Dover Books recently became the latest publisher to put out one of my favourite comics of all time, Through The Habitrails by Jeff Nicholson, a slice-of-life allegorical fantasy about an office worker in a creative industry. About his coping mechanism for working in such an environment and that affect on him as a person. It also extends into his self publishing comic career, getting closer and closer to the author’s life, and his self destruction that he seems unable to see.
Steve Bissette, one of the earliest publishers of the comic provides a forward, as does Matt Fraction. During which, Bisette also delivers a little comic book history.
In those cases, the comic books were inviting the readers to laugh at their glib caricatures of what went on “behind the scenes,” never revealing how the business actually worked. One attempt to dig deeper in an unpublished Secret Origins installment of Robert Loren Fleming and Keith Giffen’s satiric Ambush Bug (circa 1990, DC Comics)—a story satirizing the sad plight of DC Comics editors—got its editor promptly and unceremoniously fired. Jack Kirby’s savaging of his former Marvel creative partner and editor Stan Lee as “Funky Flashman” in the pages of Kirby’s Mister Miracle (#6, January–February 1972, DC Comics) was the rare exception, mocking both Lee and Roy Thomas (“Houseroy”). Kirby’s parody only saw print because its publisher, DC Comics, was in direct competition with Marvel Comics, where Stan Lee and Roy Thomas worked at the time. Self-scrutiny, much less insightful public self- analysis, was never a characteristic of comic book publishing.
Is the Ambush Bug incident cited really from the nineties? It feels rather similar to one more recently that saw an sixth issue of Ambush Bug: Year None by Keith Giffen, Robert Loren Fleming and Al Milgrom pulled from the schedules and replaced with a seventh.
The comic, already rather meta, was said to feature DC editor Jann Jones and other members of DC Comics. Subsequently, Jann left DC Comics for Viz Media and Disney, moving coasts and marrying James Robinson.
Are these two events or one event? Is this the continuing curse of Ambush Bug? Or just DC editorial?
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