Sunday, September 22, 2013

Die großen Phantastic Comics

Yes, I know I wanted to write about one of my guilty pleasures - namely SECRET WARS II - next but Terry Hooper just did a great post about german comics on Comic Bits Online where he posted the cover of PHANTASTIC COMICS Band 57 SUMPFDING ( SWAMP THING by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson ) which reminded me what a great series that was.

Die Großen Phantastic Comics was published by the german comic company Ehapa / Delta which was the german publisher for DC comics.

The line brought all the great fantasy and sci fi series to german readers and it was in the album format. The series started in 1980 and I guess fantasy was a bit more popular around that time, otherwise the series probably would have been called Die großen Science Fiction Comics. Back in the day I was a big sci fi geek and I read everything from CAPTAIN FUTURE to MARK BRANDIS to PERRY RHODAN and even those small - or rather tiny pocket sized - sci fi mini books by Pelikan. The line was called TRAMP, it could fit into any poket and they only cost 1 Deutschmark.

No kidding, the books were so small they could fit into the palm of your hand and you could literary take them everywhere. And you always had enough money to buy one more and read it on the bus or while waiting at the bus station which I did a lot when I was still in school. I don´t think I ever heard of any of the writers but I didn´t care. I just read anything sci fi I could get my hands on. I´m not sure but I think the first one I bought was DANGER ON THE PLANET OF THE CATWOLVES and even though I was not sure what the hey a catwolf was it sure sounded very exciting.

Yes, I still have those and that´s exactly how my copy looks.

Anyway, back to comics back then I read much more than just super hero comics and Die großen Phantastic Comics was a great part of it because it offered various series. As you can see by the first picture I posted they published STORM by the great Don Lawrence who should be no stranger to most of the readers of this blog. He did those great sci fi classics like THE RISE AND THE FALL OF THE TRIGAN EMPIRE which was published in the UK in RANGER and in Germany it was one of the serials in KOBRA.

His STORM series was first published in the Netherlands in album form and later also in the UK and Germany ( the first chapters appeared in KOBRA again ). But although Don Lawrence was pretty well known by german comic fans - at least those who had read KOBRA - that is not the comic that started the line. Instead they chose to begin the new line with a fantasy series from an american comic artist by the name of Mike Grell.


That´s right, baby. WARLORD by Mike Grell. I guess they went with this title instead because german readers already knew Mike Grell from his classic runs on LEGION OF SUPER - HEROES ( Legion der Superhelden )

 and GREEN LANTERN ( Grüne Leuchte ) both published by Ehapa.

Well, they are classic runs now. Back in 1980 they were just darned good comics. Gosh, I´m getting all misty - eyed just thinking about how great DC´s comic books were when I was reading them as a teenager.

Back to Die großen Phantastic Comics, WARLORD was one of my favorite series although I´m not sure I read all of them. I certainly read all who had art by Mike Grell and some of the later ones but I don´t think I held out to the end. What can I say ? I had a tight budget since I got no regular pocket money from my parents and even back then I had some standards where quality is concerned. From all the WARLORD books there are only two left where I know exactly where they are. All the others are buried under tons of other comics in some god forgotten place or became victims of my mother throwing away my entire comic collection. But the Mike Grell issues were great stuff. Since then there has been a german reprint by the fine folks at CrossCult but I do hope DC does another volume of their SHOWCASE edition so I can finally read the entire series.

Besides WARLORD there was another series by a british artist and not only do I know where every one of the albums are I´m one hundred percent sure I have all of them. I´m speaking of CAMELOT 3000.


CAMELOT 3000 written by Mike W. Barr and drawn by Brian Bolland was, is and always will be one of my favorite comic series of all times. Amen.

I don´t even know how to praise this absolutely mindblowing book. It´s one of the best sci fi series ever, in fact one of THE best comics period.

It´s a brillaint re - imagination of the Arthurian legend with really great art by Michael Bolland and I remember it had far stuff like some alien invaders, Arthur revealing himself to the world on live tv ( I think Merlin transformed the microphone of a news reporter into a snake ) and Sir Tristan who was reincarnated as a woman which put a unique twist on his relationship with Isolde. Yup, leave it to those weird british comic guys with their constant gender bending to bring lesbians into mainstream.

If you don´t know this book it´s an absolute must - read especailly when you keep in mind that Brain Bolland doesn´t do much comic work nowadays except for covers. I don´t know if I had seen his work somewhere else ( which might have been possible because he did interiors for comics like BATMAN 400 or pin ups ) but this is where I stood up and took notice of him - like most of the people who read CAMELOT 3000. This is really an essential and should be in every comic collection.


And those were pretty much all the comics from Die Großen Phantastic Comics I read. There were of course some other comics in that line but they didn´t interest me much. There was TAAR, but for me he was just a cheap Conan knock off and I think I didn´t read more than 1 or 2 issues.

And with AROK I didn´t even start. For me he was in the same category as TAAR - which may have been justified or not - so I didn´t even bother.

Another series I totally skipped over was AMETYST, PRINCESS OF GEMWORLD mainly because for me it fell into the category of " girl comics ". How should I know that it would become Legion canon later on ?

Now there were only two more comics published  aside from the series mentioned above. The first one was BLACK DRAGON written by Chris Claremont and drawn by John Bolton, which was a one shot, I think.

And the other was SUMPFDING. It was number 57 of Die Großen Phantastic Comics, which was re - named as simply Phantastic Comics.

I don´t know if they had planned to publish the entire series but they canceled the whole line the next issue which was a WARLORD issue.

So that´s the story of Die Großen Phantastic Comics and I must say you really have some weird luck to pick the penultimate issue to start.

Thankfully this wraps up Today´s topic as I´m already starting to race against the clock. Maybe I´ll add a few more pictures or more information to this post Tomorrow but for Today I have to call it a day. But what I´m definitely going to do is post more STORM covers by Don Lawrence. They are just awesome beyond words. Like totally Airwolf squared, dude !

Up next will be probably more STORM and also more WARLORD and then - hopefully - my love letter to SECRET WARS II. But now it´s time to come to the hugely popular video at the end of the post. Since we pretty much began with STORM and ended with STORM Today´s video shows comic master Don Lawrence at work. There is also a second part of this.

New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN : top ten posts / more posts of interest

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