Wednesday, December 28, 2011

From the Dust Bin: 1963 (Image Comics)

1963 was a six-issue comic book limited series written by Alan Moore in 1993, with art provided by his frequent collaborators Steve Bissette, John Totleben, and Rick Veitch; plus other contributors including Dave Gibbons, Don Simpson, and Jim Valentino. The six issues hearkened back to the Silver Age of comics (particularly, early Marvel Comics), and featured spoof advertisements on the rear covers.

Moore's homage to Marvel cliches included fictionalizing himself and the artists as the "Sixty-Three Sweatshop", describing his collaborators in the same hyperbolic and alliterative mode Stan Lee used for his "Marvel Bullpen"; each was given a Lee-style nickname ("Affable Al," "Sturdy Steve," "Jaunty John," etc.—Veitch has since continued to refer to himself as "Roarin' Rick"). The parody was not entirely affectionate, as the text pieces and fictional letter columns contained pointed inside jokes about the business practices of 1960s comic book publishers, with "Affable Al" portrayed as a tyrant who claimed credit for his employees' creations. Moore also made reference to Lee's book Origins of Marvel Comics (and its sequels) when Affable Al recommended that readers hurry out and buy his new book “How I Created Everything All By Myself” and “Why I Am Great”. Funny stuff!
Issue one introduced Mystery Incorporated, a Fantastic Four surrogate featuring Crystal Man, Neon Queen, Kid Dynamo and The Planet. Issue two featured The Fury; based on Spider-Man, as well as Sky Solo, Lady of L.A.S.E.R., a female version of Nick Fury. Issue three, an anthology comic called Tales of the Uncanny, featured USA, Ultimate Special Agent based on Captain America, and Hypernaut, who was based on Iron Man. Issue four, another anthology comic called Tales From Beyond, introduced readers to the Unbelievable N-Man, based on The Incredible Hulk, and Johnny Beyond, a beatnik version of Doctor Strange. Issue five was devoted to Horus, Lord of Light, based on The Mighty Thor. Issue six told the story of the Tomorrow Syndicate, based on the Avengers. This comic brought together Horus, Lord of Light, Hypernaut, N-Man, and USA, and also introduced Infra-Man and Infra-Girl, based on Ant-Man & the Wasp.

7 comments:

Axel M. Gruner said...

And they were all printed on cheap pulpy paper. They even smelled like the old stuff. But alas, the story itself was not finished, and the last parts have never been published. or have they?

Chuck Wells said...

According to Steve Bissette, a deal that was being worked out between Image Comics and all the listed creators of "1963", which would have allowed for reprinting the entire original series (including unpublished portions) and also allowed for continuing the storyine was shot down by Moore after months of effort. There is little likelihood that these six issues will ever be collected. Bissette owns sole claim to a couple of the characters and intends to do something with them eventually.

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

I love that this whole set is unfinished. That way it exists in a world where someone like Leifeld didn't get a chance to 'update' the concept. The idea is genius and was so well executed. That was a great time.

Chuck Wells said...

The only part of the original project that I was a bit leery of was the planned annual-sized issue that would have crossed over the "1963" characters with the then contemporary Image books (Spawn, Youngblood, Wild Cats, Savage Dragon, etc.).

That didn't appeal to me at all!

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

I hear ya. For all their talk the Image founders did little that was new or groundbreaking. However without Image I would never have any of Robert Kirkman's great stuff like Invincible and Walking Dead.

Mikeyboy said...

Keep in mind the sole idea for the series was for there to be only one story leaving the obligatory cliffhanger to entice folks..and it did. There was an outcry of requests for them to continue on with a few of these stories. Being a collector of image comics myself...i remember having read several letters in issues of the regular IMAGE series' that followed.

Chuck Wells said...

Right, Cal! I'm not saying it as a value judgement about Image itself, I've picked up a number of their titles over the years (including lots of stuff by Kirkman). I just thought bringing in the modern Image stuff would have ruined the cool "1963" vibe that they had going on with those characters.