Every era of publishing has had awful comics. Though we live in a golden age, they walk among us even now. But horrible comic combined with dated inking techniques and fashion sense…now those are gold.
Michael Carlyle’s The Crapbox of Son Of Cthulhu blog goes through some awful comics of the 80s, such as Rayne #4 by Richard Moore. Although Moore would go on to have more recognition with Boneyard, and he’s not a bad artist, this is to comics what Simon & Simon is to TV. Something that just looks old and wack, horseheaded fur bikini wearing babes and all.
Even more instructive is the case of Of Myths and Men #2 which looks like a very simple webcomic but was actually typical of “the black and white boom” of the 80s that followed the success of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Hundreds of comics like this were published, leading to speculation and the eventual market crash. But I’m guessing that they probably sold more than a typical IDW comic does now—there were a lot more comics shops and they tended to order everything.
Blackthorne Publishing came about after the breakup of Pacific Comics. The brainchild of Bill and Steve Schanes, Blackthorne was named after the street Steve lived on. It originally published cost effective comic reprints of things like Dick Tracy and Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. Many of these titles were over a quarter of a century old and in the public domain when Blackthorne put them out. The money garnered from these titles allowed the small publishing shop to branch out into 3D titles and original series. Legal loopholes allowed them to put out 3D titles for properties held by Marvel, like a successful Star Wars 3D series, by creating a new product category that the licensing contracts didn’t cover. The creator-driven black and white comics were a very mixed bag, but mostly low quality rip-offs of current trends. An example would be TMNT clone Pre-Teen Dirty Jean Kung Fu Kangaroos. Or this issue of Of Myths and Men.
The book is drawn in a classic generic 80s style that one might call “unshaded post Foglio”—sketchy characters with visors and boots and musculature defined by bubble shapes, close set eyes indicated as ovals with pinpoint pupils. This is one of the “Seven Types of Bad Comics Art” which I will get around to writing some day when I don’t want friends any more.
While the comic is random, it’s also very very typical…and so unremarkable that the name of the artist isn’t even listed on ComicsVine. This era of comics is defined as “The Copper Age” by some, and like copper, the value is counted in pennies.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.