Dept. of lost comics companies: Recently Don MacPherson caught notice of a huge eBay auction of material from the ’80s publisher Comico — for $12,000, you get stacks of mostly color acetates and printing proofs — not the materials of today’s publishing industry, but salvageable with a lot of man hours — IF you could sort out the rights.
Comico flourished in the ’80s and published seminal work by Matt Wagner, Bill Willingham, Sam Kieth and many more. In 1990, it was purchased by financier Andrew Rev, a rather colorful character whose recent appearance at the ICv2 digital comics conference was noted by many.
Former Comico co-publisher Gerry Giovinco and Bill Cucinotta have re-emerged as the publishing company CO2 (an advertiser here on The Beat) and a new blog posting by Giovinco explains they have nothing to do with the auction or its contents. Giovinco points out that they were co-founders of Comico, along with the late Phil Lasorda, whose brother Dennis later took on many of the business duties of the publisher. According to Giovinco, there is little art in the auction because Comico always returned art — however, what art there is might have ownership issues:
The photos show only a very limited number of pieces of original art. One notable piece was created by me and was given as a gift to Dennis. It is possible that the art in question could have all been acquired in this manner. Some of the images could also be photostats that appear to be originals in the photos.
It always was Comico policy to return all art to the creators. If there is art that was not returned, we are in total agreement that it should be returned to the rightful owners of the work. If you are a creator that believes your work could be among this lot, we would suggest you fight to get it back.
He goes on to mention the feeling of sadness that most of us feel upon reading of this auction:
It is sad for us to see evidence of years of hard work, talent and aspiration heaped so randomly on a pile in some storage facility. Even sadder to consider that some of it may have been misappropriated.
I got into comics, and especially indie publishers, in the mid 80s. So Comico, First, Eclipse and the likes hold a special place in my heart. Unfortunately, the comics business landscape has since been littered with their corpses. I especially remember the ugly decline and demise of Comico, during the Andrew Rev years. Bill Willingham, fed up with the legal wrangling, just sold the rights to his Elementals series and walked away, only to have it live on as a series of poorly drawn Sex Specials! Ugh, so sad.
I highly doubt anyone would pay a Thousand bucks for this collection of printing proofs and color acetates, let alone $12,000. Here’s hoping the original art finds its way back into the hands of the rightful creators.
The collection is open to inspection.
The best solution? Have an individual sponsor an academic institution to acquire the items.
As an owner of an Evanier/Kirby New Gods transparency, I wil say the sheets are huge! Mine has four pages (arranged by layout, not numerically), and would cool backlighted.
This isn’t original art, but it is original, one-of-a-kind.
A businessman would take these transparencies, have the artist sign them, and sell them online with a copy of the comic. Easy to ship.
Everyone who remembers Comico would probably weigh in with their own favorite titles 7 creators, but I have to mention that Comico was the first publisher of Mike W. Barr’s private eye series THE MAZE AGENCY, which featured early artwork by current go-to-guy-for-good-girl-art Adam Hughes.
I personally would like to see the parties step up and donate the material to Hero Initiative and Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, preserving the legacy of what was once Comico.
As somebody who ran Rev out of an Association of Internet Professionals meeting in the late 90s (I believe he was pushing some sort of online yellow pages-type project) by asking him a few questions about Comico, I’d say rather colorful is an understatement.
“I personally would like to see the parties step up and donate the material to Hero Initiative and Comic Book Legal Defense Fund…”
Great idea, if HA or CBLDF were willing/able to go through the things and then sell them individually (perhaps signed as Torsten Adair suggests above) as fundraiser items.
Or, if the hope is that they’d be preserved as a collection rather than sold off, there’d always be the option of donating to an institute like Cartoon Art Museum, The Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, or any of the college/university libraries that make the news by accepting comics-related donations for their collections.
Does Rev still have copyright control over Bill Willingham’s “Elementals” title? I seem to remember somewhere that there was confusion over who owned the title, and that Willingham was trying to get the rights back. Or not, my memory’s a little hazy on that subject. I remember that title fondly (and enjoyed every issue of it).
Lance Roger Axt
The AudioComics Company
@Lance: not sure about the Elementals ownership quagmire either, but if you’re interested, Willingham sort of continued and tied up his “Oblivion War” storyline from Elemenatls years later. He did it by creating a new black & white indie comic series called Pantheon, through Lone Star Press, with all new characters, but more-or-less the same Elementals storyline. It wasn’t nearly as good, but still kind of fun.
If anybody wants to figure out who own The Elementals – I know people in NY who would pay a million dollars or (much) more for the property.
Get in touch.
I ‘m looking for the Atomic clones’s ad that erik larsen drew around 88 for Comico. I also will say that The elementals do need to return to save our comic world .
Reading this just makes me sad. I really enjoyed some of Comico’s titles, including Grendel, Mage, and Elementals. They also published Doug Wildey’s Rio, which I really liked. Hell, I even bought a copy of Ginger Fox!
I wonder could that be brian azzerello’s skinny arm?
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