Posts Tagged ‘PCA’

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 www.scottmccloud.com 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

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


Mini Comics to the Packaging Revolution

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Monkey & Bird…a Love Story by Joe Williams and Tina Garceau is AVAILABLE NOW!!!

The highlight of my week was receiving a copy of Joe Williams and Tina Garceau’s printed mini comic, Monkey and Bird, in the mail. Snail mail, that is.

Back in August we featured a couple of posts by Señor Williams that outlined his experience personally  making the mini comic. He peppered his posts with so many juicy details that almost anyone could go out and make one themselves.

I’ve known Joe and his lovely wife Tina for years, we go all the way back to our college days at PCA and I am well aware of both of their incredible attention to detail and quality not to mention their brilliance as designers yet I still did not expect to be so taken by what a gem their mini comic turned out to be.

Holding Monkey and Bird in my hand as a mini comic was a defining moment for me especially after having published it as a web comic here at CO2 Comics for the last two years. Maybe my reaction is a reflection of my long history of publishing on paper or just evidence of a generational  preference for things printed on paper, but I liked it. A lot!

The web affords us comic creators so many options to be able to present our labors of love to a potentially vast audience with minimal expenses compared to the printed product. Everything about making comics for the internet is so much more convenient and spontaneous that it has given us the opportunity as creators and readers to be able to witness the biggest creative explosion of the medium in its history. All those virtues, however, in my jaded eyes, do not supersede the experience of reading comics in print. I will always have a warm place in my heart for the tangible paper package.

mathmanauts

Mimeograph machine

It has always been clear to me that a comic is never complete until it is in front of an audience. The reader’s experience is a much a part of the final execution of the comic  as any step taken in the creative process along the way. Because I have always felt so strongly about this I began publishing my own comics almost as early as I began creating them. My first published comics were printed on a mimeograph machine. My audience had as much fun smelling them as they did reading them. I slowly graduated to photocopiers and small offset presses before finally dealing with  large, commercial, four-color presses to make Comico comics.

Comico Covers

As I sit here holding Joe and Tina’s  32 page (including covers),  full color, 4 x 5.5 inch, landscaped pamphlet that  is hand folded and saddle stitched with a good old-fashioned Swingline stapler I can’t imagine what my comic producing  experience would have been like if I would have had these production capabilities available to me back in the seventies. I would have traded tracing mimeo stencils and hand cranking purple inked copies for full-color pages spat out of an ink jet or laser printer in a heartbeat!

I did not have an opportunity to go to SPX this weekend but my fond memories of past shows include my amazement of the array of unique and creative packaging techniques that are always displayed. Monkey and Bird would have fit right in! Today’s community of independent comic artists and publishers take full advantage of the technology available to make comics that deliver an experience well beyond panel-to-panel sequential art.

Many people are pondering what is to become of the familiar pamphlet style comic that has been a fixture in the industry for over seventy years. Most believe that digital content will force it into extinction in the not too distant future, watching the sun set on a beloved package.

When I look at my little copy of Monkey and Bird, or think about what I witness at shows like SPXAPE, MOCCA, PACC and Stumptown, I see a different horizon, the shimmering rays of a new day cast by the lights of endless creative opportunity that will offer comics in print and digitally in infinite shapes and sizes. Each format, unique to its creator and not limited by the constraints of a few publishers or a single distributor.

I remember the first glimpse I ever had of this expanding possibility. In 1980 I was mesmerized by the first issue of Francoise Mouly and Art Spiegelman‘s anthology comic magazine RAW. The full color view out the window of a man committing suicide had been pasted on to the black and white cover of the tabloid sized periodical publication that featured an insane amount of groundbreaking comic art between its pages. The simple collage of the cover alone was enough to have numbed my creative mind for decades, especially in regards to packaging.

RAW

That, to me, was the beginning. Now, the art of making comics has firmly expanded from mastery of designing a page to the mastery of designing the whole package wether in print, on the web, or digitally for a specific device. The day where packaging that requires an entire production team is passing. The comic artist, if they choose, now has the ability to have complete control over the reading experience of the audience if they want it.

As a publisher, like CO2 Comics, today’s technology gives us the opportunity to open new doors of creative discussion with the artists that makes making comics more exciting than ever before. We plan to enjoy every minute of it!

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


Encouraging Comics – A Sketch in Time

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

PCA now UARTS

My freshman year at the Philadelphia College of Art in 1979 was a bit of a surprise. It was the first time that I had experienced the artistic predjudice towards comics. The common notion expressed by my teachers was that I would be broken from my barbaric attraction to this bastard of a medium.

It became clear to me that I would have to develop my own curriculum to assist me in my goal of becoming a comics artist. Though my major was Illustration, I filled my electives with courses that would aid me in my quest. Animation, calligraphy, creative writing, graphics and photography rounded out my schedule.

My extracurricular activities proved to be an even greater asset as I explored publishing through the devlopment of a freshman yearbook and a student newspaper, both of which I had orchestrated to help the Arts Council strengthen the sense of community in the school. My commitment to the yearbook only survived one publication but the evolution of the newspaper into DUCKWORK, a publication that was very focused on comics, further whet my appetite for publishing comic books.

Duckwork #2 Cover by Gerry Giovinco inked by Bill Anderson

This would all transpire after my initial indoctrination to the world of art college a place that, given the quality of my work compared to my peers, I had no place being.

At PCA all freshman had to endure classes that were appropriately described as Foundation. The three classes were Drawing, 2-D Design, and 3-D Design each intended to establish a quality and understanding of fundamental skills necessary for successful mastery of the static arts. Knowing that my skills were inferior at the time became an asset. I was never one to second guess the teacher or to argue a scathing critique. I took it on the chin and learned the hard way.

Drawing was the class that I struggled with the most, especially when it came to figures. Everything I drew looked like bad comic book art. My teacher was a printmaking professor named Jerome Kaplan who did his best to teach me the finer skills of rendering. Maybe it was the extra attention I needed or the effort that he saw me put in to my work but somehow he began to relate to me on a more personal level and he learned about my desire to make comics.

Jerry Kaplan by Gerry Giovinco

Mr. Kaplan was well aware that an interest in comics was frowned upon in a prestigious school like PCA yet he had great sympathy for my desires because his brother-in-law was none other than Arnold Roth who had been a student at PCA in the late 1940’s then called the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art. Mr. Kaplan would tell me stories of how Arnold had his own issues with the institution over his preoccupation with cartoons and jazz.

Arnold Roth

Arnold Roth of course is a prolific illustrator cartoonist that has a list of awards a mile long including a National Cartoonist Society run as the Best Illustrator Cartoonist that he won each year from 1978 till he withdrew from competition in 1990 so somebody else could have a chance!

One day Mr. Kaplan came to class with a new Arnold Roth story. At a family gathering he had a discussion with Arnold about an impressionable kid in his class that wanted to draw comics and the esteemed Mr. Roth pulled out a felt tip and sketched a gag on a piece of bond paper for the lucky fool who was, of course, me.

The cartoon of Michelangelo picking his own nose is a priceless piece of spontaneity drawn by a true master of comic art that I will always treasure. It will perpetually be a reminder of the support and encouragement I received from Jerry Kaplan who, unfortunately is no longer with us but understood the magic that could be found in incredible comics.

The next year after I had been given that wonderful drawing, Arnold Roth had a one man show at PCA and for me it was a moral victory to see a cartoonist’s work displayed so reverently at my school. His show validated the aesthetic acceptance of comics that would continue to grow to this day. I am eternally grateful for Arnold Roth’s role in that acceptance and for that felt tip sketch that still hangs by my desk.

I will never forget, however, the twinkle in the eye of my drawing teacher the day he gave me that sketch. He knew that the precious gift he delivered was not made of paper and ink or even the raw talents of Arnold Roth. It was made of 100% inspiration that came entirely from the encouragement that he had personally given to me.

Thank you, Jerome Kaplan, for being the encouraging soul toward young talent that we should all be as artists.

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…”

(http://www.greatseal.com/symbols/turkey.html)

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 (www.blackbook.com) 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

The Comic Company:
The Studio

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Gerry Giovinco and Bill Cucinotta

 

Superman has the Fortress of Solitude. Batman has the Bat Cave. Hugh Hefner has Playboy Mansion. (That lucky bastard…)

The great heroes always had a secret lair, a home base, a castle of sorts. These mythic headquarters become a trademarked extension of the person themselves and ad to the legacy of grandeur attributed to their deeds and accomplishments.

 

Gerry's space at the Studio

 

I always had a fascination for a “clubhouse” mentality. I remember being about four years old and having secret meetings with my younger brother, Tom, in a dark closet illuminated only by our dim nightlight which we had drug in before we closed the door. This was our secret place, and though I’m sure my parents knew where we were, it gave us toddlers a sense of independence and awareness of self that we didn’t have when we were supervised by adults.

Two years later, Batmania would grip the world. All my brother and I could dream of was our very own Bat Cave buried beneath our house. We would spend hours scheming secret entrances to our gloriously imagined hangout.

As the years passed, there was always some kind of toy cabin, clubhouse, or tree house that anchored my activities with my three brothers and friends.

 

Room with a view

 

This continued into college where I would hole up with Bill Cucinotta and the other so-called Ducks in our commandeered DUCKWORK office on the thirteenth floor of the Philadelphia College of Art.

Given my own propensity for a hangout it is no surprise to me that the defining catalyst for Comico becoming tangible was the availability of office space at 1547 Dekalb Street in Norristown, PA.

Phil LaSorda’s older brother Dennis had just purchased a duplex in which he planned to operate his physical therapy practice. He offered Phil, Vince Argondezzi and me the opportunity to operate Comico from the space in the adjacent half of the building that he had no immediate plans for.

The iron was hot.

Comico, which until this point was as much a dream for Phil, Vince and me as that Bat Cave under my house, was about to become real. This was the moment of truth. It was time to “shit or get off the pot.”

Vince chose to leave the porcelain vacant and, though he would contribute his comic Mr. Justice to Primer #1, his partnership with Phil and me had ended.

 

Fred the Duck. Gerry Giovinco, Bill Cucinotta and Phil LaSorda

 

Phil and I had grown used to the idea of a third person in the partnership. It especially came in handy breaking stalemates on important decisions. We turned to Bill Cucinotta who had been my right hand man while publishing DUCKWORK at PCA.

Bill knew the Direct Market of the comics industry very well because of his experience working retail at Fat Jack’s Comic Crypt in Philadelphia. As a partner, his knowledge gave us an edge that we did not have before.

 

Partners

 

Comico’s partnership was once more a triumvirate and we had our own headquarters dubbed simply “Comico Studios”. We generally would refer to it just as The Studio never intending to confuse or compare it to The Studio in Manhattan where Bernie Wrightson, Jeff Jones, Michael Kaluta, and Barry Windsor-Smith hung their hats.

 

Recently I have heard stories from various Comico fans that had found their way to Norristown and decided to look up the Comico headquarters which, in their mind, was a shining tower of architectural wonder. They were surprised to find that it was simply an old three-story, stone-fronted, duplex building that was once a family home with a wooden porch located on the corner of a busy street in a tired industrial town whose glory days had long passed.

Our main activities took place in what would have been the living room and dining room of the original house, complete with very dated orange, shag, wall-to-wall carpet that covered beautiful hardwood floors. Eventually the bedrooms would become offices as our staff expanded.

At the time all of the guys that hung out at the studio were college age and we had a very fraternal sensibility that had carried over from our DUCKWORK experience.

We tended to play as hard as we worked and seemed to never leave the building, often crashing on the couch or cots that we had brought in for the many all-nighters that were pulled to meet deadlines or to just hang out. The pizza shop on the opposite corner made it easy for us to always have food and drink.

Our families forgot who we were.

Posters and art covered the walls. There was a riddled dart board that was used to shake out those punchy moments in the wee morning hours. It was not unusual to find the mantel of the fire place lined with empty beer bottles.

 

Bill Cucinotta and Bill Anderson, Trashed and too close for comfort

 

This would all change eventually as Comico became more of a business and less of an adventure but those early days harbor all of the most romantic memories of young guys setting out to conquer the world of comics as they knew it with little more than hope, a dream and some talent.

 

Reggie Byers and a new shipment

 

We would get visitors. Many with portfolios or scripts in hand. Some just curious. The visitors that thrilled me the most though were heros that provided inspiration so great that I get misty thinking about their visits even today.

Murphy Anderson whose Visual Concepts Inc. was our flat color separator and would visit often.

Joe Kubert, whose school we offered a small scholarship to, and whose sons eventually worked on our books, stopped in to say hi.

Dick Giordano along with Pat Bastienne would stop by for holiday parties.

All of them are comic book legends.

They would marvel at our humble space and it would take them back to stories of the good old days when they, themselves were kids in the industry holed up in hotel rooms knocking out an issue by committee overnight.

The twinkle in each of their eyes as they reminisced is something I’ll never forget.

When I write these articles, I get that twinkle and I remember why I love making comics.

It is more than the art of it. More than the love of the medium. More than the camaraderie of other comic artists.

It is being part of it all.

Being part of the history of all the folks that made the comics that put a smile on the face of a reader young or old.

 

Gerry Giovinco, Reggie Byers, Phil LaSorda, Bill Cucinotta. Neil Vokes (in back), Matt Wagner, Rich Rankin

 

Being part of a unique tradition of a wonderful medium and passing it forward to the next generation.

 

Snowmageddon trashed the front porch

The clubhouse is a lot different today. It exists in a technological wonder called the internet. It is not bricks and mortar like the old duplex in Norrisown. It is digital and the visitors stop in from all over the world.

Our new headquarters has a name. It is CO2 Comics.

It has an address: www.co2comics.com

Stop and visit.

Visit often.

Making comics because I want to.

Gerry Giovinco

The Comic Company:
Duckwork

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

 

Enter at your own risk

 
An ominous, orange glow cast its pall across South Philadelphia in the spring of 1981. It was a sign plastered with fluorescent tempera paint on a thirteenth floor window of the ARCO Building on Broad and Spruce streets, home of most of the classes taught at PCA, Philadelphia College of Art which is now known as the University of the Arts, one of the most respected art colleges in the country.
 

Room with a view

 
The letters that read “DUCKWORK” could be seen as far south as Veterans Stadium where the Phillies had won the World Series just months before and marched past PCA in their triumphant parade that rocked the City of Brotherly Love.

Behind the window was the office of a motley group of art students banded together to publish a “student” newspaper by the same name.
 

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.

 
DUCKWORK, though tacitly supported by the school, was never a school newspaper. It was a publication commandeered by an assembly of comic art enthusiasts led by myself that defiantly produced comics in an educational environment that, at the time, considered the medium to be kitsch and derivative.
 

DUCKWORK Covers 1 & 2, Cover #1 illustrated by Bill "Fostex" Foster, #2 by Gerry Giovinco with inks by Bill Anderson

 
Our pseudo-fraternity proclaimed each of us as DUCKS and, as a proud rogue clan, we wreaked havoc on the school with our publication and our mischievous pranks some of which might have us arrested if done today.
 

Bill Bryan who is now at CBR Woodworking where thay make incredible furniture for offices and corporate spaces among other things. http://www.cbrwoodworking.com/index.html


 

Evan Nurse was a Jr. Duck who attended a cartooning class on weekends at PCA for young students. Evan's senior prank at Sharon hill H.S. was to join the girls Lacross team. They let him play but they made him wear the kilt. He is now an AV instructor at an area High School.

 
PCA had very little sense of community at the time. Because of this, our little group managed to control Student Council and Arts Council giving us the opportunity to allocate funds and office space for our ventures. The DUCKS ruled!
 

DUCKWORK Covers 3 & 4, both illustrated by Gerry Giovinco

 
DUCKWORK quickly became a magnet for cartoonists especially after it became known that I was attempting to start a comic book company named Comico with two friends of mine from high school, Phil LaSorda and Vince Argondezzi.
 

DUCKWORK Covers 5 & 6, #5 illustrated by Bill "Cooch" Cucinotta, #6 by Matt wagner

 
Bill Cucinotta, my partner here at CO2 Comics, knew of me and Comico from Creation Conventions and was enthusiastically involved with DUCKWORK from the start.

Nick-named Cooch, his loyalty and ability to get the job done whenever needed along with his knowledge of the direct market derived from his experience working retail at Fat Jack’s Comic Crypt, Philly’s premier comic shop made him invaluable. It would later make him the most logical choice to fill the void left by Vince Argondezzi’s abrupt departure from Comico’s initial partnership well before our first book Comico Primer would be published.
 

Edwin Arocho is now a fine artist and musician living in San Juan, Puerto Rico

 
The list of colorful guys and gals that frequented DUCKWORK’s office is peppered with talented artists that went on to creative careers. I’ve included photos of several DUCKS. It is easy to see that besides comics, we were seemingly, also influenced by the movie Animal House!
 

Danny "Hank" Lange followed his dream and actually learned to play that guitar. He recently did a sound track for an award winning film. Check Dan out here: http://www.myspace.com/buskersblues


 

The fall of 1981 brought a new landscape to PCA. Two older buildings across the street had been purchased by the school and turned into dorms. One of these dorms would quickly become a DUCKWORK annex and be dubbed the SWAMP. The SWAMP was home to new DUCKS, Matt Wagner, Mike Leeke, and Dave Johnson, three guys that each would later play a role in the accomplishments of Comico.

 

Joe Cursio was another Jr. Duck who hung out at DUCKWORK and is now living

 
DUCKWORK was populated by students that lived on campus and commuters who often crashed at the office or the SWAMP. SEPTA strikes were usually great bonding experiences for the commuters of which I was one.
 

Joe "Zig" Zigler rarely showed up with clothes on... Joe is a fun pal that we've managed to lose touch with. Joe, if you are out there, drop us a line!

 
One commuting DUCK who recently has emerged on the web-pages of CO2 Comics with his wife and former PCA alumnus, Tina Garceau, is Joe Williams who has recently posted several great flashbacks about DUCKWORK on his blog at www.willceau.com.
You can read Joe’s 5 part DUCKWORK retrospective here.
 
By the time the spring semester had ended in 1982, a total of six issues of DUCKWORK had been published.

It was the end of my junior year at PCA. Phil Lasorda’s older brother Dennis had just purchased a duplex in Norristown for his Physical Therapy practice. He had offered us the opportunity to run Comico out of the half he was not using.

It was time for this DUCK to sink or swim. I left PCA to pursue a dream. Cooch came along as well. Without its leaders DUCKWORK quicky faded away but Comico was about to become official.

When it came time to take the big leap of faith, Vince chose not to commit and Bill took his seat at the drums. Phil, Cooch and I were now the standing partners of Comico as we began to solicit our first publication.
 
Matt Wagner was a prolific contributer to DUCKWORK and continued to contribute as Comico took off. Matt’s feature Grendel first appeared in Comico Primer #2 and went on to become an iconic character in comics. Comico also published Matt’s Mage the Hero Discovered.
 

Matt Wagner, The Comic Artist Discovered.

 
Mike Leeke was significant as an artist on ROBOTECH and later went on to pencil Bill Willingham’s popular ELEMENTALS.
Mike’s contributation to CO2 Comics. The Amazing Liberteens, can be seen Here.
 

Mike Leeke, who would later become the penciler extraordinare of ROBOTECH and ELEMENTALS is just thrilled that he can hide all of his mechanical pencils and rapidograph pens in his tremendous fro!

 
Dave Johnson was also a penciler on the ROBOTECH series.
 

Dave Johnson, former denizen of the SWAMP and penciler on ROBOTECH The Next Generation for Comico.

 
Joe Williams along with his wife Tina Garceau creates Monkey and Bird which is featured here on CO2 Comics.
 

Joe Williams is now a featured artist here on CO2 Comics with his wife Tina

 
Bill and I have ironically redeveloped our webs. We’ve gone from DUCKWORK to Web Comics with a long history in between.
 

Bill "Cooch" Cucinotta reclines on a cardboard 3-D project that was retired to the hall in front of the DUCKWORK office

Ouch! Gerry Giovinco, is another Duck trapped in a world he never made!

 
NOTE: In 1984, two years after the DUCKWORK crew had disbanded at PCA, Jim Carrey makes his Hollywood debut in an NBC television series titled “The Duck Factory” about a quirky group of animators trying to keep their studio alive. Kinda makes you wonder…


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