Somebody got this set from us on eBay already, but wow was it fun to assemble. Writer Martin Pasko, author of more than one minor classic for DC Comics, would leave the series to pursue opportunities in his television writing career. Before he left, though, he set the stage for the team of Moore, Bissette, and Totleben to take over.
The run feels, in many ways, like a television series. With a movie still from the Swamp Thing movie adorning the cover of issue two, it’s likely DC had an eye out for the transition to television success. Pasko gave readers a large supporting cast and many subplots that evolve at different paces.
With demons from hell and evil sea monsters with huge brains, Pasko keeps Swamp Thing largely in the realm of monster-based horror as Wein & Wrightson did in the beginning. A back-up series of Phantom Stranger stories adds to the spooky vibe.
The cover of #6 is our favorite, hands-down. Or, tentacles down. We dug the entire story as Swamp Thing gets stuck on the cruise from hell. A demonic squid brain takes over the ship and turns a masquerade party into a cyclops circus. #6 and #7 are just too much fun!
Judging from the letters pages, readers really loved issue #8, too. Swampy ends up on an island where fantasy and reality become indistinguishable for a group of war vets. Behold the cover, with its skull mountain, jungle foliage, and long-haired lady with her clothes shredded and slipping off. This is pure Hollywood pulp, but delightfully executed.
At the beginning of the series, we found Tom Yeates’ art merely serviceable, but by this point in the series he seems to have really hit a groove. The covers and interior art have become memorable and dynamic.
More damnable demons spring up from the Stygian depths to confront Swamp Thing as Yeates keeps the volume cranked on madness and the macabre.
A sombre interlude with a freakish crystal antagonist begins perhaps like any silly superhero story, but the moody artwork and utter tragedy of the participants makes it a surprisingly moving tale. These two issues feature a different creative team, and Tom Yeates would not return to the interior art. But, dude, crystal alligator. Check it out.
And then, something magical happens. Steve Bissette and John Totleben come aboard and revolutionize the atmospheric, horrifying visual style of the book. While we often sing the praises of the Moore run, these few issues with the same art team demonstrate how much the intensity of that run came solely from the pictures. We lack the words to depict the scope of how stunning these pages are for us, so let us simply leave you with a few to enjoy!
Like we said, we sold our set on eBay recently, but you can almost always get a great deal on these Martin Pasko issues of Saga of the Swamp Thing. The last couple rarely come into stock, but good luck!
Turtle Soup #1 brought together a ton of indie comic artists to do short stories about everybody’s favorite teenage mutants. Steve Bissette contributed a horrifying turtle nightmare which only the meditative skills of Master Splinter can turn to a healing dream.
– From Turtle Soup #1; Mirage Studios, 1987.
Alan Moore’s run on Swamp Thing may be the most-reviewed comic book series on the web. So we’re not going to discuss how it’s one of the greatest things written in comics – or anywhere else. We’ll just let the story speak for itself!
Here is the complete “Anatomy Lesson” story that started it all. Well… Issue 20 gave Moore a chance to wrap up the story lines started by Marty Pasko, but this is the issue that pulled the rug out from under all that to launch an exciting new direction.
Steve Bissette’s MyRant discusses more of the creation of the first few issues of Moore’s Swamp Thing, including original script pages from Moore, examples of John Totleben’s incredible contribution as inker, and credit to Rick Veitch on the interior shots of Sunderland’s office building in “Anatomy Lesson.”
These scans come from a reprint DC/Vertigo created when the Watchmen movie came out. Branded “What’s Next,” the $1 reprints aimed to take the momentum of the movie and create some new fans for more Vertigo titles beyond Watchmen. The “Anatomy Lesson” reprint of Saga of the Swamp Thing #21 proved especially awesome: Never before (not even in the TPBs) has the art appeared so crisp and perfect, and Tatjana Wood’s coloring of this issue came to life like never before on the high-quality paper.
Enough exposition! Let’s get to the heart of what makes our favorite muck-encrusted mockery of a man really tick!
“Rite of Spring” is one of our top ten favorite comic books of all time, easily. Psychedelic love in the swamp, baby! Yes! Where do we sign up?!
Abigail “Abby” Arcane and Swamp Thing declare their love for each other and find a unique way to consumate that love on the transcendent, spiritual level. This story also has some historical significance. It often receives credit for “launching the entire Vertigo line” at DC by boldly going off the Comics Code Authority label.
We wanted to share this one with you for a long time, so we picked up that reprint for less than $2. Then, we pulled out the staples to capture every last line of the artwork, and lovingly reconstructed the two page spreads for you. Finally, the reprint seemed printed in black ink for the first half of the issue, and then a kind of off-black for the second half. We ran it through our Awesomizer to make the whole thing pure black and white. While we love Tatjana Wood’s coloring of the story, this reprint really highlights the masterful teamwork between Steve Bissette and John Totleben. It’s the next best thing to owning the original artwork!
We recently purchased the Bissette-illustrated Vermont Monster Guide. It’s chock full of completely creepy fantastic freaks rendered in the inimitable Bissette style.
Steve was kind enough to include an autographed & personalized copy of Tyrant #4 in the package. We were thrilled! Thank you, Steve, for mutating our brains in hideous, reptilian ways!
Treasure Chest Vol. 16 No. 9 is a golden age comic we first discovered in Steve Bissette‘s Complete History of Dinosaur Comic Books. Bissette remarked in his 6th column that he would love to see that book again even though three decades of searching for it had proved fruitless at the time of writing. This mournful tale of lost dinosaur comics moved us to go searching for it.
Much less than 30 years later we found scans on the glorious web, and cleaned them up a bit for you to enjoy. Billed on the awesome cover as The World of Long Ago, the 5-page story is called The Grandeur of God on the inside. It was published by a religious organization proposing that dinosaurs and evolution proved… jehovah was a frickin’ genius. At least, that’s what we got from it.
Good luck finding this issue of Treasure Chest in print! We didn’t find it in any of our favorite online shops or eBay, but at last we got a VG+ copy from Newkadia for just $12.98 delivered. There’s hope for you yet!
So, without further ado…
Here is the tale that caught the young Bissette’s imagination!
– From Asylum #1.
Collector’s Guide to Alex Niño:
Alex Niño’s work was featured in DC Comics publications such as Weird War Tales, House of Mystery, and House of Secrets. You will also find Alex Niño in issues of Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion, Secrets of Sinister House, Weird Mystery Tales, and The Witching Hour. Alex Niño also appeared in Warren’s Creepy and Heavy Metal.
Artist Steve Bissette guest-authored a series on Palaeoblog about the history of dinosaur comic books. They come from the introduction he crafted for Jim Lawson’s Paleo: Tales of the Late Cretaceous. The only drawback: you can’t ever find them in the right order on Palaeoblog! As a public service to dinosaur comic book fans across the glode, Mars Will Send No More offers a comprehensive set of links to these mind-expanding articles in sequential order:
Steve Bissette’s 10- part guest column on Palaeoblog: “The Paleo-Path.”
Part 1: Unearthing Origins
Part 2: From Alley Oop to The Ancient Great Plains
Part 3: Jesse Marsh and TARZAN
Part 4: Turok, Part 1
Part 5: Turok, Part 2
Part 6: “Classics” Illustrated
Part 7: Gorgo’s Mash O’ Monsters
Part 8: Up From The Underground
Part 9: Jim Lawson’s Paleo!
Part 10: Interview with Steve Bissette
Just in case you’ve been trapped on an alien spaceship for the last few decades and haven’t discovered Steve Bissette, dig the Steve Bissette website. He even gives free drawing lessons on his site. You can see how a master of black and white artwork creates a comic book masterpiece from the ground up!
Steve Bissette is also the creative mastermind behind the 4-issue series Tyrant. Tyrant explores the life cycle, the behavior, and the environment of a Tyrannosaurus Rex and her babies. Bissette devotes an entire issue to the development of the fetal Tyrannosaur. This penultimate biology lesson will absolutely blow your mind!