Martin Wagner’s HEPCATS was a full-length comic book version of a daily strip he’d done for his college newspaper. Obviously influenced by CEREBUS (much as the daily strip, which Wagner eventually collected into a trade paperback, was strongly DOONESBURY-flavored), Wagner was clearly interested in following in Dave Sim’s footsteps by producing an adult-oriented work that would eschew popular comic book convention in favor of a greater emphasis on characterization and experimentation. He also clearly enjoyed having the greater elbow-room the comic book format would provide. 

HEPCATS focused on the life and times of four college-age friends. Issue #2, the first one I ran across, was a self-contained entry, as the first issue had been. Immediately thereafter, however, Wagner launched into what he’d intended to be an 18-issue magnum opus. Unfortunately, he ran aground on the rocky shores of self-publishing with issue #12, and while those initial dozen issues were reprinted both as individual comic books and collected into trade paperbacks, the story never came close to having a satisfying ending. One of the occupational hazards of being a fan of material published by smaller outfits. (The other, of course, was that you could never be certain when a new issue would be forthcoming, or that your local shop would carry it. This made for a nice “thrill-of-the-hunt” feeling which made those series even more satisfying.)  

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