Strange Mails

I got a package in the mail today containing some inexpensive comic book back issues that I purchased on Ebay last week.  Yeah, yeah, I know, I’m trying to get rid of stuff, not accumulate more of it.  But when I was over at my parents’ house a few weeks ago to get some boxes of comics that I was planning to either sell or give away, I also made sure to take home a handful of issues that I wanted to hold on to.  Among those were Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme #s 60-62 and 69.

Let’s cast a glance back at far-off 1993… twenty years ago, believe it or not!  After several years of Roy Thomas writing Doctor Strange, the book underwent a radical shift.  The series moved under the “Midnight Sons” umbrella of titles, just in time for a massive and (admittedly) rambling crossover titled “Siege of Darkness.”  And as this change-over was taking place, brand new Doctor Strange editor Evan Skolnick came up with the mad genius idea to set Faust: Love of the Damned co-creator David Quinn loose on Marvel’s master of the mystic arts.

I was in high school when all this was going on, so I seriously doubt I had ever even heard of Faust at that point.  I don’t think I would actually even read an issue of David Quinn & Tim Vigil’s erotic horror magnum opus until I was in my twenties, and it would be several years more before I became a hugely passionate fan of the book.  So when Quinn came aboard Doctor Strange in the autumn of 1993, I had no idea who he was.  I certainly did not know what to expect.  Those few issues of Doctor Strange written by Quinn that I did pick up back then seemed majorly bizarre, as well as somewhat confusing.

Doctor Strange 64 cover

Looking back on it, a couple of things occur to me.  First, I believe that if Quinn’s Doctor Strange run had been published even a few years later, I would have had a much greater appreciation for it.  By that time, I was well on my way out of the Marvel/DC/Image superhero niche, exploring a number of independent and small press titles.  Second, keeping in mind just how homogenized so much of Marvel’s output was in the mid-1990s, as the company attempted in myriad ways to somehow duplicate the titanic success of some of the early Image Comics titles, it really was a gutsy move on Skolnick’s part to recruit an edgy independent creator like Quinn to helm a long-term property such as Doctor Strange.

Fast forward back to 2013.  A couple of months ago I came across a very well written blog post by a Gary M. Miller wherein he detailed his picks for the top ten greatest Doctor Strange stories.  Among his choices was Quinn’s run on the series.  And soon after that, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I re-read my copy of Essential Doctor Strange Vol. 1, which collected the original Strange Tales stories by Steve Ditko & Stan Lee.  So once I had the chance to dig through all those comics in my parents’ basement I thought to myself, “Hey, why not take another look at those David Quinn issues?”  Reading Doctor Strange #s 60-62 last week, I really enjoyed them, and I immediately decided I wanted to pick up the rest of the run.  I was able to order copies of issues #s 63-68 and Annual #4 pretty much for cover price.  Hopefully I’ll get the rest of Quinn’s issues at a later date.

Doctor Strange 67 cover

Once I am able to read the entirety of Quinn’s run, perhaps I’ll have an opportunity to write up another post detailing the specifics of his issues.  For now, though, it is worth pointing out that not only is the writing on these comics top-notch, so is the artwork.  The first several issues are penciled by Mel Rubi and inked by Fred Harper.  Rubi would go on to work on a variety of titles, refining his style along the way.  Several years back he had a lengthy run illustrating Red Sonja for Dynamite Entertainment.

At the time he was inking Doctor Strange, Harper was also doing some great work drawing the Ghost Rider and Vengeance features in the bi-weekly Marvel Comics Presents anthology series.  A couple of years later, I met him at a convention, and we soon became friends.  Fred has such a unique, atmospheric style, and I love his inking over Rubi on these issues.

Another artistic contributor well worth mentioning is Mark Buckingham, who contributes several extremely striking covers.  Soon after, Buckingham would go on to become the series’ regular interior artist, as well, working on the book for the next few years until its cancellation in 1996.

That’s the nitty-gritty.  I’m definitely looking forward to digging in to these issues.  Should be quite interesting.  I’ll be sure to let you all know.

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