Hey, Hey, Hey …it’s a new RETRO REVIEW! I’m glad you could all find your way to this week’s column. And what do I have in store for you this week? Well, how about Eclipse, The Magazine # 1, cover dated May 1981 and published by Eclipse Enterprises.
This is the first of a short-lived black and white magazine from Eclipse that was edited by Dean Mullaney. For a first issue, it wasn’t half bad. Right of the bat, it’s got a colorful cover, painted by Paul Gulacy. Take a look:
A striking image, needless to say. It grabs the potential buyer’s attention and makes them want to pick up the magazine and take a look.
Once you open it up the reader gets a short Editorial by editor Mullaney that is illustrated by artist, Don Maitz. Next up, is a two page illustrated Table of Contents. One page lists the stories and their creators and the second page shows art for five of the seven strips. Then we get a one page subscription blank for this new magazine, as well as, other Eclipse publications.
Now on to the reason why anyone would purchase this magazine. First up is a nineteen page story entitled; “Slab”, it is written by Steve Englehart and both pencilled and inked by Marshall Rogers which introduces the reader to the protagonists of the story, S-329, Agent of Storbor and Klonsbon the Foozle! It is a pretty strange tale and the story is a little confusing, but the art is nice to look at. Not sure I can explain it any better without taking up way to much space.
The second story is just six pages and is written, pencilled and inked by Jim Starlin. It is entitled; “Amber III”. For those keeping track; Amber I was published in Epic Illustrated # 34, published by Marvel Comics and Amber II was published in Heavy Metal Magazine, vol 3, # 4, August 1979. This story adapts and illustrates a children’s poem. You might remember it going something like this; This old man, he played one. He played knick-knack on my thumb. With a knick-knack patty-whack, give a dog a bone, this old man came rolling home. Starlin’s adaptation features a man facing death.
The third story is also deals with death, and is entitled simply; “Death”. It is only three pages long and it is written, pencilled and inked by Howard Cruse. This story is told and illustrated in a more cartoony and fun style, even though it too covers a pretty heavy topic!
The fourth story is ten pages long and is entitled; “The Chimera”. It is written and pencilled by P. Craig Russell. It is published in pencil form, with no inks. Truthfully, it’s reproduction could definitely used inking. Russell’s art is gorgeous, but it is difficult to tell exactly what is going on. And to make matters worse, there are no word balloons or captions. It features a nameless barbarian on a quest, I’d have to guess.
The fifth story is “Cartoon Man” written, pencilled and inked by Marc Hempel. It runs five pages and features a self aware cartoon character that appears in the strip.
The sixth story is just one page. It is entitled; “Loose Hips Sink Ships” and it is written by Chris Browne with the pencils and inks provided by Trina Robbins. The story revolves around a radio drama show.
And the seventh and final strip is “I, For An Eye” with the first chapter entitled; “The Girl In The Red Wedding Dress”. It is written by author, Max Allan Collins and the pencils and inks are done by Terry Beaty. The story introduces the reader to the character, Ms. Tree, prior to her getting her own comic book.
That’s it for this week’s RETRO REVIEW, but please return next Friday for a brand new, Fabulous Find. Until then … be seeing you.
The outstanding “I Am Coyote” series (serialized in ECLIPSE magazine in black-and-white) was later collected and beautifully colored in an Eclipse Graphic Novel.
Most of the material has an underground (or “middleground/overground”) feel to it, and the names such as Metzger, Trina Robbins, Howard Cruse, and mainstreamers who worked for STAR-REACH and IMAGINE such as Marshall Rogers and Jim Starlin.
ECLIPSE magazine ran 8 issues. The other series that I really enjoyed in it is “The Masked Man” by B.C. Boyer, a warm and Eisner-esque human-interest series, with a lot of humor.
And it should be noted that ECLIPSE magazine was followed by an ECLIPSE MONTHLY comic that ran 10 issues. The first four ECLIPSE MONTHLY issues had “Cap’n Quick and a Foozle” by Marshall Rogers, which is a loose spin-off of characters in his “I Am Coyote” series. In all 10 issues is B.C. Boyer’s “Masked Man”. Other highlights are an outstanding western series called “Rio” (in issues 1, 2, 5, 9 and 10. And another western feature, “Carlos MacEllyr” in issues 6-8, where he fights rogue Mexican soldiers and tracks down a rabid killer bear. Plus “Static” by Steve Ditko in issues 1-4 (a superhero/science experiment gone out of control story), and “Dope” by Trina Robbins (a Fu Manchu-type series about heroin addiction and trafficking.) I like how many creators and series continued over from ECLIPSE magazine into ECLIPSE MONTHLY. The latter ECLIPSE MONTHLY series more mainstream/alternative, and less “underground” in feel.
Also of note from Eclipse at the same time (1983), another Englehart/Rogers collaboration was SCORPIO ROSE, that ran two issues. It actually began in 1981 with a MADAME XANADU one-issue special by Englehart/Rogers, that might have continued as a series. Apparently Englehart was unhappy with his treatment by DC, and walked away from MADAME XANADU, and two years later revised the unused scripts into the new character of SCORPIO ROSE.
Also from roughly the same era, and well worth picking up, were Englehart/Rogers’ MISTER MIRACLE 19-22, and DETECTIVE COMICS/Batman 471-476. All among my favorites. The Batman stories reprinted in an inexpensive BATMAN: STRANGE APPARITIONS trade paperback, and more recently in BATMAN: MARSHALL ROGERS hardcover, also more recently released as a trade. Would that material this good were not so difficult to find these days in the current fare offered.
Thanks for you additional comments on my post, Dave Ryan! I love Marshall Rogers artwork and I too enjoyed B.C. Boyer’s Masked Man comics!