Gary, tell the fans a little bit about yourself and why you are called the “Godfather of Image Comics”?

I wanted to be a cartoonist since I was in kindergarten. I met Chris Ecker when I was in college in 1977 or so. He was the manager of my comic shop and was also a cartoonist. While I was attending classes, he was actually doing comics for fanzines in the 1970s. I loved his work, and we started off creating comic strips. One almost sold to the LA Times Syndicate, and it bummed us out when they chose not to go with us.

We decided it was time to give comic books a try. This was the very beginning of the independent comics scene. They looked more professional than the old fanzines, which were generally printed on a photocopier. The indy books were printed on newsprint by real printing companies.

I started working on a title called Megaton, named after the main character. There were about eight main characters. My hope was to be successful and spin them off into their own titles.

There were lots of very good artists out there who couldn’t get work from Marvel of DC, so I decided that someone could hire them and compete with the Big Two. I met a lot of artists at comic conventions and through ads in the Comics Buyers Guide, and a lot of them decided to work with me. Mike Gustovich. Butch Guide. Clarke Hawbaker. Angel Medina. Erik Larsen. Rob Liefeld and many more.

I printed eight Megaton issues between 1983 and 1987. Artists kept leaving to go pro, and I had to keep finding replacements. We weren’t able to keep a solid schedule and never really caught on. The ‘B&W Explosion” happened, and hundreds of indytitles were solicited every month. Our sales were dropping, and we decided to quit in 1987.

Five years later, many of those artists had gone on to be stars. When 6 or 7 creators decided to leave Marvel and start their own imprint – Image Comics – people started to rediscover Megaton because Erik Larsen’s Savage Dragon had appeared in a few issues of Megaton, and Rob Liefeld’s Youngblood was supposed to be published in Megaton Special #1. Poor advance sales killed that one.

But Savage Dragon and Youngblood were slated to be part of Image. Rob used some copies of the Megaton Explosion Who’s Who promo from 1987 to promote Youngblood. I believe that’s when he referred to me as the “Godfather” of Image Comics.

How long has Big Bang Comics been around, and why did you decide back then to get into the publishing business?

Big Bang has been around since 1993 or so. With the beginning of Image Comics, my name was popping up with the mentions of Megaton in various promotions for the new line. Various publishers started asking me to publish new titles or more Megaton.

Entity Comics published the then-unpublished Megaton Holiday Special, and Caliber Press offered me a title. At first I was going to publish the two unpublished issues of Vanguard from 1987, but Erik Larsen requested a new Vanguard title at Image. So, I decided to print a series starring Berzerker (another Megaton alumni) at Caliber.

Caliber didn’t think there was a market for a retro series as its own title, so Big Bang started as the back-ups in Berzerker. Chris Ecker told me he was tired of art directors at comic companies telling him he drew like “an old guy,” so he wanted to do an old-style comic. Knight Watchman and Big Bang Comics were born.

We decided it could be the back stories behind the Megaton characters/universe, which were “a new generation of heroes.” We decided to homage the creators (writers and artists) of the 40s, 50s, and 60s. We wanted each story to read like a new or unpublished issue of the famous characters. We didn’t want just to rip off Superman, Batman, or Captain America, so we tried to change the characters and make them our own, using the classic styles.

The Big Bang backups became more popular than the main Berzerker tales, and 1963 came out at Image, proving there was a marker for retro, so Caliber allowed us to shift from the Berzerker title to a Big Bang one.

You recently released Dr. Weird #1, which I think is unique for Big Bang because you usually publish anthology books with multiple characters. Why did you choose to give him a solo book?

Between the long main story, all of the pinups, and the unpublished story from a number of years ago, there were enough pages to fill its own issue. The material was so good that we decided to put it out as its own title. Also, to keep a claim on the Dr. Weird name and title.

Dr. Weird is unique because he is the only Big Bang hero with a real publishing history. Why did Big Bang decide to add him to their universe?

Richard Grass” Green did a lot of lettering for Megaton, and we started publishing his Wildman and RubberRoy title. Grass introduced us to his old friend Howard Keltner, creator of Dr. Weird. We did a story featuring him for the Megaton Holiday Special drawn by Angel Medina. Howard enjoyed what Ed DeGeorge and I had done and offered to sell us Doctor Weird. He was very sick and wanted someone to carry on the character.

Hopefully, we’ve done our best over the years to make Howard proud. We did a Dr. Weird Special at Caliber Press, reprinting the George R. R. Martin/Jim Starlin stories from 1972 or so, and then published two issues of DW’s own title at Caliber. When Megaton shut down, Ed DeGeorge published two more issues at his own October Comics imprint.

When we started Big Bang Comics in 1993, Dr. Weird was a perfect fit for both the retro and more modern stories.

What type of fan would enjoy not only Dr. Weird but the whole Big Bang line of comics?

Hopefully, anybody who loves comics.

Who are some of the people who make Big Bang what it is today?

Chris Ecker, myself, and Ed DeGeorge are the backbone. Pedro Angosto has written a number of issues and works with some very great Spanish artists. Ronald C. Williams has drawn a majority of the IndyPlanet issues, Jon d’Henry drew a few wonderful retro stories featuring Thunder Girl and Mighty Man. Ben Torres and Chris Ecker produce the Knight Watchman – Creatures of the Knight title. Sterling Clark does the National Guardians title, and Cesar Madarro produces the Vinnie Fresco issues. Allen Forbes II has produced some fun Megaton-related issues. A few great artists have passed on; Donnie Page and Coink Adink (Chris Jones) had wonderful retro styles and are sorely missed,

Where’s the best place for fans wanting to dig into Big Bang Comics?

Big Bang Adventures and our other titles are only available on these days. Our ten or so issues from Caliber Press, close to 50 from our Image days, and six issues of Big Bang Presents were sold through comic shops and are probably in back issue bins. Same with the 10 or so issues from Megaton. AmeriComics/AC Comics published three issues of Big Bang Universe, which may be available on their website.

It seems the comic book market is constantly changing. What does Big Bang do to stay noticed in an industry that has so many comics coming out every month?

We just keep plugging away and putting out new issues. We don’t do much advertising, so podcasts and reviews are a great help to us.

What does Big Bang have coming in the near future that you think fans should check out?

Our current issues are Big Bang Adventures, Knight Watchman – Creatures of the Knight, National Guardians, Anomalies, and Dr. Weird.

You get the last word, Gary.

Thanks very much for all you do. It’s greatly appreciated. We do comics because we love them. Hopefully, our readers do, too. Anybody who wants a glimpse at what we do can check out the and websites. There’s lots of info there.

Fans can download for free 50-page comic and historical overview of Big Bang Comics.

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