Posts Tagged ‘Robotech’

Not Your Father’s Comic Books

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

Another Father’s Day is looming and as we plan to celebrate dads everywhere I’m getting a little introspective. I am a father of two college students who are excitedly anticipating their future armed with a contemporary education, all the conveniences of modern technology and the promise of continued innovation.

Their world is so much different than the world I experienced when I was their age. Like most fathers I have romanticized about the era I grew up in especially when it concerns pontificating about my own accomplishments. That kind of nostalgia sometimes can make it hard not to resent some of the changes that have been brought by younger generations more relatable to my kids. I then have to recognize that my children and their peers want exactly what I wanted when I was young, an opportunity to be daring, make a difference, and stake a claim.

My focus coming out of college was on the comic book industry, and though I was well versed in the history of comic books and had a deep respect for long established characters and their creators, I was sure it was time for a change.

When I started publishing Comico comics in 1982 with my current CO2 Comics partner, Bill Cucinotta and the LaSorda brothers, we were among a pioneering group of independent publishers that tampered with everything in an effort to make comics better. We effected creator ownership, genre content,  production techniques, paper stock, color, distribution,  marketing and new package formats. One of the major accomplishments of that era was the eventual eradication of the Comic Code Authority.

The independent comic book publishers of the 1980′s made a difference and I will always be proud to have been a part of it!

The comic book industry had changed forever and continues to. It is no longer an industry that is locked into the regimented formula that it maintained for much of its first forty years of history. Yet, sometimes I find myself resentful of new changes and how they may fly in the face of my nostalgia. I have to remind myself of my involvement in why comics today are not my father’s comic books and why the comic books of the future will not be mine.

Now, when I look at modern comics, I consider myself “old-school” even though CO2 Comics continues to wade through the future by publishing on the web as a creator collective while implementing POD printing, customer direct marketing, and sharing an unheard of 70% of net profits with creators on print projects. These are all things that were not plausible thirty years ago. I still have to consciously embrace new directions for comics for the sake of the future of both the medium and the industry.

That is not to say there is no value in “old-school,” which can too often be more accurately defined as fundamentals.

When we were publishing ROBOTECH back in the 1980′s, Harmony Gold and Revell brought in an old marketing guru named, Irv Handelsman to kick off the licensing bonanza that was ROBOTECH. Irv claimed to have been responsible for the creation of the Mickey Mouse Club and, among other properties,  represented Jay Ward Production’s popular characters including Rocky the Flying Squirrel, Bullwinkle the Moose, Boris and Natasha, Dudley Do-Right, and several others.

Irv  was as “old-school” as they came! He was the stereotypical old Jewish salesman with a frumpy polyester blazer, mismatched neck tie and dusty briefcase. We would watch in amazement as he would schmooze potential licensees in a private suite at Toy Fair and ring up accounts left-and-right while we secretly mocked his primitive techniques that today would appear lifted from episodes of Mad Men.

More importantly, Irv was a legend in his own mind and got the job done because, I’m sure, at one time he was an aggressive innovator that discovered what worked for him and stuck with it. He also had established himself within a network of toy manufacturers and his reputation for success preceded his techniques.

I think of Irv whenever I feel discriminatory about being “old school” just as I think of the excitement and challenge of tackling the future with new ideas and I realize that there is room for both.

Being an innovator of anything, especially a medium like comics is like being a parent. We have to enjoy our children while we have them, do our job as best we can as parents, then let them go so they can blossom into the best they can be so they can continue to pave the way for the future.

Today’s comic books are not your father’s and, most likely, tomorrow’s will not be yours. Change is good. It is the hope of the future.

Happy Father’s Day!

Gerry Giovinco

Comico/Robotech Crew to Reunite at Camden Comic Con This Weekend

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

The second annual Camden Comic Con will be held this Saturday, March 7, 2015 at the Rutgers Camden Athetics and Fitness Center! If you need directions you can find them here.

This is a FREE convention that you can’t miss especially if you live in the Greater Philadelphia, Tri-State, Delaware Valley area.

In a previous post I listed ten reasons we’re excited about Camden Comic Con 2015. We think they are all great reasons for everyone that enjoys comics to want to come to this show but our favorite reason is number 5.

Andrew C. Murphy, Mike Leeke, Chris Kalnick, Neil Vokes, Rich Rankin, John Workman

“We will be reuniting with long time friends and collaborators! Joining us on the panel is a group of creators that have worked with us at Comico and CO2 Comics including Andrew C. Murphy, and former ROBOTECH crew: Mike Leeke, Chris Kalnick, Neil Vokes and Rich Rankin. Don’t be surprised to also find John Workman and a few other folks that are tentatively planning to be there.”

Comico Mage, Grendel, Elemental, Justice Machine, Ribit, Jonny Quest, Space Ghost, Gumby, Star Blazers, Robotech

Those of you that remember the glory days of Norristown, PA based, independent  publisher, Comico The Comic Company, best known for great creator-owned titles like Mage, Grendel, Elementals, Justice Machine and Ribit also surely remember our  work producing comics based on licensed properties like Jonny Quest, Space Ghost, Gumby, Starblazers and a little fan favorite, ROBOTECH.

Besides making great comics we also had the opportunity to make great friendships and experiences that we will always look back on as some of our best times in life, professionally and personally.

After Comico our lives took us all in many different directions until years later when we would once again pull our talents together digitally on the site of CO2 Comics.

The wonders of the internet allow us to all share our talents but rarely do we have an opportunity to enjoy each other’s company face-to-face. Our Panel at Camden Comic Con will be an opportunity for some of us to come together for the first time in over twenty-five years.

We have  great panel planned with a nice visual trip down memory lane for all the Comico /Robotech fans and a look at what CO2 Comics has been up to in the last six years with a look into what we plan for the unpredictable future.

We hope to see as many of you as possible at the show. Please stop at our panel A Legacy of Independence: From Comico to CO2 Comics http://camdencomiccon.tumblr.com/programming from 11AM – 12:30 PM in Multipurpose Room 2 and visit us at our CO2 Comics booth for an opportunity to meet and support the the creators.

Gerry Giovinco

Ten Reasons We’re Excited About Camden Comic Con 2015

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

The gang here at CO2 Comics is really looking forward to the Camden Comic Con which will be held on March 7,  2015 at Rutgers Camden Athetics and Fitness Center!

We have ten big reasons to be excited!

1. For us it is a local event! Located at the Rutgers University Campus in Camden, NJ just across the bridge from Philly, the con is minutes away from our studios in Northeast  Philadelphia and Mays Landing, NJ! It is also a stone’s throw from a number of the creators that have collaborated with us over the years.

2. It’s a fun show! This is just the second go-round for the Camden Comic Con, but we had such a blast at the first one we could not wait to be part of it again!

3. We will have a booth! Come visit us and see all the great graphic novels, t-shirts and huge volumes of David Anthony Kraft’s Comics Interview: The Complete Collection we have produced and are available for sale!

4. We are doing a panel! From 11:00 am – 12:30 pm we will present a very visual slide presentation – A Legacy of Independence: From Comico to CO2 Comics.

Bill Cucinotta and I will discuss the virtues of independent publishing. We will take a retrospective look at our days as publishers of Comico during the 1980′s and talk about the first 5 years of our current exciting venture, CO2 Comics.

5. We will be reuniting with long time friends and collaborators! Joining us on the panel is a group of creators that have worked with us at Comico and CO2 Comics including Andrew C. Murphy, and former ROBOTECH crew:  Mike Leeke, Chris Kalnick, Neil Vokes and Rich Rankin. Don’t be surprised to also find John Workman and a few other folks that are tentatively planning to be there.

Andrew C. Murphy, Mike Leeke, Chris Kalnick, Neil Vokes, Rich Rankin, John Workman

6. We get to meet you! Camden Comic Con is FREE and open to the general public! Family friendly and on a university campus with lots of young people this con offers the opportunity for everyone to be comfortable and explore the wonderful world of comics. If you have never been to a comic convention before, this one’s for you!

7. Great Hosts! Bill Haas, Miranda Powell and their staff go out of the way to be accommodating to make sure everyone has a great time. It is a wonderful experience to attend a con where attendees, guests and vendors are all appreciated!

8. It’s a quickie! 10:00 am – 4:00 pm is short and sweet but leaves you begging for more. Don’t expect to find yourself bored! Lots of panels, vendors, guests and activities in a wonderful environment will have you scrambling to take it all in before the doors close so get there bright-and-early and be sure to stop by our booth and drop in on our panel.

9. Like the good ol’ days! You may hear a lot of comic veterans and long-time-fans pining over the pleasant simplicity of how cons “used to be.” Too many are too commercial, too crowded and too much about everything but comics. Not this little convention that gets most of it just right

10. You won’t be disappointed! I am so willing to guarantee a good time that if you don’t, you can read  FREE comics every day right here at CO2 Comics!

(Hey, that’s way more value than Stan Lee’s coveted No Prize!)

Gerry Giovinco

See you at the convention!

Camden Comic Con a Pleasant Surprise

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco



Comico and Elementals to be Resurrected!

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

CO2 Comics publishers, Bill Cucinotta and Gerry Giovinco, have formally announced that they have incredibly reached an exclusive agreement with Andrew Rev and will be reviving the Comico imprint for a new line of full color comics that will include the ELEMENTALS title originally created by Bill Willingham. The new line is expected to be  available for distribution in the Direct Market this coming Fall.

Cucinotta and Giovinco were among the original founding partners of Comico the Comic Company. Comico began publishing black and white comic books in 1982 with the release of Comico Primer #1, an anthology comic that featured characters created by the original publishers.

1st five Comico Covers

Comico immediately added four new black and white features, AZ by Phil LaSorda, SKROG by Bill Cucinotta, SLAUGHTERMAN by Gerry Giovinco and GRENDEL by Matt Wagner.

Comico's 1st Color Books

In an effort to grow the fledgeling company, Comico scrapped their entire black and white line to concentrate on full color, creator-owned, comic books spearheaded by   MAGE by Matt Wagner, and EVANGELINE by Chuck Dixon and Judith Hunt soon to be followed by hugely successful ELEMENTALS by Bill Willingham, all published in 1984.

Comico quickly became a contender in the independent market throughout the 1980s and  as a pioneer of licensed properties began setting new standards with tiltles like ROBOTECH, STARBLAZERS, JOHNNY QUEST, SPACE GHOST, and GUMBY.

Comico for a brief period ranked third in the industry for monthly sales with a broad line of comics and graphic novels before making the fatal decision to enter the mass market, a move that would drive the company into bankruptcy leading to an eventual sale to Andrew Rev in 1990.

Along with the acquisition of Comico, Rev also bought the exclusive rights of the ELEMENTALS from Bill Willingham and has remained the sole owner of the title and characters since.

The revival of the Comico imprint by CO2 Comics will also resurrect the Elementals in the form of a 300 page full color Elementals Omnibus that will collect the first twelve issues and primary story arc of the series, accompanied by digital release of each individual issue.

Cucinotta and Giovinco, who both left the partnership before the demise of their former company, are excited to have the opportunity to steward the Comico brand in the direction it was always intended just in time to celebrate the thirty year anniversary of the title and Comico’s publication of their first color comic books.

“This would be a dream come true,” admits Giovinco, who confesses that this is nothing more than a cruel prank that he perpetrated since April Fools Day coincided with his weekly blog post that is launched each Tuesday morning.

“It would have been a bore not to act on April Fools Day,” he states, “but  you are still welcome to enjoy all of great comics at CO2 Comics, many of which are created by former Comico collaborators like Bill Anderson, Reggie Byers, Chris Kalnick, Mike Leeke, and Bernie Mireault.”

You can also enjoy several creator owned features that were originally published by Comico such as:

GAUNTLET by Neil Vokes and Rich Rankin

RIBIT by Frank Thorne

SKROG by Bill Cucinotta

SLAUGHTERMAN, by Gerry Giovinco

THE WORLD OF GINGER FOX by Michael Baron and Mitch O’Connell

VICTOR by Andrew Murphy

Along with many other great features by talented creators.

Happy April Fools Day!

Gerry Giovinco

*Sincerest apologies to Andrew Rev, Bill Willingham, Dynamite Entertainment and any comic fan or speculator who may have experienced palpitations due to this post that was solely intended for good fun.



Black History Month: Reggie Byers – Comic Book Publishing Pioneer

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Reggie Byers Victory Productions

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

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

Click to read Crescent

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

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

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

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

Reggie Byers and a new shipment

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

Shuriken 1 by Reggie Byers

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

The Victory line

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rob Durham, Chris Etheredge, Steve Williams and Reggie Byers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco



Happy New Year, 2014!

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Goodbye 2013! All of the triskaidekaphobics can now come out of the closet and take a breath of fresh air. It’s time to move on.

Like any year, 2013 had its ups and downs with plenty of good and bad to go around.

I had high hopes for a magical year  when writing this blog to usher in the New Year twelve months ago, the manifestation of which is evident on the CO2 Comics site and in the product we’ve produced.

Besides my 52 weekly blog posts that tackled everything from creator’s rights to trademark infringement and a month-long, scathing review of the PBS broadcast of Superheroes: the Never Ending Battle,

we were delighted to introduce exciting new comic features that are available  to view for FREE everyday along with thousands of pages of other comics that have been archived here at CO2 Comics over the last four-and-a-half years:

Cid and Francis by Mike Sgier continued our commitment to diversity with its unique style of art and whimsical fantasy set in a world of elves and elemental spirits.

Two short stories, The Gold Mask and Revenge as well as the serialization of The Adventures of ROMA all by the legendary  John Workman.

15 year-old Indigo Anderson captured our attention with her youthful talent exhibited in her short feature North and South.

Most recently added has been Dreamcraft, a science fiction thriller by Craig Rippon, Sam Custodio and Bill Anderson that is sure to have you hanging on every page.

We also had the good fortune of releasing four new books in print:

Volume two of David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW  The Complete Collection.

Three graphic albums, Doggie Style by Steve Lafler, The Adventures of ROMA by John Workman and NON by Chris Kalnick.

All of which are available with the rest of our printed product that we conveniently  cataloged on this Wish List.

Purchase them exclusively at these two links:

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/co2comics

http://www.amazon.com/shops/co2comics

Comico's 1st Color Books

Robotech/Macross #1 cover, Comico 1984

We look ahead to another exciting year with wonderful new projects and publications to be announced with a firm swell of appreciation of our accomplished past as Bill Cucinotta and I will celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the publication of our first full-color comic books. 1984 was a significant milestone for us when, still as publishing partners at Comico, we released the historic first issues of Matt Wagner’s Mage the Hero Discovered, Chuck Dixon and Judith Hunt’s Evangeline and Bill Willingham’s Elementals. That defining year was rounded out by the publication of MACROSS which would eventually become ROBOTECH!

As staunch supporters of independent comics we also have to give a tip of the hat to another thirty-year anniversary as Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird celebrate their 1984 creation of the phenomenally successful Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and proved to us all that while publishing comics is hard work, anything is possible when you follow your dreams. Thanks guys!

We can only hope that 2014 will be as dynamic for comics and for us as 1984 was. We know from experience that all we can do is give it our best shot and we will!

You are all welcome  along for the ride!

Happy and Prosperous New Year from our entire CO2 Comics Family!

Gerry Giovinco



Making Comics is Risky Business: Part 3

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

Comico Primer #1-6

The financial risk of making comics is a cold hard issue that affects every business.   It is a gamble that is made, based on educated guesses, that an investment will return a profit worthy of the effort and expenses involved. Like with gambling, there is an excitement to the nature of this process that drives entrepreneurs to engage in these risks. It is not for the weak of heart.

I remember having a conversation with my younger brother, Tom, on this subject. He and I were both prone to start up businesses. I had participated in the launching of Comico the Comic Company and he was involved in some real estate ventures. My brother compared our activities to that of our grandfathers, both of which had been active gamblers that bet heavily on ponies, cards, craps, and sports. According to Tom, we had a genetic gambling disorder that was manifested by our affinity for business risk.

Launching Comico, however was not as risky a proposition as publishing comics had been in the past as I discussed in Making Comics is Risky Business: Part 2.

For the first four decades of the industry, publishers bore the burden of most of the risk involved, making all the investments in production and marketing in anticipation of sales made on consignment. Comico had the benefit of distribution in the Direct Market where most of the risk fell on the retailers.

During the late sixties and early seventies, thanks in part to the success of underground comics that were being sold in head shops, a market of comic book specialty shops began to spring up operating out of flea markets, garages and small stores. Phil Seuling, the organizer of the original New York Comic Art Convention ventured into distribution with his East Coast Seagate Distribution company. He had developed a plan to buy direct from comic book publishers with the promise of no returns. For the publishers this meant guaranteed sales.

Though Seuling originally held a monopoly on this market, it eventually sprang into a network of distributers spread across the country. Retailers would anticipate how many copies of each title they would need. Generally they derived these figures from knowing the interest and buying habits of their customers. They would place their order with their distributer of choice, sometimes paying in advance. The distributor would then place their order with the publishers, generally with a deal to pay thirty days after the books were delivered.

1st five Comico Covers

When we began publishing Comico back in 1982 we took full advantage of this system. We solicited our original comics, Primer, Az, Grendel, Skrog, and Slaughterman, with Xerox copies of art three months before the books would ship. A month before printing we would know exactly how many books we would need to print and could anticipate if we would profit from the product or not. We knew in advance what risk, if any, we were taking.

Retailers and distributors, however, were taking the chances on an unknown product based on photocopies and promised enthusiasm from young publishers. They knew that comic collectors were excited about acquiring first issues of comics that may one day be a successful feature making that first issue valuable. Collectors were speculators, gambling that their investment would one day pay big dividends.

Retailers ran the risk of not having a comic and seeing their customers run to another retailer. Distributors could not afford to not have the comics available for fear that their retailers would run to another distributor. So when our first comics, which were rudimentary at best, had been rejected by every distributor we were given a golden opportunity when Bud Plant placed the first order of a mere 100 books. We knew that if Bud Plant had books then every other distributer would have to have them. We got on the phones and before we knew it we had enough orders to justify a print run!

Comico enjoyed great success in the Direct Market. Our orders which began at modest numbers of less than 3,000 an issue escalated to over 300,000 a month in the matter of a few years.

Ironically, Comico’s downfall came when we took on the risk of the traditional Mass Market where we took a chance against the returns of the old consignment market. We bet that the recognition value of the licensed properties we produced like ROBOTECH, Starblazers, Jonny Quest, Space Ghost and Gumby would insulate us from returns.

We gambled and lost.

Next week in Making Comics is Risky Business: Part 4 we will take a closer look at the risky business of speculation and why crowd funding is the future for comics publishing.
Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco

Remembering Joe Kubert

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Joe Kubert 1926-2012, photo copyright The Kubert School

The news that Joe Kubert had passed away caught me at just after I finished last week’s blog. I was tempted to dive in and rush a last minute tribute in an effort to be timely but I have too much respect for the man and all that he did for comics. I chose to digest the incredible loss to his family, his school and the entire the comics community so that I could write a memorial deserved of a man of his stature.

Whenever I think of Joe Kubert the first thing that comes to my mind is a cover image of Tarzan, knife in hand, battling a savagely maned lion that struck fear in my heart as a young comic reader. The ferocity of the glare in the lion’s eyes, the sinewy muscles of Tarzan, and the dynamic gesture of every appendage on the page (right down to Tarzan’s toes!) captivated my attention in a way that few comics did or could. Joe was capable of creating something primal on a page with lines so kinetic that the images leapt from the page into the deepest, darkest part of the imagination.

Click image to see more Kubert School Advertisements

The name Joe Kubert captured my imagination again with a simple ad  for The Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art that ran in the back of every comic book in the late seventies. Though I couldn’t convince my parents to let me go to a school that promoted itself in a comic book, the idea of studying art for the purpose of  creating comics became my goal. A few years later, as a publisher at Comico, I was offering small scholarships to students at Joe’s school in Dover, NJ hoping to encourage the incredible young talent that was being cultivated there to want to work for Comico. The gesture paid off when we had the opportunity to work with Joe’s sons, Adam and Andy on our JONNY QUEST series.

Joe Kubert visited our modest offices at Comico once when we were first developing our relationship. Our Studio, as we called it, was half a duplex in the middle of blue-collared Norristown, PA. It was a humble creative space littered with art supplies, drawing boards, decrepit furniture and dated, orange shag wall-to-wall carpet. Joe loved it! There was a gleam in his eye as he looked around that space and at us young guys, full of enthusiasm about making comics. He told us stories of how he was reminded him of his early days, holed up in a small room with a bunch of other young writers and artists cramming out entire issues over night in a frantic effort to meet a deadline.

Joe was an infectiously dynamic person with a passion for comics that he was always excited to share and teach. He was the ultimate father figure that commanded respect and returned it when you earned it. That day he visited Comico, without intending to and unknowingly, he ordained us as professional comic creators with his glowing approval.

Similarly, Joe’s impact on the comic industry can never be measured. He has influenced and educated so many comic professionals that it would be impossible to imagine what the industry would have been like without him, his family, or his school.

Bill Cucinotta, the extended CO2 Comics family of creators, and I extend our very heartfelt condolences to the entire Kubert family and to everyone that loved and respected Joe Kubert, one of the very great men to have ever professed to making comics.

Gerry Giovinco

We at CO2 Comics have a long relationship with a former Kubert School student, Chris Kalnick, who worked as an inker on ROBOTECH when we published it as Comico. His comics NON the Transcendental Extraterrestrial and Depth Charge are regular features on the CO2 Comics site. At our request he has offered his own remarks regarding Joe Kubert:

Baker Mansion-Kubert School circa 1977.

It’s funny how sometimes you don’t realize how much someone has impacted your life until you hear of their passing.  This was definitely the case with me regarding Joe Kubert.

35 years ago, fresh on the heels of its groundbreaking first year class, I was one of the second year students who attended The Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art.  The school was small compared to today’s incarnation.  There were something like 25-30 students returning from the first year, and Joe only accepted around 50 of us for its incoming second year class.  The students ran the spectrum from the intensely-focused-and disciplined-artist/storyteller to the recent goofy-high-school-graduate-not-really-knowing-what-the-hell-they-wanted. A lot of us fell in between.

I don’t need to expound on how amazing the school was, its atmosphere, its creative energy, etc… suffice to say, there was nothing like it at the time. Plenty has been written about the school over the years. Even if it wasn’t your intention, you were bound to learn some amount of craft there… not only from Joe and the teachers, but from the other students as well.  Everyone ate, drank, and breathed comic art.  The place swam in it. Those who were there know what I’m talking about.  Their life experience and their art is a little richer for it.

There are many more XQBs than I who have had longer, deeper, more extended relationships with Joe, and they have their stories to tell and their feelings to share.  My relationship with him was somewhat brief, but what I can tell you about Joe is that he was no-nonsense. He shot from the hip.  You knew if he liked something or felt it worked… and you knew if he didn’t.  He commanded respect, personal and professional.  My personal talks with him were few, but they definitely left an impression.  As I’m sure his conversations did with the majority of his students.  My last conversation with Joe is forever etched in my mind, for it was sad in nature. It was about my leaving the school, and Joe expressed his disappointment.  For a cartoonist… not an easy moment to shake.

Joe opened his unique school and by doing so, opened the doors for a tremendous amount of artists who may not have otherwise had the opportunity, support, and camaraderie to develop their craft.  If it wasn’t for Joe, I wouldn’t have developed my craft or the sense of identity that I have today.  I wouldn’t have made the professional friends I have now.  And my youngest daughter wouldn’t have grown up in my studio to become an accomplished young artist herself.  Joe passed away the day after my daughter left home to attend Ringling College of Art and Design as an illustration major.  The coincidence of it is not lost on me… and his legacy seems so much more poignant, his influence so much more obvious.

You are respected, Joe.  I know for a fact that you will be missed.  Thank you.

Chris Kalnick

BUGHOUSE Graphic Album NOW AVAILABLE

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



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