schutz

Diana Schutz is a Canadian-born comic book editor, serving as editor in chief of Comico during its peak years, followed by a 25-year tenure at Dark Horse Comics. Some of the best-known works she has edited are Frank Miller's Sin City and 300, Matt Wagner's Grendel, Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo, and Paul Chadwick's Concrete. She was known to her letter-column readers as "Auntie Dydie". She was an adjunct instructor of comics history and criticism at Portland Community College.

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Michael Eury

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References

  1. Campbell, Josie (March 11, 2015). "EXCLUSIVE: After 25 Years at Dark Horse, Retiring Schutz Explains Why She's Done Chasing Deadlines". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved September 23, 2021.
  2. "New Publishers Proliferate in Summer", The Comics Journal #75 (September 1982), p. 19.
  3. "Evangeline Caught in Ownership Dispute", The Comics Journal #97 (April 1985), pp. 13–14.
  4. 1 2 "Changes at Comico: Evangeline and Next Man Out, Elementals In", The Comics Journal #103 (November 1985), pp. 11–12.
  5. Elliot, Brad (Summer 1987). Thompson, Kim (ed.). "Max Headroom 3-D". Amazing Heroes Preview Special. No. 5. Fantagraphics. p. 78.
  6. 1 2 Willingham, Bill (October 2006). "The Bill Willingham Interview (Part 2 of 4)". The Comics Journal. Interviewed by Dirk Deppey via tcj.com.[ dead link ]
  7. "Comico Owes Printer $700,000", The Comics Journal #118 (December 1987), pp. 11–12.
  8. "Comico Hits Bookstores", The Comics Journal #123 (July 1988), p. 14.
  9. "DC to Publish, Distribute Comico", The Comics Journal #126 (January 1989), pp. 17–19.
  10. "Comico Cancels Half Its Line", The Comics Journal #128 (April 1989), pp. 5–6.
  11. "Three Former Comico Titles Find New Homes", The Comics Journal #129 (May 1989), pp. 13–14: about Fish Police, Trollords, and The Trouble with Girls; and The Maze Agency, which had not yet found a new publisher.
  12. "Comico Suspends Operations", The Comics Journal #138 (October 1990), p. 8.
  13. "Comico Sold", The Comics Journal #137 (September 1990), pp. 9–10.
  14. 1 2 "Comico 2.0? Company founders return on the web". Comic Book Resources. 2009-07-06. Retrieved 2022-04-02.
  15. "Comico's Comeback", The Comics Journal #139 (December 1990), p. 8.
  16. "Newswatch: Whither Comico?" The Comics Journal #140 (February 1991), p. 12.
  17. "Newswatch: Rev Keeps Comico, Buys Into Northstar", The Comics Journal #141 (April 1991), p. 20.
  18. "Newswatch: Grendel to Get New Home?", The Comics Journal #145 (October 1991), p. 28.
  19. "Batman/Grendel Series Moving Ahead", The Comics Journal #158 (April 1993), pp. 26.
  20. Robinson, Tasha (2007-08-06). "Bill Willingham". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2022-04-02.
  21. "Caveat Creator: Creators Accuse Independent Publishers of Untimely Payment", The Comics Journal #156 (February 1993), pp. 18–20.
  22. "Newswatch: Comico Revs Up for Return", The Comics Journal #175 (March 1995), pp. 26–27.
  23. "A Q&A with CO2 Comics' Gerry Giovinco". Geekadelphia. 1 November 2012. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  24. http://www.co2comics.com/