Thursday, October 25, 2007

1970's Flashback: Star*Reach

Star*Reach was a science fiction and fantasy comics anthology published by Mike Friedrich and sold though those few comic shops around in the early 70’s, as well as head shops (think druggie paraphernalia), or via subscriptions and mail order.

Star Reach was truly one of the first mainstream independent comic books, and being the first with any significant distribution, it bridged the gap between the countercultural underground comix and more traditional news stand fare, providing mature genre stories that were intended for an adult audience. Along with Flo Steinberg's Big Apple Comix, published in 1975, and Harvey Pekar's naturalistic Everyman series American Splendor, which was first published in 1976, Star*Reach was an important forerunner to the late-1970s rise of the modern graphic novel, and a real precursor of the 1980s' independent comics boom.

Eighteen issues were released between 1974 and 1979. Contributors included such notable Marvel and DC writers and artists as Howard Chaykin, Jim Starlin, and Barry Windsor-Smith. Respected author Roger Zelazny, wrote the 13-page prose story "The Doors Of His Face, The Lamps Of His Mouth", with illustrations by Gray Morrow, in issue #12 (March 1978). A veritable “who’s who” of the decade provided work to the magazine during it’s heyday: Neal Adams, Frank Brunner, Gene Day, Steve Englehart, Michael Gilbert, Dick Giordano, Al Milgrom, Dean Motter, P. Craig Russell, Dave Sim, Walt, Simonson, Joe Staton, Len Wein and John Workman (whose “Key Club” tale from issue #2, remains a favorite of mine to this day). The company ceased publishing in 1979.

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