Posts Tagged ‘Sam Kieth’

The Forecast Calls for Raine

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Rain Szramski photographed by Victoria Mock

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

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

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

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

see Raine Szramski on DeviantArt

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

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

Heaven And The Dead City NOW AVAILABLE!

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

Get your Copy Here!

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

Order you copy of HEAVEN ANd The DEAD CITY Here!

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

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

Celebrating Thirty Years of Comics History!

Gerry Giovinco


Holy Crap

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

AZ #2

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

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

Slaughterman #1

Skrog #1

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

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

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

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

Comico Primer #1-6

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

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

Gerry Giovinco, Bill Cucinotta & Phil LaSorda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Making Comics Because I Want To

Gerry Giovinco


The Comic Company:
Prime Time

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010
 
Comico was always intended to be launched in an anthology format. The first planned publication was Comico Presents which was to feature Phil LaSorda’s AZ, Vince Argondezzi’s Mr. Justice and my own Slaughterman.

Unpublished Cover

By the spring of 1982, however, the dynamics of the original group had changed.
Vince Argondezzi was moving on and Bill Cucinotta had joined our ranks bringing with him his creation, Skrog. Other talented comic artists, Matt Wagner and the very young Andrew Murphy, lurked in the wings.

It occurred to me that the anthology format had greater potential for us than we had originally planned. Rather than be merely a vehicle to introduce our own feature characters into the Direct Market, the format gave us a venue to feature the works of the many undiscovered talents that we were becoming acquainted with on the convention circuit.
 
I saw this publication as the foundation for which all future projects would emerge. It was the first coat of paint on which we could embellish illustrious careers as comic creators. This anthology would be our Primer.
 

PRIMER #1, Cover pencils by Andrew Murphy. inks Gerry Giovinco

 
Surprisingly, I do not remember it being difficult to sell the concept and especially the name, Primer, to Phil and Bill. We all knew that, in a market with titles full of Action, Adventure, and other Epic names, Primer was as dynamic sounding as white bread but to us it perfectly described the product and what we expected to accomplish with it.
 

PRIMER #2, Cover by Matt Wagner, 1st appearance of GRENDEL

 
We had hoped that by naming our comic book Primer, readers would expect something different, that the product would lay a foundation for what was to come and, most importantly, it would ignite an interest in our budding comic company. Primer would survive six issues and be our longest running black-and-white title. It did launch Comico and prime the industry for a unique independent company that blazed trails in creative and production quality, pioneered licensing for alternative publishers, championed creator’s rights and gave Marvel and DC a serious run for their money.
 

PRIMER #3, Cover by Jim Dever, featuring an early William Messner-Loebs story

 

The impact of Primer is still felt in the comics industry today.

 

PRIMER #4, Cover by Barb Ramata, first of three to be edited by Matt Wagner

The ACT-I-VATE PRIMER

I can tell you that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Bill and I were both caught blushing when IDW announced that it would be publishing The ACT-I-VATE Primer.

ACT-I-VATE has been among our greatest inspirations while developing CO2 Comics. The presumption that our Primer may have had any influence on Dean Haspiel and friends was quite humbling to us (Guys, don’t tell us if it didn’t, it might ruin the moment!). Marvel’s Marvelman Classic Primer and Alan Moore’s Americas Best Comics Primer also find use of the Primer name which I like to believe would have never been used when associated with comics before the advent of the Comico Primer.

PRIMER #5, Cover by Will Brown, featuring Sam Kieth’s Max the Hare

How-to Comic Primers pepper the internet and we at CO2 Comics have tapped the old Comico Primer for our own World Wide Web purposes.

PRIMER #6, Cover by Judith Hunt, the introduction of Chuck Dixon and Judith Hunt's Evangeline. Assistant editor CO2 Comics contributor Reggie Byers.

My Slaughterman, Bill Cucinotta’s Skrog, Andrew Murphy’s Victor, and Rich Rankin and Neil Vokes’ Gauntlet, features that all ran in Primer, are now featured right here on CO2 Comics.

They have all helped us launch this new and exciting web comics collective. CO2 Comics contributor Bill Anderson also graced the pages of Primer. Primer alumni, Matt Wagner, Sam Kieth, William Messner-Loebs, and Chuck Dixon have had stellar careers as comic creators. Their earliest published works can be found in those seemingly innocuous six issues of Primer making a few of them quite valuable as collectibles.

Other talents that were featured in Primer: Phil LaSorda, Vince Argondezzi, Jim Alderman, Rick McCollum, Bill Bryan, Jim Dever, Larry Nadolsky, Francis Mao, Barb and Bernie Armata, Ron Kasman, Will Brown, Chris Windle, Ajay Mclaughlin, Mark Lantz, Michael Lail, Grass Green, Judith Hunt and Al Wiesner. Primer was, unfortunately, discontinued along with the rest of the black-and-white line when Comico made its transition to color in 1984.

Pain

Works that were planned to be published in Primer that I am sorry we missed out on were Pain by Bill Cucinotta, Panda Khan by Dave Garcia and a little pre-turtle story by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird.

I have quite a few interesting stories that I can share about experiences publishing Primer that will have to wait for another time.

Next week I will pick things up a bit with a look at one of my favorite “Pie in the Sky” ideas from the early days of The Comic Company.

Making comics because I want to!

Gerry Giovinco

 

 

 


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