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Fantagraphics To Publish The 1963 Annual by Don Simpson in 2023, Ish

It's been thirty years since Image Comics published the satirical series 1963, and failed to publish the final issue, the 1963 Annual.

A year ago, Bleeding Cool reported that Don Simpson, in a rather incendiary fashion, was planning to create and complete the 1963 Annual, the Image Comics title that was meant to have been written by Alan Moore and drawn by Jim Lee, that would have been the final issue to the 1963 comic book from 1993 written by Moore, and drawn by Steve Bissette, John Totleben, Rick Veitch, Don Simpson, Dave Gibbons, Jim Valentino, Chester Brown and many more.

Fantagraphics To Publish The 1963 Annual By Don Simpson in 2023, Ish
Cover to X-Amount Of Comics by Don Simpson

Now it appears that Fantagraphics, who published -and recently republished – Alan Moore and Don Simpson's story In Pictopia, will be publishing this as the excellently titled X-Amount Of Comics [1963: WhenElse?! Annual]. Don Simpson posts it is "a complete, 72-page story (I overshot the original 63-page target) and will be published later in 2023 (the 30th — 60th? — anniversary) by Fantagraphics Underground. Blame Gary Groth and his meddlesome impulses! With authorized cameos of Big Bang Comics courtesy ™ and © Gary Carlson and Chris Ecker, and more inside jokes and arcane references than a Wold-Newtonian or Kayfabian (Win Scott Eckert, Paul Spiteri, Frank Schildiner, Jim Rugg, Ed Piskor) could unearth! More details to follow, so stay tuned …"

Fantagraphics Underground, which published In Pictopia describes itself as "our small-run imprint for a rarefied readership. FU means uncensored expression, author ownership, and work that can only be published outside the mainstream. This is a return to our roots—publishing books that are innovative, quirky, idiosyncratic, oddball, experimental, or downright crazy." X-Amount Of Comics will include Megaton Man alongside characters from In Pictopia as well as a version of Alan Moore going by the same of Paul, and lots of references to all these works, the creators, publishers and characters of the day.

Fantagraphics To Publish The 1963 Annual By Don Simpson in 2023, Ish
Original artwork page from X-Amount Of Comics by Don Simpson referencing In Pictopia.

Don Simpson elaborated on Facebook on why 1963 was originally unfinished, saying "I think one reason it was never brought to completion was because there was supposed to be some grande statement, some beau jeste, to top it all off. And it's kind of hard to pull the trigger on a satirical point about how comics got lost at the end of the twentieth century after you've been fellating Todd McFarlane and Jim Lee and socking away a fortune… Alan had the clout to see 1963 through to completion but sold out to the big money floating around elsewhere at Image and lost his gumption. His war against the industry ever since has been a war against the creator-owned properties he's controlled (1963 and In Pictopia being the two with which I have immediate familiarity), which really has brought Hollywood and corporate comics publishing to its knees, hasn't it?"

He previously stated; "For the record, from everything I know of the situation, I am convinced the author of the series bears the ultimate responsibility for 1963 never having been completed. Jim Lee is also clearly a villain in the piece, in my view; he intentionally interposed himself as penciller of the Annual, never with the least intention of actually following through. He wanted to sabotage the project from the beginning, and that's been obvious. But at the same time, it was obvious very early that if anyone in the business had the clout to work around Lee it was the author; the author has had several opportunities besides to see the project through, and has simply bailed. This demonstrates not only an unimaginable disregard for the fans and readers — an overweening ego-trip and sense of entitlement that many of his most ardent fans perversely take as a sign of genius — but it also demonstrably set back the cause of creator-owned comics, because it showed creators could not be responsible proprietors of intellectual properties. The irony is that work-for-hire projects like Watchmen remain in print and 1963 remains in the back-issue bin, fragmentary and uncollected and incomplete. Stupid, stupid indeed. Shame on the author forever."

Don Simpson also clarified to Bleeding Cool a year ago, "It should be noted that "my" 1963 (WhenElse?!) Annual makes no use of any protected characters or trademarks from the 1993 Image project, or any characters currently owned by Steve Bissette or Rick Veitch; it uses simulacra or parody characters and just stuff I'm making up. For the record, I also wrote and drew an original N-Man story for Steve's Naut Comics anthology a couple years ago which is a completely unrelated to my 1963 WhenElse?! Annual satire. Also, my 1963 WhenElse?! Annual satire is not to be confused with another project, Giant-Size 1963, which does license Steve's 1963 characters in new adventures. So, there may (or may not) be three different projects loosely dubbed "1963" appearing sometime around 2023, the thirtieth anniversary of the unfinished 1993 1963. Thanks for letting me clear that up!"

But Don Simpson's work on those 1963 characters is getting another outing, courtesy of another former collaborator on the outs with Alan Moore, Steve Bissette who will be finally publishing his own 1963 spinoff book featuring characters he created for the 1963 series as Tales of the Uncanny. Bissette writes; "I'll spill the beans: since it's the 30th anniversary this year, spent part of the week prepping art files/illustration files, some dating back 25+ years, and delivered the first massive batch to the designer of the first book for 2023 of new works featuring my lot of characters from the '1963' series. The series will include Don Simpson's incredible N-Man story, which Don cooked up years ago. Been chipping away at these projects privately for decades now."

Fantagraphics To Pub;ish The 1963 Annual By Don Simpson - Kinda
Don Simpson's N-Man story for Stev Bissette's Tales of the Uncanny

Also, there is a "Giant-Size 1963 Fan Project" coming together, for the anniversary year as well, from the Cartoonist Kayfabe Ringside Seats community. Anyone else want to have a go? it seems to be open season on 1963…

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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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