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  1. #16

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    How did I miss a thread on Epic Illustrated?

    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    Picked up three issues of this series in order to follow Doug Moench's Weirdworld and instantly became intrigued with the series. I caught the final chapter of Starlin's Metamorphosis Odyssey, some early chapters of Veitch's Abraxas and the Earthman, the end of Claremont's Marada the She-Wolf, and after having read up on the series, am enticed by some content in later issues that I don't own as well.

    So the question...

    I know full well that everytime I ask this community if I should read something I'm curious about, the fans speak out with an enthusiastic "yes!" and the naysayers stay quiet. This time around, though, I'm truly concerned about the cost of these individual back issues, as well as the space they'd take up in my collection, so when I ask if I need to read these, I'm really asking if I'll be missing out on something AMAZING by not doing so.

    So, do I NEED to read...

    1. The Entire series of 34 issues? At approx. $8 a piece, that's quite an investment.
    It is and it isn't. If you buy a complete set in F-VF, you'll spend much less than that and get a lot of bang for your buck. Epic Illustrated started to give Heavy Metal a run for its money when content in the latter got patchy and patchier in '85-'86. But then Marvel pulled the plug and started the Epic Comics line, stating all had been accomplished as intended for an anthology magazine and it was time for comics, instead. Well, many of those comics weren't that great and nowhere near as cool as the stories found in the magazine.

    Yes, many stories have been collected as TPBs. But many have not. If you enjoy the many anthology zines of the '70s and '80s — HM, the Warren mags (especially 1984/1994), Hot Stuf' and the like — you should have Epic, too. The only anthology mag that didn't impress me was Eclipse. Beautiful covers (Gulacy, Golden, etc.) but the interiors didn't stack up.


    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    2. The first eight chapters of the Metamorphosis Odyssey? I understood the plot from the recap and have already read the ending. Is there any value in going back from the beginning (especially when doing so will likely run me $60+)? Yes, I'll probably ultimately read Dreadstar either way.
    Do you like Starlin's gorgeous artwork? If so, then yes. Seriously, get a feel for the way things were and read it anthology-style, 8-9 pages at a time (in the first issue, MI had three chapters, though, for a total of 25 pages). There's also a Lee/Buscema/Nebres Silver Surfer story and other cool fantastical stuff.


    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    3. The Young Cerebus stories? Cerebus is my favorite work of all time, yet I'm assuming if these stories didn't make it into the trades, nor into Cerebus #0, that they're pretty forgettable. Is there a value in tracking them down other than in being a completist?
    Never got into Cerebus. Had some issues in the '80s but overall I've never been a fan, so I can't really comment.


    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    4. The Last Galactus Story. I'm going to read Byrne's run on FF soon, anyway. Is this a necessary follow-up? I realize the final chapter was never published either, but that a synopsis exists somewhere out there on the web. Is this story something I need to read?
    I think this was the most out-of-place thing ever published in the pages of the magazine. Again, just one item, though.

    The thing is you have to take into account all the fantastic talent that graced the pages of the magazine. Besides those already mentioned (Starlin, Veitch, Bolton, Buscema, Suydam), there's work by Tim Conrad, Steve Bissette, Bernie Wrightson, Jeff Jones, Ken Steacy, Charles Vess, Mike Saenz, Pepe Moreno and a slew of others.

    Since Epic Illustrated is a long-ended publication, it'll be that much easier to scope through all the great stuff. And if you never have, you absolutely must experience the awe and wonder of Arthur Suydam's misadventures of Cholly & Flytrap.

    And do NOT miss Wrightson's "The Potty's Over" in Issue #25 (the same one also has Rick Veitch's way cool wordless tale "Landmass").

    Make the investment for the whole show. It'll be worth it.

    One last thing. Avoid AT ALL COSTS Marvel's more recent revisiting of EI as a limited series. Save the occasional goodness by one Art Suydam, the venture was a shameless odds 'n sods endeavor that I found pretty offensive.
    Last edited by verslibre; 01-08-2013 at 10:13 AM.

  2. #17
    Senior Member Bad Wolf's Avatar
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    "The Potty's Over"...oh god, what a nasty story!

    The content of Epic Illustrated varied wildly but there was always interesting stuff in each issue. Even though some of the longer, more famous arcs have been collected or reprinted there is a lot of smaller, obscure but excellent work by the likes of Charles Vess, Jon J Muth, Kent Williams, Rick Geary, and so on.

    $8 per issue is a lot to spend all in one go...maybe you could pick them up a couple at a time?

    I was never a Cerebus fan but the pieces in Epic were cute.

    It's also a nice snapshot/time capsule of the state of fantasy in popular culture at the time. Maybe I'm a bit sentimental about it since I grew up during that era.

  3. #18
    Welcome to Bleeker Street MRP's Avatar
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    Just an aside on the $8 per issue price-not saying it is not expensive but to put things in perspective a current issue of Heavy Metal-the only thing nearly equivalent in the current market-retails at $7.95 per issue, so if those issues were coming out new now that is likely what cover price would be...

    I still would look around, you could find them at a better price with a little effort but just offering a little context.

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  4. #19
    *blink* Chris N's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    Picked up three issues of this series in order to follow Doug Moench's Weirdworld and instantly became intrigued with the series. I caught the final chapter of Starlin's Metamorphosis Odyssey, some early chapters of Veitch's Abraxas and the Earthman, the end of Claremont's Marada the She-Wolf, and after having read up on the series, am enticed by some content in later issues that I don't own as well.

    So the question...

    I know full well that everytime I ask this community if I should read something I'm curious about, the fans speak out with an enthusiastic "yes!" and the naysayers stay quiet. This time around, though, I'm truly concerned about the cost of these individual back issues, as well as the space they'd take up in my collection, so when I ask if I need to read these, I'm really asking if I'll be missing out on something AMAZING by not doing so.

    So, do I NEED to read...

    1. The Entire series of 34 issues? At approx. $8 a piece, that's quite an investment.
    2. The first eight chapters of the Metamorphosis Odyssey? I understood the plot from the recap and have already read the ending. Is there any value in going back from the beginning (especially when doing so will likely run me $60+)? Yes, I'll probably ultimately read Dreadstar either way.
    3. The Young Cerebus stories? Cerebus is my favorite work of all time, yet I'm assuming if these stories didn't make it into the trades, nor into Cerebus #0, that they're pretty forgettable. Is there a value in tracking them down other than in being a completist?
    4. The Last Galactus Story. I'm going to read Byrne's run on FF soon, anyway. Is this a necessary follow-up? I realize the final chapter was never published either, but that a synopsis exists somewhere out there on the web. Is this story something I need to read?


    Thanks in advance!
    I have not read every issue, but I've read some.

    I love the Metamorphosis Odyssey (I think you'll notice it was #13 or so on my list). Reading the end spoils it some. That story should be collected in trade. Along with the follow-ups in Mavel graphic novels, and the follow-on series.

    I also am a Marada fan. There is a standalone Marvel graphic novel that you could read instead if you're curious about more Marada.

    I in particular have not read the later issues, so am curious about the last Galactus story. I think the Galactus story from the first issue (The Answer) is a great comic, and one that all fans of Galactus or the Surfer should read.

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  5. #20
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hondobrode View Post
    John Bolton


    Came upon this one in my reading yesterday and just had to stop and stare for a full minute. Couldn't decide whether what I was feeling was love at first sight, insane admiration, or a weirdly sincere desire to be her. Whatever the case, it rocked my world.

  6. #21
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Well, I found that one of my LCSs was carrying a limited number of EIs for $4 a pop today, so I bought #26-30 (containing most of the Young Cerebus stories, and the first half of the Last Galactus Story).

    My thoughts -- maybe the series had run its course by this point, or maybe my mind was less open than the day before, but I felt far less intrigued by the other stories in these issues than I did in the earlier issues I'd read previously. As for the two storylines I'd been seeking:

    The Last Galactus Story -- What a disappointment! 5 chapters in (that's half the story) I feel like there is no clear plot nor momentum yet, and even the tangential episodes we've been given were in no way interesting to me. Of course, the lure has been that this is a Galactus story, not to mention THE LAST Galactus story, but he essentially plays a flat supporting character in a story that more heavily features Nova, a character I could care less about. Can't imagine this story gets that much better with four published chapters (and a final unpublished one) to go.

    Young Cerebus -- Most of these are beautiful to look at, cute, and entirely forgettable. However, "Cerebus' First Fifth" absolutely knocked my socks off. One of my favorite things about Cerebus was the level of experimentation Sim regularly brought to the series, stretching the medium in ways that no one else was trying. In this absolutely hysterical story, Sim stretches the boundaries by having all dialogue conveyed via symbols, and it proves to be both sophisticated an intuitive. He truly creates language through pictures, and yet, while so many other artists in this anthology seem to take their work so seriously, this truly ambitious piece is outrageously funny. Truly, the $20 I spent to get these issues today was worth it for that one story alone. It's a shame that Sim hasn't included it in one of his collections.

    I probably need to go back and get EI #1 for that Stan Lee Silver Surfer story. Beside that, I think I'll take them one at a time, grabbing cheap issues when I find them and flipping through to see who's inside. Today's reading has definitely convinced me that I don't need them all, though.

    I think I would like to read more of Abraxas and Marada, though.

  7. #22
    Hardcover addict dupont2005's Avatar
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    That Silver Surfer story in #1 was good, and I don't even like super heroes. I bought that issue for the Wendy Pini contribution and it hooked me on the series.
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  8. #23
    Say WHAT?!?!?!? FanboyStranger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris N View Post
    I also am a Marada fan. There is a standalone Marvel graphic novel that you could read instead if you're curious about more Marada.
    I just picked up that Marada the She-Wolf GN up a few weeks ago. I was under the impression that it was comprised of material that already appeared in EI. In any event, wonderful art from Bolton. I find his earlier work far more interesting that his recent photo-manip style.

    Also, if anyone is interesting in Suydam's Cholly and Flytrap, Radical published a very nice HC of the 2004 Image series. It's not the Epic stuff, but it is a lot of fun with excellent art.

  9. #24
    world of yesterday benday-dot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by berk View Post
    I bought the first 2 or 3 issues when it came out and the scattered one after that: it has the usual deficiencies of an anthology book - failure to match my personal taste in each and every story without fail - but in addition to that I'd have to say it's always felt just a tiny bit bland to me in comparison to similar mags like the Heavy Metal of the same time period or the b&w Marvel and Warren mags from a few years earlier.

    Still, there was a lot of good stuff mixed in there and I've stared to look for a few specific back issues myself the last couple years. I find myself unwilling to pay much for them, though.
    That's pretty much exactly how I feel, as you, and cromagnon, draw the comparison that is often made: Epic Illustrated or Heavy Metal? Which is the superior.

    I personally come down on the side of Heavy Metal, as you both seem to as well. There was a prevailing tedium to too many of the longer serials running through EI, with the story lines supposedly "adult" and challenging, but I found to be on the staid and less than enthralling side. With the exception of Metamorphoses Odyssey, Marada, Elric and perhaps Almuric (for REH and and Tim Conrad fans), the best of EI tended to come from the shorter stories and the interesting one-offs. There was indeed some nice Bolton, Windsor-Smith, Wrightson and Kent Williams short pieces to grab a readers interest.

    Art wise Epic had some fantastic talent, although Heavy Metal probably even excelled its competition on that front. It's true, as has been mentioned that, HM suffered a little in the translation and the magazine hardly avoids the the disease of weaker or "waste" stories hovering about the feet of the more brilliant efforts.

    What I most like about HM is the sense of experimentation and subversiveness that seems to permeate even its more nonsensical moments. There was an admirable sense of improvisation that seemed to be a hallmark of the French comics of that period. You tend to go "WTF" a bit more in Heavy Metal, but for that reason alone the craziness sticks with you a bit more than the more tedious efforts of EI.

    I have an unbroken run of Heavy Metal from the beginning in April 77 to the end of 1986, at which point it became quarterly, and frankly rather boring, gratuitous and frankly almost pornographic. The first few years of HM are well worth looking into however.

  10. #25
    world of yesterday benday-dot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    Well, I found that one of my LCSs was carrying a limited number of EIs for $4 a pop today, so I bought #26-30 (containing most of the Young Cerebus stories, and the first half of the Last Galactus Story).
    Ah yes, as I was saying above... never before has such promise been so squandered. Byrne was at his height on the FF around that time and he could have done something great on the wider opportunities permitted by the magazine format. Alas it was "epic fail" in Epic Illustrated.

  11. #26
    Elder Member Vic Vega's Avatar
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    Buy Epic Illustrated for the Thomas and Conrad Almuric or the the Clairmont and Bolton Marada or any of the Veitch or P. Craig Russel stuff. Or even the early chapters of Metamorphosis Odyssey.

    The Marvel Universe stuff in Epic Illustrated was only ok.

    The other stuff is still worth reading.

    Especially if E.I. back issues are going to run you the exact same amount as a new issue of Heavy Metal.

  12. #27
    Mark Brodersen hondobrode's Avatar
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    I'd always heard about the HM 20 year cd set that was released and wanted to get it.
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  13. #28
    Elder Member Shellhead's Avatar
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    I bought about half the issues of Epic Illustrated as they came out, plus a couple more later on, just to get the rest of the Metamorphosis Odyssey story. I was in high school at the time. On average, there was one really good feature in each issue, and maybe one more that I kind of liked. Usually it was some impressive artwork or a good story, or maybe even a combination of the two. And there was usually at least one thing that I didn't like at all, often involving extreme and gratuitous sex and/or violence that made me want to scrub my brain. I don't normally object to sex or violence in my entertainment, but I draw the line at things like tentacle rape or kissing a decapitated head. And those are very specific examples from actual Epic issues. Plenty of Epic material would have easily fit in a typical issue of Heavy Metal, but the best of each issue of Epic surpassed Heavy Metal. If I had known back then that most of the better Epic stuff would be collected elsewhere eventually, I probably would have stopped buying Epic and saved my money for those later collections.
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  14. #29
    Senior Member Bad Wolf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by benday-dot View Post
    Ah yes, as I was saying above... never before has such promise been so squandered. Byrne was at his height on the FF around that time and he could have done something great on the wider opportunities permitted by the magazine format. Alas it was "epic fail" in Epic Illustrated.
    I don't know, the finale of the story as Byrne has described it sounds pretty epic. I didn't mind the "slow" build-up if that was going to be the payoff. I remember being pretty blown away by the last pages that were published, actually.

  15. #30
    Soul Gem Resident adam_warlock_2099's Avatar
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    I just started getting them about 2 or so years back so I could finally read Metamorphosis Odyssey. As a Starlin fan this is a great story for me, and something I can't be unbiased with. My intention was to see what most of the rest of the magazine was like through the first ten issues. I have 1-13 and two latter issues towards the end. One of the stories that I enjoyed that started later was Abraxas and the Earthman in issue 10 by Rich Veitch that I hope to finish when I get to buy more.

    Marada was beautiful art, but if memory serves that may have been one of the stories that had something extreme in violence or sex as Shellhead mentioned above. I don't remember much of other examples, but those may have been in later issues that I don't have. There is a lot of nudity for the sake of nudity because it was an adult magazine and they could do that.

    Charles Vess did some great work in the issues that I have. His stuff is amazing even in black and white.

    I don't think I paid too much more over $5 when I was buying them. Maybe more for #1, but I wanted Metamorphosis Odyssey in it's original state and not a reprint. But Lone Star usually had a lot of varying grades, so I could pay what I wanted for which issues I wanted without exceeding what I wanted to. Like I said Metamorphosis Odyssey issues got the top grade as I want to preserve my Starlin work, but when I do buy remaining issues the goal will be intact but cheap. The stories I have started are good but they are not compelling enough to pay top dollar.

    Of what I have read of Heavy Metal and Epic, I agree with Shellhead that Epic at it's best surpassed HM, but I think that's because HM also far exceeded Epic in extreme sex and violence where I only buy issues of HM if I want a specific writer or artist's work that it contains.
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