Posts Tagged ‘Comico Primer’

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.



Black History Month: Reggie Byers – Comic Book Publishing Pioneer

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Reggie Byers Victory Productions

We are not always aware of when we are witnessing history being made. Such is the case of comic book creator  Reggie Byers who has the distinction of being one of the first African Americans to own a comic book publishing company.

Byers did not realize that in 1985 when he self published SHURIKEN #1 under his Victory Productions imprint that he was a pioneer. His intent to satisfy his personal urge to publish comics would establish him as a groundbreaker for black comic creators in this specialized arena of popular culture dominated by white men.

Click to read Crescent

CO2 Comics’ relationship with Reggie Byers, whose comic CRESCENT is a proudly presented feature on our site,  extends back over three decades to 1982 when he first knocked on the door of our former comic book publishing house Comico in  Norristown, Pennsylvania.

Comico at the time was a fledgeling company publishing black and white comic books in the Direct Market composed completely by young men who had met in high school and college, all unified by friendship and a desire to make comic books.

Reggie  had graduated from Norristown Area High School in 1981, a year after my younger brother, Tom. My father also taught there. They would often tell me about his creative exploits and love for comics so, though I had never met him, I was well aware of his talents and was excited to finally meet him. His arrival at Comico was fortuitous for us all and he was immediately welcomed into our ranks.

Reggie’s assignments increased as work became available while the company grew and eventually began to produce color comics. He started out as a self proclaimed gofer, then editor of Primer, our new talent showcase,  and eventually, because of his mastery of the Japanese Anime style, he became a penciler on ROBOTECH The Next Generation.

Reggie Byers and a new shipment

Reggie had watched Comico grow from the ground up and had learned the ins-and-outs of the business along with us all. The money he made from penciling ROBOTECH became his seed money for his personal enterprise and in 1985 he launched his independent comic company VICTORY PRODUCTIONS featuring the adventures of his own character SHURIKEN, a female martial artist named Kyoko Shidara who became a freelance bodyguard after discovering that she had been working as  bodyguard for a criminal organization.

Shuriken 1 by Reggie Byers

SHURIKEN was an immediate success in the Direct Market where it enjoyed the support of all the distributors prompting a second printing that elevated sales to over 20,000 units, an amazing circulation for a black and white comic book. These numbers were assuredly influenced by the success of Eastman and Laird’s TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES and supported by the thriving speculator market at the time. Also significant was  Reggie’s growing popularity as penciler of the wildly successful ROBOTECH series which also included the talents of  other African Americans, Mike Leeke, Dave Johnson and MACROSS production assistant,  Aaron Keaton who were also school friends of Comico founders.

The Victory line

Reggie immediately invested his profits from SHURIKEN sales into other titles created by his close friends, Chris Etheredge and Robert Durham, expanding the Victory line to include KOMODO AND THE DEFIANTS by Etheredge, along with PHASE 1 and SHRIKE, both by Durham.

Victory Productions stood out in the Independent comic market as a company driven by three African American comic creators producing a broadly inclusive product line that featured a team of black superheroes, an Asian ninja, a Native American warrior and an anthropomorphic ensemble.

Questioning the significance of Reggie Byers’ role as possibly the first successful black comics publisher I was not surprised that Reggie had previously not considered his role as such because the creative group that we had all surrounded ourselves with at the time was so focused on creating great comics that race was never an issue. The fact that it has taken any of us thirty years to recognize his contribution is less of an embarrassment and more a tribute to the respect we all had for each other as friends, colleagues and comic creators.

I sought confirmation instead from prominent historian of African Americans in comic books, Professor William H. Foster lll who sited the example of Orrin Evans who published a single issue of ALL NEGRO COMICS in 1947 before being locked out of the industry by the big companies at the time.

Professor Foster said that the mid ’80s offered an opportunity for many independent comic publishers, a number of which were African American but because of poor listing of dates and management of records it is hard to confirm with accuracy who came first. He said with fair certainty that Reggie Byers would easily be considered in the top five candidates though because of his large sales figures on the early issues of SHURIKEN he is probably the most significant African American comic book publisher of that independent era which preceded a 1990′s boom in African American publishers.

Reggie, himself, confirms that he had been solicited for guidance by BROTHERMAN publisher Dawud Anyabwile, who in 1989 known as David Sims launched his family owned company  Big City Comics that is often recognized as having ignited the contemporary Black Comics/Superhero movement that became exemplified later by the success of Milestone Comics.

Rob Durham, Chris Etheredge, Steve Williams and Reggie Byers

Victory lasted only two and a half years before becoming one of the many victims of the comic glut and eventual crash of the market that also was partially responsible for the bankruptcy of Comico. SHURIKEN was absorbed by Malibu Comics after Reggie did a brief run of BLADES OF SHURIKEN for them. Malibu eventually sold to Marvel and now Shuriken occasionally is featured as a mutant character in their broad stable of superheroes.

Reggie went on to develop characters for other ventures such as JAM QUACKY for JQ Productions in the ’90s and CRESCENT which he self published before giving CO2 Comics the opportunity to present it here on our site.

Currently he is  focused on empowering young people. With that mission in mind over the last 20 years Reggie and his wife, Dionne have developed their most influential property THE KIDZ OF THE KING featuring ten multicultural angels disguised as teenage superheroes who lift up the Word of God and battle against the demonic forces that attack the children of the world.  It has been produced in comic book form and as an animated feature. Reggie is also working on a graphic novel depicting the story of Jesus Christ based on the four Gospels in the Bible.

Always humble, Reggie gushed at the idea that he played such a significant role in the history of African Americans in regards to comic books and popular culture.

It is a common notion that it is hard to gain respect in your own back yard, but not in our neighborhood. We at CO2 Comics have always been proud to be associated with him as a comic creator and delighted to have known him as a friend for all of these years.

We hope that now he will be acknowledged by fans critics and historians alike for the recognition he deserves for his significant role not just in the African American community but in the creative community of the comics industry.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco



The Comic Company: Comics Interview #5

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

In an effort to promote CO2 Comics‘ ongoing, monumental project, David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW The Complete Collection, we have established a COMICS INTERVIEW Facebook page. Please, if you have not done so already, stop by and “LIKE” the page and share it. It is becoming quite a trip down Memory Lane.

Random posts of quotes and photos of comic creators who were interviewed in the magazine have evolved into a photo feature that we like to call the Quote of the Day. The positive buzz generated by this feature encouraged us to generate more content and so began a staggered release of cover images from the issues that have been reprinted in the first two volumes of David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW The Complete Collection.

COMICS INTERVIEW #5 surfaced quickly and brought back a tidal wave of memories. That was the issue where Bill Cucinotta and I, as part of the fledgeling Comico crew that also included our former partner Phil LaSorda and SKROG inker, Bill Anderson, were interviewed by David Anthony Kraft, himself,  in a New York coffee shop.

The event is so much like a dream that we often have to remind ourselves just how it came to be. We were all young guys full of hopes and ambition living the best times of our lives. Those were the days that, as comic creators, Bill and I  look upon with the greatest fondness. We were taking chances, creating our own material and attempting to do what others said we couldn’t; build a comic company from scratch.

Primer #1

We had published our first black and white comic, Primer #1 in October of 1982 and a few months later, in February 1983,  David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW #1 hit the stands.  We knew right away that this was a magazine that we wanted to be associated with and Bill, who was always focused on ways to promote our comics in the Direct Market, was quick to contact David Anthony Kraft to set up advertising arrangements.

It was very easy for all of us to be star-struck. Dave was one of our heroes, having written and edited for Marvel for years. We had all cut our teeth reading his work and suddenly we were dealing with him on a regular basis. It was not long before we were referring to him as DAK.

Dave was much more than a business associate. To us, he was a mentor, filling our heads with knowledge about the comics industry including inside stories and tons of “of the record” anecdotes. More than that, he was a friend. Dave understood that we were possibly biting off more than we could chew but he was always willing to nurture our enthusiasm and offer respected criticism.

This support started with that first conversation he had with Bill regarding advertising which resulted in a trade deal where we ran Interview ads in our comic books and Dave ran Comico ads in his magazine. This allowed us to build a respected presence in the market with no cash expense and to have more reasons to call Dave on a regular basis.

The first Comico ad ran in Comics Interview #3 and our ads became a staple in the magazine for years to come. Lucky for us, we really hit it off with Dave and suddenly we were on a train to New York to be interviewed in issue #5.

Dave must have really been amused by us.  We were a bunch of goofy kids with big dreams that only seemed possible because we didn’t  know better. Our naiveté was our biggest strength; that and an unbridled enthusiasm to create comics.

Gerry Giovinco, Bill_Cucinotta & Phil_LaSorda

We dove into our interview with such a flurry that a half hour into it Dave realized his recorder had not recorded a word we said and we would have to start over. It was typical of  our hit-and-miss approach to making comics. If we didn’t get it right the first time, learn from the mistake and make it better next time.

It is embarrassing, now, to read our ramblings, recognizing in hindsight how amazing it was that we would be able to steer Comico to become a powerhouse in the industry and  establish standards and milestones that would influence the creation and success of future companies like Dark Horse and Image.

Dave, in all his wisdom, was able to see in our comics  what he referred to as “a contagious enthusiasm that transcended their shortcomings.”

Of the entire interview the most significant words were written by Dave in the introduction where he recognized Comico for the pioneers that we were as publishers.

“Comico, the comic company, is among the newest and most ambitious of the independent publishers springing up in the field. Comico’s five titles – AZ, SKROG, SLAUGHTERMAN, GRENDEL and PRIMER – are distributed through the direct-sales system and are available exclusively in comics shops or by subscription.

What is, perhaps, most surprising about such an enterprising endeavor is that all of the comics creators are ( at least, for now) essentially unproven and unknown. Starting from scratch, on such a scale, is virtually unprecedented under the circumstances.”

Our presence in COMICS INTERVIEW #5  marked a coming of age for us.  We shared the issue with industry legends, Stan Lee, Dick Giordano, Wendy and Richard Pini! To be included with this iconic group, for us, was a dream come true. It was time that we were taken seriously by the industry, fans and, most importantly, ourselves.

Future issues of COMICS INTERVIEW would chronicle our achievements as our line grew. Features about The Elementals in issue #17 and ROBOTECH in issue #23 were evidence that we were a company on the move, adapting to survive and prosper. More would follow and Comico, as a company,  managed to maintain a lifespan as long as COMICS INTERVIEW itself.

Comico, unfortunately has gone the way of every other independent publisher of that era. Bill an I however are still plugging away, as enthusiastic as ever but with quite a few battle scars to show for it.  We still look to Dave as a mentor and friend and knew that when we started publishing as CO2 Comics we had to re-establish our relationship with COMICS INTERVIEW.

We are now on a long journey to package the entire 150 issue run of that memorable magazine in an eleven volume set. Two volumes are complete and the third is in production.

As Dave says, “It is a labor of love.” And what’s not to love? For us, everyday is a trip back to the “good old days” and a reminder of the enthusiasm that keeps Bill and I making comics just because we want to.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco


Self-Publishing is a Virtue

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Self-publishing is often perceived with a certain disdain that I always struggle to understand especially when it concerns publishing comics. Self-publishers are usually viewed as purveyors of “Vanity Press” or unrefined rebels, void of editorial and quality control, rather than the enlightened, creative entrepreneurs that they often are.

For the record, I have always considered myself a self-publisher though I have spent a lot of time publishing the works of others. I self-published my first comics in high school. Those comics were printed on a mimeograph machine and distributed from class-to-class and sold for a nickel apiece.

In college, where I met my long time publishing partner Bill Cucinotta, we published a student newspaper, DUCKWORK , with a bunch of like-minded friends that all had an interest in comics.  We were doing our own thing and doing it collectively so I still considered what “we” published as self-published.

Few people remember or realize that Comico began as a self-publishing venture. Our earliest projects all featured comics that we created ourselves.  AZ, Skrog, and Slaughterman were each works of the individual Comico partners, Phil LaSorda, Bill Cucinotta, and myself. Primer was intended an introductory product for our personal projects but became our first vehicle to present the works of others, most notably our former DUCKWORK pal, Matt Wagner, and his signature work Grendel.

It was only fitting that when Bill and I began publishing on the web as CO2 Comics the first features we launched were our earlier works Skrog and Slaughterman . We were self-publishers again!

Because we do enjoy publishing others, we set up CO2 Comics as a cooperative venture where we work closely with creators to present their work on our site. When we do publish works in print we consider the creators our partners and insure that they receive the lion’s share of net profits from sales of their books.

I don’t ever want to lose my perception of being a self-publisher because I consider it a virtue and a right. Cat Yronwode, esteemed comics critic, and editor once questioned our rights to publish what was admittedly amateurish material. Her comment in the Comics Buyer’s Guide sent me into a tizzy back in 1983 because I am so adamant about a creator’s right to have control over their work which is my primary  endorsement for self-publishing. I argued that as Americans we should have the right to publish whatever we want and that the market will determine our fate.

Self-publishing, in fact has integral responsibility for the birth of our nation. Forefather, Ben Franklin, was a self-publisher and champion of freedom of speech. He used his press, his writings and his publishing skills to inspire and encourage the American Revolution. He valued those rights and so should we as comic creators.

This is the sense of independence that comic creators needed when it became obvious that the big comic publishers were taking advantage of them. By the late seventies when people started demanding rights for Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster followed by champions for Steve Gerber and Jack Kirby it became obvious that alternative publishing was necessary in the comics industry

For us, like many others, self-publishing was the answer.  Thanks to the nature of the Direct Market in the comics industry at the time, self-publishers could easily get their foot in the door. A lot of good and bad publishers proliferated but what became clear was that comics could be more than just superheroes and the opportunity for diversity in the medium exploded.  Self-publishing opened the door for creative opportunity that may not have existed otherwise.

The new generation of comic creators with this expanded view of the medium quickly moved to the world wide web and launched a self publishing assault  that proved anything is possible when creating comics. Stick figures capably replaced the anatomically exaggerated superheroes as dominant reading material on the web.

Now, with digital advancements in printing and distribution, the opportunity to self-publish is as accessible and affordable than ever before leaving the greatest challenge to be that of being discovered by an audience.

More than ever, self-publishing is the doorway to creative freedom. As creators, now is the time to encourage each other to embrace the opportunity to swelf-publish, to control your intellectual property and not be victimized by unscrupulous publishers who continue to exploit the antiquated work-for-hire business model.

This is our goal at CO2 Comics. We recognize that not every creator wants the burden of all the details that self-publishing requires wether it be on the web or in print. We want CO2 Comics to be a safe haven for projects to be published while creators retain ownership and control over their property.

More importantly we intend that creators are treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve and would warrant as a self-publisher because we know personally what a virtue self-publishing is.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco


Copyrights, Trademarks and Comics, Oh My!

Monday, February 20th, 2012

The legal forrest that the Yellow Brick Road travels through on the way to success as an independent comic creator or publisher just became a scarier place.

Gary Friedrich

It is probably fitting that the demonized Ghost Rider character has lit the torch with his blazing skull.

Regardless of your opinion as to wether Gary Friedrich should be compensated for his contribution to the creation of the character of Ghost Rider and the unfairness of the court’s ruling against him, it is Marvel’s victory in a countersuit against him that has turned the hourglass on end and the sand is running out.

In a brilliant facebook entry written by the esteemed Stephen Bissette he raises the alarm for artists in artist alley that sell sketches of trademarked characters without consent. In the blog he explains the legal necessity of Marvel’s enforcement. They have a responsibility to actively protect their trademarks or risk losing them.

From the cover of Comico Primer #2

This practice of due diligence is nothing new. When we had just published our second issue of Comico Primer back in 1982 we received a Cease and Desist letter from Will Eisner referring to a character featured in the comic whose name was Spirit. Spirit was a female robot that had absolutely no similarities whatsoever to Eisner’s character The Spirit.  We had never even considered that there would or could be a conflict.

Will Eisner appreciated that we were young and naive and explained that he paid lawyers to protect his properties. Their job was  to seek out potential conflicts and he had a responsibility to follow through on their findings to protect his interests. Needless to say we were embarrassed and humbled by the graciousness of this man that we already had great respect and admiration for. We were sure to honor his simple request that we not use the name Spirit especially not on a cover of one of our comic books.

It strikes me that it was a lot easier for a comic artist like Will Eisner to police the comic industry for copyright and trademark infringement in 1982 than it would be today. Thirty years ago there were just a few publishers in the market and a handful of fanzines. There was no internet with a seemingly endless selection of web comics and there were surely not the tremendous number of comic creators that exist today.

The Friedrich vs. Marvel case has magnified the necessity of protecting one’s trademark. If a huge corporation like Marvel/Disney finds it necessary to hassle Gary Friedrich over $17,000  because those sales of prints he sold in artist alley at comic book conventions could jeopardize their claim to trademark, how safe can the trademarks of smaller companies be?

Should every small publisher, self publisher and comic artist be canvasing comic conventions and the internet, prepared to rifle out a C&D letter to every potential infringer? How can small publishers and creators afford to do it without the funds or the time to execute such an endeavor? How vulnerable are our intellectual properties?

Imagine if some guy is a big fan of your character and goes to every convention getting every artist he finds to draw a picture of your character. Proud of his collection he displays it all over facebook, and his website. Another company likes your character and discovers all these images that were created by unlicensed vendors, in this case artists in artist alley, and feel that they have deep enough pockets to argue that the trademark has been left exposed.

Marvel’s victory over their assertion that Friedrich’s sales in artist alley were a credible threat to their trademark establishes a precedent that will influence future rulings. Make no mistake, the big boys will go after the competition and will do whatever it takes to win.

The Forgettable's

Marvel took a shot at the insanely popular Rocketeer back in the 80′s claiming it infringed on characters that they had that were also called Rocketeers. Their characters were minor characters buried in a forgettable story. Dave Steven’s had to fight for years to defend his property tying up capital that could have been used more productively.

This may all seem like paranoia until it actually happens but who wants to be the first victim. The industry has been buzzing over piracy now for some time. The threat of piracy is nothing compared to the threat of trademarked properties being totally hijacked by unscrupulous competitors.

Comic creators, please get educated on copyright and trademark laws. They can be your friends or your enemies. Don’t let your ignorance on the subject make your property a hostage as you travel that long, arduous Yellow Brick Road to success.

Celebrating Thirty Years of Comics History!

Gerry Giovinco


2012 Welcome to The End of the World!

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

I can’t believe that 2011 is finally behind us! The year sure went fast and boy was it rocky but hey, some of us enjoy a wild roller coaster ride. Now we have to look forward to the brave new year of 2012. Thanks to the Mayan calendar and a few other prophetic hijinks many fear that this year is targeted to be The End of the World.

Bring it on Baby!

Regardless what the predictions may be, you can bet 2012 will be the end of the world as we know it, especially in the field of comics. 2011 set the foundation for the Digital Age and I think that this year you will see comics taking a foothold as a dominant player in digital media.

Beware of the little guy!

The nature of digital marketing and distribution as it stands today will make the market an open free-for-all and don’t be surprised to find some of the smallest fish making the biggest waves because of their ability and willingness to navigate freely, unencumbered by bureaucracy, corporate red tape, and allegiance to traditional systems of distribution.

This sounds like a lot of hype from an Indy guy like myself plugging a web based comic site here at CO2 Comics with my partner Bill Cucinotta and a loyal roster of comic contributors that for the last two and a half years have been plugging away diligently.  We are happy to be little guys in times like this because we have been there before and we know the potential of the current environment.

Gerry Giovinco, Bill Cucinotta & Phil LaSorda

2012 marks the thirtieth anniversary of our first attempt at publishing comics as Comico the Comic Company. Bill and I, along with former partners Phil and Dennis LaSorda, were little guys with not much more than a dream when we attempted to tackle the then fledgeling Direct Market with our first black and white  anthology comic book, Primer #1. Within a few years we had surprised the industry  as we grew to be a dominant player, publishing acclaimed color comics, securing daring licensing deals, and working with a long list of some of the most talented artists in the field.

A lot has changed over the last thirty years, in the industry, in the world and in our lives, but one thing is still the same. Bill and I, along with the rest of our CO2 Comics family, have big dreams about creating comics and we know first hand the potential of being the little guy. I am a sucker for nice round numbers and twenty twelve rolls of the tongue in a robust kind of way but a thirty year benchmark is a great excuse to stand up and want to be accounted for.

This year for us will be a celebration of our past accomplishments  and a reminder to ourselves and the world what we are capable of. 2012 may not really be the end of the world after all but don’t be surprised if a new world emerges, especially where CO2 Comics is concerned.

Happy New Year!

Celebrating Thirty Years of Comics History!

Gerry Giovinco


Halloween Treat

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Since this is my last blog before Halloween I thought it would be fun to take a jaunt down the old, haunted Memory Lane starting with an illustration I did of a baby Bela Lugosi for a project as a student at the Philadelphia College of Art.

Thirty years ago, when Bill Cucinotta and I were still hacking away with friends at our student newspaper, DUCKWORK, Matt Wagner had joined our little band of ducks. The DUCKWORK staff had that year, by proxy, become the Arts Council of the college and it became our job to coordinate the 1981 Annual PCA Halloween Ball.

Matt accepted the responsibility of designing the poster for the event which we screen printed with black ink on white paper and added a touch of red by hand. The original prints were roughly 14×18 inches and were posted around campus for all to see.

I came across the preliminary sketches that Matt had made in one of my sketchbooks, and since I am lucky enough to have the poster as well I thought it would be a nice Halloween treat to share.

The following October, DUCKWORK would be gone, but as Comico, Bill and I, along with partners Phil and Dennis LaSorda would publish our first comic book, Comico Primer #1. Matt Wagner would introduce his popular Grendel character in issue #2 and the rest is history.

Time sure flies when your making comics. Three decades later we’re still at it, bringing our readers great comics right here on the internet with CO2 Comics. We do sure miss the smell of paper though so stay tuned for another treat that will be announced sooooooooooooooooooon!

OH, and have a Happy Halloween!

Making Comics Because I Want To

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


Encouraging Comics

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

Last week in the blog I made mention that, back in the day, comics had a long running stigma as the ghetto of the art world and was not a career that most talented illustrators aspired to. The art educators that I encountered were usually very quick to dissuade anyone expressing interest in comics. This caustic atmosphere made it difficult to maintain an enthusiasm toward a medium that was so poorly regarded. Fortunately much of that attitude has changed.

Regardless of all the detractors I encountered as an art student I could not deny that comics was where my heart was and I continued to focus all of my energies on the pursuit of a career in comics.

I chose to ignore the unenlightened and gravitate toward those that offered encouraging support. My experience was that people outside of the arts community were much more impressed with the idea of me wanting to be a comic artist.

Comics is a medium that everyone can relate to simply because it is hard not to understand a message delivered by both words and pictures. It also helped that the most successful comics usually dealt with universal themes that most people could relate to. I always felt that this was my attraction to the medium, that it was a medium for the masses.

Growing up I was always able to find encouragement from family, friends and school teachers. In 1978 during my junior year at Bishop Kenrick High School I had a unique experience that had a solidifying effect on my cartooning interests.

Sister Henrietta

My Algebra teacher at the time was an extremely elderly nun named Sister Henrietta. She was a lovely woman but had lost control of the class partly due to her feeble old age. The kids in the class were so bad she would douse us with holy water each day in an effort to exercise the demons from the room!

I was shocked one day when, despite the mayhem that was the general conduct of the class, Sister Henrietta, signaled me out for doodling in my notebook and ordered that I see her after class.

Expecting detention or at least demerits for my infraction I was delighted to find out that, instead, Sister Henrietta was a fan of my handmade comics that I frequently distributed around school.

Mathmanauts

Little did she know that she would eventually become a character in one of my creations when I would parody the entire Math department in a comic titled Mathmanauts inspired by one of my favorite comics of the time, Micronauts by Bill Mantlo and Michael Golden.

Inspiration fot The Mathmanauts

Sister had much more up her sleeve than respect for my work. She had a deal in mind. The same deal she presented to a former student of hers who she wondered if I might know.

Bil Keane 1990

Decades prior, the great Bil Keane, creator of the iconic Family Circus daily comic, was a doodler in her class and she let him off the hook with a promise that he would pursue his dream and be a successful cartoonist.

We all know that Bil lived up to his end of the deal, still creating his comic now with the help of his son, Jeff.

Sister Henrietta had stayed in touch with Bil Keane over the years and, shortly after I had agreed to the same promise, she rewarded me with a piece of original art and an encouraging critique received from Bil himself in response to some samples of my work that she had sent to him unbeknownst to me.

Bil Keane Letter

Delivering on a promise

Bil Keane’s shoes are nearly impossible to fill but I was anxious to be included in the pedigree of Sister’s success stories. In 1982 I rushed to the convent to personally deliver a copy of my first published comic work that appeared in Comico Primer #1. Bedridden, it was clear that Sister Henrietta would not be with us much longer but she found great comfort knowing that she was still able to encourage the dreams of her students.

That Family Circus original still hangs by my drawing board as a constant reminder of my deal made with Sister over thirty years ago. It has come to my attention that she made that deal with every doodler she encountered though I like to think that I am one of the few that have such a precious memento and actually delivered on my end of the bargain.

Original Bil Keane

When I was informed recently by my friend and former student of Sister Henrietta’s, Aaron Keaton, that Sister sprung that deal regularly in her day, I dropped a quick email to Bil Keane letting him know how she had used his example to keep us hack doodlers in line all those years.

Bil simply responded, “That sounds like, Sister!

I have a few more great stories like this that include encounters with Arnold Roth, Rudy Nebres and others that have offered moral support to me when when I was a budding comic creator which I will share in coming weeks.

If anyone out there has similar tales I would love to read them! Send them along as comments on the blog or directly to me by e-mail. I’ll be happy to share them here.

Encouragement makes a huge difference, especially to a young creator seeking creative direction in their life. I make it a point to be a positive influence on a young talent every chance I get and I hope that other comics creators do the same.

Influence is a legacy that can rarely be measured but its impact is universal.

Making Comics Because I Want to.

Gerry Giovinco

The Comic Company: Out of the Ruins

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Don MacPherson made a recent commentary on Eye on Comics titled For Sale: The Ruins of Comico regarding what he refers to as, “an unusual listing dealing specifically with Comico’s history.”

His observations are quite astute, regarding the sale of what is described as “HUGE collection of proofs, color separation & color key printing cells, art copy, original artwork, comic books, graphic novels, posters and advertising items. THOUSANDS OF ITEMS. Collection from the founder of Comico Comic Book Company.”

Clarification, however, is in order.

This collection is from a founder of Comico. Not the founder or founders of the defunct company.

Readers of this blog The Comic Company are well aware that Bill Cucinotta and I, the principals here at CO2 Comics, were both among the partnership that founded Comico. A partnership that also included the late Phil Lasorda and eventually his older brother Dennis who was our financial backer from the publication of our first book Comico Primer #1.

By the time Comico was in its 1990 bankruptcy Bill and I had NO involvement with the company which was entirely in the stewardship of Phil and Dennis.

We have absolutely nothing to do with the possession and possible sale of the Comico materials in this listing and have absolutely no involvement, ties or dealings of any kind with Dennis LaSorda and ebay user coyotesurplus.

We make no bones about celebrating our accomplishments as publishers of Comico. We are proud of the work that we did, the innovations that we established and the odds that we beat. We have made it a point to focus on the positives to accentuate the legacy that we believe we’ve earned.

David Anthony Kraft's COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection Vol 1

CO2 Comics is NOT Comico the Comic Company! It is not the rebirth of Comico. It is the reunion of two Comico partners that still have a lot of comics to publish and a lot of ideas of how to do it differently than before.

CO2 Comics is a quickly growing web comic collective that features a number of the creators that worked with us during our days with Comico. We have recently published our first book under the imprint, David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection Volume 1.

We have reviewed the listing and have a few observations and opinions.

Detail of original by Gerry Giovinco given away as a gift

The photos show only a very limited number of pieces of original art. One notable piece was created by me and was given as a gift to Dennis. It is possible that the art in question could have all been acquired in this manner. Some of the images could also be photostats that appear to be originals in the photos.

It always was Comico policy to return all art to the creators. If there is art that was not returned, we are in total agreement that it should be returned to the rightful owners of the work. If you are a creator that believes your work could be among this lot, we would suggest you fight to get it back.

Originals?

We would have expected that the extensive amount of production material, inventory of promotional items and back stock of books would have been turned over to Andrew Rev as assets when he purchased Comico in 1990. We can only speculate as to why they are still warehoused in the Norristown area.

It is difficult to tell by the listing and the explanation given by the seller who actually currently claims ownership of the goods. Is the seller listing them for Dennis? Have they purchased the goods to resell at a profit? Did they take possession of the goods for a particular reason?

It is sad for us to see evidence of years of hard work, talent and aspiration heaped so randomly on a pile in some storage facility. Even sadder to consider that some of it may have been misappropriated.

We sincerely hope that that is not the case and that eventually this work will find its way into the hands of rightful and legitimate owners who will respect it and display it proudly for its valuable role in the history of comic art.

Making Comics because I want to

Gerry Giovinco


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