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Tales of Syzpense #5
Gloom, Rog, and Spinner Rack Tales
Our Syzygy Publishing imprint at Image launched in January 2022 and I’m still working to get my arms around the day-to-day managing of all sides of it. My original goal was that it would operate in all the ways I was used to, as a full-service publishing venture even while being challenged by the limitations that come from being largely a staff of none. Which is part of my purpose with this newsletter, to help shine some added light on the things we’re doing. But it’s also here to showcase some of the things not happening as part of the Syzygy imprint, too.
For instance, there are a couple of in-dev projects I’m working on that aren’t going to run through the Image imprint for different reasons. One of them arrived in print a week ago and functions as a nice proof of concept for the planned series.
The Edward Gloom Mysteries is a 5-issue series created by the ever-amazing JM DeMatteis and artist Vassilis Gotzilas. It’s one of five different series DeMatteis unleashed recently, but this one is a bit of an outlier than the other four that were part of his recent “DeMultiverse” crowdfunding project.
Instead of being part of that universe, Edward Gloom is a series JM, Vas, and I have been working toward doing separately for going on two years now. While trying to figure out a good home for the series, JM approached me and asked if he could use issue 1 — which we recently got colored and lettered by Ronda Pattison and Ed Dukeshire, respectively — as a bonus comic that’d be printed and sent only to certain backers of his campaign.
It seemed like a nice way to get this first issue into a select few hands and see what could happen with it from there.
Now, since launching this newsletter, I had a handful of subscribers come in at a paid level, which was unexpected but completely appreciated. So I’ve been trying to think of various ways to make that backing a worthwhile thing for subscribers at that level.
Previously, I previewed half of a new comic I’m launching in June for those backers before but I think I’ll soon offer the full Edward Gloom #1 as a downloadable PDF that way too, since it’s a really solid read and something I’d really like to get finished and out in the world in a larger way.
And then there’s this, which may be a Syzygy publication before long but not an Image title, anyway.
ROG 2000 is a comic from the early ‘80s from writer/artist John Byrne. Byrne did a number of ROG strips in his mid-’70s time at Charlton Comics, and has played with the character here and there over the years. There’s only ever been one comic that collected all of the strips in one place: a 40-page, 8-1/2” x 11” comic that defunct San Diego-based publisher Pacific Comics put out in the mid-1980s. It’s long out of print.
John’s been wanting to do a new edition of this comic, as have I. But instead of a straight reprint, I’d prefer to do it in a way that makes it something special even for fans who might still have this original version. So I’m on the hunt for other ROG-related material we can include.
Over the years, John has revisited this character in assorted ways: in a Hostess Fruit Pie parody ad; in commissions for fans; on an unpublished page of Byrne’s She-Hulk series; and even on the below “Mars Attacks ROG-2000” cover, which was a mock team-up variant cover done as part of a larger “Mars Attacks IDW properties” crossover I oversaw a number of years back.
I know there are a lot of other unpublished ROG pieces and original art out in the world and so we’ve been trying to track them down to include them in this book. I’ve gotten a few already, but want to exhaust all possibilities in finding still more. So if you or any art-collector friends of yours happen to have other ROG pages you’d like to see included in this collection, please let me know. Either way, it’s going to be a fun thing.
Spinning My Wheels
During the early days of the pandemic, many of us found ways to keep our heads relatively well-attached through assorted side projects: sourdough-starters, jigsaw puzzles, pickle ball, and so on. I chose a path that maybe wasn’t quite as prevalent but was just as mentally freeing for me.
First, I organized the living shit out of my comic collection. In part, working to pair it down (a constant work in progress) but also organizing it like I was my own retail shop. I mean, really, I went pretty overboard. There are now a dozen drawers that look like this.
And there are also a couple spinner racks, the old kind like you used to see in a drugstore. It’s a nice, easy way to rotate in old favorites and also a way to live out the comic version of Rob from High Fidelity, who re-arranged his record collection whenever he had a down moment.
And that’s when a writer/friend and fellow enabler/collector, Jordan Hart (more on his upcoming comic at some point here) started playing around at assembling themes for the spinner racks.
It started innocently enough: I decided that for the holidays, it’d be fun to have old Christmas-themed comics staring back at me for a month. So I pulled the old ones I had, added to the pile, and then sorta went overboard once again:
Between holidays, I played some easy themes, like Marvel’s 25th anniversary covers, since those were already in my collection:
It’s from this point forward that Jordan and I kind of lost it: figuring out ridiculous themes and which comics might fit each one. Which has at times given me entirely new wish-lists of things to search out at conventions (“hero fights self”) or led me to keep some comics I otherwise might’ve tossed (“Jaws homages”).
And so, I decided it could be fun to hit a new theme each week here — both calling out the theme and citing and showing specific examples of each. I’ll no doubt miss some, and I’m sure there are plenty of other themes that have’t occurred to us yet. They’re not always as obvious as “covers with broken logos” — in fact, the more obscure and tenuous connections make for some of the most fun theme. So hopefully this all becomes a good excuse for all of us to talk up and showcase old comic covers while offering up some good examples for anyone who might have a spinner rack and wants to play along.
The Christmas covers seen here are probably the most obvious. It’ll get more ridiculous from here.
Finally, Team Syzygy is headed to Australia for a couple conventions in June. Ashley Wood and I will have some special things and exclusive comics at the Supanova shows in Sydney and Perth so we’d love to see any of you there. (All of you, preferably.) We’ll have a fun exclusive variant cover for the series we’re launching next month that shares its name with this newsletter, Tales of Syzpense, and a few other unique things, too.