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Vaporware: Douglas exhumes the absent past

Douglas Wolk

I picked up a bunch of old Amazing Heroes Preview Specials a few months back. They were published twice a year in the mid-to-late ’80s–fat saddle-stitched things, with more or less extensive writeups of nearly every comic book series that was supposed to be published over the next few seasons. Jog’s mention a little while ago of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s perpetually in-the-works City Lights reminded me of my perverse fascination with comics projects that are officially announced and maybe even produced but never actually published at all. (I also recently ran across a French site with fairly extensive lists of aborted Marvel and DC projects–mostly pitched or planned, rather than formally announced, although I would still love to read Peter Bagge’s Incorrigible Hulk.)

Anyway, the Preview Specials include a bunch of them, as well as some other gems, like Kim Thompson’s absolutely correct declaration that “I don’t think any one of our 20,000 plus readers gives a flying damn who is doing Sectaurs, what’s coming up in it–or anything else to do with it, for that matter,” and Denny O’Neil noting that “if there is ever a backup character in Detective, it will be a new female Bat-character, but she won’t even be created until maybe next winter”–this was 1986 or so. The preview for the last few issues of Watchmen begins with Alan Moore apologizing that it had shifted from monthly to every five weeks (!), and ends “Current plans call for the entire Watchmen saga to be reprinted in both hardcover and softcover book formats for release through bookstores once the story is completed, and Moore is optimistic about the eventuality of a Watchmen film.”

A few highlights from the Imaginary Library, under the cut:

“Alan Moore’s Comic,” a.k.a. Dodgem Logic, a Fantagraphics-published series with rotating artists; the first issue was going to be a comedy set at a comics convention, and the second a biography of Aubrey Beardsley.

A Thriller Summer Special, to be written by Robert Loren Fleming and drawn by Keith Giffen, along with a Superman/Thriller issue of DC Comics Presents. (Thriller, initially written by Fleming and drawn by Trevor Von Eeden, was a very unusual, very promising series that flew totally off the rails partway through its first year–it seemed particularly creator-driven for its time, which was why it seemed doubly weird that first Von Eeden and then Fleming were replaced by creators who seemed to not get it at all. But these were announced after the original series was gone.)

Speaking of Giffen: Keith Giffen’s Tattered Banners, a monthly series from Lodestone that was supposed to be whatever Giffen felt like doing that month (it appears to be completely different from the Alan Grant/Giffen miniseries of the same title from 1999).

Brainstorm, an Eclipse flood-benefit anthology series, assembled by Mark Evanier, in which every story was supposed to be “a possible springboard for a series”; there was work completed for it by John Bolton, Sergio Aragones, Alex Toth, Howard Chaykin, Chris Claremont, Mike Mignola, P. Craig Russell, etc.

A second issue of Cerebus Jam, featuring stories by Dave Sim in collaboration with Colleen Doran (“The Applicant,” which finally appeared in Cerebus #91), Dick Giordano, Mike Grell and Barry Windsor-Smith (those never came out, as far as I know). By Amazing Heroes Preview Special #4, Sim’s comment on the nonappearance of the second issue was “I don’t push creative people for the sake of reviewers.”

Cheap Shoddy Robot Toys, initially announced as a one-shot written by (my old boss) Beppe Sabatini and drawn by Fred Hembeck, to be published by Eclipse. That was later revised to “illustrator undecided,” and Sabatini mentioning that “we do have future issues planned. Issue #2 will cross over with Joe Kubert’s Redeemer series, while issue #3 will guest star Ms. Mystic in a story that ties in to her sixth issue…”

A four-issue miniseries by John Byrne, adapting Edmond Hamilton’s City at World’s End.

A two-part Frank Miller/Walt Simonson Daredevil story.

William Messner-Loebs’ “Journey: Wardrums,” of which two issues came out, was to be followed by a miniseries called “Western Follies.” (Speaking of which: I really need to reread Journey now that it’s in those two fat IDW books. I saw a review of it recently by somebody who didn’t seem to realize that Jemmy Acorn was a goof on Johnny Appleseed. Do kids today still learn about Johnny Appleseed? I AM OLD.)

A six-issue series of The Liberators by Grant Morrison and John Ridgway, to be published by Quality for 75 cents an issue (a few episodes of this saw print in Warrior #26 and Comics International #76).

A Mr. Monster/Swamp Thing one-shot by Alan Moore, Michael T. Gilbert, Steve Bissette and John Totleben. (A preview image was the cover of Amazing Heroes #77.)

If anybody happens to know what happened to any of these, I’d love to hear it.


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