Comics was an American comic-book publisher that was active from
1983 to 1991, known for titles like American Flagg!, Grimjack, Nexus,
Badger, Dreadstar, and Jon Sable. Along with competitors like Pacific
Comics and Eclipse Comics, First took early advantage of the growing
direct market, attracting a number of writers and artists from DC and
Marvel to produce creator-owned titles, which, as they were not
subject to the
Comics Code, were free to feature more mature content.
3 Legacy/collected editions
5 See also
Based in Evanston, Illinois, First
Comics was co-founded by Ken F.
Levin and Mike Gold. It launched in 1983 with a line-up of creators
including Frank Brunner, Mike Grell, Howard Chaykin, Joe Staton,
Steven Grant, Timothy Truman, and Jim Starlin. In 1984, First acquired
all the titles of the short-lived publisher Capital Comics, including
Mike Baron's action/superhero/fantasy/comedy series Badger, and Baron
and Steve Rude's space-superhero series Nexus.
Among First's best-known titles were Chaykin's satirical futuristic
cop series American Flagg;
John Ostrander and Tim Truman's Grimjack;
Baron & Rude's Nexus; Badger; Jim Starlin's space opera series
Dreadstar and Mike Grell's Jon Sable, which was briefly adapted for
In 1984, the publisher sued industry giant Marvel Comics, claiming
that Marvel flooded the market with new titles in 1983 specifically to
shut out First and other new companies. In the same lawsuit, First
also sued printer
World Color Press
World Color Press for anti-competitive activities,
claiming the printer undercharged Marvel for its business, and in
return overcharged First and its fellow independents. The suit
took up much of the mid-1980s before finally being resolved in the
spring of 1988.
The company moved to
Chicago in 1985. Mike Gold, one of First's
founders, served as the company president until late 1985; Gold
soon moved to New York to become a senior editor at DC Comics.
Gold later used his First
Comics connections to bring Grell, Chaykin,
and Truman over to DC to create memorable series like Green Arrow: The
Longbow Hunters, Blackhawk, and Hawkworld.
From 1985–1988, First published
Peter B. Gillis and Mike Saenz's
digital comic Shatter, the first commercially published all-digital
comic book.
In 1986, despite its success with the direct market, First
experimented with newsstand distribution. Later that same year,
the publisher found itself in the middle of the industry-wide debate
about creators' rights. (Clashes with DC Comics, First, and other
publishers on this issue led in part to the drafting of the Creator's
Bill of Rights signed by Scott McCloud, Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird,
Dave Sim, Rick Veitch, and other comics creators in late 1988.)
First also published a series of comic adaptations of the Eternal
Champion books by
Michael Moorcock and English translations of the
Japanese manga series Lone Wolf and Cub.
The company's final major project was a revival of Classics
Illustrated. The company partnered with
Berkley Books (then
Berkley Publishing Group) to acquire the rights, and Classics
Illustrated returned with new adaptations and a line-up of artists
that included Kyle Baker, Dean Motter, Mike Ploog, P. Craig Russell,
Bill Sienkiewicz, Joe Staton, Rick Geary, and Gahan Wilson. However,
the line lasted only a little over a year.
Comics ceased publishing in 1991, and closed their doors for
good in early 1992.
In July 2011, just before San Diego Comic-Con International, First
co-founder Levin announced that the company would resume publishing
new material in late 2011. On November 22, 2013, Mike Baron
announced a new project on his Facebook page: "HOWL! coming next year
from First Comics. Shane Oakley is the artist." Publishing resumed
in June, 2014.
On June 15, 2015, First
Devil's Due Publishing
Devil's Due Publishing merged to
form Devil's Due/1First
Comics LLC. In addition to reprinting older
properties, Devil's Due/1First
Comics announced that they will be
launching five new ongoing series. Despite the merge and emphasis on
creator owned properties, both 1First
Comics and Devil's Due intend to
maintain editorial independence.
The company picked up many industry awards, including a 1985 Kirby
Award for Best Graphic Album for Beowulf.
Comics would later reprint the
Lone Wolf and Cub
Lone Wolf and Cub series in
English, and finally complete it in 2002. In 2005, IDW Publishing
Jon Sable and
Grimjack with new miniseries and reprint
collections of the First
Comics issues, and would also publish a
complete collection of Mars. In 2007 IDW also started reprinting
Badger as well as starting a new series. IDW also reprinted the
four Oz stories by
Eric Shanower originally published as issues of
First Graphic Novel as Adventures in Oz. First Graphic Novel also
featured colorized reprints of early issues of the original Teenage
Mutant Ninja Turtles series.
Main article: List of First
^ Alex Wald interview, David Anthony Kraft's
Comics Interview #52
^ Kurt Goldzung interview, David Anthony Kraft's
Comics Interview #52
^ "First," The
Comics Journal #124 (August 1988), p. 19.
^ "Bob Garcia Joins First Comics," The
Comics Journal #126 (January
1989), p. 34.
^ a b Phegley, Kiel. "CBR News: EXCLUSIVE: Levin On Relaunching First
Comics," Comic Book Resource (July 14, 2011).
Comics Sues Marvel
Comics for Anti-Competitive Activities,"
Comics Journal #89 (May 1984), p. 8.
^ Goodrich, Chris. "Captain America, Get a Lawyer!: An upstart comic
book publisher sues mighty Marvel Comics," San Francisco Chronicle (01
June 1986), p. 9.
^ "First vs. Marvel and World Color," The
Comics Journal #102
(September 1985), pp. 11-14.
^ "First Awaits Court Verdict," The
Comics Journal #121 (April 1988),
p. 8: lawsuit involving First Comics, Marvel Comics, and printing of
comics, and World Color Press.
^ "Mike Gold Leaves First Presidential Post" The
Comics Journal #103
(November 1985), pp. 14-15.
^ "Mike Gold Leaves First
Comics to Become Senior Editor at DC," The
Comics Journal #105 (February 1986), p. 27.
^ "Editorial: First
Comics to Experiment with Newsstand Distribution
this Spring," The
Comics Journal #107 (April 1986), pp. 14-15.
Comics Pays Up," The
Comics Journal #110 (August 1986), pp.
9-10: On creators' rights.
Comics Revives Classics Illustrated," The
Comics Journal #120
(March 1988), p. 12.
Classics Illustrated in January," The Comics
Journal #132 (November 1989), p. 23.
^ "Newswatch: First Closes Offices," The
Comics Journal #148 (February
1992), p. 27.
^ Mike Baron’s “Badger” is Back, Comic Book Resources, August
Comics at International Superheroes
Comic book publishers in North America
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Action Lab Comics
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Black Mask Studios
Blue Juice Comics
Creative Impulse Entertainment
Darby Pop Publishing
Devil's Due Publishing
Drawn and Quarterly
First Second Books
Lion Forge Comics
Mad Cave Studios
Rip Off Press
Seven Seas Entertainment
Slave Labor Graphics
Top Cow Productions
Harry "A" Chesler
Del Rey Manga
Fox Feature Syndicate
Gold Key Comics
Kitchen Sink Press