The Comic Company: In The Black

Anyone who has been reading this blog over the last couple of months knows that it is intended to be a trip down memory lane focusing on the accomplishments of Comico the Comic Company and its relevance to the comics industry both then and now.

Bill Cucinotta and I were both founding partners of Comico, giving us both a unique authority on the subject. Though I get the credit line at the bottom of the page, these words wouldn’t get to you without Bill’s diligence and tireless effort to design and post the blog along with all of the other chores as he maintains the entire CO2 Comics site on a daily basis.

We are both dedicated to bringing our audience great quality comics and remembering the history that brought us here. Not just the history of our experience publishing Comico comics, but the history of the industry that inspires us to be part of it.

We know that our readers appreciate the notes on history too. It is reflected the traffic to the site and the comments made on the threads. Thanks for your enthusiastic support!

In 1987 Comico took a trip down memory lane with the publication of Comico BLACK BOOK our fifth-anniversary special.

Comico Black Book cover

Creative Black Book 1986

When I conceived BLACK BOOK I readily admit that I was a candidate for the Swipe File. A year earlier I had the opportunity to provide comic book lettering to go along with parody images of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! for the 1986 edition THE CREATIVE BLACK BOOK (www.blackbook.com) which is a huge creative directory for people in the creative industry.

My good friend Angela Corbo, who had grown up in my neighborhood and attended PCA briefly with Bill and myself, was working in the production department of the THE CREATIVE BLACK BOOK. When it was decided that their theme required comic lettering, I was her first call.

My lettering on the Creative Black Book 1986, Click for larger image

Gerry Giovinco Black Book photo

I had lettered all of Comico’s early black-and-white books; Primer, Az, Grendel, Skrog and Slaughterman. This was a great opportunity to work on such a prestigious project and I jumped at the chance.

With the publication of that work behind me, the name BLACK BOOK stuck in my head. I couldn’t help but attach it to another directory, that of a historical chronology of the first five years of Comico.

The Comico BLACK BOOK was published in comic book format and featured our trademark, wrap-around cover design. It read more like a catalog of our entire inventory with a historical time-line that ran the bottom of each page highlighting moments of achievement and publication dates.

My favorite page was the centerfold that listed the names of the impressive 155 creators that had worked with us those first five years.

Comico Black Book Spread, Click for larger image

The Comico BLACK BOOK became the chronicle of my own history at Comico. Shortly after its publication it became impossible for me to continue working at Comico for personal and professional reasons. My name remained in the publishing credits but it was clearly time for me to move on.

The book also signaled a turning point. Comico began its downward spiral. It was a company that had risen from nothing to an independent powerhouse, challenging Marvel and DC all the way into the mass market only to become a bankrupt shell of itself that would be sold into obscurity.

This is a story that has been repeated over and over by other great comic companies of the era and continues today. In its wake is a trail of incredible comics and incredible comics history. There are lessons to be learned. Observations that need to be noted. Mistakes that should not be repeated.

Comics Interview Premier Edition

This is why we are so excited to be publishing David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection. We know that it is the most transparent window into the mind-set of the comics industry at a time when creators discovered that they had some control in the future of comics.

Comics Interview Standard Edition

It is shocking how issues that shaped the industry then are relevant to issues that are shaping the industry today.

A whole new generation of comic creators needs to be aware of the insights of those who pioneered creator rights, independent publishing, the graphic novel, and the marketing and merchandising of comic franchises that are household names today.

I recently read an obituary for the Sony Walkman and it sited how Apple tapped into the elements of personal entertainment that were provided by the Walkman when it made music personal. Apple embellished upon those elements to create the success of the iPod. Apple looked back to move forward.

With the introduction of e-readers and the iPad comics will become more personal and interactive than ever just as music did. It is time for the comics industry to move forward and we all know it. Just remember to look back. Note the successes and failures. Don’t become a statistic.

When David Anthony Kraft was publishing COMICS INTERVIEW he had a keen sense for how the industry worked. He listened to the people he talked to. He saw the writing on the wall and was able to make a controlled decision to end COMICS INTERVIEW at a nice round number and at the top of its game. DAK controlled the destiny of his creation at a time when the market was in free-fall.

Because of his foresight, we now have the opportunity to enjoy COMICS INTERVIEW as a completed work, not something that was extinguished in its prime like Comico and a long list of other comics publishers.

We believe that David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection is an important work that belongs in the library of every comic creator, educator and library for all of the reasons I mentioned. Take the opportunity to see for yourself.

We think you’ll agree.

Making comics because I want to.

Gerry Giovinco

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5 Responses to “The Comic Company: In The Black”

  1. Joe Williams says:

    “The party’s over…” This is sad particularly after all of those terrific technical articles. Of course, it has a has a happy ending or a happy new beginning as far as CO2 Comics is concerned. Maybe we should call it the start of a new chapter.

  2. The Comic Company: In The Black « CO2 COMICS BLOG: Tags: Angela Corbo, Apple, Az, Bill Cucinotta, BLACK BOOK, CO2 … http://bit.ly/bCfNiz

  3. Jenn Dolari says:

    Comico Black Book was a turning point in my life. I was only 13 at the time but I made myself a promise: I was going to be in the 1992 Black Book. I’d find a way to do this. Robotech had inspired me to write, but Comico had inspired me to draw.

    It wasn’t to be. I kept my eye on the company as I refined my skills, but as I got better, the company I’d wanted to work for went away. I tried with other companies, got an in with one, but that fell apart.

    It wasn’t until I could self publish that I finally realized my dream of drawing comics. Its a long way from Black Book and Robotech, but a damned interesting one. :)

  4. [...] a short bit about Comico’s Black Book anniversary comic. (Hey, I have one of those!) There’s also a short blurb about the first volume of the Comics [...]

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