Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

June 26, 2012

Comics I Read In Series Form In The 1980s: Myth Adventures!


My comic shop didn't carry Myth Adventures!. The local gaming store did. A version of this establishment or at least one bearing its name still exists on the campus of the college settled into the heart of my hometown: it's clean as a whistle, full of games I've never heard of outside of articles written by Milton Griepp, and everything seems to cost $75. It almost looks like a set for a show about a shop rather than a shop. Two locations earlier, when it was on the same second story balcony walkway with where I bought my comics, The Wizard's Keep was a rat's nest full of strange and often very cheap things. In lieu of actual public space in which to waste time, a lot of kids my age would spend hours in any retail establishment that wouldn't toss them out and gave them things to dig through: bookstores, record stores, magic shops, thrift stores. A lot of those stores did double- or triple-duty. The gaming store in town before the one opened where I bought Myth Adventures! sold beads and yarn. Among the items of frequent perusal at the gaming shop was a run of fantasy comics, including these books and something that I think was called The Realm. If there were TSR-licensed comics back then, they had those, too.

As I became aware of focused fandom in the 1990s and started to make part of my living in comics, I'd encounter a certain kind of comics reader that would get beet-faced and incensed about having to buy their books in a place that also sold dice and miniatures and things with goblins on them. I always thought that ungenerous. First of all, I'm not sure why any customer gets to vote on how somebody runs their store beyond choosing to shop there or not. Second, it seems to me that so many comics are fantasy-oriented that offering other items that fit that basic fan profile seems like a workable idea, particularly in a small town -- the way a store near a campus might sell music. I wish there were a greater industry-wide ethos that stores that choose to organize themselves around a specific flavor of the comic book experience could also easily help those customers that have an interest in other kinds of comics, but that to me is a whole different issue. Retailing is a hard road, and it doesn't seem right to complain about the model and make of someone else's car.

I remember Myth Adventures! being pretty amusing, and liking the slightly ridiculous design of its lead demon character. He looked like a beanbag with eyes and lips plopped on top of a pez dispenser, or someone who was faking a Halloween costume around a track suit. Myth Adventures! strikes me as the kind of comic book where a significant number of its fans might have secretly wished for it to show a bit more seriousness at its core. Fans of fantasy material want to laugh but usually not if it means being part of something being laughed at (if I have to explain that distinction, you're probably not one of those people). I get that. As I recall, both Tim Sale and Jim Valentino worked on Myth Adventures!, but it's most affiliated in my mind with the cartoonist Phil Foglio. I still see Foglio at conventions every now and then, where he's supporting Girl Genius. He seems like a nice man; friends speak well of him. I'm happy for his success using a web-based model to drive readers to his print trades, and note with some degree of pleasure that he's still working his imagination. That can't be a bad place to spend a big chunk of your working life. I don't see his comics anywhere else now the way I used to see these. I'm still a tiny bit thrilled when I run across comics where I don't expect them.
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