Another post from my long-gone Marvel blog, part of a sequence detailing comics I worked on that I liked but which flew under the radar a bit.
For some strange reason, the system ate the last paragraph or so and the sign-off for yesterday’s blog entry. Weird. In any event, let’s move onto another Unknown Great.
BLAZE OF GLORY can’t entirely be considered one of “my” Unknown Greats. The project was started by editor Mark Bernardo.
In any event, while almost any western project is a tough sell, Mark got the go-ahead to proceed with the book, and Leonardo Manco signed on to do the artwork. It was scheduled to be a two-issue Prestige Format series, squarebound. Mark, John and Leo got about halfway into it when the bottom dropped out. For these were the days of the Marvel bankruptcy, and in one of the periodic rounds of layoffs, Bernardo was let go from the company, and the project was killed, the work that had already been done written off.
And that’s where the story might have ended, if not for the efforts of my then-assistant Gregg Schigiel. A short while later, he brought the series to my attention–he’d seen some of the art for it, and he wanted to see if there was some way we could continue and complete it. I remember that Gregg took an inventory of exactly what had been produced up till that point, and then he sat down with numbers guy Andy Ball to run P & L (Profit and Loss) numbers on a variety of different formats: would it be profitable as a single volume? As four monthly issues? As a black-and-white series? And so on. Eventually, buoyed by the fact that over half the series had already been drawn and written off (so the costs to complete those pages wouldn’t be weighted against the project any longer), he came up with a format that was deemed acceptable–and the series rode again!
In moving into this format, we had to break what would have been the first 48 page book in an odd place, in order to get to an appropriate story break–so the first issue had 27 pages of story, while the second one had only 21.
While in no way a sales juggernaut, the book was well-received enough that I later produced a follow-up for the then-new MAX line, titled APACHE SKIES. That series, however, was fully painted by Leo. I did hear some complaints, though, both about the handling of the characters in this somewhat-more-realistic depiction (their earlier exploits chalked up to being Dime-Novel exaggerations.), and the fact that a number of them met their end in this series (chiefly the Two-Gun Kid.) I always found that just a little bit strange–after all, by 1999 when the book was eventually published, all of these characters would have been dead and gone for almost 100 years even if they’d lived to be old men!