Tuesday, December 15, 2015

More on the bizarre comics publishing world of John Jacobs

MIKE PINDELL from The Comic Book Attic podcast (highly recommended - go check it out HERE) is a keen fan of John Jacobs' amazing output at Madison Comics in the mid-80s. Here are some of Mike's most recent observations...

I gathered all the John Jacobs comics I own to try to piece together some information. Looks like Doctor Peculiar #1, Far Frontier #1, and Black Atlas #1 were the first three Madison releases and Power Stars became the comic they collapsed everything into eventually.
As I said, I found all my Jacobs comics in one used book store, and I suspected a connection. Indeed, I think I found the missing link while revisiting my copy of Doctor Peculiar #1. I read it so long ago that I must have totally forgotten that my copy was signed specifically to his goddaughter:

So, this Michelle Noel may be the reason why a huge pile of Madison Comics were donated to one store.
I assembled all my Jacobs comics for a group photo:

The three at the bottom of the photo were not published as Madison Comics, but instead by a company named Tami. These issues came out in 1987, showing a small break in time from the last Madison Comics shown; however, the publishing address is the same as Madison’s, denoting no real change but the company name. Tami had been the name of one of the characters in Jacobs’ comics, but I also noticed a new staff person named Tamara listed on the inside cover. Coincidence? Doesn’t seem likely. Inside the issues, the two Partners in Peril comics are more of the same Jacobs madness, while the Julie Winsome Science Fiction Mysteries issue is an unusual release containing all prose (not by Jacobs) with occasional illustrations.
The amusing insight gleaned from these Tami issues is a glimpse of John Jacobs’ other job as “Management Consultant and Trainer”, taken from the back cover of Partners in Peril: 
Also at the same book store were four issues of Ken Landgraf’s New York City Outlaws:

Ken, being a collaborator of Jacobs, let Jacobs do back-up stories in issues #3-5 (including a Doctor Peculiar story in issue 5!). Along with those back-up stories were ads for his other comics, giving me some semblance of a checklist:

In the first photo, there is a listing for Black Atlas #2, a comic I haven’t been able to find any trace of, if it exists. In the second photo, the listings for Champions (Wonderworld Express) and Whispers And Shadows seem to be from other publishers; I’ve found evidence they exist, and I’ll try to track them down. Note the absence of Black Atlas #2 listing in the second photo.
Searching for more connections, I looked through the other smaller press comics that I bought at the same time as all of the above comics. Only one other comic made a somewhat tenuous association: on the inside cover of Ground Zero Bi-monthly #1, under their list of distributors, it says “Tami Distribution, VA.” Madison and Tami were indeed headquartered in Virginia.
Lastly, I found a fun bit of business on the inside front cover of Doctor Peculiar #2. Jacobs attempted to trademark all the characters he created by simply listing all their names, and there are a bunch:

Among these names, you will find some real gems. Some of my favourites are Bloodsnack, Crimepecker, and The Sad Red Dwarf. It also appears that Jacobs had a claim on the name Squirrel Girl years before Marvel’s character appeared, although I certainly wouldn’t bet the farm on Jacobs winning that case…


piper909 said...

Not to mention "Suckulo"!

Fascinating. This documents a bunch of comics I never knew existed; I only have Doc Peculiars numbers 1 and 2 and have long wondered what else could be out there. Someone needs to investigate the whole John Jacobs story -- what little hints I've gleaned form web-based research indicates a very, VERY Peculiar tale indeed, from weird haunted houses to strange deaths. John Jacobs himself is, to the best of my knowledge, dead, but not that long ago. If I've ID'ed him correctly.

piper909 said...

I'm trying to get Craig Yoe and his "Weird Superheroes" group interested in pursuing this.