When Don Simpson Was Offered An Image Comics Partnership

Megaton Man creator Don Simpson has been posting most entertainingly on Facebook about that project that never happened, the 1963 Annual, that would have topped off the Image Comics series by Alan Moore, Steve Bissette, Rick Veitch and more.

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To heck with the 1963 Annual — I'm just going to draw the "In Pictopia" Annual — att: Stephen BissetteJim ValentinoErik LarsenGary GrothChris Ecker. Here is a piece of art I did for Joe Wos at the Toonseum, ripping off my collaboration with Alan Moore (ostensibly, I had Alan's permission by word of mouth through Chris Staros — there never has been any kind of written contract for IP.)

In Pictopia by Alan Moore and Don Simpson was published in Fantagraphics' Anything Goes cause-supporting anthology series, a city full of comic book characters suffering the indignities of a changing industry. But Simpson had a confession to make,

It can now be revealed: I am solely responsible for the 1963 Annual NEVER COMING OUT!! Here I am with the 1963 house ad (the only page of the series that is entirely my handiwork) and a page from Splitting Image #2. (I wish I still had that Rachel Williams double-page spread from Vogue or Elle hanging above the ol' drawing board! Wotta gal.) The pages behind my head may be rejects from the Savage Dragon vs. Savage Megaton Man team-up.

10644101_554671177999162_8347323936405282571_oOkay, maybe not. The conversation about 1963 and Megaton Man continued with Erik Larsen and Steve Bissette, with Simpson giving his Image Comics memories.

With one stunning revelation after working on 1963.

They offered me a partnership but I turned 'em down … Seriously, I just took the money and ran (I blew it on Fiasco Comics, my own imprint. Live and learn!) I was lucky to be involved to the extent I was, a bystander to history. My work has never tapped into the same audience as the mainline Image titles, that's for sure. I just don't have the market clout. Jim Valentino wanted to reprint Border Worlds at some point, speaking of unfinished projects, but I didn't think sales would justify it and I didn't want to raise anyone's expectations of completing the series if sales couldn't sustain the undertaking. I also shied away from Tundra! Maybe I'm just averse to success!

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The partners of Image Comics are Todd McFarlane, Erik Larsen, Jim Valentino and Marc Silvestri, with Robert Kirkman a recent joiner. Whilce Portacio stepped down at the beginning, Rob Liefeld was fired/quit and Jim Lee left as he was bought out by DC Comics. Dave Sim was also offered a partnership if he ever decided to take it. But Don Simpson? That was new.  Don continued,

But I got seed money to do my own thing for awhile, as so did Stephen Bissette and Veitch, just in time for self-publishing to become overcrowded and dysfunctional, and for the distribution system to implode. Ah, the mid-nineties!

Steve also recalled,

True, dat. Me, I was so discouraged by the one-two punch of Tundra (you were smart to steer clear) and Image (specifically Jim Lee, who seized the 1963 ANNUAL plum for ONE convention announcement humiliation/trump of Jim Valentino "taking" that as "his own," which we stupidly went along with—Jim was so honorable throughout, we were so so so stupid to let Lee anywhere near the project) that I completely embraced SELF-publishing, and when the market imploded I got out completely, too. Still, accomplished much—TABOO, 1963, TYRANT® launch, ALIENS: TRIBES (for which I won a Stoker for "Outstanding Novella"), and more—so no regrets.

Maybe not, Steve, unless you too were offered partnership and turned it down…

 

About 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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