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Epic Illustrated

Entry updated 25 March 2024. Tagged: Comics, Publication.

US letter-size saddle-stapled colour Comics-format magazine printed on slick paper. Publisher: Marvel Comics. Editor: Archie Goodwin. 34 issues, Spring 1980 to February 1986. Publication schedule was quarterly until #4 and bimonthly thereafter.

This, at the time Marvel's most adult-oriented comics publication ever, was admittedly a direct imitation of Heavy Metal. Its planned title Odyssey was changed when it was learned that that several existing magazines carried that name. This was also Marvel's first venture into publishing creator-owned properties, which it had previously resisted strongly. Though not a resounding financial success, Epic Illustrated was influential enough to lead to Marvel's creator-owned Epic comics imprint, launched in 1982 and publishing a number of titles into the mid-1990s. The magazine's array of in-house and outside talent often equalled that of Heavy Metal. Artists included Neal Adams, Vaughn Bodē, John Byrne, Richard Corben, Frank Frazetta, Jim Starlin, Boris Vallejo, Barry Windsor-Smith, Bernie Wrightson and many more. Writers included Chris Claremont, Mary Jo Duffy, Stan Lee and numerous others. Sf authors whose stories were adapted included Harlan Ellison and Michael Moorcock. While arguably the best comics-format magazine Marvel has ever issued, Epic Illustrated was aimed primarily at an adult audience: by offering much innovative material unfamiliar to the typical Marvel reader of that era, it arguably sowed the seeds of its own failure. Much Sword and Sorcery was featured throughout the run, and the final issue carried an effective tribute to Robert E Howard. Epic Illustrated carried the subtitle "The Marvel Magazine of Adult Fantasy" from #6 to #8, and then "The Marvel Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction" from #9 onward. Its failure to achieve lasting success was a considerable loss to mature graphic storytelling. [GSt/DRL]

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