Johnny Caito 7:07 p.m., July 28
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No more Rock ‘N’ Roll Comics reprint editions from Bluewater Productions
No more Rock ‘N’ Roll Comics reprint editions from Bluewater Productions, now that the Hillcrest/Miramar-based Revolutionary Comics reprints are mostly sold out - past AND future editions will be all-digital
The Rock ‘N’ Roll Comics graphic novel collections I worked on with Bluewater Productions are now pretty much sold out, tho all are available as digital downloads via Amazon and iTunes. There won’t be any new Bluewater reprints or collections of the 300-plus comics originally published out of Hillcrest and (later) Miramar from the late 1980s though the mid-1990s.
We did seven books with Bluewater: Pink Floyd Experience (150 pgs), Elvis Presley Experience (210 pgs), Led Zep Experience (150 pgs), Beatles Experience (240 pgs), Hard Rock Heroes (240 pgs with AC/DC, Metallica, GnR, Ozzy/Sabbath, Van Halen, Megadeth, Spirit, Queensryche, Motorhead, ZZ Top, etc), plus stand-alone comics on the Runaways/Joan Jett/Lita Ford and my Stan Lee one-shot. An eighth book, Rock 'N' Roll Cartoon History: The Sixties, remains unpublished.
I mainly just wanted the Beatles book in print and in bookstores, because it was the late Todd Loren's masterwork. The collected compendium was a dream he often professed as the original eight issue series unfolded. Thanks to the mass market Bluewater edition (which earned a ton of positive press), that finally happened, 18 years after Todd’s (still-unsolved) murder in his Hillcrest condo. And now people can also download it for Kindle, watch it on their iPhones, and they're even for sale via iTunes, along with the other Bluewater editions.
Aside from my work here at the Reader, where I've been writing and cartooning weekly since my Overheard in San Diego comic strip was launched in late 1995 (followed by my Famous Former Neighbors comic strip, also reality-based), I'll be concentrating on digital repurposing of the best of the old Revolutionary Comics material ("best" being an admittedly small percentage of our 300-plus comic output) instead of further licensing print editions.
Though we’re not renewing with Bluewater, the collaboration went well. Over the past few years, Bluewater helped keep the RnR Comics "brand" alive. Thanks to the reissues, we got press in USA Today, on MTV, and hundreds of writeups resulted, not to mention Amazon sales and buyer comments that add value to the Infinitely Malleable stack 'o' stuff that comprises Todd's life's work.
All of which both revives and somewhat validates the big chunk of creativity and effort the rest of us young drawing board outlaws put into those books as well.
I’m most pleased that the early work of valued Revolutionary Comics contribs like Spike Steffenhagen, Scott Pentzer, Larry Nadolsky, Lyndal Ferguson, and Patrick McCray lives again in the Bluewater books. Those guys did a lot of creating for RevCom that earned them neither much money (Todd got most of that) nor bragging rights (which I tend to monopolize when I'm stumping for things like reprints, compilations, and 2012’s Story of Rock ‘N’ Roll Comics documentary DVD).
And how cool to see reprinted some of the earliest published work from future superstars like Stuart Immonen (Adventures of Superman, Legion of Superheroes), Mike Sagara (Ninja High School), Aaron Sowd (Alpha Flight, Uncanny X-Men), and Terry Dodson (Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn), all of whom got their pro-cherries popped by Revolutionary Comics.
We put out some pretty cheesy books at RevCom, especially the early Rock ‘N’ Roll Comics. But I feel like the choice stuff that made it into the Bluewater books well represent what we were trying to create -- outlaw-themed reality-based comics taking full visual and narrative advantage of the notion that truth is always stranger, and usually a lot more fun, than fiction.
All of it unauthorized. And Proud Of It!
It’s been an odd and rewarding experiencing, reliving RevCom’s days of (April) wine and (Guns n;) roses. Take unlikely occurrences such as last year’s Story of Rock ‘N’ Roll Comics DVD release party at New York City’s famed Forbidden Planet shop, one of the biggest gatherings of retro Revolutionaries since the line’s 1990s heyday.
For one great evening, I was happily paired with writer Spike Steffenhagen, artist Scott Goodell, cover painter Scott Jackson, writer Rob Conte, and filmmaker Ilko Davidov to sign autographs for attending fans and attend a theatrical screening in nearby Greenwich Village.
Here’s me sharing with attendees a backstage prank I once played on Axl Rose, who badmouthed my GnR comics in Rolling Stone magazine and was the first rock star to threaten to sue over our comics:
Starring Alice Cooper, Mojo Nixon, and others, and featuring music by Elvis Costello and Mojo Nixon, the Story of Rock ‘N’ Roll Comics debuted at Comic-Con International in San Diego in 2005 before being released in theaters by Bulletproof Film.
Unthinkable back in the dayz when we were busy being sued by new Kids on the Block, getting dropped by every distributor in the comic biz over their own lawsuit fears, and being banned from comic conventions all over North America.
The Story of Rock 'N' Roll Comics documentary DVD (released last year by by Wild Eye Productions) is now available for instant download on Amazon, via Kindle Fire, and a bunch of other internet platforms. Starring Alice Cooper, Mojo Nixon, Gene Simmons (via phone!), and with far too much onscreen blah-blah from yers truly, the download can be yours in 30 seconds for only $12.99 -- http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0081XZ99A/ref=cm_sw_r_fa_dp_DFMtrb0SQSVHD
Below is an editorial I wrote for the DVD comic cover gallery - it sums up my thoughts on the recent Revolutionary Comics revivals and reunions occasioned by the documentary film and the (now finished) Bluewater reprints.
Welcome to the Revolution – Again!
Even tho I had a hand in making most of the comics published at Revolutionary, to this day I have no idea who drew that very first Revolutionary cover, the1989 first printing of Rock ‘N’ Roll Comics #1: Guns N’ Roses.
Publisher Todd Loren simply used a bootleg Gn’R poster he was already selling via his mail order rock memorabilia biz Musicade, which also had a retail store in San Diego (see DVD extras for original video commercials). On later printings of RnR #1, the unsigned bootleg art was replaced with a newly commissioned painting by Scott Jackson, among the first of several “house” artists whose work would come to characterize the brash line of “Unauthorized, and Proud” bio comics.
The artist clubhouse behind that recognizable RevCom style grew quickly as more titles were added to the line, including music themed mini-series and an ambitious run of full color thrice-monthly sports star bios. Frequent cover contribs included Doctor Bang creator Lyndal Ferguson and his brother Earl Ferguson, Ghost Rider painter Ken Meyer, Jr., Blue Beetle inker Del Barras, Kyle’s Bed & Breakfast creator Greg Fox, Supergirl artist Stuart Immonen, Kiss Pre-History penman Scott Pentzer (who also painted all of the color sports trading card inserts), colorist Heather Dawn, and several others.
You may be surprised to learn of how many Revolutionary comics AREN’T bios, such as the Deepest Dimension Terror Anthology with painted wraparound covers by Vampire Lestat painter Daerick Gross.
Another contemporary horror series, the five-issue Tipper Gore’s Comics and Stories, featured a wraparound cover by controversial Guns N’ Roses album cover painter Robert Williams, who speaks on the DVD of Todd’s determination to create comics that were far more outlaw than underground.
Few people realize that Carnal Comics, the top-selling adults-only comic book line in industry history, was launched at RevCom by RPG illustrator SS Crompton (whose character Demi the Demoness, born at RevCom, later became the first X-rated comic to be adapted as a live action film).
The Stan Back one shot features a character co-created by Todd Loren and still drawn in comic strips to this day by cover artist Larry Nadolsky, for ‘zines like the New England music mag Soundwaves.
And did you even know about offbeat/obscure RevCom titles like Contemporary Bio-Graphics (stars from the art, film, TV, and political worlds), the humor series Barf, teen-themed newsstand sensation Starjam Comics (10 issues!), Heavy Metal Monsters (still published by creator Scott Jackson), award-winning Fantagraphics defector Stickboy by Dennis Worden (who later published Stickboy comics with RevCom spinoff Carnal Comics, which itself has published over 100 comics since 1992).
The three-issue Conspiracy Comics series, tackling the deaths of Marilyn Monroe, JFK, and RFK, actually landed Revolutionary a lot of mainstream press in the early ‘90s, on TV shows like Entertainment Tonight and others.
Several of our sports comics likewise found their covers flashing on countless TV screens, like the Mario Lemieux comic sparking a lawsuit threat from the Penguins, or when the Mike Tyson comic got our entire line kicked off the 7-11 newsstand chain (apparently due to his rape conviction).
Particularly cohesive are the sports comics drawn by Greg Fox, one of the original pencilers for Rock ‘N’ Roll Comics. His geometric cover designs based around iconic sport imagery are well matched with the photographic likenesses he achieved of the players themselves.
I remember really wanting Greg back on my own rock comic scripts, especially after his stellar work on the two-issue Doors story and a breathtaking David Bowie bio. But his sports covers were so terrific that they became almost exclusively his domain for the better part of a year.
*(Here's an outtake from the Rock 'N' Roll Comics Story DVD where I describe being chased out of a sports card convention by none other than Pete Rose! https://vimeo.com/42876678 ) *
Of course I’m biased, having been lucky enough to ride sidesaddle for most of the rocket ride that was Revolutionary Comics. But I think the Bluewater reprint collections, tho now at an end, represent a pretty unique little moment in comic book history.
For a few brief years, the rock ‘n’ roll kids were running the asylum.
Jay Allen Sanford
Previous Poo-Bah, Revolutionary Comics<p>Jas2669@aol.com>
RELATED STORIES ON THE READER WEBSITE:
ROCK 'N' ROLL COMICS: THE INSIDE STORY - In 1989, local Revolutionary Comics ("Unauthorized And Proud Of It") launched Rock 'N' Roll Comics, featuring unlicensed biographies of rock stars, most of which I wrote. Some performers, like Frank Zappa and Kiss, were supportive, while others like New Kids On The Block considered our comics akin to bootlegs and sued. In June 1992, publisher Todd Loren was found dead in his San Diego condo, brutally murdered... http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...
OVER A MILLION CARNAL COMICS ARE IN PRINT - Here's how and why we made some of the top-selling erotic comics of all time, right here in San Diego, including what Gene Simmons has to do with it all, backstage tales of porn stars, and more confessions of a comic pornographer... http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/bands/2007/sep/08/carnal-comics-the-inside-story-jay-allen-sanfor
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK VS REVOLUTIONARY COMICS - The inside story of how a hugely successful boy band tried to sue local-based Rock 'N' Roll Comics over an unauthorized biography of the group, sparking a court case that established, for the very first time, first amendment rights for comic books. Illustrated by comic superstar Stuart Immonen (Superman, etc.)... http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/bands/2007/sep/13/new-kids-on-the-block-versus-revolutionary-comics
TWILIGHT ZONE AND STAR TREK WRITER GEORGE CLAYTON JOHNSON PRESENTS - The inside story of a local horror comic book series featuring Robert Bloch, author of Psycho, plus sci-fi king Larry Niven, Zap Comix co-founder Spain Rodriguez, Matthew Alice artist Rick Geary, Vampire Lestat painter Daerick Gross, yours truly JAS, and many more... http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/bands/2007/sep/05/deepest-dimension-terror-anthology-twilight-zone
COMICS AND CENSORSHIP - DON'T BE AFRAID, IT'S ONLY A COMIC BOOK - A local-centric history of comic book censorship, and the fight for the rights of comic creators...
THE BIRTH OF IMAGE COMICS: INSIDE STORY OF A LOCAL PUBLISHING POWERHOUSE - Illustrated tale revealing how Spawn creator Todd McFarlane and local comic artist Jim Lee (the Punisher, etc.) conspired to create the ultimate creator-owned comic books...