Posts Tagged ‘Chuck Dixon’

In the Shadow of Comico’s Sins

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Rich Johnston over at Bleeding Cool raised a few eyebrows recently with the post The Return Of Comico? But What Of The Elementals?

In the post he very briefly describes the demise of Comico before unveiling his discovery of a recent trademark application filed by Steven Rev. Rich happily divulges address information and even describes the location as having convenient parking, thus instigating the ires of the many folk that have beefs with Comico owner Andrew Rev who has become both notorious and mysterious since Comico last published.

Curiously, Johnston questions the future of one of Comico’s most legendary titles, The Elementals, which had been purchased by Rev from Bill Willingham back in the 1990’s. If Johnston would have dug just a little deeper he would have found that the same trademark search engine that revealed a potential revival of Comico also discloses that the trademark for The Elementals is currently held by DYNAMITE.

That revelation would have surely stirred up some excitement!

Of course all of that is here or there speculation.  One line in the post, however personally struck a nerve for two glaring inaccuracies.

“…there has been an attempt by the original founders to publish comcics[sic] as CO2 Comics…”

The Original Founders:

Top: Dennis LaSorta, Phil Lasorda, Bottom: Gerry Giovinco, Bill Cucinotta

Bill Cucinotta and I are only two of “the original founders” of Comico.  Though we both feel very responsible for the initial direction of that company and many of the positive and innovative approaches that defined it in its heyday, we were both often at odds with the other partners and ensuing management team. The working environment at Comico was often emotionally, verbally and physically hostile. Our disputes within the partnership resulted in both of our departures as active members of the partnership at separate times years prior to the bankruptcy and sale to Rev.

Though we are prone to celebrate the accomplishments of Comico, and there is a lot that we are very proud of, there is a pall of resentment toward what we endured within that extended partnership that continues to haunt us.

We made a conscious effort to define our current partnership by naming our publishing venture CO2 Comics to specify that the vision of this approach belongs to the two of us working in cooperation with the creators that support our vision. We cannot deny our roles as former Comico publishers but, as we have repeatedly stated, CO2 Comics is NOT Comico and never intends to be.

CO2 Comics current catalog

An Attempt to  Publish:

We feel that we have accomplished a lot in the last five years since we launched CO2 Comics originally as a web comic collective on the internet in 2009 We have published both on the web and in print several thousand pages of comics and comic related content.  A brief rundown of those accomplishments as well as upcoming projects was highlighted on our blog to commemorate our fifth anniversary.

I think we have well exceeded what could be considered an “attempt” at publishing comics!

A few weeks ago Chuck Dixon and Paul Rivoche, in an effort to promote their new book, a graphic adaptation of Amity Shlaes’ THE FORGOTTEN MAN, suggested that they were the subjects of a black list crafted by liberals in the industry against conservative creators.

The idea of a black list might seem ludicrous to some but when our efforts to publish great comics by  a laundry list of incredible creators can be so easily dismissed by observers of the industry we have to ask ourselves if we are not being subjugated by attitudes shaped by what Comico had become toward the end; a Comico that was far from our control and well beyond what we had ever intended it to be.

We couldn’t even get a link in this post that mentions us.

There may or may not be a defined black list in comics, but Bill and I often feel like two black sheep when our current efforts and accomplishments are overlooked. We can only wonder if we are maligned by the dark shadow cast by the sins of what Comico became after we left.

Fortunately we have surrounded ourselves by great talent, many of whom witnessed first-hand what we accomplished and experienced back-in-the-day. They appreciate our integrity and commitment to them personally and to the medium of comics. We can not thank them enough for their continued faith in us!

CO2 Comics is already much more than Comico became. It is a labor of love from which great comics will continue to flow, not a trial of deception, hostility, resentment and fiscal irresponsibility that crushed the dreams of many.

Bill and I have the same vision we ever had: to publish creator owned comics and to establish wonderful, trustworthy, and mutually profitable relationships with creators  in that process.

We wish any new Comico all the luck in the world. They are gonna need it. We just ask, please,  don’t let the sins of Comico past damn the future of CO2 Comics.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco



DC Comics’ Participation Plan – Magical Mystery Money

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

It is no surprise that, with the Supreme Court considering listening to law suits brought by the heirs of  Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster as well as legendary Marvel creator, Jack Kirby in an epic battle over creators rights, DC Comics is attempting to preemptively save face by offering a new Participation Plan.”

Their timely effort is boorishly intended to make them look good in the public’s eye pending any fallout from a potential legal hell-storm that has already attracted support from every creative guild in Hollywood.

Their new “incentive” (as Marvel calls it) will share with creators net profits generated across all distribution networks including digital sales. As an added PR bonus, colorists will be included in the profit sharing for the first time, following Marvel’s lead.

Everything looks rosy!

Depending on who you believe…

Chuck Dixon, Steve Bisette

For every creator, like Chuck Dixon who has had nothing but a positive experience regarding how DC reports shared revenue there is a disgruntled one like Steve Bisette who feels that he is treated like a second class citizen.

As  outsiders, who are we to judge? Contracts are and should be private agreements and presumably they are negotiable and often different for each creator. History, however, has proven that these agreements, no matter how good they may seem or are intended, can often be subject to reinterpretation and malignment on favor of the corporation. Just ask Alan Moore who’s great Watchmen deal went sour fast.

Gerry Conway

Gentleman Gerry Conway has a very polite perspective on policing DC’s approach to participation packages that should raise an eyebrow or two. Imagine that in this day and age, DC admittedly cannot track the use of all its properties and accurately pay out without the support of its aging creators, many of which are far from tech savvy.  So they say.  Yet, in a heartbeat,  they can shut down a sculpture of a dead boy wearing a Superman shirt in Canada before bowing to social media outrage.

The bottom line is that DC is part of a huge entertainment company that specializes in cooking books when it comes to sharing revenue. This is not an indictment of Warner Brothers but of the practices of Hollywood accounting in general.

Anyone that has ever signed on to a royalty arrangement will tell you that, unless you are willing to march into the accounts payable office with an expensive auditor by your side, your relationship with the company paying you is one of blind faith.

DC is playing with magical mystery money when they tell a creator that they will combine net profits from all channels of distribution. These numbers are tabulated over a period of months and are calculated by an algorithm that would make Sheldon Cooper’s head spin! Most comic creators are just not equipped to challenge their word and are willing to accept what they get or be prepared to move on.

Alan Brennert and Barbara Kean, co-created with Dick Giordano

Combine this mystery math with vague language that can arbitrarily define characters as “derivitive” and suddenly there are creators like Alan Brennert campaigning for a moral victory over a $45 payout that is hardly worth a legal battle let alone sitting on hold for a half hour waiting for the problem to be addressed.

This is why contracts are important. Spell details out in black-and-white to eliminate the questions, provide all the answers and provide proof of the agreement.

Wait for it…

Now, DC says all transactions and agreements will be digital only!

Kiss that paper trail goodbye!

Can anybody say Comixology?

“I’m sorry, your digital contract was somehow erased from our server but don’t worry we will reinstate you with our current (and less favorable) Participation Plan. Any questions?”

Time to look for an Indy Publisher comic creators. At least you will own your work.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco



Dixon and Rivoche: Critical of the Right

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Give Chuck Dixon and Paul Rivoche a lot of credit. They certainly stepped outside the box in an effort to promote their new book, a graphic adaptation of Amity Shlaes’ THE FORGOTTEN MAN, by attacking  comic industry liberals in their Wall Street Journal OP-ED piece, How Liberalism Became Kryptonite for Superman.”

They managed to generate a lot of interest  and even had the opportunity to tout their book, published by Harper Perennial, on FOX NEWS!

Thank God that most of the hardcore conservatives that pay attention to these narrow-minded resources couldn’t care a rat’s ass about comics or they would have seen through the thin veil of deception that is so brilliantly dissected  by Janelle Asseline in her Comics Alliance piece, “Superhuman Error: What Conservatives Chuck Dixon & Paul Rivoche Get Wrong About Politics In American Comics.”

In their effort to be Uber Americans by defending the Political Right, Dixon and Rivoche tread on one of the most valued American liberties that comic creators have fought decades for, the right to freedom of speech and expression which is protected by the First Amendment.

Their endorsement of the Comics Code Authority, which was a direct product of McCarthy era conservatism and possibly the most strict code of censorship of any American medium, flies in the face of anyone who truly loves and values the most basic and fundamental principles of freedom set forth by the founders of this country.

It was particularly odd that both gentlemen conveniently ignored the comics history of the 1980’s where creators rebelled against the big publishers of superhero comics  and defined the potential of the Direct Market by working with Independent publishers that defied the rules of the Comics Code Authority.

Both Dixon and Rivoche saw their first works published by Independent publishers in 1984. (not the 1970’s as stated.)  Chuck Dixon’s EVANGELINE which, originally published by Comico, told a tale about a nun with a gun that was an assassin for the Vatican.Canadian Paul Rivoche illustrated Mister X published by Toronto based Vortex. His story was about a mad scientist that induced his own perpetual sleeplessness with a fictitious drug. These were not comics that any of the Code publishers would consider touching at the time!

It is ironic that these pioneers of “moral ambiguity” in comics should be so vocally opposed to its current existence in the medium!

The success and proliferation of similar independent projects eventually led to Marvel and DC’s softening and ultimate departure from the Code. This was  an orchestrated effort to compete with and eradicate Independent comics publishers  who had gained substantial  market strength.

The market dictated the newfound liberal mores with which comics were created! If audiences did not clamor for these new “left-minded” ideas we would all be reading comics with the seal of approval on it today. Worse, comic books would most likely have faced an inevitable extinction.

The comics of the 90’s that the two chose to credit with the moral departure were created by a  wave of young talent that cut their teeth reading comics and being inspired by the likes of Dixon and Rivoche. These upstarts recognized that it was time for a jailbreak and sought to distinguish themselves as the New World Order in comics.

Dixon and Rivoche are among many creators moderately associated with the old guard, despite their groundbreaking achievements, to be trampled by the inmates intent on running the asylum, finally free of the restraints of oppressive censorship (a page torn right from Dixon’s own Batman stories.)

Jerry Ordway has similar gripes but does not blame left leaning politics in his plea for work, Life After Fifty.
For many, like Ordway, it is rather an overwhelming lack of respect and appreciation for the contributions of creators that in the past would have been revered industry-wide.

Fortunately the Independent movement (not just of the 80’s and 90’s but that of the 70’s  Underground Movement, the Web Comic  Movement of the 00’s and the current Digital Movement) has solidified the rights that creators have to express themselves freely through the medium of comics. There is a now place  and an opportunity for any kind of comic regardless of “right” or “left” leaning politics. This is good for everyone, especially those with idealistic American values.

Without this new, expanding market for comics there would be no publisher that would have been interested in THE FORGOTTEN MAN, a comic not about superheroes and not targeted specifically at children. That would be a real shame.

Dixon and Rivoche should have remembered their true roots and celebrated their masterful execution of their own creative rights rather than endorse a close-minded, faux conservatism that could potentially crush other creators’ rights to freedom of speech and expression in a new witch-hunt reminiscent of the one perpetrated by Dr. Fredrick Wertham that led to the development of the restrictive Comics Code Authority.

Dixon and Rivoche need to ask themselves which Right is more important; the creatively inhibitive conservative views of the Political Right or our Inalienable Right to free speech and expression that has given comics the opportunity to flourish?

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco



A true, capitalism-endorsing conservative would let the market decide.

Comico and Elementals to be Resurrected!

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

CO2 Comics publishers, Bill Cucinotta and Gerry Giovinco, have formally announced that they have incredibly reached an exclusive agreement with Andrew Rev and will be reviving the Comico imprint for a new line of full color comics that will include the ELEMENTALS title originally created by Bill Willingham. The new line is expected to be  available for distribution in the Direct Market this coming Fall.

Cucinotta and Giovinco were among the original founding partners of Comico the Comic Company. Comico began publishing black and white comic books in 1982 with the release of Comico Primer #1, an anthology comic that featured characters created by the original publishers.

1st five Comico Covers

Comico immediately added four new black and white features, AZ by Phil LaSorda, SKROG by Bill Cucinotta, SLAUGHTERMAN by Gerry Giovinco and GRENDEL by Matt Wagner.

Comico's 1st Color Books

In an effort to grow the fledgeling company, Comico scrapped their entire black and white line to concentrate on full color, creator-owned, comic books spearheaded by   MAGE by Matt Wagner, and EVANGELINE by Chuck Dixon and Judith Hunt soon to be followed by hugely successful ELEMENTALS by Bill Willingham, all published in 1984.

Comico quickly became a contender in the independent market throughout the 1980s and  as a pioneer of licensed properties began setting new standards with tiltles like ROBOTECH, STARBLAZERS, JOHNNY QUEST, SPACE GHOST, and GUMBY.

Comico for a brief period ranked third in the industry for monthly sales with a broad line of comics and graphic novels before making the fatal decision to enter the mass market, a move that would drive the company into bankruptcy leading to an eventual sale to Andrew Rev in 1990.

Along with the acquisition of Comico, Rev also bought the exclusive rights of the ELEMENTALS from Bill Willingham and has remained the sole owner of the title and characters since.

The revival of the Comico imprint by CO2 Comics will also resurrect the Elementals in the form of a 300 page full color Elementals Omnibus that will collect the first twelve issues and primary story arc of the series, accompanied by digital release of each individual issue.

Cucinotta and Giovinco, who both left the partnership before the demise of their former company, are excited to have the opportunity to steward the Comico brand in the direction it was always intended just in time to celebrate the thirty year anniversary of the title and Comico’s publication of their first color comic books.

“This would be a dream come true,” admits Giovinco, who confesses that this is nothing more than a cruel prank that he perpetrated since April Fools Day coincided with his weekly blog post that is launched each Tuesday morning.

“It would have been a bore not to act on April Fools Day,” he states, “but  you are still welcome to enjoy all of great comics at CO2 Comics, many of which are created by former Comico collaborators like Bill Anderson, Reggie Byers, Chris Kalnick, Mike Leeke, and Bernie Mireault.”

You can also enjoy several creator owned features that were originally published by Comico such as:

GAUNTLET by Neil Vokes and Rich Rankin

RIBIT by Frank Thorne

SKROG by Bill Cucinotta

SLAUGHTERMAN, by Gerry Giovinco

THE WORLD OF GINGER FOX by Michael Baron and Mitch O’Connell

VICTOR by Andrew Murphy

Along with many other great features by talented creators.

Happy April Fools Day!

Gerry Giovinco

*Sincerest apologies to Andrew Rev, Bill Willingham, Dynamite Entertainment and any comic fan or speculator who may have experienced palpitations due to this post that was solely intended for good fun.



Happy New Year, 2014!

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Goodbye 2013! All of the triskaidekaphobics can now come out of the closet and take a breath of fresh air. It’s time to move on.

Like any year, 2013 had its ups and downs with plenty of good and bad to go around.

I had high hopes for a magical year  when writing this blog to usher in the New Year twelve months ago, the manifestation of which is evident on the CO2 Comics site and in the product we’ve produced.

Besides my 52 weekly blog posts that tackled everything from creator’s rights to trademark infringement and a month-long, scathing review of the PBS broadcast of Superheroes: the Never Ending Battle,

we were delighted to introduce exciting new comic features that are available  to view for FREE everyday along with thousands of pages of other comics that have been archived here at CO2 Comics over the last four-and-a-half years:

Cid and Francis by Mike Sgier continued our commitment to diversity with its unique style of art and whimsical fantasy set in a world of elves and elemental spirits.

Two short stories, The Gold Mask and Revenge as well as the serialization of The Adventures of ROMA all by the legendary  John Workman.

15 year-old Indigo Anderson captured our attention with her youthful talent exhibited in her short feature North and South.

Most recently added has been Dreamcraft, a science fiction thriller by Craig Rippon, Sam Custodio and Bill Anderson that is sure to have you hanging on every page.

We also had the good fortune of releasing four new books in print:

Volume two of David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW  The Complete Collection.

Three graphic albums, Doggie Style by Steve Lafler, The Adventures of ROMA by John Workman and NON by Chris Kalnick.

All of which are available with the rest of our printed product that we conveniently  cataloged on this Wish List.

Purchase them exclusively at these two links:

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/co2comics

http://www.amazon.com/shops/co2comics

Comico's 1st Color Books

Robotech/Macross #1 cover, Comico 1984

We look ahead to another exciting year with wonderful new projects and publications to be announced with a firm swell of appreciation of our accomplished past as Bill Cucinotta and I will celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the publication of our first full-color comic books. 1984 was a significant milestone for us when, still as publishing partners at Comico, we released the historic first issues of Matt Wagner’s Mage the Hero Discovered, Chuck Dixon and Judith Hunt’s Evangeline and Bill Willingham’s Elementals. That defining year was rounded out by the publication of MACROSS which would eventually become ROBOTECH!

As staunch supporters of independent comics we also have to give a tip of the hat to another thirty-year anniversary as Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird celebrate their 1984 creation of the phenomenally successful Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and proved to us all that while publishing comics is hard work, anything is possible when you follow your dreams. Thanks guys!

We can only hope that 2014 will be as dynamic for comics and for us as 1984 was. We know from experience that all we can do is give it our best shot and we will!

You are all welcome  along for the ride!

Happy and Prosperous New Year from our entire CO2 Comics Family!

Gerry Giovinco



The Forecast Calls for Raine

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Rain Szramski photographed by Victoria Mock

It has been an exciting time here at CO2 Comics. With our release of the three graphic albums, Heaven and the Dead City, The Heavy Adventures of Captain Obese! and Ménage à Bughouse, Bill Cucinotta and I have just published our first comics in print together since our days as partners at Comico the Comic Company where we launched the careers of quite a number of significant talents in the comic industry.

Bill Willingham, Matt Wagner, Chuck Dixon, Adam Hughes, Sam Kieth and the Kubert Brothers, top off the list of creators that had either their first or earliest works published by Comico.  Maybe we were just in the right place at the right time then, but I like to think that we have an eye for talent and an ability as publishers to create a trusting relationship with creators that gives us an opportunity to present their work.

The search for talent and exciting comic book properties to me is one of the most appealing part of publishing.  It is the thrill of the hunt. In last week’s blog I wrote about Steve Lafler’s tour promoting his CO2 Comics graphic album Ménage à Bughouse. While at his stop in Brooklyn, NY at Bergen Street Comics I participated in a candid discussion about how the thrill of the hunt was an essential motivator to comic book collectors and how this same motivation drives comic readers to search the web for new comics to experience and share. The thrill of the hunt is rewarded by the thrill of discovery.

The most desired prey in any hunt is that which has proven to be the most elusive. It is that which is the most difficult to obtain that  we search for with the greatest earnest. Big Foot, The Loch Ness Monster, The Holy Grail all captivate our collective imaginations for just this reason. Sometimes the object of our  hunt, deceptively lies right before our eyes, camouflaged by its obviousness.

see Raine Szramski on DeviantArt

We at CO2 Comics like to think that we have uncovered one of those gems with our publication of Raine Szramski’s Heaven and the Dead City. Ms. Szramski has lurked around the comics industry for some time now as an award winning fantasy illustrator and comic book artist but remains just a blip on the radar of most fans. Her fantastic illustrations that she paints in gouache and other mixed media are a wonder to behold. They can be viewed at her DeviantArt Gallery which is a must stop for any fan of faeries, wood nymphs, dragons and mystical heroes.

Raine also posts and incredibly fun and insightful blog titled Pre-Raphernalia, about the major players in the Pre-Raphaelite movement. It is adorned with photos, images and her own comics focusing on the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the cast of true characters that surround them.  A cruse through the illustrations in this blog will delight you as you get to see the energy that exists in the pencil sketches of Raine’s drawings and comics.

Heaven And The Dead City NOW AVAILABLE!

When it Raines it pours and Ms. Szramski proves to be no exception. When it comes to blogging about her favorite topics she has a second blog titled The Watcher Tree where among other things she recounts how she came to be a part of our CO2 Comics collective.

Get your Copy Here!

Of course we are most fond of her work on Heaven and the Dead City which Raine writes, draws and hand paints in grey tones for your enjoyment right here at CO2 Comics.  We are sure that as each new reader experiences the thrill of discovery when they encounter Raine Szramski’s work online, they will undoubtedly want to cherish it by owning it in print, so we were quick to publish the first beautiful volume in both paperback and hardback editions!

Order you copy of HEAVEN ANd The DEAD CITY Here!

It is possible that Raine Szramski’s talents have been overlooked in what has been a comics industry dominated by men for far too long. Fortunately times are changing and the industry is suddenly blossoming with an audience of female readers and women creators that can provide a diversity to comics that had been missing. Raine Szramski is now in the right place at the right time. Our  official CO2 Comics forecast is that comic fans will be experiencing a lot of Raine in the future.

Speaking of the future, next week I plan to over indulge in a huge helping of Don Lomax’s fatty treat, The Heavy Adventures of Captain Obese!

Celebrating Thirty Years of Comics History!

Gerry Giovinco


Holy Crap

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

AZ #2

I recently had an opportunity to reread and old blog post by Tom Spurgeon on his site The Comics Reporter. In the blog post Tom takes a look at one of our old Comico publications, AZ by our late partner Phil LaSorda.  Tom questions the cultural impact that such an obviously crude attempt at making comics may or should have on the market and the medium.

Now I along with my current publishing partner Bill Cucinotta who was also a partner back in those early Comico days may be biased but we also have a unique perspective just by having been there. We know, retrospectively, that the work we did in those days was seminal at best and was often criticized as being crap. It is easy to look back and be embarrassed by our rudimentary attempts to both create and publish comics. The irony, I suppose, is that as rudimentary as that material was, we are both still very proud of it for many reasons, so much so that we published it all again, right here on CO2 Comics.

Slaughterman #1

Skrog #1

SLAUGHTERMAN and SKROG may not have had many more redeeming qualities than AZ but they were all cornerstone publications that established a foundation that Comico, one of the most influential independent publishers of the eighties, was built on. For this reason alone, despite their critical ineptness, yes, they had, and continue to have cultural impact.

I remember a scathing review by Cat Yronwode in the Comics Buyers Guide that questioned, “who gave us the right to publish such crap?” My fiery response was that we all have the right to publish what we want to in America and that, crap or not, it will be the market that decides the success of the product. I wish I had those CBG articles today.

One thing we did well at Comico, in those early days, was to learn from our mistakes. It did not take long or us to realize our success would come from publishing others. It was, however, our relationships that we had developed hanging in artist alleys at comic conventions, and our ability to relate to young and maturing talent that allowed us the opportunity to work with the likes of Matt Wagner, Bill Willingham, Sam Kieth, Chuck Dixon, Judith Hunt, Neil Vokes, Rich Rankin, Reggie Byers and many many others.

We also published a new talent showcase called Primer where we published the earliest work of many other budding artists who were not quite ready for the Big Two.

Comico Primer #1-6

To me the biggest impact that Comico had on the comics industry, was that it gave evidence that if a handful of guys with apparently limited talent and experience could build a company that at one time was ranked #3 behind Marvel and DC in monthly sales, then maybe, just maybe, anybody can.

I believe we created an opportunity for creators to get bold enough to publish their own work or feel more confident when presenting it to others. We all did it as artists, looked at other work that we considered weak and say, “hey, I’m at least as good as this, if this can be published than so can mine.”

Gerry Giovinco, Bill Cucinotta & Phil LaSorda

We may have been naive or overconfident when we launched Comico but we had one mantra that we held to that was first spoken by Phil,  “We don’t want to look back years from now and regret that we didn’t try when we had the chance.” To us, the fear of failure was never as great as the fear of never having the opportunity to make comics professionally.  To do what we loved.

Today the internet is the greatest thing for young comic artists and for the entire medium. Anyone can publish on the web and, yes, there is a ton of incredible crap out there but more people than ever are taking a shot making comics and we fans of the medium are the winners because tremendous comic talent that may have never tried before is now offering our eyes a feast of variety that has never existed in comics.

So to answer Tom Spurgeon’s quote: The question that many of us near comics ask — if only to each other — is if the art form can survive without the occasional cycling back to cruder efforts like this one, unpretentious material devoid of any hope for life or riches beyond its publication schedule that helped revitalize the art form four or five times during a low ebb.”

No! The art form, or more accurately the medium of comics or any medium for that matter, cannot survive without a cycle that includes cruder efforts. No crude efforts would imply no young talent and with no young talent to revitalize a medium, that medium will die a death of eventual mediocrity.

To paraphrase McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc, “When you’re green you grow. When you’re ripe you rot.”

So, be brave and create! Express yourself as well as you know how and be willing to show the world.  Make mistakes. Learn from them. Never stop growing. But when you do someone new will begin making their own mistakes and we will all have the pleasure of witnessing their adventure.

Holy crap, it’s the circle of life, comics style.

Making Comics Because I Want To

Gerry Giovinco


The Comic Company:
True Colors – Part 2

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

The Gray-Line System that I described in last week’s blog helped us to achieve a look that we had always hoped for our comics when we first considered evolving to color.

The fact that most of the alternative independent publishers were taking advantage of the ability to print processed full-color images on the better, whiter paper was not our inspiration or motivation at Comico.

Captain Canuck by Comely Comix

Long before we had even printed our first book we had already fallen in love with how the color appeared in Captain Canuck comics published by Comely Comix and illustrated by George Freeman. The soft processed color printed on newsprint had a quality that was unique compared to the limited 65-color palette of traditional flat-color comic books.

We were not interested in the slick color of the glossy new comics and we definitely did not care for the glare that shown off the pages of the glossy paper stock.

Mage By Matt Wagner

 

Our preference for the more muted color production was evidenced in the fist two issues of Matt Wagner’s Mage.

Matt, who had attended college with Bill and me at the Philadelphia College of Art, had been involved in many discussions concerning how we all thought color in comics should look. We were all on the same page when we made the decision to print Mage on a high-grade newsprint. Mage was a more urban setting and was supported by the grittier look of the newsprint. Besides, we wanted it to look like Captain Canuck.

Evangeline by Chuck Dixon & Judith Hunt

 

Chuck Dixon and Judith Hunt’s Evangeline was a different story. We could see how the finer line quality and more delicate colors would be better served on a whiter stock and though we were reluctant to go to a fully bleached stock we upgraded to a Mando stock which had a creamy quality to it and did not suffer from the glare issue that the more machined paper stocks offered.

Our early color books were printed in Florida at the same press that was printing Bill Black’s Americomics line but we quickly switched over to Sleepeck in Dixon, IL so that we would have more centralized shipping and warehousing of our runs. Once at Sleepeck we decided that our standard comic line, including Mage, would all be printed on the Mando stock.

Wheatly & Hemple's Mars

Around this time we were also introduced to a new coloring system. Mark Wheatly from Insight Studios was producing Mars with Marc Hemple for First Comics. He had told me about a guideline system he was using that employed the use of chemicals from a Fluorographics Services kit. A brief description of how the system works can be seen here.

This system was very similar to the gray-line system in that you had to produce a positive transparency of the line art. The grey line required a negative to produce the grey guide-line on the layer to be painted. The Fluorographics system let you use the film positive to create the non-repo blue guide which eliminated an extra step and expense. You could coat any paper stock you wanted with the chemicals allowing you to paint much more naturally than on the polymer based photo paper of the gray-line.

Blue-Line instruction from The Illustrator's Bible By Rob Howard

Note that though the color was considered non-repo blue this was only effective when shooting in black-and-white. The blue line did appear in the color separations for full-color.

Initially we would coat a paper stock with the sensitizer, place the film positive on top then cover it with a plate of glass to keep it flat then take it outside to expose it to the sun then run in and develop the image. It didn’t take too many rainy days to convince us to purchase a UV sun lamp so that we could do all of this inside and avoid blowing deadlines.

The only problem with this system was that the paper stock was less stable than the photo paper and would shrink when the paint dried, often distorting the registration.

Matt solved the problem by using pre-stretched watercolor blocks of paper that were sealed on all four sides keeping the top layer “stretched” until it was dried and removed. Matt would buy large enough paper so that four pages could be exposed at once. He usually had two blocks set up so that while one block dried, he could be working on the other.

This new blue-line system was a home run but it was not going to help us with our next two projects.

Elementals & Macross Covers

We knew that when we signed on to publish Bill Willingham’s Elementals that we were going to want it to be more like traditional flat-color superhero comics. Down the line would also be a little project called Macross that would press all of our expectations for color in comics. We still had a lot to learn.

To be continued…

Gerry Giovinco

Making comics because I want to!

The Comic Company:
Prime Time

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010
 
Comico was always intended to be launched in an anthology format. The first planned publication was Comico Presents which was to feature Phil LaSorda’s AZ, Vince Argondezzi’s Mr. Justice and my own Slaughterman.

Unpublished Cover

By the spring of 1982, however, the dynamics of the original group had changed.
Vince Argondezzi was moving on and Bill Cucinotta had joined our ranks bringing with him his creation, Skrog. Other talented comic artists, Matt Wagner and the very young Andrew Murphy, lurked in the wings.

It occurred to me that the anthology format had greater potential for us than we had originally planned. Rather than be merely a vehicle to introduce our own feature characters into the Direct Market, the format gave us a venue to feature the works of the many undiscovered talents that we were becoming acquainted with on the convention circuit.
 
I saw this publication as the foundation for which all future projects would emerge. It was the first coat of paint on which we could embellish illustrious careers as comic creators. This anthology would be our Primer.
 

PRIMER #1, Cover pencils by Andrew Murphy. inks Gerry Giovinco

 
Surprisingly, I do not remember it being difficult to sell the concept and especially the name, Primer, to Phil and Bill. We all knew that, in a market with titles full of Action, Adventure, and other Epic names, Primer was as dynamic sounding as white bread but to us it perfectly described the product and what we expected to accomplish with it.
 

PRIMER #2, Cover by Matt Wagner, 1st appearance of GRENDEL

 
We had hoped that by naming our comic book Primer, readers would expect something different, that the product would lay a foundation for what was to come and, most importantly, it would ignite an interest in our budding comic company. Primer would survive six issues and be our longest running black-and-white title. It did launch Comico and prime the industry for a unique independent company that blazed trails in creative and production quality, pioneered licensing for alternative publishers, championed creator’s rights and gave Marvel and DC a serious run for their money.
 

PRIMER #3, Cover by Jim Dever, featuring an early William Messner-Loebs story

 

The impact of Primer is still felt in the comics industry today.

 

PRIMER #4, Cover by Barb Ramata, first of three to be edited by Matt Wagner

The ACT-I-VATE PRIMER

I can tell you that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Bill and I were both caught blushing when IDW announced that it would be publishing The ACT-I-VATE Primer.

ACT-I-VATE has been among our greatest inspirations while developing CO2 Comics. The presumption that our Primer may have had any influence on Dean Haspiel and friends was quite humbling to us (Guys, don’t tell us if it didn’t, it might ruin the moment!). Marvel’s Marvelman Classic Primer and Alan Moore’s Americas Best Comics Primer also find use of the Primer name which I like to believe would have never been used when associated with comics before the advent of the Comico Primer.

PRIMER #5, Cover by Will Brown, featuring Sam Kieth’s Max the Hare

How-to Comic Primers pepper the internet and we at CO2 Comics have tapped the old Comico Primer for our own World Wide Web purposes.

PRIMER #6, Cover by Judith Hunt, the introduction of Chuck Dixon and Judith Hunt's Evangeline. Assistant editor CO2 Comics contributor Reggie Byers.

My Slaughterman, Bill Cucinotta’s Skrog, Andrew Murphy’s Victor, and Rich Rankin and Neil Vokes’ Gauntlet, features that all ran in Primer, are now featured right here on CO2 Comics.

They have all helped us launch this new and exciting web comics collective. CO2 Comics contributor Bill Anderson also graced the pages of Primer. Primer alumni, Matt Wagner, Sam Kieth, William Messner-Loebs, and Chuck Dixon have had stellar careers as comic creators. Their earliest published works can be found in those seemingly innocuous six issues of Primer making a few of them quite valuable as collectibles.

Other talents that were featured in Primer: Phil LaSorda, Vince Argondezzi, Jim Alderman, Rick McCollum, Bill Bryan, Jim Dever, Larry Nadolsky, Francis Mao, Barb and Bernie Armata, Ron Kasman, Will Brown, Chris Windle, Ajay Mclaughlin, Mark Lantz, Michael Lail, Grass Green, Judith Hunt and Al Wiesner. Primer was, unfortunately, discontinued along with the rest of the black-and-white line when Comico made its transition to color in 1984.

Pain

Works that were planned to be published in Primer that I am sorry we missed out on were Pain by Bill Cucinotta, Panda Khan by Dave Garcia and a little pre-turtle story by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird.

I have quite a few interesting stories that I can share about experiences publishing Primer that will have to wait for another time.

Next week I will pick things up a bit with a look at one of my favorite “Pie in the Sky” ideas from the early days of The Comic Company.

Making comics because I want to!

Gerry Giovinco

 

 

 


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