Preview: Hollywood Superstars by Evanier and Spiegle and the lost history of comics

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About Comics is a boutique publisher that specializes in bringing back unjustly obscure comics in affordable editions. They’ve just released HOLLYWOOD SUPERSTARS by Mark Evanier and Dan Spiegle. Originally published in 1990 via Marvel’s Epic line, it was a non-superheroic variant of Crossfire by the same team, basically behind the scenes tales of Hollywood, seen through the adventures of a team of private eyes consisting of a stuntman, an aspiring actress and a stand up comic. Like Crossfire, it has that slightly elegiac air of people who believe Hollywood’s legend and lore a little too much, told as only a couple of insiders could tell it.

Evanier has written a post about the history of the book, with his usual gift for telling detail, including this little budget of forgotten comics history, as in dealing with assigning editor Archie Goodwin:

He went on to explain that the folks at Marvel in charge of such things were looking for something that might snag young women aged 16-24 who, research told them, were not attracted to the current Marvel line. The company was working out a deal to put a small comics display near the section of many bookstores and newsstands that sold Harlequin Romances and other (allegedly) female-directed publications. The problem, he said, was that Marvel really didn’t have the right product to put on it.

“Give me something set in Hollywood with adventure and soap opera overtones,” Archie requested. He mentioned the newspaper strip, On Stage, which he loved and which he’d written for a time. “Something like that,” he said, and he suggested I try to get the word “Hollywood” into the title.

So yeah, a little visionary planning there, even trying to tap into the bookstore market, which had just been pioneered by Maus, Watchmen and Dark Knight. I believe around the same time, DC also had the idea to try to put out things that appealed to women; I’d had a meeting with then editor Mark Waid inviting me to pitch anything I wanted, but writing comics isn’t my actual skill, so that never happened. Still it was interesting.

Johanna has a review of Hollywood Superstars. If you aren’t a fan of Spiegle’s sturdy, inky storytelling you should be. Here’s fa few pages and a preview, provided by About Comics.

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Comments

  1. Brian says:

    Looks cool. I’m going to hunt it down at my LCBS.

  2. Kurt Busiek says:

    Great book.

    kdb

  3. Brian — I should have made it clearer – you can only order this book from Amazon!

  4. Torsten Adair says:

    About Comics is distributed by Lightning Source, Ingram’s print-on-demand division.

    EAN: 9781936404469
    Barnes & Noble carries it on their website.

    According to Books In Print, About Comics is distributed by both Diamond Comics and Diamond Books. So, technically, Diamond could offer this to comics shops, but it seems unlikely.

    (POD is not that big a deal for black-and-white comics. I’ve seen decent examples. I believe Slave Labor Graphics is almost completely POD now. This books is 148 pages for $10. A good deal!)

  5. A wonderfully fun series – I just re-read it not too long ago. Still stands up pretty well!

  6. While About Comics does maintain a relationship with Diamond for our backlist of traditional print books, we don’t solicit them for our new print-on-demand products like this one. (This allows us to create products without worrying about whether we’d be able to hit Diamond minimums on initial solicitation.)
    While it was only at Amazon when we announced it, it has now worked its way through the Lightning Source system and is available through bn.com and can be special ordered by your local brick-and-mortar bookstore.
    And your LCBS can order it and our other POD titles directly from About Comics… but few do, so I wouldn’t count on finding it on your local shelves. (You could steer your shop to http://www.aboutcomics.com/wholesale.html and have them order this and our other fine books. Busiek&Fry’s Liberty Project! Weasel Patrol! Charles Schulz! And much more!)

  7. How wonderful. Hoping that Crossfire makes another return as well. Mark is truly one of the greats.

    Lance Roger Axt
    AudioComics

  8. As is Dan Spiegle! Hit the enter button a little too quickly there…

    Lance Roger Axt
    AudioComics

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