The Neptune City-Saturn Town Review #7

20 Aug

I think that the greatest highlight in comic book history will always be the launch of the alternative comics movement which took place during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s; a movement which proved once-and-for-all that independent artists with independent (though mainstream-friendly) voices could compete toe-to-toe with previously unchallengeable giants like Marvel and DC, thanks to the “new way of doing business” direct market of then-newly-minted comic book shops which were cropping up across North America.  

We have Dave Sim to thank for being the first lasting voice (the Robert Crumb of his time, his era). There will never be a greater work in the medium than Cerebus (launched with the help of Deni Loubert in 1977, and concluded in 2004. 300 issues that actually made-up a single fascinating narrative).

To nicely compliment Mr. Sim’s Cerebus on the squeaky comic book racks, Wendy and Richard Pini’s Elfquest was soon introduced to significant acclaim of its own (the collaborative effort of a husband and wife duo who first met as pen pals through the letter page of Silver Surfer back in 1969). A new movie is on the horizon as we speak. 

Bob Burden’s Flaming Carrot would join these creative ranks in 1979, as a magnificent celebration of Jack Cole/Steve Ditko surrealism which continues to be a beloved presence in any comic book store. A real classic that every reader collects with the greatest enjoyment.

In 1982, Dave Stevens’ breathtakingly illustrated The Rocketeer entered the fold, reviving all the pulp fiction glamour of old Hollywood serials and Bettie Page pin-ups (though his real life glamour model was actually none other than respected horror movie actress and then-wife Brinke Stevens, a noted comic book fan herself, and someone who used to attend comic book conventions as a teenager dressed as the best Vampirella of all. On an extra trivia note, Wendy Pini used to attend conventions garbed as Red Sonja during the same period).

Then 1984, and with it Eastman and Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The rest is history.

While the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have since passed into the hands of a large and influential media company named Viacom, the other works listed remain creator owned, the best way found to maintain the overall integrity of their individual and unique masterpieces.

There are many other works which came out during the alternative comic boom which followed the success of the Turtles, and a lot of really good titles too. But whenever I muse over the history of the comic book industry, I’m always drawn back to those five special works without which the medium would be quite a different and poorer landscape.          


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