The Paris Review

Neil the Horse Rides Again


The 1980s was the decade of the black-and-white comic boom—and the inevitable bust. The boom was started in part by three successful self-published comics: Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Wendy and Richard Pini’s Elfquest, and Dave Sim’s Cerebus the Aardvark. A comic-reading public that wanted something besides the same tired superhero formula or the sex-and-drugs heavy (and often misogynist) underground comics snapped them up. The black-and-white pages were cheaper to print than color, and soon new publishers with new titles were springing up like toadstools after a rainstorm.

At first it seemed as though any black-and-white comic book would sell (and at first they did), and there were some pretty bizarre but briefly successful books with titles, like or , riding on the armored coattails of , but along with, Stan Sakai’s , Max Collins and Terry Beatty’s , and Joshua Quagmire’s , and some good comics that unfortunately didn’t last, like Bill Messner-Loebs’s , and the subject of this essay.

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