On this day in 1971, DC Comics published House of Secrets #92 which featured, among such stories as “After I Die and “Trick or Treat”, the debut of the soon-to-be iconic character Swamp Thing. Created by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson, Swamp Thing is one of DC’s most recognizable horror characters, and over the years he has been used as a vessel to tell some of comics most unique stories.
On this day in 1985, a man walked into a bar. It was a punk bar; this was 1985 in comic-book London, after all. The man was named John Constantine, and he was there looking for a friend who had information about the end of the world. It all happened in the pages of Swamp Thing #37, written by Alan Moore with art by Rick Veitch and John Totleben; the "American Gothic" storyline was beginning in earnest, and Moore's legendary run was kicking into high gear.
According to Moore, the character of Constantine owes his debut to the fact that Swamp Thing's regular artists, Totleben and Stephen R. Bissette, were big fans of the band The Police, and they wanted to draw a character who looked like the lead singer, Sting. Even though it ended up being Veitch on the pencils for Constantine's first appearance, he is unmistakably a dead ringer for the British musician.
Q: In light of your recent discussion of Copra, what's the best comic riffing on another comic? -- @davidwynne
A: Listen, Dave, if we're honest with each other here, the answer is definitely Batman. He might not have been riffing on a comic, but it's hard to get around the fact that those earliest adventures were just Bill Finger and Bob Kane filing the serial numbers off the Shadow and putting him into a slightly more ridiculous outfit. I mean, the guy even has an autogyro, and if that's not a dead giveaway, I don't knoW what is.
But at the same time, Batman only really gets good once he evolves into his own thing. If you're talking about comics that were created with the clear intention of riffing on something else and staying that way for the duration (and I say this knowing there's a whole lot of good riffing in Jack Staff), there's really only one answer: It has to be Supreme.
Any look back over Alan Moore's career is likely to overlook a lot of really great comics. Beyond the usual works that are typically rattled off as the highlights of his career are British works that never got big in America, independent comics that never got wide distribution, and reams of short stories that have fallen between the cracks. You might have read a few of them, but they're all worth a look.
Alan Moore's greatest hits include Watchmen, Saga of the Swamp Thing, From Hell, Marvelman, The Killing Joke, V for Vendetta, Tom Strong, Supreme, Top Ten, Promethea, the hundreds of pages of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and a couple of the best Superman stories of all time, but as this list proves, there's a lot more to Moore.
The complicated history of Miracleman reaches its long-delayed resolution in September with the launch of Miracleman #1, by Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham. The issue kicks off Gaiman and Buckinham's 'Golden Age' storyline, remastered from the original artwork with colors by D'Israeli and lettering by Todd Klein. Later issues will continue and complete the 'Silver Age' and 'Dark Age' storylines. The first issue also features covers from Joe Quesada, Simone Bianchi, and a jam cover from Miracleman veterans Garry Leach, Jon Totleben, Alan Davis and Rick Veitch.
Last week it was announced that NBC is developing a new TV series based on the DC Comics character John Constantine, best known as the star of Vertigo perennial Hellblazer. The television project is helmed by writer/executive producers Daniel Cerone and David S. Goyer. It's a potentially exciting prospect, but it appears that Constantine's creators may only see a piece of the pie if the show actually goes to broadcast - and the identity of the creators of record who may benefit is somewhat unclear.