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Looking back, I guess it took a lot of guts for three kids from Norristown to decide that we wanted to start a comic book company especially considering that we were all still attending college and had no money except for what little we made working part-time jobs.
I struggled to meet class deadlines at the Philadelphia College of Art (PCA now UArts) and labored on weekends at places like 7-11, K-Mart, and Pizza Hut just to have spending money. The dream of making comics preoccupied my mind at every job I held. The evidence is a comic that I made while working as a cook at Pizza Hut in the winter of 1980.
The Norristown Pizza Hut Presents…Pizza Man & Pizza Woman was the first comic that I had published by anyone other than myself. It appeared on the last page of the company’s nationally distributed, monthly, twelve-page, 8.5 x 11″ newsletter Pizza Hut News Brief. This was a format that I would adapt later when publishing DUCKWORK at PCA with CO2 Comic’s own, Bill Cucinotta and the rest of the self-proclaimed DUCKS.
Phil LaSorda, Vince Argondezzi and I were all dreamers, but at the time we never believed that we could not do what we had set out to do once we had read Don Rico’s How to Start a Comic Book Empire in Free Enterprise magazine.
We considered our biggest asset to be ourselves since we knew that we would create the art for our own publications, saving us a lot of money.
Our biggest asset, however, turned out to be our own naiveté. To every person who scoffed and told us we could not do it, we had only one answer. Why not? Honestly, because we didn’t know any better.
The summer of 1980 was spent developing product for the new company that we would call Comico the Comic Company. My recollection is that Vince first dubbed it The Comic Company. Phil suggested that we shorten it to ComiCo to which I responded that we should pronounce it Comeeco to sound like Mego and Coleco which were popular toy companies at the time.
We each had our own characters to work on. Phil had Az, Vince had Mr. Justice and I had Slaughterman. We planned to feature them in one magazine titled Comico Presents.
That summer Vince illustrated the cover of Comico Presents that would never be published other than as a flyer to promote our new company.
We each made color illustrations of our character that we would have produced as 8×10″ color glossies and inserted in a hand-made card stock envelope that we simply called the Comico Portfolio. This is officially Comico’s first publication.
Finally, we printed up Comico t-shirts and prepared to exhibit at the Philadelphia Creation Convention were I had made inroads with my Thing costume at previous shows.
Gary Berman and Adam Malin, the producers of the Creation Conventions, were very gracious in giving us an opportunity to display our work. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude for being the first to believe in us.
We had gone public with Comico. There was no turning back…
Next week: DUCKWORK!
Meanwhile you can check out another DUCKWORK retrospective by Joe Williams HERE!
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