Thursday, January 8, 2009

Byrne-ing to Read: Doomsday +1 #1

Charlton Comics might've been considered the "last resort" for many comics pros and fans, but they also helped launch some pretty stellar careers. Steve Ditko. Dick Giordano. Steve Skeates. Denny O'Neil. Jim Aparo. Pat Boyette. Joe Staton. Don Newton. Mike Zeck. And of course, John Byrne. Byrne had proven himself a passionate, talented, and dependable artist on his Rog2000 back-ups in E-Man and on the second issue of Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch. His hard work and dedication was rewarded by Charlton's head writer Joe Gill (a supremely-talented writer who deserves a lot of time here on the Diversions--and will be getting it, just you wait!) tapping Byrne for the art chores on Doomsday +1.

Sci-fi was enjoying with a bit of success in the mid-70s, with post-apocalyptic sci-fi being the favorite flavor (Planet of the Apes' influence was only eclipsed by Star Wars back in the Groovy Age), so it was only a matter of time before Charlton unleashed their own end-of-the-world mag. Gill originally intended for Joe Staton to draw the first issue, then hand the artistic reins over to the newcomer from Canada. Realizing the idea was really kinda jive, he changed his mind and let Byrne draw the debut ish, even going so far as to throw in a few Canadian references.

Byrne really earned his $50 a page (for pencils, inks, and letters) on DD+1, even going so far as to rewrite (with Gill's permission) every issue from #2 on. Charlton had a minor hit, as well as a new super-star artist, on their hands. They managed to squeeze out six sensational issues (April 1975-February, 1976) before Marvel and Iron Fist came calling, allowing Byrne's legendary career taking off to heights few have (or perhaps ever will) reach. In fact, when Byrne's career took off into the stratosphere while he was drawing the X-Men for Marvel, Charlton reprinted all six issues of DD+1 (March, 1978-February, 1979).

I'm sure Byrne, himself, would cringe looking back at his early work on the strip (don't we all kinda flake out when we look back on some of our old days?), but you can sure see a solid, if still raw, talent at work. Some pages (like the outer space shot on page 7, the charge/death of the woolly mammoth on pages 13-14, and the Boyd/Kuno battle on page 16) are so outta sight they still take Ol' Groove's breath away. Here it is! Doomsday +1 #1 by Gill and Byrne! Get ready to rock(-et) Groove-ophiles!



9 comments:

  1. Another great comic GA! I think Byrne also drew some issues of Charlton's Space:1999 comic.

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  2. He sure did, Keeper! I'll be posting a sample or three of that great title in the near future.

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  3. I have #12 in the john. Had it since I was a kid. Unfortunately, it hasn't aged as well as I have. ;)

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  4. I bought issue #1 from a little gas & grocery one winter, as well as a stack of other Charlton books (like Ghost Manor, Scary Tales, etc). The books were in a stack near the motor oil display. lol. I had walked to the store with my dad during a big snow storm that lasted a week. We needed to buy some basics like milk and bread, and even though I was six years old, I got to walk two miles with my dad in the snow! I had money to buy a few comics, but the owner of the gas & grocery was so impressed that a six year old made the walk in the snow, he gave me 10 of the Charlton comics! My favorite of the lot was DOOMSDAY+1 #1!

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  5. Has this series every been reprinted in a collected volume?

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  6. John Byrne dosen't look foundly on this silly,written comic.No wonder,one thing,you can tell about Nick Cuti,he wasn't one of comics giant talents.The books was full of bad plot points,to move the series along until,thankfully,it ended.

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  7. Sorry you didn't enjoy DD+1. Different strokes and all. I also have to completely disagree with ya on the merits of Nick Cuti as a writer,but again, different strokes. However you absolutely can't blame the "silly writing" and "bad plot points" for this series on Cuti. He never wrote DD+1. T'was Joe Gill and John Byrne, himself, who wrote this particular mag. (If ya ain't gonna read my articles, at least read the credit boxes, Groove-ophile! ;D)

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  8. Has this series every been reprinted in a collected volume?Sooner or later,someone will,not on the strenth the series quality,but because John Byrne drew it.Before,it's used to piggyback other losers by Fantagraphics

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  9. As far as I know, there's never been a tpb reprint of this series, but I agree with you--it's bound to be on the way from someone. Maybe IDW, since they're publishing a lot of Byrne? Ownership may be a problem, but still...

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