Brand Echh: Comico Primer #2

The opening up of the Direct Sales market in the early 1980s made it possible for anybody with a little bit of money to publish and sell their own black and white comic books. All sorts of new companies popped up, put out a few releases, then vanished without a trace. Comico performed better than most, lasting for well over a decade. We’ve covered their initial release, COMICO PRIMER #1, here earlier. This second issue is the best-recalled and most sought-after of the run for its introduction of Matt Wagner’s Grendel, a character whose adventures are still being published today. But Grendel isn’t what we’re here to talk about.

Instead, what I want to focus on is a series that was as close to a regular feature as COMICO PRIMER had. The series lasted for all of 6 issues total, and starting with this one, #2, every issue would include an adventure of Victor, by writer/artist Andrew Murphy. While the work wasn’t especially polished, it wasn’t bad, and it gave COMICO PRIMER a much needed sense of reliability issue after issue–since every release featured new one-off characters, you could never quite be sure what you would be getting. Victor helped to offset that quality a bit.

Victor was interesting in that, while it carried some of the trappings of a traditional super hero strip (mainly a costume and some powers) it was also pretty good at leaning away from other conventions of the genre, and more into science fiction. The lead character, Victor Laudin, was a wealthy philanthropist, a man of wealth and taste. He was also half-alien, the product of a union between his father and a being from the stars. This gifted Victor with the power of pyrokinesis, as well as pulling him reluctantly into the affairs of his mother’s homeworld.

Specifically, the experiment in cross-breeding that resulted in Victor’s existence was deemed a failure–mankind was not yet evolved or sophisticated enough to take their place in galactic society. The other hybrids were all taken back to their parents’ planet of Kiron. Only Victor remained behind, with his human father. But now, the Kiron believe that Victor’s presence on Earth is impacting on the natural course of human affairs, warping them, and they want him to return with them and leave the Earth in peace. Victor, though, wants little to do with his extraterrestrial heritage.

As with most of the early Comico output, Victor has the look of a solid fan strip. It’s not quite polished enough for the mainstream–the drawing is appealing in some respects and weak in several others. But its enthusiasm helps to carry it, that and the fact that it’s trying to be something a little bit outside the norm (even if it never quite gets there.)

Andrew Murphy didn’t have all that much of a career in comic books after Victor. He did create OZ SQUAD, a series reimagining the Frank L. Baum mythology that garnered a little bit of attention for a time. But he never quite crossed over to the mainstream as far as I can tell. Which is a bit of a shame, as he clearly had some potential.

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