Brian Beck’s Obscure Comic Picks: Independent Beginnings

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Most independent comic books with a decent fan base didn’t start with an issue #1 of their own series. In fact, most were introduced, sometimes half by accident, in smaller books first. These smaller books can sometimes be overlooked, and often command big money to collectors. Here’s a (very small) sampling of independent hit characters that were introduced in other books.

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Greed #6 – Not only is this an early Flaming Carrot appearance, it is also the first appearance of indy troublemakers Milk and Cheese. Created by Evan Dorkin.
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Caliber Presents #1 – Most people already know that this is the first appearance of James O’Barr’s The Crow (although there were some previews earlier). That means it’s not a book you can often find for an affordable price, but it’s also a pretty steady investment, as it just continues to inch upwards in value.

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Fantasy Quarterly #1 – This is the first appearance of Richard and Wendy Pini’s Elfquest, which went on to a long lasting series of its own, as well as influencing many of the fantasy books that came after it.

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Graphic Fantasy #1 – This ultra-rare “fanzine” type comic is the first appearance of The Savage Dragon. Whenever I see one pop up, it’s thousands of dollars in any condition. Issue 2 also fetches some pretty high prices. Also don’t forget, Megaton 3; most people consider this book the true “comic book” first appearance of Savage Dragon.

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New England Comics 14/15 – This still existing comic book shop had a pretty big share of the mail-order back issue market back in the pre-Internet days, and they would send buyers printed catalogs and later on started sending their own newsletters out as well. In issues 14 and 15 Ben Edlund introduced his new character The Tick. The Tick still has a big cult following, and these newsletters were for the most part read and discarded, so they rarely come up for sale. I actually remember getting them in the early 90’s (not sure if I had 14/15). There may be copies laying around out there that people think are worthless. Be aware, and SPOON!

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Comico Primer #2 – The book features the first appearance of Matt Wagner’s Grendel. An insanely cool character, that I’m flabbergasted hasn’t had any kind of film or television adaptation. Initially this book had a very low print run of about 1800 printed, and that black cover makes high grades copies difficult to find. I’m always looking for these, and they still sometimes pop up for an affordable price.

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Comico Primer #5 – Also from the same series, we have the first appearance of Sam Kieth’s The Maxx (although the previous issue had a one-page cameo). Recently announced as coming to television/streaming, this cool, weird-o, edgy character has lots of room to grow in value.

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Visions #1 – This book features the first appearance of Bob Burden’s Flaming Carrot. Less than 2000 copies of this magazine sized book were printed, and they rarely come up for sale. Flaming Carrot is another character I’m amazing was never adapted, and I personally feel this book and character could make a huge comeback if adapted correctly.

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Vortex #5 – This is the first appearance of Ethan Van Schiver’s creator owned character Cyberfrog. It seems there’s still a fair amount of interest in the character, as the last Kickstarter smashed all of its goals. Putting aside any personal feeling you may or may not have for Van Schiver, this will likely continue to be a decent book to grab.

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Best Cellar’s #1 – First (prototype) appearance of Eric Powell’s The Goon (as Monster Boy). Around 2000 copies of this book were printed. Many are signed by some of the creators of the other stories (thus devaluing them IMO). These can still be picked up in the $50-100 range. The Goon will eventually hit the screen, and I strongly believe it will be directed by David Fincher. I don’t see The Goon going anywhere anytime soon.

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