Tuesday, November 12, 2013

If You Blinked You Missed: Sword of Sorcery

Hey, hey, hey, Groove-ophiles! Ol' Groove has been meaning to do this post for years, but I kept doing other things for some reason. But the time has finally come for us to plunge into DC's Sword of Sorcery! I dunno whose idea it was for DC to license Fritz Leiber's dynamic duo Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser in response to Marvel's licensing hit Conan the Barbarian (Denny O'Neil, mayhap?), but they were right on! Denny O'Neil, himself, adapting Leiber's original tales, aided and abetted by pencilers like Howard Chaykin (4 issues), Walt Simonson (2 issues), and Jim Starlin (1 issue), inked by a veritable "who's who" of Groovy Age inkers--man, that should have been a hands-down hit. Still there were the "what were they thinking" moments that might have sabotaged the whole thing...

Art by Dick Giordano
F'rinstance, DC the started the series as a kind of spin-off from Wonder Woman's mag.  Faf and the Mouser literally popped up in the middle of a Wonder Woman/Catwoman rumble in WW issues 201-202. Now, that was kinda flaky. Ol' Groove doesn't know if Wonder Woman readers were actually the target audience DC should'a been shooting for, but that's what happened.

Art by Dick Giordano

Next, notice the ad at the end of WW 202, the mag's title was to have been Swords Against Sorcery--which actually would have been a better fit to moi...

Art by Howard Chaykin
 Other things like a heavy marketing campaign (if there was one, I didn't see any signs of it) would have helped this mag tremendously. Seems if more folks had known of its existence, it should have lasted a good, long time instead of a mere five issues (December 1972-September 1973). Dig this first ish and see if you don't agree!
Cover art by Mike Kaluta

 And 'cause Ol' Groove loves ya, baby, here's the info-packed text page from SoS#1!


  1. I lucked out a few years ago when a friend of mine bought all 5 issues for me at a flea market (he knew I was a big Chaykin fan). I really dug the light-hearted amiability mixed in with the dark magic and violence- helped set it apart from the more grim Conan. By the way, though its well past the Groovy Age, Chaykin revisited the duo as writer with great art by Mike Mignola and Al Williamson in the 90s (adapting some of the same stories, even). http://www.darkhorse.com/Books/Previews/10-686?page=0

  2. It's amazing how much interesting stuff like this is just lying around without any chance of being made available again.

  3. You would think that a series based on Leiber's characters, with art by Chaykin and Simonson, would have caught on. Seems like only Robert E. Howard's Hyborian world was the only sword & sorcery material to find a popular and basically permanent home in comics.
    Anyway, once I found out about this series, it impressed me enough to get all the back issues cheap and have them bound.

  4. Mike Kaluta did the cover for #1. Though Chaykin pencilled, there were many, many uncredited inkers in those books (among them Berni Wrightson and Neal Adams, and Adams' Continuity Associates artists who were deemed 'the Crusty Bunkers'). DC didn't do any special promo for the book which is a shame, as it could have had the same success as Marvel's Conan. Some of the inks in #5 barely met professional standards, too, which didn't help matters.

    Chris A.



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Special thanks to Mike's Amazing World of Comics and Grand Comics Database for being such fantastic resources for covers, dates, creator info, etc. Thou art treasures true!

Note to "The Man": All images are presumed copyright by the respective copyright holders and are presented here as fair use under applicable laws, man! If you hold the copyright to a work I've posted and would like me to remove it, just drop me an e-mail and it's gone, baby, gone.

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As for the rest of ya, the purpose of this blog is to (re)introduce you to the great comics of the 1970s. If you like what you see, do what I do--go to a comics shop, bookstore, e-Bay or whatever and BUY YOUR OWN!