Epic Illustrated

Last week I came across an almost complete run of the 1980's Marvel Magazine Epic Illustrated in ultra- high grade raw shape. So I bought them all! Now Epic Illustrated has been on the radar ever since it was announced that Marvel was doing a movie version of Jim Starlin's Vanth Dreadstar character from Metamorphosis Odyssey.

Last week I came across an almost complete run of the 1980’s Marvel magazine Epic Illustrated in ultra-high grade raw shape. So I bought them all! Now Epic Illustrated has been on the radar ever since it was announced that Marvel was doing a movie version of Jim Starlin’s Vanth Dreadstar character from Metamorphosis Odyssey.

I was never really that into Epic Illustrated or Heavy Metal for that matter. I always felt that they fell far short of their stated goals. The idea was great, that the creators basically had total control of what they were doing, without having to worry about the comics code or any editorial limitations or restrictions.

Unfortunately this usually meant some gratuitous sex and nudity with the odd curse word stuck in there to make it “adult” entertainment.

Epic Illustrated issue 1Now I am just familiarizing myself with these issues. The first year was published quarterly and in its second year went to bi-monthly status. The covers in that first 2 years were quite memorable! The 1st issue has an exquisite Frank Frazetta painting, that you will find enclosed in this article. It was followed by covers by Richard Corben, Paul Gulacy, Barry Windsor-Smith, the brothers Hildebrand, Neal Adams and Mike Kaluta. All masters in the field of Fantasy and Sci-Fi storytelling. The mags themselves held a rather eclectic assortment of stories, with a few real gems mixed in.

By its third year there was a feeling of consistency and some great stories like Marada the She Wolf, which was recently re-released in a deluxe edition. John Bolton was one of the gems that shone from the pages of Epic Illustrated.

I am just going through these for the first time in 35 years, so I am interested to see if my outlook on these mags have changed over time. I will report back after I have a chance to peruse these issues.

I really miss the magazine format of the bronze age. Yes there were some rather forgettable issues in the black and white line, but I really enjoyed the Marvel Preview, Bizarre Adventures and a lot of the long running series like Planet of the Apes that featured some great and unique Mike Ploog artwork. The outstanding ink wash Gene Colan and Tom Palmer would bring in Dracula Lives and some of the great Walt Simonson Rampaging Hulk stories that were inked by Alfredo Alcala. And of course the longest lasting of them all, Savage Sword of Conan, with some of John Buscema’s best Conan work.

Epic Illustrated issue 1 page 4 by John Buscema
But I digress. Anyone else miss the black and white mags of the 80’s? If so, what were your favorites? These books can usually be picked up at very reasonable prices, even when they are in NM and better shape.

Definitely worth looking into!

Dennis De Pues
Dennis De Pues

Dennis is an admitted "Son of the Silver Age", having grown up with the influences of Silver Age greats: Kirby, Colan, Romita and Buscema.Three decades later, he is the creator of Crash!! and Galloway Park. More is definitely on the way.

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10 years ago

I enjoyed them. the format and b/w ,allows for my taste, a great presentation for the art. They weren’t considered part of the 8o’s and sometimes had color stories but were still published was the warren line.

Ed Dee
Ed Dee
10 years ago

The Planet of the Apes magazines were great. I love the interior artwork and also the covers. The covers were done by someone else besides Ploog. I can’t remember his name……

Jim Finlay
10 years ago

Epic Illustrated was my kind of magazine when it the first issues came out. Heavy Metal was too heavy for me.
I was just getting tired of the increases in prices for comics, especially DC with their $1 80pgs no ads quickly becoming with ads, smaller and smaller. I liked what Marvel was doing better during that time period and had an almost complete set off the newsstand of Epic Illustrated. I got the couple I didn’t have a few years ago to complete the set.

Around that time the newsstand in the mall I worked at was retiring and selling the place and I literally bought the ~8×8″ wooden stand that I bought the comics and magazines off of for years. The owner offered it to me for all the books I had bought there and it came in handy for displaying them.

Jim Finlay
10 years ago
Reply to  Dennis De Pues

I went away to Ryerson for a few years and it was thrown out, unfortunately.
At least they put all the books in boxes unlike some college goers who found their collection was sold in a garage sale for the price of a Velvet Elvis.
My pre 84 comics and magazines spent their time in the garage soaking up some carbon monoxide and suffered some premature aging.

Abraxas and the Earthman was delightfully weird. I like all the science fiction stories and Epic had great art to go with it.
Post apocalyptic stories and space adventure tales are my favourite.

The fantasy and Conan type I didn’t care for as much with the exception of Weirdworld. I remember drawing Tyndall and Velanna in class when the Marvel Premiere #38 issue came out before they were in Epic Illustrated.