This year is a momentous anniversary at Pop Culture Squad. The independent comic book company First Comics launched forty years ago and published its first issue in March of 1983. Mike Gold, one of our key contributors at PCS, was the founder and editorial director at First.
First Comics was the little comics company with some of the biggest stars in comics before comic superstars was a thing. Names like Mike Grell, Howard Chaykin, John Ostrander, Timothy Truman, Jim Starlin, Mike Baron, and Steve Rude are just some of the comics greats who were regulars at First. It was fertile ground for independent creator-owned comics. The genres included superheroes, science-fiction, space fantasy, spy thriller, political satire, humor, and more. The publisher produced interesting comics that challenged the larger publishers to adapt. They innovated by producing the first digitally created comic in Shatter, by Peter B. Gillis and Mike Saenz and bringing the manga title Lone Wolf and Cub to American readers.
In honor of the lasting impact that First Comics has had on the comics industry, we will be celebrating the anniversary throughout the year. Our first stop on the First Comics Anniversary tour was at C2E2 in Chicago last week. We had a discussion panel with a great group of guests who talked about their experiences with First Comics which lasted in its most significant iteration from 1983 to 1991.
The guests on the panel were editor Mike Gold, the first art director of First Comics Joe Staton, the second art director Alex Wald, cartoonist and artist Hilary Barta, and artist and colorist Linda Lessmann Reinhold.
We were lucky enough to have an audience member record the panel and publish it on YouTube. Neil did a great job editing this and we included that below and hope you enjoy the discussion. There are secrets about the company, how it grew, and how important Chicago was to it.
We will be continuing our celebration of the First Comics 40th Anniversary throughout the year with a culmination at Baltimore Comic-Con this fall. Stay tuned for more regarding that.