Bizarre Thrills: The Paragon Publications Story Vol. 1
– March 21, 2012
This is it- the “non-AC” book that AC Comics fans have been waiting almost three decades for !! If you read & enjoy AC Comics, you’ll want to have this book to understand where it all comes from. In an era before the independent, direct-sales comic book distribution system existed, Bill Black created a line of comic-book style periodicals that incorporated the idea of design and featured his own original characters in ongoing, interconnected stories- a comics universe. No, this was NOT AC Comics; this came before that. This was Bill’s legendary PARAGON PUBLICATIONS. Between 1968 and 1982, PARAGON released more than 40 publications, fueled not only by Bill’s tasteful sense of visuals and impactful storytelling, but also a healthy dose of something woefully rare in the mainstream comics of the day, and that is STRONG FEMALE CHARACTERS, styled with Bill’s fascination for the glamorous “good girl art” comic books of the 1940′s. That creative vision must’ve been well-realized, since many of those characters are still appearing today in the AC Comics line; in FEMFORCE and elsewhere. This volume collects some of the BEST of the PARAGON material; 21 full vintage stories in all, starring the likes of SYNN(when she was still referred to as The Girl From LSD), The SHADE (his ORIGINAL origin), TARA, STORMY TEMPEST, NIGHTVEIL(at a point that she was being referred to as “Phantom Lady”), The (original) SCARLET SCORPION, the prototype for STARDUST; the villainous ALIZARIN CRIMSON, Dr. RIVITS, No-NOSE NANETTE and GORGANNA- plus a number of great characters you may never have heard of, including The STARMASTERS, The DEFENDER and SPACE GUARDIAN. See the origins of SYNN and the SCARLET SCORPION, AND THE FIRST FEMFORCE story ever published anywhere!! Although Bill did the writing and art on virtually EVERY story in the PARAGON era, he occasionally had “a little help from his friends” in terms of collaborators like Martin Greim, Bob Cosgrove, Gary Brown, Marc Hempel( and if you’re familiar with his current art style, you’d NEVER recognize him here!!) Willie Blyberg and Steve Vance. Also, pin-ups by the likes of Terry Austin, John Byrne, Howard Chaykin, Dick Giordano, Mike Golden, Gil Kane, Bob McLeod, Don Newton, George Perez, Mike Royer, Bill Sienkiewicz, Alex Toth and Mike Zeck fill out the book, all behind a striking Joe Staton- Bill Black color cover. In addition, Bill provides a complete PARAGON PUBLICATIONS index, an overview to how it all ran, notes and history; plus comments from fans/readers of the day. Most of this material has been unseen anywhere for more than three decades. When the PARAGON books were originally circulated as a mail-order product sold through fanzine ads, they sold a ridiculously high number of copies-in some cases, more than a number of mainstream books sell today. Whoever bought the magazines back then must have liked them, since despite the fact that they sold in high volume, very few copies find their way onto the collector’s market; hence the inflated prices when they DO show up. Among regular AC fans and readers, few things have garnered more requests than a reprinting of the classic vintage material in this book. But that’s not all!! When Bill started AC Comics at the tail-end of 1982, virtually all of the PARAGON plotlines were “left hanging” and unfinished- even those relating to characters that showed up in AC continuity virtually untouched. This always bothered the Wild One, so especially for this volume, Bill teamed up with ace penciler Eric Coile to produce an ALL NEW, NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN 23-page story involving STARDUST, SYNN and the rest of the FEMFORCE in a contemporary tale that actually RESOLVES all of those old plotlines today!! A 2012-era PARAGON adventure!! Who else but Bill Black would take the time and effort to finish up stories more than thirty years old? As a personal aside, the PARAGON line is what inspired ME to attempt a career illustrating comics. Despite it’s long & successful run, AC Comics itself has never really lived up to the PARAGON standard, as none of us other than Bill ever REALLY got it right .The day-to-day demands of keeping a growing company running forced Bill to give up a major creative hand early on, leaving AC art & writing to us lesser lights. Get this book and see what AC should’ve been, had we all had the talent & vision of Bill Black. BIZARRE THRILLS: The PARAGON PUBLICATIONS story Volume One is 260 pages in black & white at 81/2″ X 11″ magazine size, with color covers and perfect-bound TPB binding. It was released in 2012.