Saturday, June 13, 2009

When good comic books go bad...

"The Elementals" is probably the best comic book that you've never heard of. It was published (somewhat erratically) from the mid-1980s until the mid-1990s, when the series abruptly ceased after the small, independent publisher went out of business.

"The Elementals" was created by a man named Bill Willingham. He had previously worked as a staff artist for TSR doing illustrations for "Dungeons & Dragons." After "The Elementals" he went on to create another, much more famous comic book series for DC Comics called "Fables," which is still published today. "Fables" is apparently also going to be an ABC tv series this fall.

Unfortunately, at some point in the early 1990s Mr. Willingham sold the rights to "The Elementals" to a man named Andrew Rev. Since the series ceased publication in the mid-1990s, it has never been successfully revived (nor even the old issues re-printed in trade paperbacks), apparently because Mr. Rev has steadfastly refused to sell those rights.

Anyway, "The Elementals" were a team of four super-heroes, each with powers based on the elements. (For example, one hero was called "Fathom." She had green skin and hair and could control water.) The real attraction, though, was the complexity of the stories and the evolving relationships between the characters, in essence the writing of Bill Willingham.

Over the years, his involvement with the series ebbed and flowed, sometimes ceasing entirely for stretches, always to the detriment of the series. Near the end of its run, as Mr. Willingham's involvement was once again coming to an end, the publisher produced this "Elementals Sex Special # 1" pictured above. And that's right, that's Fathom on the cover grinding with a dolphin (who, in fairness, was a hero who could turn into a man).

I saw that cover and I knew the series done for.

I felt dirty putting that on the counter and buying it. (Doubly so for buying two.)

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