Thursday, April 7, 2011

'Epic Illustrated' Spring 1980

Back in the day, I never paid much attention to 'Epic Illustrated', the first issue of which appeared in the Spring of 1980.

It was clearly another effort by Stan Lee to try and cash in on the success of a magazine  introduced by a rival company. Much as he did with the black and white magazines designed to mimic the success of Warren's 'Creepy' and 'Erie', or 'Crazy', which was a pallid imitation of 'Mad', 'Epic' was designed to attract the readership of 'Heavy Metal'.

Showing prudence in regard to marketing and budgeting (earned by the comparatively poor performance of more than a few of Marvel's magazine-format trial run issues in the 70s), Lee produced Epic Illustrated on a quarterly basis during 1980. In ensuing years it was published at a rate of 5 or 6 issues per year, and then just one issue in 1986, when it ceased publication.

Nowadays issues in good condition go for $5 - $10 or more on eBay, and a complete set of all 34 issues in very fine / near mint condition will go for more than $120. I was able to get a bunch of copies in decent shape, and I will be posting stories from them on an ongoing basis.

I'm finding that Epic attracted some good talent, including Heavy Metal contributors like Arthur Suydam, Mirko Ilic, and Ray Rue, and its pages contained some worthy material. 

Issue one featured a 'Silver Surfer' story with outstanding artwork by John Buscema. Unfortunately, Stan Lee's script for 'The Answer' wasn't as impressive. I think maybe he should have let the Surfer's creator, Jack Kirby, do the honors....


Anonymous said...

I remember Stan Lee building up the Epic Illustrated project before its release: to judge by his remarks, it was going to be something unimaginably new; like comics in a world that as yet had seen no comics. I couldn't imagine what in the world it could be but of course was thrilled in advance. The first issue arrived by subscription, can't remember why I did that, then I realised no, this is not a paradigm-changing endeavor. All the same, Stan's hoopla had created an aura around the whole thing which heightened enjoyment of what it (actually) was.

Richard Fahey said...

I never had the "Epic" magazines.That was fantastic,glad I found this!John Buscema's art was so different from anything I've seen before,having only seen his stuff mostly in ink,so was awestruck and surprised.

Don't agree about Lee's script,his handling of metaphysics was bolt lightening compared with anything he did in his greener days.Apart from that,although Kirby must be given his due as an artist and for helping to create both characters,he was no writer,and couldn't match Lee for dialogue and characterization,so not sure what you meant.

Thank you for putting this on.