Tuesday, May 13, 2008

William Messener-Loebs

Journey is one of the best comic books every published. This comic was published years ago, it tells the story of a different Wolverine, Wolverine MacAllister, a frontiersman during the 1800s in the Middle American Wilderness. Mr. Loebs both wrote and drew the comic.

Lately Bill and his wife Nadine (it's hard to talk about Bill without Nadine, the two come as a unit) have fallen on hard times. Bill lost his right arm while an infant. After producing comics for Marvel and DC Bill found his talents no longer sought after. Changes in management meant changes on the talent. Bill found himself without work. Through some bad times Bill and Nadine ended up living in a Salvation Army shelter. Recently there have been some efforts made to help them out and from what I've read things have improved some.

But where are the new Bill Loebs stories? Where is new issues of Journey? Why have the past issues of Journey not been collected into trades? I've read recently that Fantagraphics was thinking of publishing a phone book edition of the series and more recently I've read that IDW is supposed to be doing a collection of the first twelve issues this summer. I'm not sure which is true, but I hope that there is a collection coming out from someone of this landmark comic series.

Bill or Nadine won't remember me, but some of my past comic book history is intertwined with them. My first published work was in the back of an issue of Journey. It was titled "The Duel" and was drawn by Sam Kieth. I would call and talk with Nadine about the story and she would offer advice before the story was done.

Years later when Sam Kieth was asked to contribute to the newly created Image Comics he came up with his character The Maxx and asked Bill Loebs to script it for him. At that time Bill said no. Sam came to me (and he might have asked a few others inbetween Bill and me) and asked if I wanted to help him with the scripts. It didn't take me long to say yes. At the time I think a lot of writers were seeing Image as an artist's company, most of the original founders were using friends and people that no one knew to write the series they were creating. I wasn't worried. This was the big time for me. I was doing a lot of short stories for a lot of small publishers, but nothing that was bringing in any real money.

Well, anyone that has read The Maxx knows my name was nowhere to be found on it. Sam was able to convince Bill to give it a go and decided to use Bill as the writer. I'm sure Bill has no idea that I was ever involved with the series, however briefly.

The first San Diego Con I ever went to I met Bill Loebs. It was the year that Sam Kieth, Wendi Lee and her boyfriend (I can't remember his name but he drew a few things for Eclipse) and I shared a room at the convention. Bill has always been a great guy.

Someone get JOURNEY in print. Let's collect those old issues and even better yet let's get some new issues of a JOURNEY comic out there.

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