March will see a flashback on the shelves of your local comic book store with the release of Many Happy Returns. This anthology may be just 32 pages, but in that is packed the first new story of Evanier and Spiegle’s costumed hero Crossfire in over a decade, the first new story of William Messner-Loebs’ Journey to see print in a decade-and-a-half, and the first comic book appearance of Nat Gertler’s Licensable BearTM in a third of a year, plus more.
Happy Harbor Comics, the chain of shops who have served the comic book fans of Alberta, Canada since 1999, is underwriting the creation of this comic as their way of serving fans all over. “As part of hiring Licensable BearTM on as our official spokescritter, we wanted to publish new Licensable BearTM comics stories,” explains Happy Harbor founderJay Bardyla. “It was Licensable BearTM himself who suggested that we celebrate the upcoming opening of our new, third store at 10326 – 81 Avenue in Edmonton with something really special: bringing back some of our favorite comic book features from days gone by. This gives long-time comics fans a new taste of their favorites and introduces younger fans to some great work.”
“Crossfire” is the costumed crime-fighting identity of Jay Endicott, bail bondsman. Spinning out of the series DNAgents, the series Crossfire launched in 1984, published by Eclipse Comics. This crime series was set firmly in the world of Hollywood, allowing writer Mark Evanier to use his insider knowledge of show business to craft rich and fun tales. It ran for 26 issues of his own title plus seven issues of tie-in series, all written by Evanier (currently working with Sergio Aragonés on scripts for DC’s The Spirit) and drawn by Dan Spiegle, a master craftsmen with more than half a century experience drawing comics. Their last new Crossfire tale was a short story for an Antractic Press one-shot about a decade back. The new eight-page story in Many Happy Returns is another show business story, as current as today’s headlines.
Before his acclaimed runs as writer of The Flash and Jonny Quest, William Messner-Loebs built his reputation as the creator of Journey, a series telling the tales of forntiersman Wolverine McAlistaire. Well researched, strong in drama and yet capable of humor, the series gathered acclaim and fans. Between Journey and its follow-up miniseries Journey: Wardrums, 29 issues were produced. The first issue was dated March, 1983, making this new eight-page story in Many Happy Returns a 25th anniversary event.
Licensable BearTM is just a cute li’l cartoon bear who wants to be licensed for products. The star of his own series that recently came to an end with its fourth annual issue, Licensable BearTM has moved on to guest-starring in other comics, appearing in online videos, and being the spokescritter for the Happy Harbor chain. In fact, the story of his getting the spokescritter gig is the first of three short Licensable BearTM stories totalling six pages in this issue. All of his stories are written by creator Nat Gertler, with the artwork handled by Licensable BearTM veterans Rusty Haller (seen most recently in Heroic Publishing’s Liberty Girl) and Ryan Estrada (of the Flight anthology.)
There’s one more story slated for this issue which will be announced later, bringing this up to a full 32 pages of story for $3.99. “We’re underwriting this issue as a way to celebrate some of our favorite comics, not as a way of making a profit” explains Bardyla, “but if it sells a lot, great! Not only would a lot of people be reading good comics, but it would allow us to keep doing this year after year, perhaps with more Crossfire, Journey, and Licensable BearTM, perhaps with some different ones. So tell your retailer as soon as possible that you want Many Happy Returns.”
Many Happy Returns, a 32-page black-and-white anthology underwritten by Happy Harbor Comics and packaged and published by About Comics, can be found in the About Comics section of the January 2008 issue of Previews. It ships in March, 2008, and has a cover price of $3.99 US.