Posts Tagged ‘matt wagner’

Song of the Sketchbook

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Bill Anderson has been delighting us all with his Facebook posts of sketchbook drawings that he acquired on a convention run with the Comico gang back in 1983. You can see his wonderful collection of sketches here.

What a flashback it was not just to see work by all the great artists that are included but to see images drawn by the Comico crew that included Matt Wagner, Reggie Byers, Will Brown, Vince Argondezzi, Phil LaSorda, Bill Cucinotta, and myself, all done over thirty years ago!

I have to say that seeing those drawings and reveling in the raw energy that exists in spontaneous sketches was quite an inspiration for me to crack out my old sketchbooks, for a personal shot of nostalgia, and to crack down and start a new one.

Anyone who has ever kept a sketchbook knows that they are visual diaries that preserve not just ideas but unfettered strokes of genius that may escape from the mind of an artist through the tip of some rendering implement be it a pencil, marker, pen or brush.

Rarely is there much sense of order in a sketchbook and that is what makes them exciting. Images jump from doodles to notes to fully rendered illustrations, randomly, revealing inner secrets of the artist’s talents that can easily be lost when applied to a more finished work.

A sketchbook reveals an artists soul. The images are the lyrics to a melody that flows from a creative hand in a staccato of strokes.

I received my first sketchbook when I was just ten years-old and I still have it. In it are drawings that are far from spectacular, most lifted from old Preston Blair cartooning books. There are, however, crude drawings of my first comic strip character, Little Sailor Boy, and my first attempts at drawing superheroes that signify a starting point in the timeline of my life in comics.

I have a modest collection of sketchbooks that I have accumulated over the years. Some are from my  days at the Philadelphia College of Art, others from my years at Comico and still more from various periods in my life.

An occasional trip through them is a reminder of projects left unfinished, ideas left unrealized, and  a nostalgic look at the gestation projects that came to fuition. Exposed are moments of creative brilliance, signs of potential untapped and a beacon begging for more.  Sketchbooks can be our own biggest cheerleaders.

I wish that I had kept more sketchbooks. To my regret, however, I was a doodler and jotted ideas and drawings on everything I could find: napkins, notebooks, bond paper and post-its. I have folders stuffed with sketches and portfolios with more but sadly, many sketches ended in the abyss of the dreaded the circular file; the trash!

Somewhere there is a garbage man curating a gallery of my work because I was not as diligent about keeping a sketchbook as I should have.

So in front of me is a brand new sketchbook with a hundred blank pages of creative possibility waiting to be addressed. It’s like a garden waiting for seeds to be planted so that new projects can grow. New comics that need to be made.

I plan to share a few of them here at CO2 Comics, but not before I encourage all you creative types out there to dive into your own sketchbook, if you haven’t already, and plant a few seeds of your own. Let  your sketchbook sing your praises and encourage you to make some great art and even greater comics. When you’re done  don’t forget to share your talents with the rest of us.

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.



Self-Publishing is a Virtue

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco


2013 Could be a Magical Year

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

It’s New Year’s Day 2013 and a lot of people are out there working on their New Year’s resolutions. Personally, when I hear the word resolution all I think of is dpi. (dots per inch for those of you who don’t dabble in pixels) I do, however, look at the New Year as a fresh slate and I make every effort to jump in, feet first, with a positive attitude and lots of ambition which uses up enough energy to have me exhausted by the end of week one.

This year, of course, has everyone staring down that infamous number “13″ as their triskaidekaphobia sets in, but after surviving the end of the world as predicted by the Mayan calendar, what do we have to worry about?

In truth the number 13, though widely considered unlucky, has a long history of mystical powers supported by astrological and geometric significance.

If you would enjoy having your eyes burned out of your head by green type on a black page you can read an otherwise fascinating and informative web page about the sacred powers of the number 13 as it refers to the Holy Grail on the site The Vessel of God. www.thevesselofgod.com/thirteen

The number 13 has worked for me over the years. My mother and daughter were both born on the 13th, my daughter actually on Friday the 13th!

The number 13 has also had a significant impact on CO2 Comics. I’ve written often about DUCKWORK the newspaper that Bill Cucinotta and I published while in college at the Philadelphia College of Art in 1980-1982. This is where we first became involved with Matt Wagner, Mike Leeke, Joe Williams, Tina Garcaeu, Joe Matt, and Dave Johnson, all Comico and/or CO2 Comics collaborators.

DUCKWORK had an office, a lowly, tiny room that we had, literally, abducted from the security guards who had previously used it as a locker room. The DUCKWORK office sat on the south side of the ARCO Building on the corner of Broad and Spruce and was on the 13th floor! Those of you that have been in high-rise buildings know that, for superstitious reasons, most buildings do not have a 13th floor. This made our scrawny, little DUCKWORK office all the more magical and exciting place to be every day.  To compound the mystique, the entire floor had been abandoned, relegated merely for storage, only two rooms saw human involvement, our office and the new security locker room. We were in No Man’s Land and we loved it!

Duckwork Covers 1-6

The elevator ride to the office was usually a hectic and congested adventure which I personally avoided each morning by using the stairs. My trek up each of those thirteen flights was compounded by the thirteen city blocks I would walk after being dropped off by my neighbor’s father, who worked near the Franklin Institute. I counted each flight with labored breath, diligently anticipating the last step leading to door that opened to the 13th floor! Needless to say, going down was a lot easier!

Life on the 13th floor with the DUCKWORK crowd was the highlight of my college career that led to many comics publishing experiences and a lifelong friendship with Bill Cucinotta, my partner here at CO2 Comics.

Yup! The number 13 works for me and I am looking forward to a great 2013. I hope you are too!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Gerry Giovinco

Bigger is Better!

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Anyone who has been following The Heavy Adventures of Captain Obese by Don Lomax as it progresses weekly here at CO2 Comics knows that BIGGER is better!

Don’s morbidly obese super hero packs a BIG punch when he is wearing that Ring of Rings and is hell-bent on protecting his lovely, elfin sweetie, Oshna! The fact that he is fat just means that the rotund hero has more weight to throw around. Bad guys beware!

The adventure is BIG too! Captain Obese dukes it out with common thugs, the police, Neo-Nazis, the Vigog Dragon, hordes of Swamp-Nads, Mud-Hole Maggot Suckers, a New Jersey biker gang and, worst of all, Oshna’s  daddy!

DON LOMAX, photo credit The Register-Mail, Nick Adams, Associated Press

Captain Obese creator Don Lomax is a BIG talent in comics and has enjoyed a career that has lasted over thirty years. Don, whose first professional comic work was Atilla the Frog for Heavy Metal in 1979 has been a journeyman as a comic creator with work appearing in a long list of publications for such publishers as Pacific, First, Fantagraphics, Warp Graphics, Apple Comics, Dark Horse, Marvel, DC and Transfuzion Publishing. Don has also done an enormous amount of comics for adult magazines, as well as strips for specialized markets about truckers, cars, law enforcement, and model railroading!

Check out Vietnam Journal

Don once told me he just has a BIG need to make comics. Ever since he was a young boy reading EC Comics in bed at night, thrilling his desire to be frightened, he knew he wanted to create comics. Don says that he has to draw comics, it is just his nature. He managed to sketch his way through his tour of duty in Vietnam back in the late sixties and it was those images that he brought back that ultimately led to his most celebrated work, Harvey Award nominated Vietnam Journal.

We couldn’t be happier working with a creator like Don Lomax who has comics just running through his veins. That’s why The Heavy Adventures of Captain Obese fit into our BIG publishing plans so well.

Captain Obese NOW AVAILABLE!

When it came time to produce our first CO2 Comics graphic albums, there was no doubt that  The Heavy Adventures of Captain Obese by Don Lomax would be part of our BIG release that included Heaven and the Dead City by Raine Szramski and Ménage à Bughouse by Steve Lafler.

If you are one of the lucky ones that have already purchased any one or more of these graphic spectacles you can attest to the BIG decisions that we made as publishers. Take note that we refer to the products as graphic albums rather than the, now, popularly accepted term of graphic novel. This is in part homage to the late great comic creator and illustrator Jean Giraud better known as Moebius who played a major role in ushering beautifully packaged, perfect bound comics from Europe to America.

These books were referred to as graphic albums and had a BIG impact on us regarding the potential of publishing comics. The paper was better, the color was more brilliant and the art was BIGGER. Compared to traditional comic book size of 6.625″  x 10 .25″  the  8.5″ x 11″  format  somehow seemed to be more respectful of the art, allowing it to breathe, giving the reader an opportunity to enjoy it more.

Comico Graphic Novels

We chose this size when we produced our graphic novels as publishers of  COMICO the Comic Company as well. GINGER FOX by Mike Baron and Mitch O’Connell,  GRENDEL, DEVIL BY THE DEED by Matt Wagner and Rich Rankin, NIGHT AND THE ENEMY by Harlan Ellison and Ken SteacyRIO by the legendary Doug Wildey and ROBOTECH by Mike Baron, Neil Vokes and Ken Steacy, all had the benefit of this BIGGER format.

CO2 Comics Graphic Albums NOW AVAILABLE!

The term graphic album seems to fit our CO2 Comics publications better as they are each collections of the works. In the case of Heaven and the Dead City it is a newly developed work by Raine Szramski that unfolds weekly unveiling each new chapter over a period of time. Ménage à Bughouse is a collection of three previously published graphic novels by Steve Lafler that is also experiencing a weekly posting of its content on our collective site.  The Heavy Adventures of Captain Obese by Don Lomax is a collection as well of chapters that were previously published as back-ups by Warp Graphics in the 1980′s and is also experiencing weekly serialization on the web here at CO2 Comics.

Now that we are all in agreement that BIGGER is better it is a good time to point out that this is only the beginning. We have just published our first graphic albums under the CO2 Comics imprint and have BIG plans for more in the future. CO2 Comics has planted a seed that we expect to grow into something big that all comic fans will enjoy.

Celebrating Thirty Years of Comics History!

Gerry Giovinco


The Forecast Calls for Raine

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Rain Szramski photographed by Victoria Mock

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

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

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

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

see Raine Szramski on DeviantArt

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

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

Heaven And The Dead City NOW AVAILABLE!

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

Get your Copy Here!

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

Order you copy of HEAVEN ANd The DEAD CITY Here!

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

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

Celebrating Thirty Years of Comics History!

Gerry Giovinco


Ready to Launch!

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Paul Zdepski makes a big point to regularly mention that he was born during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Can you imagine coming into a world during a fleeting moment of international distress instigated by impending Armageddon?! Paul’s first experience with raw emotion was the collective anxiety of the entire world! Thankfully for us Paul has channeled that empathy through his comics and illustrations where he is able to focus on the distinct reactions that his characters have when faced with the challenges of life whether they be unusual or mundane.

Emulating that threat to our national defense Paul Zdepski has managed to fly under the radar of Bill Cucinotta and myself, hovering on the edge of our social and professional careers for over thirty years, waiting for the opportune moment to strike with his unique brand of creative genius.

Paul toured the periphery of our college escapades as we published DUCKWORK at the then Philadelphia College of Art. Classmates with Matt Wagner, Mike Leeke, Dave Johnson and Joe Matt, he held a pass to our social network that also included me, Bill, Joe Williams and Tina Garceau all would eventually have an impact on either  Comico and CO2 Comics or both.

During the heyday of Comico one of the most vibrant studios that produced work for us was Philadelphia based Bain Sidhe Studios, the creative realm where Matt Wagner, Bill Willingham, Rich Rankin, Joe Matt and Bill Cucinotta along with others, generated works for Comico, DC and Marvel. Paul was a welcomed guest in that circle as evidenced by the Comico swag he posts on his own blog.

When Bill and I began resurrecting our comic careers with CO2 Comics, Paul was one of our earliest followers, commenting on posts and chiming in on facebook pages. Now down in the Washington DC area Paul is a member of a productive group of indy comic creators called DC Conspiracy. A quick visit to his website will show what a busy and accomplished illustrator and educator Paul is.

The missile finally hit home when Paul announced that his mini comic SING-SING was awarded best Mini Comic/Short Story category of the year by S.P.A.C.E. Now in it’s 13th year, S.P.A.C.E. is the midwest’s largest exhibition of small press and creator owned comics. Sponsored by Back Porch Comics, the show’s held in Columbus,Ohio. This years presentation of S.P.A.C.E. will be held April 21 and 22.

Bill and I have always taken pride in our ability to spot and cultivate talented comic creators but somehow Paul managed to stealthily remain undetected while being in our own back yard the whole time. Now, much more than a blip on our screen, we are hoping the Paul Zdepksi will become a popular regular contributor to CO2 Comics, starting today with our proud presentation of his award winning mini comic SING SING!

Celebrating Thirty Years of Comics History!

Gerry Giovinco


Halloween Treat

Monday, October 24th, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

OH, and have a Happy Halloween!

Making Comics Because I Want To

Gerry Giovinco


Holy Crap

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

AZ #2

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

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

Slaughterman #1

Skrog #1

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

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

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

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

Comico Primer #1-6

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

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

Gerry Giovinco, Bill Cucinotta & Phil LaSorda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Making Comics Because I Want To

Gerry Giovinco


Get Down America!

Monday, August 15th, 2011

Howard The Duck button

Waaaaagh!!! What can I say? Ever since I first laid eyes on a Howard the Duck comic book I was smitten with ducks. I’m not sure why, but I think that what Steve Gerber did with the character opened my eyes to what could be done with comics beyond superheroes. It helped a lot that some of my favorite artists had drawn the character. Val Mayerick, Frank Brunner, Gene Colan, Sal Buscema and Michael Golden always left me wanting more and the iconic image by Bernie Wrightson on that campaign pin just sealed the deal!

howard wearing pants

Later when Gerber launched his creator’s rights battle with Marvel and when Disney challenged Marvel over trademark infringement, causing Howard to be forced to wear pants so as not to look like Donald Duck, Howard the Duck and ducks in general became a symbol to me of some sort of rebellious, creative attitude.

When I was in high school at Bishop Kenrick where I first met Phil Lasorda and Vince Argondezzi, my original partners in Comico the Comic Company, it was tradition to use acronyms to represent our party when we ran for office. When I ran for school president, the name of my party was, of course, D.U.C.K., Demonstrating Unity in the Community of Kenrick. I copied that Wrightson pin and made it school colors of green and gold. I even had a  mascot that crashed a student assembly in a duck costume! I lost… but the power of the duck stuck with me.

My fancy for ducks followed me to the Philadelphia College of Art now called University of the Arts where it did not take me long to establish a group of rogue comic artists called Ducks that strove to publish a small newspaper called DUCKWORK.  The thinly veiled connection to the school was a central courtyard that had two Peking Ducks inhabiting it and a bag lady that “quacked” as she walked in the area by our school earning her the name Duck Lady.

I wrote about  DUCKWORK In a previous blog and in an effort not to be redundant I invite you to check it out for the full scoop here.

Duck SuspenseStories

It dawns on me now that those six issues of DUCKWORK probably have some redeeming collectible value for their role as a precursor to the founding and publishing of Comico comics , CO2 Comics and for representing some of the earliest published works of the widely acclaimed Matt Wagner which can be seen here shown for historical purposes, of course.

Duck Throat

Duck Wish

Raiders Of The Lost Duck

Rollerduck

This peek at the credits and a dedication to Wally Wood who had passed away just prior to that particular issues publication in 1981 shows our devotion comics and  to the comic legend.

Duckwork dedication to Wally Wood

It also offers evidence of our lousy typewriter and some Ducks that went pro, Myself, Bill Cucinotta former Comico Partner and partner here at CO2 Comics, Dave Johnson of ROBOTECH  fame, Matt Wagner, Joe Williams CO2 Comics contributor and missing, somehow, is another ROBOTECH  vet and ELEMENTALS penciller, Mike Leeke.

Punk Duck 1

Ducks were infectious too. Not only did the DUCKWORK crew quickly assimilate to drawing the feathered fowl, I  recently discovered this incredible project by Martha Erlebacher, an anatomy teacher at PCA when we were students there.

Could it be remotely possible that our parodies of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus

Hatch of Venus

and Marcell Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase published in DUCKWORK somehow influenced one of our world class teachers? We may never know the answer to that but I think CO2 Comics contributer and another former ROBOTECH  vet, Reggie Buyers was tipping his hand when he sent me this fax of Jam Quacky in 1991.

Jam Quacky

Jam Quacky #1

Outside of DUCKWORK I had a propensity to parody superheroes as ducks and could often be found at comic conventions drawing Bat Duck, Spider-Duck, Silver Surf Duck, X-Ducks, Red Sonduck, you name it. The ducks were my gimmick, I guess, and littered my sketchbooks. They certainly helped me attract attention in those early days and develop lasting relationships with talented comic artists that helped to build Comico and CO2 Comics.

Bat Duck

Silver Surf Duck

Sonja Duck

I still love drawing those ducks so don’t be surprised if you start seeing them pop up here at CO2 Comics or on ebay. Hey, commissions aren’t out of the question either! If you have a passion to see your favorite character parodied as a duck just drop me a line at gerry@co2comics.com.

Making Comics Because I Want To  “QUACK!

Gerry Giovinco



© 2009-2014 CO2 COMICS All Rights Reserved. All other material © their respective creators & companies