About Comics is a boutique publisher that specializes in bringing back unjustly obscure comics in affordable editions. They’ve just released HOLLYWOOD SUPERSTARS by Mark Evanier and Dan Spiegle. Originally published in 1990 via Marvel’s Epic line, it was a non-superheroic variant of Crossfire by the same team, basically behind the scenes tales of Hollywood, seen through the adventures of a team of private eyes consisting of a stuntman, an aspiring actress and a stand up comic. Like Crossfire, it has that slightly elegiac air of people who believe Hollywood’s legend and lore a little too much, told as only a couple of insiders could tell it.
Evanier has written a post about the history of the book, with his usual gift for telling detail, including this little budget of forgotten comics history, as in dealing with assigning editor Archie Goodwin:
He went on to explain that the folks at Marvel in charge of such things were looking for something that might snag young women aged 16-24 who, research told them, were not attracted to the current Marvel line. The company was working out a deal to put a small comics display near the section of many bookstores and newsstands that sold Harlequin Romances and other (allegedly) female-directed publications. The problem, he said, was that Marvel really didn’t have the right product to put on it.
“Give me something set in Hollywood with adventure and soap opera overtones,” Archie requested. He mentioned the newspaper strip, On Stage, which he loved and which he’d written for a time. “Something like that,” he said, and he suggested I try to get the word “Hollywood” into the title.
So yeah, a little visionary planning there, even trying to tap into the bookstore market, which had just been pioneered by Maus, Watchmen and Dark Knight. I believe around the same time, DC also had the idea to try to put out things that appealed to women; I’d had a meeting with then editor Mark Waid inviting me to pitch anything I wanted, but writing comics isn’t my actual skill, so that never happened. Still it was interesting.
Johanna has a review of Hollywood Superstars. If you aren’t a fan of Spiegle’s sturdy, inky storytelling you should be. Here’s fa few pages and a preview, provided by About Comics.
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.