Obscure Comics: Stumptown Micro-Comic #1 "Mustang Ranch"

There are comic book series almost every comic fan knows, there are comic book characters that most everyone knows, there are specific comic books most every comic reader knows, and then there are the more obscure issues that slip through the cracks.  What makes obscure comics so interesting and vital is discovering those books that most don't know were ever printed, or that top tier creators worked on "that book" or on "that character." Obscure Comics are fun to find, interesting to know about, but that border between being great reads and terrible comics.

Creator Owned & Promotional Comics

Many, many, many obscure comics are put out into the vast consumer market in order to promote or tease something that is going to be put out soon or was put out and is now well known.  The initial preview, be it a preview comic, teaser comic, ashcan comic, a mini-comic, or micro-cosmic, these previews can take a wide variety of forms. Many preview comics are the first few pages of an upcoming book, or an uncolored or unlettered version of a whole book, done in order to increase interest.  There are quite a few preview comics like that, many obscure and little known because their print runs are so small.  Many such comics are given out at signings and/or conventions in order to increase interest in a book, particularly for creator-owned titles, because it's a great way to get word of mouth among readers by giving away something to look at that shows what you are doing.  The Stumptown Micro-Comic #1 was a promotional comic that hit on many of these approaches but took a unique approach making the book obscure and very rare.

Stumptown Micro-Comic #1, The Design

Released at San-Diego Comic-Con in 2008, the Stumptown Micro-Comic was designed and released as the size of a business card.  Micro/Mini-Comics are not a new thing as Marvel put out several in the 1960s (Mark Evanier has just released a great book on these, and he talks about them here for those wanting a little bit of information), but those were even smaller than a business card.

Stumptown Micro-Comic #1
Stumptown Micro-Comic #1

The Stumptown Micro-Comic was released in a manila envelope, which contained the eight-page comic and a magnifying glass so people could actually read it.  Written by Greg Rucka and drawn by original Stumptown artist Matthew Southworth, the promotional comic was the first Stumptown comic released in July of 2008, several months before Oni Press would put out Stumptown #1 in 2009.

Stumptown Micro-Comic #1 Contents
Stumptown Micro-Comic #1 Contents

Stumptown Micro-Comic #1, The Story

The premise of this preview comic, titled "Mustang Ranch," is simple as Dex finds her beloved car needing a lot of repair work that she can't afford.  Agreeing to get back a car her mechanic Mitch lost, Dex goes to extraordinary means to get the "owner" to return the car.

A great story, told in 8 simple pages; it's not hard to see why Stumptown became a live-action series (which hopefully will get a season 2 someday); this is a promotional comic that is unique and obscure.  Thankfully reprinted full size in the first trade paperback and hardcover of Stumptown, the Micro-Comic is near impossible to find for purchase on its own, making its value unknown. Looking at the secondary markets, none could be found, and considering little, or no information exists about the comic or the release, this is not only an obscure comic but a very rare one.


This post is part of a multi-part series: Obscure Comics.

About Ian Melton

Japanese Teacher, Comic Book, Manga, & Anime collector, LCBS worker, father of 2, fan of far too many things for far too long...