Posts Tagged ‘Vince Argondezzi’

Song of the Sketchbook

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco



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


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

 

 

 

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…

The Comic Company:
Presenting…

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

Looking back, I guess it took a lot of guts for three kids from Norristown to decide that we wanted to start a comic book company especially considering that we were all still attending college and had no money except for what little we made working part-time jobs.

I struggled to meet class deadlines at the Philadelphia College of Art (PCA now UArts) and labored on weekends at places like 7-11, K-Mart, and Pizza Hut just to have spending money. The dream of making comics preoccupied my mind at every job I held. The evidence is a comic that I made while working as a cook at Pizza Hut in the winter of 1980.

Read Pizza man And Pizza Woman

The Norristown Pizza Hut Presents…Pizza Man & Pizza Woman was the first comic that I had published by anyone other than myself. It appeared on the last page of the company’s nationally distributed, monthly, twelve-page, 8.5 x 11″ newsletter Pizza Hut News Brief. This was a format that I would adapt later when publishing DUCKWORK at PCA with CO2 Comic’s own, Bill Cucinotta and the rest of the self-proclaimed DUCKS.

Phil LaSorda, Vince Argondezzi and I were all dreamers, but at the time we never believed that we could not do what we had set out to do once we had read Don Rico’s How to Start a Comic Book Empire in Free Enterprise magazine.

We considered our biggest asset to be ourselves since we knew that we would create the art for our own publications, saving us a lot of money.

Our biggest asset, however, turned out to be our own naiveté. To every person who scoffed and told us we could not do it, we had only one answer. Why not? Honestly, because we didn’t know any better.

Phil Lasorda & Vince Argondezzi at Creation Conventions

The summer of 1980 was spent developing product for the new company that we would call Comico the Comic Company. My recollection is that Vince first dubbed it The Comic Company. Phil suggested that we shorten it to ComiCo to which I responded that we should pronounce it Comeeco to sound like Mego and Coleco which were popular toy companies at the time.

Gerry Giovinco At Creation Conventions

We each had our own characters to work on. Phil had Az, Vince had Mr. Justice and I had Slaughterman. We planned to feature them in one magazine titled Comico Presents.

That summer Vince illustrated the cover of Comico Presents that would never be published other than as a flyer to promote our new company.

The Comico cover that never was © TM Respective Owners

The Comico Portfolio cover


We each made color illustrations of our character that we would have produced as 8×10″ color glossies and inserted in a hand-made card stock envelope that we simply called the Comico Portfolio. This is officially Comico’s first publication.

AZ from the Comico Portfolio © TM Phil Lasorda

MR JUSTICE from the Comico Portfolio © TM Vince Argondezzi

SLAUGHTERMAN from the Comico Portfolio © TM Gerry Giovinco

Finally, we printed up Comico t-shirts and prepared to exhibit at the Philadelphia Creation Convention were I had made inroads with my Thing costume at previous shows.

Gary Berman and Adam Malin, the producers of the Creation Conventions, were very gracious in giving us an opportunity to display our work. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude for being the first to believe in us.

We had gone public with Comico. There was no turning back…

Gerry Giovinco

Next week: DUCKWORK!
Meanwhile you can check out another DUCKWORK retrospective by Joe Williams HERE!

The Comic Company:
How to Start a Comic Book Empire

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

I became obsessed with making comics when I was in high school during the late 1970’s. I wasn’t content with just drawing them, however. The process of making comics was not complete for me until the comics I had drawn were read by an audience. 

I would make comics and print them on an old mimeograph machine then distribute them around school, usually selling each copy for a nickel. I always considered my calling to be that of a cartoonist but in reality I was a born comics publisher. 

CARTOONING THE HEAD AND FIGURE By Jack Hamm

 I read a lot of comics and I read a lot of books about comics and their history. I read books on how to draw and how to draw cartoons. My favorite books were two by Jack Hamm. Drawing the Head and Figure and Cartooning the Head and Figure published by Grosset & Dunlap in 1963 and 1967 respectively. These books are so great they are still published today by Perigee Books. Get them if you can.

 I considered myself self-taught and I was constantly on the prowl for more material to learn from. Unfortunately, there were no books that I found that actually taught how to make comics.

THE COMPLETE BOOK OF CARTOONING By John Adkins Richardson

In 1977 Prentice-Hall published The Complete Book of Cartooning by John Adkins Richardson. My world had changed. The secrets to making comics were out of the bag and brilliantly collected in just over 250 pages of lavishly illustrated, intelligently composed and detailed instructions. More important to me was that this book paid specific attention to creating comics for reproduction.

The publisher in me was percolating. 

Though the production information in this book is completely outdated today, all of the other content is a must read for anyone interested in creating comics. Copies can be found online. Trust me, if you have not read it, it belongs in your library! 

I tell my children to constantly be aware of and use all resources to achieve the most success. When I was coming up there was no internet with a seemingly infinite knowledge base as there is today. I had to search for information in strange and unusual places. Sometimes the knowledge found me. 

FREE ENTERPRISE Magazine

In the summer of 1979, the year I graduated high school, I opened my mailbox and found a magazine that had been placed there by my next door neighbor. It was an old copy of Free Enterprise “The Magazine That Makes You Money” originally published in April 1978. The cover featured Poster King Ted Trikilis who had cashed in by selling the famous Farrah Fawcett poster. 

HOW TO START A COMIC BOOK EMPIRE By Don Rico

Inside, however, was my gold-mine. A comic feature titled How to Start a Comic Book Empire by Don Rico who had received an Inkpot award in 1976 at the still young San Diego Comic Con. 

The comic adventure of Captain Free Enterprise chronicled the hero showing an aspiring entrepreneur how to publish comics detailing how to buy art, manage expenses, sell advertising, print and distribute product. 

BIG BOOM IN ADULT COMICS By Len Andrews

Following the comic were two articles, Big Boom in Adult Comics by Len Andrews and Best Buys in Comic Collectibles by Cara Greenberg. Both gave a stunning outsiders view of the early days of the Direct Market. 

BEST BUYS IN COMIC COLLECTIBLES by Cara Greenberg

All three features are posted here for historic reference. 

The Publishing Monkey in me was bouncing off the walls! 

I quickly called two of my friends who were also aspiring comic creators, Vince Argondezzi and Phil LaSorda. Both of them had graduated the year before. We got together and laid out a plan. We had a distinct advantage over the business model that Captain Free Enterprise described. We would create our own art, eliminating half of the expenses he outlined. 

Comico the Comic Company was conceived. 

I spent the rest of that summer cavorting around comic conventions in my Thing costume as seen in the wildly popular film that we posted here on CO2 Comics. Those conventions represented a lot of networking, education and maturing. Comico was a solid idea that would require a lot of nurturing, planning, and development especially since the three original partners were all now enrolled in separate colleges. 

Notice in the Captain Free Enterprise story he is seen flying into the San Diego Comic-Con International were many of you are this week 32 years later! While you are out there, look for CO2 Comics contributors Raine Szramski and Mitch O’Connell, also keep an eye out for all CO2 Comics updates

Captain Enterprise descends on The San Diego Comic Con

Making comics because we want to! 

Gerry Giovinco


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