Posts Tagged ‘comico’

Camden Comic Con a Pleasant Surprise

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Going to a new comic book convention is a leap of faith, whether you are a guest, vendor or an attendee.  So many things can dampen the experience. Poor organization, lousy attendance and inhospitable management have ruined many comic conventions and guaranteed that there will not be a second.

The first clue that a con is going to suck is usually the location.  Having a con that is in a town off the beaten path or in a cheesy venue is a major indication that the organizers have no idea what they are doing.

What could be the chance that a comic con held in Camden, New Jersy could be any good? Camden is, after all, too often recognized as  the poorest and most dangerous city in America with a crime rate that is five times the national average!

Sounds like the type of town where you would expect to find a lot of superheroes battling bad guys, not lining up for a cosplay competition.

Despite all odds, however, Camden Comic Con was a wonderful convention that I would heartily recommend to anyone, largely due to the attentiveness and management skills of organizers, Miranda Powell, Bill Haas, their staff and the support of Rutgers University whose campus hosted a safe, accessible and comfortable venue.

For a small, first-time convention organized in just two short months, so many things were done right that it is just amazing, beginning with and highlighted by the hospitality of the staff and Rutgers University. They found a way to make everyone feel appreciated which is, in and of itself, a rarity anywhere in today’s society. They even provided a delicious, complimentary lunch  to all vendors, dealers and guests! Who can not be happy when you are being fed?

Camden Comic con was a remarkably festive, one-day event that was unusually inviting, not just to the hardcore comic fan but to the entire community, opening its doors to anyone that was curious about comic books, free of charge!

Once you walked past the colorful balloon arch, picked up a few free comics left over from last years Free Comic Book Day and adorned yourself with a Camden Comic Con pin you  discovered the live band, Knuckle Puck Time playing in the exhibition area, face painting and crafts for the young children, and insightful panels that covered creative and social issues relating to comics.

There was an array of creators, publishers, and vendors occupying a space that was mercifully, not oversold especially considering that table fees were only $10 – 20 each!

Costumed fans of all ages wandered the floor, waiting for their chance to compete in the cosplay competition at the end of the day while they added immensely to the atmosphere that was enjoyed by the respectable number of 600 fans in attendance.

Hopefully this will be the first in a long tradition of comic conventions held in Camden. It was certainly a boost in the arm for the city, Rutgers, and the comic fans in the community!

CO2 Comics was proud to have been a part of this premiere event and we are admittedly biased about our experience because we had the opportunity to hang out with our long time friend and former ROBOTECH artist Reggie Byers, who we had not seen in years! Reggie’s comic CRESCENT has been popular feature here at CO2 Comics while he has been working on his pet project KIDZ OF THE KING.

We also had the wonderful opportunity to spend the afternoon next to Bob McLeod, long-time penciler and inker extraordinaire! Bob was a gracious as he is talented and we had a great time talking shop when not interacting with visitors to our tables.

My personal highlight was having the chance to finally meet a young fan that would regularly phone and send samples to me when I was Art Director at Comico thirty years ago. “Gus” was then a thirteen year-old with aspirations to create comics and I always considered it my responsibility to encourage him. It was very heartwarming to meet him as an adult that has maintained his interest in the medium knowing that  I personally had some influence on his continued enthusiasm.

So, If you can measure the success of a comic convention by its ability to bring people together, the Camden Comic Con was a rousing success and and extraordinarily pleasant surprise. I can’t wait for the next one! Hope to see you there!

You can see great pics from the convention on their facebook page and there are promises of more pics and updates on their tumblr site.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco



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.



The Alternate Reality of Dark Horse Comics

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Mike Richardson, the publisher of Dark Horse Comics made it very clear that winners do attempt to rewrite the history books, creating an alternate reality that would make any comic universe proud when he made this statement:

“I don’t know if anyone understands today that we spearheaded the creator-owned movement. Image was years away, and any kind of company that offered those rights and those freedoms hadn’t happened yet. We spearheaded that, and I think that fact has been lost over the years.”

Mike Richardson

People that know anything about creator owned comics and especially those that actually care about creator owned comics definitely do NOT understand the point that Mr. Richardson is attempting to make because it is a complete fantasy with no basis in historic reality, whatsoever.

Dark Horse does not even have the longest history of publishing creator owned works of current comics publishing companies. Hell, even Marvel and DC were writing creator owned contracts and offering royalties to creators before Dark Horse even opened its doors! The Big Two had to in response to a gang of Independent publishers that were successfully producing creator owned comics that posed a significant threat to their market share while siphoning away top talent.

Creator ownership is a simple concept. You create it, you own it and that is how copyright law works. Since 1976 the creator owns the work from the instant it is created wether it is filed and registered or not. This excludes, however anything created work for hire in which case it belongs to the company that commissioned the work on their behalf. If you open a comic book or any other work and it says “© Joe/Jane Creator” it is creator owned.

What you do with your creation after you create it is a different story. In the comics industry it was common practice for a creator to sell the entire rights of their creation to a publishing house. This was usually done in the hopes of getting steady work and in the case of some of the more savvy creators a small stake in royalties. Siegel and Shuster sold the rights to Superman for $130 while Bob Kane, reportedly, always held some small stake in Batman.

This practice of buying properties outright was unlike typical book publishing where authors retained their copyright and were paid an advance by publishers for the rights to publish their work then paid royalties on each book sold. This publisher/creator  relationship would endure for a specified term outlined in an agreement which would also include termination clauses and opportunities for revision of rights to the creator.

So this concept of creator ownership has never been anything new, it was just outside of the business tradition that had been established by comic companies who argued that the low price of comic books made them such a low yield product royalties would be negligible.

A quick history lesson for Mr. Richardson since he obviously missed it:

It was the Underground Comix movement in the ’60s and ’70′s that proved that creators could self publish and develop markets to sell their material in. If anybody spearheaded creator owned comics it was this group.

Just a few Creator Owned comics published before Dark Horse existed

When the Direct Market was created by Phil Seuling in 1972 he created a distribution system that was user friendly for creator owned comics. Bud Plant’s Comics & Comix published some early creator owned comics like The First Kingdom by Jack Katz which began in 1974 the same year that Mike Friedrich began publishing Star*Reach. Mike was a huge advocate of creator ownership and represented a number of great comic talents as their agent. By 1977 Heavy Metal hit the racks with creator owned material while Aardvark Vanaheim and WaRP Graphics were self publishing Cerebus and Elfquest respectively. Dean Mullaney formed Eclipse in 1978 and we witnessed the first defectors from Marvel when Don McGregor and Paul Gulacy create Sabre which was also one of the first graphic novels.

Just a few publishers of Creator Owned Comics

The floodgates opened in the 1980′s and a strong wave of publishers all with creator owned contracts poured on the scene, Pacific, First, Comico, Capital, Aircel, Vortex, Fantagraphics, Continuity, Mirage and others all produced creator owned projects well before Dark Horse showed up.

These publishers refined the model that Dark Horse adopted. ADOPTED! Dark Horse may have spearheaded survival in the volatile comics market that sank most of those early publishers by the middle of the ’90s but they certainly did not spearhead the concept of creator ownership.

Each of the publishers had their own way of exploring the terms of the contract with creators. I can only speak for what we did at Comico and we were always proud of how creator friendly and generous our contracts were. Comico paid full page rates that were comparable to those paid by Marvel and DC. In those days that averaged about $200 a page for writing, pencils, inks, lettering and coloring. We paid royalties after each issue broke even which was roughly after 30,000 were sold at which point we split the net 50/50! In those days it was not uncommon for an issue to sell between 60,000-100,000 copies so creators did quite well and they completely owned their property.

I have always been impressed with Dark Horse. They became the company that Comico was always intended to be. Comico discovered new talent,  worked with established pros,  had success with licensed properties and was highly innovative and focused on quality, but  unfortunately made mistakes that led to the company’s failure. When I look at the success of Dark Horse I see confirmation that Comico had many of the right ideas as did most of those early independents that made for one of the most exciting eras of comics history.

It is an insult to see those accomplishments dismissed by a respected guy like Mike Richardson who obviously did his homework but rather than give credit where it is due, chooses to rewrite history to benefit his latest marketing plan.

He is not alone, Image shares the same glory complex, as if they were the first Independents, the first pros to walk away from Marvel and DC but they never would have had the chance if it were not for a host of others that did it over a decade earlier and built a viable market for them to succeed in.

Acknowledging history goes a long way towards gaining the respect you desire. Why waste energy and goodwill fabricating history when you should be focused on making and celebrating your own.

Out of respect I did leave a voicemail for Mike Richardson with his administrative assistant, hoping to get a better insight to why he believes his position but as of this writing the call has not been returned. I guess it got lost in the alternate reality of Dark Horse Comics where the accomplishments of true pioneers no longer exist.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco



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



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



Introducing Dreamcraft

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Dreamcraft is exactly that, a comic crafted from a dream that most creators have, to be the best.

Stan Lee, the godfather of the modern comic book, often explains that he changed his name while working in comics in order to preserve his given name, Stanley Martin Lieber, for when he fulfilled his dream of writing the great American novel. Little did Stan ever expect that there would be a day when one would dream of creating the great American graphic novel.

It may be presumptuous to anticipate that Dreamcraft may one day be considered among the great graphic novels of our time but as a co-publisher here at CO2 Comics I can only dream of it exceeding our expectations.

Craig Rippon, Sam Custodio and Bill Anderson

The first indication that Dreamcraft may be special is the creative team whose seamless blend of talents has Craig Rippon sharing writing duties with Sam Custodio and art chores with Bill Anderson.

Craig Rippon, journeyman comic artist for Milestone Media, Valiant, Charlton and Archie, executes the art with a clean, crisp, detailed and dynamic style of visual storytelling  that is complimented wonderfully by the creative skills of Bill Anderson who has been a favored inker of many in his thirty years in the industry and a favorite here at CO2 Comics since his earliest work on Skrog in the seminal days of Comico.

The story that drives the beautiful full-color art is equally compelling as Craig combines his writing prowess  with Sam Custodio, who has enjoyed a  twenty year career as an advertising copywriter capitalizing on his skills as  both a creative and critical writer. Sam’s nearly completed doctorate in American Literature assures us that the writing in Dreamcraft will be measured by the creative team against the best.

Dreamcraft captures the reader’s attention immediately and forces them to turn the page and beg for more deeply submersing the audience into a realm of a science fiction, fantasy thriller that will not only entertain but explore the moral, ethical and sociological challenges of the near future as exhibited by it’s brief synopsis:

“Dreamcraft futuristic neuron access technology enables a psychologist to enter the mind and psyche of his troubled patient – and inhabit the dreams therein – but when the subject is murdered, the doctor is trapped, and the limits of heaven and hell are tested, as two men share one death.”

Can Dreamcraft be the next great American graphic novel?

That is up to the audience to decide.

Dreamcraft is a work in progress and is being serialized weekly, here on CO2 Comics where it can be experienced page by page as it is created.

Read it.

Enjoy it.

Share it.

Let the creators and us know that you want more by showing your support so that when Dreamcraft becomes a completed and acclaimed project you can brag that you were a vital part of the fulfillment of a creative dream come true from the very beginning.

Now, proudly introducing,  Dreamcraft – “Behold the Dreamer Cometh

Gerry Giovinco



Stray Dog in San Francisco!

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

Steve Lafler brought his show on the road again this year with an all-out Rock & Roll Dog Book Party in the city by the bay, San Francisco! What can we say? Steve is one happy puppy and couldn’t wait to celebrate the publication of Doggie Style: The Complete Dog Boy, his newest book from CO2 Comics featuring his oldest and most beloved character.

Steve Lafler at The Mercury Cafe

The party, held at the Mercury Cafe on July 25th, had Dog Boy’s fleas jumping all night with tail wagging sets from Steve’s very own country/punk band The Dick Nixon Experience that he heads up with his old pal Scotty Hoover.

Between sets there was plenty of food and libations to go around and of course lots of book signing because Steve was toting around stacks of paperback and hardback editions of his huge 488 page omnibus Doggie Style: The Complete Dog Boy, thanks to his wildly successful Kickstarter campaign where he was able to nearly double his intended goal!

Steve knows how to put together a road trip, reminding us how he hit the ground running last year to promote his first  CO2 Comics graphic album, Ménage à Bughouse a 408 page compilation of his Bughouse trilogy.

Bug House cover

We’re happy that Steve is happy! He has earned his doggie treats. He began publishing Dog Boy back in 1982 and was one of the early indy publishing pioneers of the Direct Market. We first met and were inspired by him when we were young publishers with Comico. Since the early days with his Cat Head imprint, Steve has brought Dog Boy and his other creations to readers through various publishers like Fantagraphics and Top Shelf. We are thrilled that our relationship with Steve has come full-circle and we can now boast having published Steve’s work here at CO2 Comics!

Steve has given us the wonderful opportunity to serialize three of his greatest comics, El Vocho, Bughouse and Dog Boy as web comics on our CO2 Comics site where they can be perused for free at any time. Check ‘em out and see how quickly you get sucked in to Steve’s eclectic and energetic art and stories!

Steve’s work is so voluminous that we couldn’t wait to collect them in print. Steve had already beat us to the punch with El Vocho, but hey, we like big chunky books so we jumped on collecting the Bughouse trilogy and the massive collection of Dog Boy comics. The results are two tremendous graphic album collections, Ménage à Bughouse and   Doggie Style: The Complete Dog Boy available in hardback and paperback editions directly to you Print On Demand from our Lulu storefront! with all of our other great creator owned product.

So if you are in San Francisco keep an eye out for stray dogs because the party may be over but Steve is out there somewhere struttin’ his stuff in style. Doggie Style, that is!

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco



Fans Build a Comic Company

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

When it comes to selling graphic albums,  CO2 Comics uses the oldest trick in the book. We sell direct to the customer. It makes sense to us. It is how people sold goods and services since the dawn of cash transactions. We want a relationship with our fans that is as direct as possible.

We don’t use distributors. We’ve eliminated the middle man and those added expenses.  Because of this we don’t see the need for ISBN numbers and barcodes. We think it is just as easy for readers to find our books using any popular search engine as it is to search for books on Amazon or any other online retailer. Our fans already know where to find the product. If you are reading this blog post, our online store is just a click away. Purchasing our books through our Lulu storefront is as safe and easy as any other online purchase you can make.

The reason we do this is simple. We want as much of the revenue generated from our books to go to the creators as possible. Traditional distribution systems seem to generate revenue for everybody but the creators. Typically, publishers receive not much more than 10% of the cover price and pay creators royalties only after all other expenses are met. This too often results in little or no compensation to the creator payed long after the book is published and there is always the threat of returns.

We have other ideas. Because we publish our graphic albums Print On Demand through Lulu we are able to pay our creators 70% of the revenue CO2 Comics  generates off of each book sold starting with the first book printed.

Yes, production costs are higher on individually printed books and yes, Lulu does take a 20% cut of profits from books sold on their site, but when all is said and done, creators will receive about 30% of the cover price from each book sold from our Lulu storefront. That is way better than sharing 10% after expenses are met, if they are.

Lulu reports and pays each and every month allowing for quick and steady revenue stream. Our creators get paid when we get paid and they make the lion’s share of the profit. They earned it. They did most of the work.

Revolutionary? Not at all. selling direct to the customer It is as “old-school” as it gets but people still look at us like we are renegades. We have no ISBN. We are not in Diamond’s catalog. We sell our books ourselves. This seems to translate, for some, into “not real publishers, ” “not newsworthy” and “not worthy to review.”

1st five Comico Covers

Comico's 1st Color Books

We have greatly appreciated the fan press that has recognized the pedigree of the creators we have published and shown a modicum of faith in our own publishing legacy as former publishers of Comico comics. We wish more news outlets were as committed to acknowledging works by respected, journeyed creators, historic collections and our efforts to redefine how comics can be sold in this ever changing market.

More importantly, we appreciate the fans that support us. We believe that the comic is not complete until it is read. We know that the reader’s imagination is what connects the panels and fills in the blanks making comics a unique interactive visual experience of storytelling. Our fans are responsible for the growing popularity of the CO2 Comics site. Thank you for your visits, your support on social media, and your purchases of our product.

We are building a relationship that we believe is important. One that is direct and honest. We produce great comics that you enjoy and you allow us to continue through your patronage.  We are building something special here at CO2 Comics. It is a cooperative effort between us as publishers, the talented creators, and the fans who are our loyal customers. We will build this comic company together and that will be newsworthy enough for us.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco



Independents Day

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

Hoist the flag! Fire up the grill! Shoot off the fireworks! Americans love the Fourth of July and go to great measures to celebrate because it represents the one thing we all hold dear. Freedom!

We take freedom for granted too often. It takes harsh reminders, like spotting a limbless veteran saluting the flag as tears of pride well in their eyes at a small town parade, to remind us that the freedoms we enjoy continue to require great sacrifice and diligence.

Everyone wants to be free to be able to live their life as they choose, to express themselves and not be oppressed. It does not matter who you are. Freedom is an inalienable right.

Comics have been at the forefront of the battle for freedom since Benjamin Franklin published the first known editorial cartoon in America.  “Join, or Die” appeared in the Pennsylvania Gazette on May 9, 1754. The simple language of comics that combines words and pictures to communicate reaches broad audiences and has been used extensively as a tool of propaganda and information promoting freedom since its inception.

It is ironic, however,  that the comic book industry has been the source of some of the most oppressive employment policies, corporate greed and censorship. One symbol stands out as an identifier of all that is bad about the industry. The stamp of approval from the Comics Code Authority. This stamp seems innocent enough and is a nostalgic reminder of the exciting comics of the Silver and Bronze Age, but if a comic bore it on its cover you know that creators had no ownership in their work, unscrupulous work for hire commitments were in place,  every panel was scrutinized by a censorship board and distribution was controlled.

Rebels of the traditional comics publishing system were easily spotted. Their comics had no stamp or, in some cases, one that mocked the Authority itself. They were the Underground Comics of the 1970′s and they lit a fire that showed future comic publishers that it was time to stand up and be liberated.

Fueled further by the struggles of writers and artists over creators rights and the development of the Direct Market a new wave of alternative comic publishers emerged, most with new and liberal views regarding creator ownership and all enjoying the freedom from the constraints of the Comic Code Authority.

These publishers became known as Independents and they redirected the course of the entire comics medium, opening the door for more mature content and variety of genre that had been missing in the industry for decades. Readers saw comics grow up. What they didn’t see was the stamp of the Comics Code Authority in the upper right-hand corner of the comic books.

The Independents fought and continue to fight the good fight, but not without casualty. Nearly all of those early Independent publishing houses are gone including Comico, the comic company that I co-founded along with Bill Cucinotta and other partners in 1982.

New Independents now carry the mantle and the fight goes on.

Bill and I have retrenched and formed CO2 Comics four years ago. It is a new type of comic company that continues to explore the boundaries of independence as a comic publisher. We publish comics on the internet, free to a massive, global audience. We work in cooperation with comic creators to create a mutual positive experience for all involved.

Most importantly we produce comic books in print with more freedom than we ever would have thought possible thirty years ago when we first began publishing.  Last year we celebrated as Independents by declaring The Power of Three. by releasing our first three graphic novels under the CO2 Comics imprint, Heaven and the Dead City, The Heavy Adventures of Captain Obese! and Ménage à Bughouse.

This year we have more in store. More great product with our own Independent stamp of approval. We are excited, but our version of Independents Day is still over a week away so we plan to build to a great finale like any good Fourth of July display of fireworks.

Join the excitement! Follow the blog, follow us on Facebook, and on Twitter. We’ll be hinting at our next three publications and expecting your stamp of approval when we finally release their availability live for all to enjoy!

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



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