History of Comico: The Comic Company
Comico: The Comic Company was founded in 1982 as a collaboration of three friends from high school, Gerry Giovinco, Vince Argondezzi and Phil LaSorda. It later included Phil’s brother Dennis and a college friend of mine Bill Cucinotta. As publishers they turned first to our friends as they broadened our line.
Primer #1 was their first book and it attempted to create a large line of black-and-white. The stories included Slaughterman, Az, Victor, Skrog, and Mr. Justice. Primer #2 Featured Grendel. Matt Wagner’s Grendel quickly leaped from Primer into three issues of its own black-and white-series. Sam Kieth’s character The Maxx was first seen in Primer #5.
While Comico had proven to be a serious contender as a major independent comic company, a mid-1986 decision to distribute to the newsstand market spelled the end of the comic company. This significantly raised the number of prints for each issue, but also increased the number of issues being sent back that did not sell. Refunds for those returned issues ate into the publisher’s budget very quickly and, among other things, they had trouble paying their printing bills. In response to this, Comico began to push out a number of new titles, aimed at spreading out the number of returned comics between various titles. In 1988 they began distributing their titles to the bookstore market, and in 1989 partnered with DC Comics to distribute their comics to a wider market.Despite these measures, however, and with the end of the Mage, Grendel and Robotech series, much of the reliable revenue for the company dried up. Many of the company’s long-time artists and publishers jumped ship and, by 1989, Comico had cancelled half its titles and was deep into bankruptcy. Fish Police and Trollords were picked up by Apple Comics, while The Trouble with Girls was acquired by Malibu Comics and Justice Machine and The Maze Agency went to Innovation Comics. Comico suspended operations in 1990, with E-Man #3.
In 1990, the owners of the company sold Comico to Andrew Rev, who released the rest of the original staff and began working on relaunching the company. With the planned relaunch, Rev held onto as many of the original Comico series he could.Most significantly hit were Matt Wagner’s creations Mage and Grendel. Mage II: The Hero Defined, expected out in 1989, was not published until the late 1990s. Both Comico and Wagner had jointly copyrighted Mage and Grendel, and with Comico in bankruptcy, that half of the copyright was claimed as a company asset. A two-part Batman/Grendel crossover, Devil’s Riddle and Devil’s Masque, was written and drawn by Wagner and colored at the time of the Comico series, but was delayed by Comico’s bankruptcy. It was eventually published by DC in 1993. Wagner regained sole copyright of Grendel that same year, and, much later, Mage, publishing the series through Dark Horse Comics and Image Comics respectively.
While losing Wagner’s characters, Rev did manage to buy Elementals for his restart. Comico began printing again in 1992 with various Elementals-related comics, and in 1993 flooded the market with various one-shot Elementals specials. Budgetary problems and conflicts with creators over payments led to the company’s presses going silent again until 1995, with yet another Elementals title, and various Elementals spin-offs never making it past their first or second issues. Comico’s line ended in 1997 with Elementals Sex Special vol. 2, #2, illustrated by Frank Quitely and Elementals: The Vampires Revenge #2, the second installment of a four-issue limited series starring the spin-off character Ratman, illustrated by Kelly McQuain.
In July 2009, Comico co-founders Gerry Giovinco and Bill Cucinotta announced the launch of the webcomics site CO2 Comics. The site hosts several of the comics from the Comico Primer, including work by Reggie Byers, Bernie Mireault, Rich Rankin, and Neil Vokes.