Mar 062013
 

swlogoSilverwolf Comics was a comic book publishing company that got started at the proverbial right time and place. Founded by Kris Silver in the mid 1980′s and based in Sacramento California, Silverwolf was published out of a comic book shop (Alexander’s Comics) and rode the B&W collecting boom of the 1980′s. A few of the artists who got their start with Silverwolf include Brandon McKinney, Ron Lim, and Tim Vigil.

230px-TimVigil11.14.08ByLuigiNovi

Mr. Tim Vigil, via wikipedia

Grips was a very violent, sometimes gory comic book about a vigilante that sold in droves. Comic books were just starting to push the envelope, getting just a bit more graphic and violent than they had been. About this same time Marvel was looking to a new, violent breed of ‘heroes’  like the The Punisher and Wolverine to boost sales, and Grips was a bit like both of those characters. If you were not there and did not see it yourself, I imagine it is hard to imagine but for a few years almost anything in B&W and/or a #1 issue would just sell, period. All this led to a huge bust by the end of the decade for B&W books, and then another crash in the comics market as a whole in 1993.

First issues were more collectable? Start more titles — or better yet, cancel a title that has been running since the ’60s then restart it the next month at #1. People were buying more than one copy? Release six “variant” covers of every issue. Kill Superman. Cripple Batman. Give Spider-Man an evil clone. Holograms. Foil embossing. Die-cut covers. Every dirty trick in the book was tried to make consumers buy comics they didn’t love and didn’t need (except improving quality.) And it worked.
For a while.”

- badmouth.net on the comics market crash

GripsSW2

Alas, it was not the bust that took out Silverwolf, they did not make it that far. Despite popular titles like Grips (Tim Vigil), The Eradicators (Ron Lim), The Fat Ninja, and others it seems like the bills just were not being paid (on one side or the other depending on who you listen to). Most of the titles only made it 2-4 issues. According to my own count (which could be wrong), there were 34 issues published across 15 titles, not including bulletins, premier editions, trivia books, and such. Just 34 Issues. Silverwolf folded in 1987, but returned in 1989 as Greater Mercury Comics with the same characters.

fatninja01_swGreater Mercury Comics (GMC) lasted about twice as long, and at one time published two Grips titles; Grips and Grips Adventures. Thankfully, most of the art for Silverwolf books that were never published (Like Grips #5, Edge #3, Nightmaster #2) was published by GMC in serial form under the title GMC Action (which started at issue #5, continuing the numbering from the original SW Grips run). 

Several other products were offered for sale through the comics companies, including novellas and role-playing games. Some of these made it market, others never did.

erad01_swIf you are looking for more info on Silverwolf, Moby strongly suggests you visit Kieth Paquette’s silverwolfcomics.com - “the only comprehensive site devoted to the wonderful comics produced by Silverwolf and GMC from the mid-eighties to early-nineties.” His site has cover scans, a checklist or two of titles published (and not), and even a Silverwolf Comics forum. If you are curious about why SW became GMC, the site has posted an editorial written by Kris himself that pretty much explains it all.  Big thanks to Kieth for keeping the site alive and for his recent updates, it is an invaluable site for SW and GMC fans.

Kris Silver

Kris Silver

I plan to add Silverwolf related posts in the future, looking at the artists who worked for Kris as well as the characters they drew.  If you worked for Silverwolf or GMC and would like to contribute your story or some art, please feel free to contact me, please. Original art from SW and GMC is nearly impossible to find, so I have turned to commissioning art directly from the artists that worked there themselves when I can. 

portAnd of course I am also looking to buy any original art from SW or GMC. If you have any hard to find portfolios or original art from SW or GMC please feel free to shoot me an email at mobyshsx@gmail.com and we’ll see if we can work something out. If nothing else a nice scan or photocopy to share with the site would be appreciated. Also looking for the bulletins and the index, too.

Look for more Silverwolf posts soon. First up: A brand new piece of art by Gary Shipman, the original artist and co-creator of Edge! Coming soon.

  5 Responses to “Silverwolf Comics”

  1. I don’t have time to actually count every published issue that Silver put out but off the top of my head most of Silverwolf’s books never saw a third issue (the exceptions being Grips, Eradicators, Dungeoneers and Fat Ninja…oh and SW Bulletin but I don’t know if that one counts).

    I will try to do a list here from memory:

    Silverwolf

    Legion X-1 #s 1 & 2
    Grips #s 1 (also a “Premier Printing” ashcan), 2, 3 and 4 (#5 was printed…a quantity of only a handful but never distributed. It was later ‘officially’ printed and published by GMC as “Greater Mercury Action #5. #6 was finished by Vigikl and later published by GMC, serialized in GMC Action #s 6 – 8))
    Fat Ninja #s 1 (also a “Premier Printing” ashcan), 2, 3, 4 and 5
    Dungeoneers #s 1 (also a “Premier Printing” ashcan), 2, 3, and 4
    Eradicators #s 1 (Also a “Premier Printing” ashcan and a second printing. The only SW comic to get a reprint), 2, 3 and 4
    Guillotine #1
    Thieves #s 1 and 2
    Port #s 1 and 2
    Stech #1
    Dragon Quest #s 1 and 2
    SW Art Series (more of an interview/promotion mag in comic form) #s 1 and 2
    SW Trivia Comic Book #s 1, 2 and 3
    SW Bulletin #s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…and 6? I know that at least ten issues were advertised but I cannot confirm any beyond the 6th issue being distributed.
    SW Bulletin Special #1 (collects the 4 – 6 page comic stories from the other Bulletins. Re: Lance, fat Ninja, Grips (by Ron Lim) etc.

    SW Comics Talent Search #1 (A sort of instructional mag for submitting work to SW)
    Victim #s 1 and 2
    Dark Assassin #1
    Nightmaster #1 (#2 was finished by Vigil and later published by GMC, serialized in GMC Action #s 6 – 8)
    Edge #s 1 and 2 (#3 was finished by Shipman and later serialized within GMC Action #s…7 – 9?)

    Grips Portfolios (By Tim Vigil) #s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 (though #6 was just reprinting panels and covers from the comic book).
    Eradicators Portfolio (by Ron Lim) #1 -Extremely rare if any still exist at all. I have never seen one or heard of anyone owning one.
    Dragon Quest Portfolio (by Tim Vigil) #1 – Rare but some confusion exists as to the legitimacy of these. Tim did draw them but the only copies that exist come in two different colored sets of plates (one blue and one beige). No one is sure (except maybe Kris himself) whether either or both of these were official SW products though it seems highly probable that at least one of them is.
    Nightmaster portfolio #1 – As with the DragonQuest portfolio above. Tim did the artwork, which was used as ad/promo pieces in the backs of SW comics but we cannot be sure whether the copies are bootlegs or officially published.

    I own almost everything SW published except for Grips portfolio #s 1 and 3, the SW Bulletins (all except for the “Special”), The Dragonquest and Nightmaster portfolios and the Holocastic Dungeons Special printing (featuring an alternate cover by Ron Lim).

    I met Tim Vigil the first time back in ’89 and he told me how he had grabbed a handful of Grips #5 from the printers (who had stopped the printing after only a few copies because Silver had not paid them) and gave them away to friends. One of those friends advertised a copy of said book asking for $5,000 in Comic Buyers Guide IIRC. No idea if it ever sold or if any still exist.

    If I am forgetting anything then chalk that up to old age.

    • And of course I forgot Fantastic Fables #1 and 2 (#2 of course never being really distributed. Hundreds of copies were obtained by J. Koch (is that right? His store is called “KochCom” on ebay).

      • “Fantastic Fables #2 was never actually distributed, either. Publisher Kris Silver never paid the printers and so they halted printing. Only a very few copies made it into the comic market.”

        It appears Koch was the printing company, and has been selling copies for a while now on eBay. I have no clue how many they have, but if you’re willing to pay a bit more than you might expect for a Silverwolf back issue you should be able to get a mint copy of Fantastic Fables #2 (Heart of Darkness). Or twenty of them, for that matter.

        http://www.mycomicshop.com/search?TID=559061
        http://www.mycomicshop.com/search?TID=574981

        • I own I think four copies of Fantastic Fables #2, at least one of which is CGC slabbed ’9.8′. You can get near mint copies for as little as $5 if you are a little patient because the copies that remain for more than that are simply not selling. Kochcom seems to be one of those stubborn ebay sellers who does not accept that comic values drop sometimes so you just have to search until you find someone who wants to actually SELL them book.

  2. What a flashback. I remember collecting the Grips series when I was a teenager. They are still at my parents house individually bagged in mylar in amongst thousands of other comics I haven’t visited for over two decades. I miss all those unprofessional B&W comics. If they are worth anything near what was mentioned I feel I will be surprise visiting my folks fairly soon.

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