Posts Tagged ‘Graphic Novel’

Comics on Campus

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

This past week I had the pleasure of sitting in on a free lecture “Comics and the Art of Visual Communication” by legendary comic creator and theorist, Scott McCloud who was out promoting his new graphic novel, The Sculptor.

The event  was hosted by Rutgers University at their Camden, NJ campus. This was the same campus that hosted the second annual Camden Comic Con just a month ago where CO2 Comics presented a panel on our experience as independent publishers reuniting with some of the crew from our days publishing Comico comics back in the 1980’s.

It is so exciting to see the medium of comics finally being accepted by the great halls of higher education! When I was in college back in the early 1980’s at the Philadelphia College of Art, the administration and faculty showed complete disdain for the medium describing it as derivative and kitsch while vowing to break me of my interest in this lowly form of art. It is ironic that now, renamed the University of the Arts, they boast about  graphic novel writer Neil Gaiman’s inspirational commencement speech in 2012where they also presented Gaiman and Pulitzer Prize winning, editorial cartoonist Tony Auth each with an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts!

My, how times have changed!

More and more colleges and universities are including comic art or graphic novel courses into their curriculum. Some are beginning to build robust libraries dedicated to collections of comic books. Because of the rise of the graphic novel format and the popularity of comic related adaptations into other forms of media, educators have begun to take the comic medium seriously and since the first publication of Scott McCloud’s book Understanding Comics in 1993, educators have had a blueprint for teaching the subject.

My experience at PCA was not unusual. Comics history is wrought with degradation by  educators who widely considered it a form of base communication with no educational merit. Comics were believed to contribute to the delinquency and corruption of the minds of young readers. This notion was exasperated further by Dr. Fredrick Wertham’s book Seduction of the Innocent. Discussion among educators was more focused on how to steer readers away from comic books than to encourage them. Many even resorted to public burnings of the comics!

This sentimentality was buffered slightly by the comic industry’s 1954 adoption of a self imposed censorship called the Comic Code Authority which warranted against  any corruptive material in comics in the wake of a U.S. Congressional inquiry. It stood for decades as possibly the most rigorous form of censorship of any American medium.

Somehow, comics managed to still find a way to be interesting and in the early 1960’s with the help of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, Marvel Comics discovered how to appeal to young adults despite the shackles of the Code. The interest in the medium by college students in that era developed a fertile foundation for the future generations of comic creators to grow from.

Stan Lee recognized the interest of the college students and brought his show on the road as evidenced by this recording of Stan addressing students at Princeton University in 1966. Marvel comics spoke to the youth movement of the sixties. Those comics empowered some to create more comics that grew with the readers and reflected the unrest of the new culture that was rising.

Comics evolved throughout the seventies and eighties giving rise to the underground and independent movements that aborted the Comic Code, fought for creators rights and developed a new distribution system that allowed the unfettered medium to flourish. By the dawn of the new millennium comics were poised to explode as a form of powerful artistic expression.

Then came the internet, digital distribution, and print on demand.

Few mediums have benefitted so greatly by modern technology to put both the literal and visual power  into the hands of a single creator. From this has come great works of expression that need to be digested by those interested in learning and understanding the powerful form of visual literature known as comics.

Colleges and universities have figured this out and are actively reaching out to communities to share the mechanics of this exciting medium that has had such an incredible impact on popular culture.

A quick browser search revealed a few programs since the beginning of the year at schools like Vassar,  William & Mary, University of FloridaOhio State University, The University of Hartford, Drake University, and Northern Illinois University.

Those combined with the stops on Scott McCloud’s tour which have already included Mississippi State, Wittenberg University, Champlain College, and Rutgers University make it a wonderful time to be enlightened about the true cultural value of the comics medium and how it extends so far beyond what many know as just superheroes or funny animals. If you love comics, you may want to get to know them better at a college campus near you.

Take the time to check with colleges or universities in your area to see if they are promoting any public lectures on comics. Some provide courses that may be accessible to you. I promise you will be impressed by the diversity of the group that attends, it will be what you expect from any college, a broad mix of age, gender, and culture and everyone had a great time. Special thanks to Rutger’s Digital Studies Center, the Office of Campus Involvement, the Chancellor’s Office, the Department of English, and the Department of Fine Arts for pulling their resources for a great event that covered so many disciplines.

Gerry Giovinco

The Weather Outside is Frightful and Comics are so Delightful…

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Christmas is just a week away and Mother Nature is doing her part to set the mood for the Holiday Season ’cause, “baby, it’s cold outside!”

Growing up, I had a sure-fire remedy for “cabin fever” or “winter blues” when the snow was piled high and it was too bitter to spend an entire day outside sledding on the slopes, building a snowman or engaging in a raucous snowball fight. I would just hunker down with a big pile of comic books and bask in the warm glow of mind-bending, four-color adventure.

Back in the 1970’s comics offered a different sense of comfort than they seem to do today. Maybe it was the newsprint that they were printed on. It had a different texture than the glossier, bleached-white paper stock of today’s comics.

Chemical Color Chart

The ink was absorbed into the surface of the more porous paper, softening images against an écru background, delighting the eyes with a loud yet, limited palette of just 62 colors (64 if you counted black and white) laid flat in each field of the dynamically drawn images they filled.

The soft touch of newsprint, as satisfying on a cold day as a fuzzy, heavily patterned, acrylic sweater, was complemented by a distinguished odor of pulp that is still easily conjured by memory alone decades later.

Comic books were more wholesome then, bound by the editorial constraints of the Comics Code Authority.  A cold  afternoon of reading stacks of assorted comics and sipping hot cocoa  left the heart, body and imagination feeling as stoked as a flame dancing in an open hearth.

I can’t imagine that experience being the same for readers of comics today as temperatures plunge into the teens and below to kick-off another long winter. Happily though, comics are still the answer to many on a frigid day.

Contemporary comic readers sit nestled under warm blankets often reading comics in the dark, illuminated by the electrons on the screen of their tablet or computer instead of the glow a crackling fire.

Those that prefer their comics on paper, handle them gingerly and slip them into the sterile confines of a mylar sleeve before tucking them away into an indexed long box instead of lovingly tossing them back into a  pile.

Stories that were delivered complete in one 32 page issue are now rare. An afternoon reading dozens of random comics is now spent engages with just one lengthy graphic novel or several issues of a collected “event.”

“Wholesome” is no longer a word to describe comics in general, but delightfully it has been replaced with “diverse.” Comics are no longer relegated to just fans of superheroes and funny animals. Comics have come of age and finally tackle so many subjects that there is assuredly a comic out there for nearly everybody.

Comics are delivered in books, magazines, pamphlets, websites and apps. They can be accessed anywhere at anytime. Comics are everywhere for everyone.

A reader could easily spend a winter reading just the comics posted for free here at  CO2 Comics or lounging with the several graphic novels and two volumes of COMICS INTERVIEW The Complete Collection that we have available on our Christmas Wish List.

So, if you go to your window and discover that the weather outside is frightful, remember that comics are still delightful, there’s really no place to go, “let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!”

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

Making Comics is Risky Business: Part 4

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Over the years the business risk of making comics has shifted as has been outlined in the previous three installments of Making Comics is Risky Business.

Part 1 , Part 2 , Part 3

As promised in this last article on the subject we will now take a closer look at the risky business of speculation and why crowd funding is the future for comics publishing.

When Phil Seuling developed the concept of the Direct Market in the late 1970’s he predicated it on the existence of comic book specialty shops that were springing up across the country, most of which depended on sales of collectible back-issues, the value of which were marked up considerably on many depending upon their rarity and conditions.

Though back-issues at the time were still generally affordable, they established a precedent for what would constitute speculative value. Premiere issues, popular creators, significant events and, of course, mint condition comics became sought after commodities by comic collectors who became the backbone customers of the Direct Market.

As the rising prices of collectible comics became a recognized investment, collectors began to buy multiple issues of their favorite comics, one to read and others to  squirrel away in mylar bags, preserving their mint condition and hopefully driving up their potential value.

The customers became speculators and took over the position of financial risk takers in the comic market. Professional speculators bought specific issues in quantity, artificially driving up demand and inflating aftermarket retail figures.

Retailers and publishers took advantage of the speculator market and a secondary market of collectible supplies like bags, boards and boxes sprang up.

Independent publishers benefitted greatly from the speculative nature of the market during the 1980’s as collectors feared missing the next “Holy Grail” guaranteeing that at least premiere issues of almost any title could receive respectable sales figures.

As Independent publishers began to proliferate in the market presenting themselves as serious competition for Marvel and DC, the Big Two, in defense of their reign, launched an all-out assault of first issues featuring popular characters and creators. Focusing on the speculative nature of the market they employed novelty devises like mini-series, variant covers, crossovers and events to successfully flood the competition out of the market.

By the mid 1990’s the Direct Market was a bloated mess of over-inflated and over-hyped product that nobody wanted or could any longer afford, crashing the market and even forcing Mighty Marvel into bankruptcy. Diamond stood as the only surviving distributor to a market that was once serviced by over a dozen.

Through it all the emergence of the graphic novel and the success of imported Japanese Manga paved a road into traditional bookstores challenging the Direct Market’s role as sole provider of comics to changing readership. Digital media, however was lurking in the background, poised to change how comics could be delivered to a world wide audience.

Eric Millikin's Art

The development of the web comic, which began with Eric Millikin’s Witches and Stitches as early as 1985, grew through the 1990’s and has flourished in the 2000’s, has changed the rules for creating comics completely and for the first time put the risk fully on the shoulders of the creators as, in most cases, they are the sole publishers and maintain complete autonomy of their works.

Though it requires minimal expense to post comics online, the true cost in publishing web comics is in the time it takes to create the material and cultivate the audience. Monetization of the web comics remains the biggest challenge as web comikers struggle to find ways to profit from their works. Most creators that have managed to bridge that gap have done so by rolling their web content into print product or digital downloads for mobile devices to be sold for retail.

Minimizing their investment risk, these unique independent publishers have taken advantage of today’s technology to put that risk into the hands of the consumer. Using Print on Demand suppliers like Lulu, CreateSpace, Comixpress, Ka-Blam, and others, they no longer need to sit on large quantities of expensive unsold books waiting for sales. Books are printed to order and shipped directly to customers, avoiding the need for distributors and returning a much larger portion of the profit to the publisher who is most often the creator themselves.

Steve Gerber

Finally, creators have found a way to control their properties which have been historically robbed from them by comic publishers for the last seventy years as wonderfully described by the late Steve Gerber in this recently resurfaced article Truth, Justice, & The Corporate Conscience, which I beg you to read and share with every comic creator you know.

The modern comic publisher also has a new tool at their disposal to minimize their risk and further enlist the consumer to share the burden. Crowdfunding through services like Kickstarter , and Indiegogo , capitalize on the strength of social networking and perks offered by campaign developers to essentially pre-sell comic projects.

Comic creators set a goal that represents the investment they will need to produce their project and they request financial support through pledges on these crowdfunding platforms. For various levels of financial support, rewards are offered as incentives. Though these rewards often vary considerably they generally include a printed copy of the project being promoted establishing a new form of marketing and distribution. If the established goal is not met, pledged funds are not collected and rewards are nullified.

Because crowdfunding does such a wonderful job predetermining the success of a project, some observers are viewing the phenomenon as a new form of market research avoiding the need for agents and pitchmen to sell a concept.

So, yes, making comics is risky business as has been proven over the last seventy-five years but it doesn’t have to be as risky as it has been. Now is the time for creators to take advantage of the resources available to them and take control of the direction of the industry so that they, themselves, can enjoy the riches provided by their creations rather than some domineering corporation that views creators merely as cheap disposable labor from which to capitalize on.

Carpe diem!

Gerry Giovinco

Broadcast Blues

Monday, October 17th, 2011

This week I read a blog post by Warren Ellis who did a great job of examining the possibility of a lost opportunity regarding webcomics in relationship to the newly popularized digital distribution of comics. If you have any interest in this sort of topic it is a lengthy but worthwhile read.

About a month ago I had written my own wordy post on the subject which, if you missed it, can be found here I covered a lot of the same issues that Warren Ellis did and came to similar conclusions. Warren and I should get together over a cold one some time.

He used the term “broadcast” when describing webcomics which I thought was a brilliant analogy especially regarding distribution of content.  When I think of broadcasting comics via the internet it reminds me of ham radio and the network of amateur radio enthusiasts that have the opportunity to express their right to freedom of speech over the air. It is an activity that they enjoy and do so because they want to, not because their ulterior motive is profit.

The internet offers comic creators, wether amateur or professional, the opportunity to exercise our inalienable right to make comics however we please.  It is a powerful tool for the medium that I hope will never be completely overlooked in the name of monetization as creators seem determined to rush toward digital distribution and turn away from the web.

I can’t help but look at the Occupy Wall Street folks struggling to coordinate the power of their voice and draw a comparison to webcomikers taking a stand in the name of making comics. Both groups have a need to publicly express themselves and are doing so with limited structure and a lot of passion. Like the garbled message of  the protestors not all webcomics meet with warm reception but, like the message or not, you have to be proud that we live in a country that gives us an opportunity for free expression and that it is being exercised.

Having the courage to find a voice and the ability deliver that  message is what is important wether it may be politics, opinion, music, video, art or comics. The internet gives us that freedom as comic creators, even if it does present a difficult venue to generate revenue from our precious content. We need to preserve its use for its value as a powerful forum for our freedom of expression through webcomics.

So, buy a comic book or graphic novel, pay to download an app and a bunch of digital comics, enjoy your purchase and support a comic creator but please bookmark your favorite webcomic, surf the web frequently for new webcomics that you have yet to discover and support the growth of the comics medium.

Make CO2 Comics one of your bookmarks and we will continue to do our best to bring you quality innovative comics. Thanks for being on the receiving end of our broadcast!

Making Comics Because I Want To

Gerry Giovinco

Reinvention: The Stepchild of Necessity

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

The Comics industry is all too familiar with having to reinvent itself in an effort to survive changing times.

Comics made the jump from newspapers to comic books addressing a new publishing trend in the late thirties.

The forties watched Superman be reinvented over and over as a whole genre of superheroes was created.

The comic book industry rescued itself from oblivion in the fifties by adopting the Comics Code Authority to placate the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency though it placed a stranglehold on much of what made comics interesting and exciting at that time.

Stan Lee

Stan Lee reinvented the superhero genre in the sixties making it viable and relevant to a new generation of readers.

Phil Seuling

The Direct Market pioneered by Phil Seuling in the seventies gave comics the opportunity to be liberated from the Comic Code Authority.

The eighties gave rise to alternative, independent publishers and the concept of creators rights.


The nineties showed the vulnerability of the Direct Market and the power of Manga in the US market.

The new millennium ushered in the the development of new formats in the wake of Manga’s popularity and the graphic novel matured as a format that began to dominate the market.

The “oughts” also ushered in an entirely new venue for comics in the internet and web comics came on the scene.

Now, as we enter the eighth decade of comic history since the invention of the comic book, (I know I am rounding it off by a few years, we’ll throw a party in 2014 to make up for it) we all have to figure out what to make of the advent of digital comics.

For the first time in history, comics have total access to a global market direct from the hands of creators free from censorship, and the burden of high production costs.

Digital comics, whether they are posted on the web, offered as a downloadable files or banked on a cloud can be read on devices as small as the palm of your hand or as large as the biggest television monitor you can imagine.

Digital spells freedom for creators and freedom of choice for readers. Digital offers a free world of possibility. Now how do we handle all of that potential. More importantly, how do we handle that four letter word: F-R-E-E.

We all love to have the freedom to create as we please but face it, we all need to make a buck, especially in these terrible economic times.

My suggestion is that now is not the time to get greedy. As much as we as creators want to get what we deserve, consumers are looking for the best deal possible.

I for one, as a consumer, will look at all the free content I can get before spending a dime on digital content. I will look at every free website and I know that there is a ton of great stuff that would take me years to read. Just look at the hundreds of pages of dynamite material right here at CO2 Comics. Hey, I’m in all my glory because guess what…it’s FREE! FREE! FREE!

Now, on the outside chance that I’m an unusual cheapskate, tightwad I have to wonder how the folks selling digital content for prices that resemble regular comic prices are making out.

I’ve seen the reports that brag sales of digital content for mobile devices that are ten times that of last year and I have to be impressed but what does that really mean? First I have to remember that this technology is only about a year old. How many downloads did they sell that first year? Ten times what?

Captain Visual's big Book of Balloon Art

Since July my first book for the iPad Captain Visual’s Big Book of Balloon Art, which as an e-book sells for $11.99 as opposed to a $24.95 book in print, has increased in sales by 1500%! That is an incredible increase especially in a ridiculously slow market. I bet you want to run out and see what all the fuss is about don’t you?

Well I’m happy to brag about those numbers all day but the truth is I sold one e-book in July. Go ahead, do the math. That’s right. I’ve sold 15 copies in the last six months. At the same time my print copy has sold only six times as many copies as I sold in July but that is six times three at more than twice the price.

You can see how a positive spin can influence a consumer and even a producer interested in digital content.

Publishers will often compare the success of digital content to the slacking sales of a hardback edition but neglect to tell you how the paperback is outselling both.

Digital content is a new toy for the comics industry. Don’t rush in ill informed. Don’t tie up your digital distribution rights based on clouded numbers. Don’t become a statistic in a digital bookstore with an app provider that promises you a gateway to an exciting new market that is yet to be defined.

Don’t throw away your freedoms yet.

My opinion is that digital content should be considered disposable content and should be priced accordingly.

I can’t see selling a digital comic for more than the price of a can of soda or a candy bar. I want to be ravenous about what I want to read regarding comics. I want to read as much as I can and I am not excited about storing the content the way I am excited about collecting a comic book. Sell me the comic for 99¢ or a subscription of 12 for $10 and I’ll be happy.

This is our time to reach a wider audience than we could have ever imagined. We want the world to see our comics. Our intellectual property. A hundred thousand people might be willing to spend a buck on a digital comic like they do on music but raise the price and you will see those numbers fall dramatically. Would you rather sell a hundred thousand e-comics at a dollar or one thousand e-comics at two or three dollars?

Be willing to wholesale your comics and you will find a greater audience. If you don’t believe me look at the Walmarts of the world. They find their success in selling large quantities at the lowest possible price and they are making dinosaurs out of their competition.

Marvel and DC will continue to dictate the market and control the IP of the comic world if everyone is enticed to follow their lead into overpriced content. The market for independent comic publishers will always remain constricted if we continue to price our product where only the hardcore fan is willing to pay for it.

Reach the masses by selling to their pocket change and you will have a property that everyone wants and is eventually willing to pay top dollar for.

At CO2 Comics our comics are free as I mentioned earlier. They are free because we want you to read them and we have faith that you will respect the properties and want to support the creators by buying their works or services that are or may be available for sale.

We expect that if you enjoy the material you will share it with your friends offering greater exposure for the creators and their property. You look all smart, cultured and influential and we reach more readers. Win! Win!

We also know that if you can get the work for free right here you are less likely to download from some torrent site where the creators have no control or benefit at all from the piracy of their works. Thank You!

This decade will be less about reinventing comics as it is about reinventing how comics get to the consumer. We plan to reach as many of you as possible. In the process we will make great comics that will generate revenue in creative ways for the creators.

What do we want from you? Just some respect and your willingness to spread the word. I think it’s a great deal. Don’t you?

Enjoy the next decade! We plan to!

Making comics because I want to.

Gerry Giovinco

The Comic Company: Origins of a Graphic Novel

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

, published in 1978 is most often noted as the first graphic novel mostly because it was the first to declare the name.

The term graphic novel has come to be associated with any collection of comic works that is perfect bound though many would be more aptly distinguished simply as trade paperbacks.

Eisner’s graphic novel itself was actually a collection of four stories rather than one long story generally associated with the word novel.

The first “graphic novel” that I remember reading was Archie Goodwin and Walt Simonson’s adaption of the movie ALIEN published by Heavy Metal in 1979. Titled ALIEN: The Illustrated Story this 64 page, full-color, perfect bound package was a riveting masterpiece of comic art that sold for only $3.95!

I am always surprised that this book is overlooked when the topic of graphic novels is discussed. For me personally, it was a benchmark. I had read trade paperback collections of comics from pocket sized collections of Charles Schultz’s PEANUTS, to Burne Hogarth’s TARZAN of the APES and all of Stan Lee’s Origin books but the ALIEN book, more than any other, spoke to me about format.

It was my first look at what the future of comics could be.

When we began publishing comics as Comico in 1982 we started from the ground up with black-and-white comic books that looked more like fanzines and quickly grew to publish a line of full-color comics that rivaled anything in the market at the time.

Along the way we published a number of graphic novels, two featuring Matt Wagner’s GRENDEL, Harmony Gold’s ROBOTECH, Doug Wildey’s RIO, Mike Baron and Mitch O’Connell’s The World of GINGER FOX, and Harlan Ellison and Ken Steacy’s NIGHT and the ENEMY.

Comico Graphic Novels

Before them all was an unusual graphic novel collection called MAGEBOOK. What made this book unique was that it was NOT a reprint of the first four issues of Matt Wagner’s critically acclaimed comic MAGE.

In 1984 it was apparent that there was a new trend in comics. The miniseries was becoming popular with titles like CAMELOT 3000 and WATCHMEN. It was inevitable that these would be collected and re-published as graphic novels after the initial run.

Matt had informed us early on that MAGE, likewise, would be a limited series. The idea of collecting it in graphic novel format as well became a goal.

Then we were presented with a production issue. In an effort to minimize unit costs, our comics were being gang-printed and though MAGE was a critical success it sold in smaller numbers than most of our other books, resulting in an overstock of the title to be stored.

There, warehoused on a skid, was the opening chapter of what would become our first published graphic novel.

After the first issue we began not binding the interiors of the books, storing the excess signatures for future use. After four issues of MAGE had been published we collected the signatures and the overstock of the first issue and had them neatly bound in a graphic novel format producing MAGEBOOK for merely the cost of the cover and the binding.

Magebook 1

MAGEBOOK was a collection of the original print-run of the first for issues; ads, letter pages and all. Due to its success, we repeated the process for the second volume which has notably larger size dimensions than the first volume because of the availability of trim area that was lost on the first volume due to the first issue of MAGE having been previously trimmed and bound as a comic book.

Magebook 2

These two volumes of MAGEBOOK were probably the only graphic novels ever produced this way! If anyone has any knowledge of others I would love to know about them.

MAGE was later licensed to Starblaze Graphics who repackaged it into a beautiful glossy three volume set that was released in paperback and deluxe, sleeved, Hard Cover editions.

Bill Cucinotta and I still like the idea of repackaging material that we enjoy.

While we are determined to seek out exciting new features by talented comic creators to post here on CO2 Comics, there are a number of features found here that are digital repackages of previously published material which we are proud to introduce to a new audience on the internet.

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

We have also made it our mission to repackage a very important part of comics history. David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection will be a eleven volume set and is, without doubt, “The Greatest Collection of Interviews in the History of Comic Books.”

The first volume available in Hard Cover and Paperback is ON SALE NOW and can be found at

Hurry and get your copy in time for Christmas!

Making comics because I want to

Gerry Giovinco

The Gutter – Turkey Day

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

OMG it is already Thanksgiving!

Where does the year go? 2011 is right around the corner and soon we will all be looking back examining this past year that has seen a lot of dramatic shifts in the comics industry.

Most folks think of Thanksgiving as Turkey Day, a chance for the whole family to gather and give thanks while feasting on the juicy bird packed with stuffing and served with a harvest banquet reminiscent a of a meal shared between the Pilgrims and Native Americans.

Believe it or not, turkeys and comics have a close connection for me. I actually think about it often when I peer out my window here in a very rural area of the the South Jersey Pinelands where I live. Besides being on the constant lookout for the Jersey Devil, and dodging deer that prance in my headlights, I experience wild turkey by the dozens as they flock through my yard on a daily basis.

The site of them always conjures back the memory of a giant print of an Arnold Roth illustration that was on display promoting a show of his work at the Philadelphia College of Art. He was an alumnus there, and it as were my Comico and CO2 Comics partner Bill Cucinotta and I attended college during the early 1980’s.

John "Bondo" Rondeau settles in front of a huge print that we had "aquired" from a show at PCA that featured a famous cartoonist alumnus, Anrnold Roth, who ironically had been expelled from the school when he was a student.

Bill and I were also instrumental in publishing a student newspaper, DUCKWORK, at PCA and managed to appropriate the photostat print that was mounted on foamcore after the show was over. We displayed it in proudly in the DUCKWORK office until it later migrated to the Comico Studio in Norristown where, unfortunately, it has since been lost.

Duckwork Covers 1 & 2

The image depicted two contrasting iconographies of America in passing. On one side was a valiant looking Madame Liberty with a stoic Bald Eagle by her heal. The other side depicted a more humble and much less arrogant interpretation of Americana, a haggard, pipe smoking, frump of a woman content in her baseness, accompanied by a lowly turkey.

Ben Franklin actually preferred the turkey over the bald eagle as the national symbol.

“For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America . . . He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage…”


That turkey, as presented by Mr. Roth and described by Mr. Franklin, came to symbolize comics for me.

Colorful and defiant, native and common, comics find their strength of power in their ability to access the masses and deliver the purest presentation of the message of a sole creator simply using words and pictures.

Underestimated by other media, artists and literati, comics open a unique dialog between to the common folk and the creator who respectfully wishes to communicate directly to them.

As the year quickly comes to a close I am thankful to be reminded by the humble turkey why comics are so important to me. The gobbler primes me for all the comic related resolutions I have in mind for the New Year.

I still, however, have a lot of expectations left for 2010. With the Christmas season upon us, we at CO2 Comics are anticipating that many of you will deem our first print publication, David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection Volume 1, a top pick on your list to Santa.

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

We were surprised to discover that the beautiful Hard Cover edition of CI ranked #3 in Lulu’s Comics and Graphic Novel category this week!

David Anthony Kraft is still drooling over the book himself, exclaiming on facebook, “Knocked out by COMICS INTERVIEW HARDCOVER! Getting up from ground — it’s that good! Lays open flat, like a bible. Can’t BELIEVE how great it is!”

Of course, DAK is biased as are we but we have been thrilled and thankful for the generous response and collective appreciation of the book from people who have had the opportunity to hold one in their hands.

A quick reminder that the Premier editions of both the Hard Cover and the Paperback featuring the Platinum version of the classic, original COMICS INTERVIEW logo will be available only until midnight of New Year’s Eve 2010. So, if you are a collector and want to guarantee that you have this limited edition in your library, act soon!

Comics Interview Premier Edition

One last note regarding COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection. Lulu has been offering generous discounts of up to 20% off for books available on their site. These limited time offers are well worth benefitting from and we will do our best to keep you informed here on the blog and on the CO2 Comics facebook page.

Become a fan of the page and you will be sure to receive these promo updates and be the first to know what is going on here at CO2 Comics.

While we are on the subject of Christmas lists make sure you stop by and check out our newly released DEATH FATIGUE t-shirt line. If you are tired of watching your favorite heroes die the temporary super-death get your very own DEATH FATIGUE swag now!

Captain Obese

I hope that you all have had a chance to check out our latest addition to CO2 Comics, Don Lomax’s The Heavy Adventures of CAPTAIN OBESE. Don’s comic feature is sure to make a large impression on you and make you hungry for more.

Don’t worry! CO2 Comics won’t disappoint you! There will be at least one more big content announcement before 2010 becomes just another space odyssey.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Making comics because I like turkey,

Gerry Giovinco

The Comic Company: In The Black

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

Comico Black Book cover

Creative Black Book 1986

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

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

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

Gerry Giovinco Black Book photo

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

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

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

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

Comico Black Book Spread, Click for larger image

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

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

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

Comics Interview Premier Edition

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

Comics Interview Standard Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We think you’ll agree.

Making comics because I want to.

Gerry Giovinco

Finding Ginger Fox: Pop Star or Pop Art

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Ginger Fox made her debut on Nickelodeon/TeenNick this past Friday, March 19, 2010.

This is not the smart, saavy, sexy Ginger Fox character created and written by Mike Baron and illustrated by Mitch O’Connell that graces the web pages of CO2 Comics in full, glorious color.

Nickelodeon’s Ginger Fox (Ginger Rosselin Cynthia Fox), played by actress  Betsy Rue, is a washed-up pop star trying to make a comeback. Her exploits were featured in an episode titled “iFix A Popstar” on the popular television show iCarly that stars Miranda Cosgrove as Carly.

The show, which is aimed at young teens, broadcast this episode in which Carly and her friends attempt to help Ginger Fox resurrect her career but discover that the has-been star is a bona fied, uncouth idiot. The episode is an obvious parody of Britney Spears and her bungled 2007 MTV Music Awards performance.

Nickelodeon's Ginger Fox

In stark contrast the lead character in Baron/O’Connell’s The World of Ginger Fox is a determined, intelligent and stylish executive of a Hollywood film studio of the 1980’s.
The World of Ginger Fox was first published as a graphic novel by Comico Comics in 1987 and is now one of the many fine comic features that are updated weekly on CO2 Comics.

GINGER FOX Graphic Novel by Mike Baron and Mitch O'Connell

The introduction of Nick’s Ginger Fox character has generated a search engine buzz that has tracked down many women whose real name is actually Ginger Fox and has lead many young teens to the CO2 Comics site to find comic material that may be intended for a more mature audience.

Though there is material that is perfectly acceptable for young readers, especially those that are considered “young adults,” the general disclaimer on the site reads:
CO2 Comics is created by Adults for Adults. Some comics on this website contain subject matter that may not be appropriate for children.”

We do not consider any of the material on CO2 Comics to be obscene or gratuitous. There are enough mature themes found throughout the site, however, that warrant our position as responsible publishers to notify readers in advance.

This is a fine example of why parents should remain involved with their children’s experience on the internet. We hope that our efforts can support attentive parenting and lead to a positive comic reading experience for all.

CO2 Comics
Making comics because we want to.

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