Publisher Russ Cochran is best known for putting out various EC and Disney archives projects long before it became fashionable and most recently was editor at Gemstone, Diamond’s publishing arm. In a recent newsletter, he describes a fire at his house…and updates some of his projects, including a hunt for a new publisher for his EC reprints.

I’m convinced that I was only a few minutes from death, when I woke up at around 1 AM and saw the flames shooting out of the ceiling on the opposite side of the room where I was sleeping. Coughing and gagging, I sprang out of bed and hurried to put on my pants, shoes, and shirt as the flames crackled overhead. I called 911 and grabbed my guitar and carried it out to my Suburban.

The hose! I had a good garden hose outside. I ran out the front door and dragged the hose into the house and hooked it up to the washing machine water tap. I turned it on full force, and…nothing! The outside temperature was below 20° F, so of course the water in the hose was frozen, and the pressure of the water forced ice pellets out of the end of the hose until the water finally started flowing. But, it turns out that this cabin of mine near the North Fork River had one roof built over an older roof, creating a wedge-shaped space between the two roofs, and that’s where the fire was burning.

I hosed the ceiling from inside the house and then dragged the hose outside to see if I could douse any flames on the roof. It’s a metal roof, and fire was shooting out of the roof around the circumference of the flue pipe where the fire originated.

In less than 15 minutes the first volunteer fireman arrived from the Tecumseh Fire Dept, then more arrived, then a fire truck arrived and I watched the roof of my little house by the river burn. Everything in the room was ruined, not so much by the fire as by the hundreds of gallons of water the fire department used. But the damage was limited to just this one room of my little 3-room house. And I was alive.

Earlier in the evening, I had a nice hot fire going in my little wood stove, and I wanted to stoke it up and go to bed with a good fire that would last until early morning. Just that day I had bought a load of wood from my wood man, which were sawed-off ends of rough sawn 4x4s, so they had no bark and they were very dry. I packed the stove with that new wood and went to bed around 10:30. I knew I had a hot fire but I had no idea how hot it would get.

I was not injured except for inhaling a good deal of smoke before I woke up. I don’t know what woke me up, either breathing in the smoke or hearing the crackle of the fire in the ceiling. I was lucky.

Preliminary work is progressing on the EC 3D book, we have decided that the art should be reproduced twice, for completeness, once in flat 2D as it was drawn by the EC artists, and then again in the best 3D which can be done. The technical part of preparing the negatives for the 3D versions will be done by Ray Zone, who is “Mr. 3D” as far as comics go.

Still no news to report on which publisher will be given the license to continue publication of the EC Archives. Several publishers are in the running and I expect that Cathy Gaines Mifsud will make a decision soon. As soon as I know the answer to this one, I will notify everyone who gets this newsletter.

The book I am publishing (and my brother Michael is writing with Don McLean) is in progress, and we hope to have it finished in time for next Christmas. If you haven’t seen our beautiful hardcover books on Chet Atkins, Les Paul, Hopalong Cassidy…if these names ring a bell for you, I know you would enjoy them. Each of these books is available in a signed, limited edition and also in a regular trade hardcover edition. The limited editions will become rarer as time goes on and they should appreciate in value. The trade edition is not limited; thus, it can be reprinted any number of times. The limited signed edition is never reprinted.

At the present time the limited edition Chet Atkins book and the limited edition Les Paul book are going for $300-500, and there is one copy of Les Paul limited on eBay for $1000. Both of these editions are officially sold out. If you have one to sell, let me know, as I have buyers.

The limited edition Hopalong Cassidy book is by far the fanciest and most expensive book I have ever done. In another newsletter I will tell the story of how that book got out of hand and nearly ruined me. But it is a wonderful book, and everyone who has seen a copy sings its praises. If you have doubts about it, remember that it comes with my complete satisfaction or money back guarantee, like all my other books.

Another Comic Art Auction coming up in mid February…if you have comic art to sell, let me know!

Let me know what you want me to talk about in future newsletters. Right now I’m just thankful to be alive.

Don’t forget to visit my website and see all the goodies there. Thank you for your recent orders, please keep ’em coming!


  1. Thank goodness Russ awoke. I’ve had a small house fire, a decade ago, and it gives one religion about smoke detectors, fast (also, a touch of PTSD). Change those batteries when DST kicks in, people.

    Was it Bill Pearson who had a fire some years ago, destroying his Wally Wood archives? Tragic.

  2. Yep Bill almost lost everything – a small amount of Woods early art in cabinets survived. I work at a non-profit wchih provides support services to child care and early childhood programs in 20 counties in Wisconsin. In late 2008 I got a phone call at 5 am saying a fire had been reported at our building- no details- whe nI got there it was through the roof- we lost everything except my portable computer whcih I had taken home. Other thigns yo uishould be aware of is back up everything (those little fireproof computer disk safes by the way really work- the fire burned for 3 days and the disks were intact when we found the box) also check your inusrance coverage- in our case it replaced the building and covered a lot of the lost materials (most desks etc were donated by various firms in the community excess office furniture is not hard to find) but a lot of the cheaper material was not covered (loaner toys etc) and we are stil lworking to repalce that – most importantly tehre was a clause that stated that we could not pay dow nany of t he mortgage- oddly we could not build a smaller building and have no amortgage- the reason that was important was we shared the building with naothe ragency and lost them after the fire so we ended up wit ha nice building but an extra mortgage load so this year I got cut 40% in my hours. On the positive side the agency had a good isaster plan and most servoces did not stop even as the building burned,
    Having also lost a car to a fire (keep your vents clsoed when parked i nthe country or field mice build nests i nthe heater) I can tell you Russ was real lucky as fires move incredibly quickly I tried to put it out as opposed to running to the nearest phone and calling the fire department- took a matter of minutes for it to engulf the entire car.
    One of my investments last year were fireproof file cabinets for the art and better books in the collection will be writing about that later this year in CBG

  3. thank goodness no one was hurt and damage was limited to that which could be easily replaced.

    I had a fire 10 years ago — serendipity has stepped it to keep it from being a real disaster. I stayed home because I had a bad cold. The lights flickered and I looked out in the hall smoke was just beginning to filter through the light fixtures. I felt the wall between the apartments and it was HOT. Make a long story short, my upstairs bath fell in the kitchen, but amazingly my art and books were spared. A couple of pieces had edge water damage and one first edition was water soaked. Lessons learned: Keep multiple smoke detectors. Get as many fire-resistant safes and/or file cabinets as you can. Insurance.