Wednesday, May 18, 2005

GRIMJACK #3 First Comics, 1984


Grimjack was a comic book and character that really appealed to my adolescent need for hardboiled dialogue, dark storylines, and brutal anti-heroes. Published by First Comics, Grimjack was created by writer John Ostrander and artist Tim Truman, two GIANTS of the comic book world if you ask me. It ran from 1984 to 1991, and is now being published again by IDW, which can only be a good thing.

Grimjack is the street name of John Gaunt, a tough private investigator who works in Cynosure, a huge interdimensional city made up of a patchwork of different realities, each with their own physical laws. Gaunt was always getting mixed up in sordid and violent schemes that were often best resolved with the slash of a broadsword. I liked Grimjack because he was hardcore; unfettered by the Comics Code Authority that other so-called bad-asses like The Punisher and Wolverine labored under, Grimjack could really, if I may use the vernacular, fuck shit up. The violence in Grimjack is graphic and brutal, and John Gaunt always had a nasty trick or a grenade or two up his sleeve for the exotic enemies who always underestimated him. Plus, Grimjack is ugly; he's the Lemmy of comic books. You gotta love him.

This is one of the earlier issues of Grimjack, and Truman's art is a little crude at this stage of his career, but then Cynosure and Grimjack aren't supposed to be particularly attractive. In this issue our hero teams up with Blacjac Mac, who is a blacksploitation character cast in the Isaac Hayes mold and staunch ally. Here, the two meet:


"I speak a little jive myself."

The two team up and the mayhem begins. Multiple shootings, a hand gets chopped off, multiple deaths by grenade, stabbings, beatings, people get crushed by heavy machinery, and people generally not treating each other with respect. This is an average issue of Grimjack - just what a growing boy needed. Wolverine just wasn't hard enough for me when I was a kid. My heroes growing up were Snake Plissken from Escape from New York and Mad Max, not these sissies who pull their punches and shoot to wound. Besides, I didn't have all the violent video games that you punks have these days, I had to get my gratuitous violence the old-fashioned way: through comic books and on VHS.

And look: I turned out okay! Sort of...

22 comments:

jdonelson.nyc said...

I believe you about Grimjack being a bad-ass, but the thing that always stopped me from getting into that book was his hat. It's hard to accept a guy as a hyper-violent badass when he jauntily pins feathers on his purple beret.

David Campbell said...

It was the eighties, that was cool! No, actually, I see your point. I guess I feel that Grimjack is even more bad-ass because he overcomes the coolness defecit that such a hat brings.

Anonymous said...

The whole violet pimpernal badass thing just doesn't work, 80's or not. Sure wolverine pulls his punches with the X-Men, but in the Weapon X stories the guy is an animal (almost literally). The comic books Hardboiled by Frank Miller sport the gritiest and some of the most amazing art you can find on the shelves. Unit 4 makes Grimjack look like a fairy.

Greg said...

That anonymous - always making snarky comments about glorious stuff! I actually like Truman's art in this more than the current GrimJack series, because you're right - it's supposed to look rough. His stuff today is still pretty, but a little too polished. What a great comic this was (and is).

David Campbell said...

I'd agree with anonymous about Weapon X, etc, but this comic was from 1984, long before the stuff you cite by comparison. Back then, Wolverine wasn't the killing machine he is today - a stern look was about as hardcore as he got.

Brad Curran said...

That, and Proteus made him cry like a little girl. That kinda hurts his image a bit, even if I thought that was a great touch by Claremont.

Greg said...

By the way, Mr. C, did you see that it looks like DC is giving Donna Troy armor? They obviously don't read your blog ...

Anonymous said...

Favorite storylines from Grimjack

The Trade Wars, which featured lots of badass action and neatly wove several threads from previous issues together

The "Twisted Metal" storyline featuring Kalibos, the evil, magically powered android who disguised himself as human (with skin flayed from humans)

The time the crew of Dynamo Joe from the First comic of the same name ended up lost in Cynosure in their giant humanoid robot fighting machine.

The storyline that introduced Wild-West style villianous badass Major Lash and his band of mercs called the Law Killers, and Gaunt's girl Spook (since she was an actual ghost, the nic is apropriate).

David Campbell said...

Major Lash, he was cool! Kind of the Lee Van Cleef to Grimjack's Clint Eastwood. How about the four-part Demon Wars storyline, with the Steve Pugh artwork? Was that not awesome?

Latigo Flint said...

There should be comics about the old west.

(Oh and also I wouldn't mind a Tin-tin spin-off featuring Captain Haddock.)

David Campbell said...

Latigo, mi amigo!

Latigo Flint has the best blog ever; y'all should check it out, it's like pannin' for gold in the High Sierra - comedy gold, that is.

Zoot said...

One of the things about these early Grimjack comics that I miss in the new series is the crappy paper they were printed on. Truman's art benefited from the muddy colors and the blacks bleeding all over the page. The art in the new book is just so bright, clean and sharp. Completely inappropriate.

Anonymous said...

I didn't get into Grimjack until the Flint Henry era, so I'm loving the new collections of the early stuff.

Anonymous said...

You know, I really like Grimjack, but this is a little much.

- The Ferrett

tomthedog said...

My favorite comic book ever. I'm wearing my Munden's Bar baseball cap right now.

The Demon Wars was indeed a high point of the series, maybe THE high point. As was the Demon Knight graphic novel that came out at the same time. (Are Steve Pugh and Flint Henry still drawing comics? I haven't seen their names on anything for quite a while, it seems.)

And how about that one issue, after Major Lash kills Grimjack, where Gordon hunts Lash down, and ends with him telling Bob, "I avenged Mr. Gaunt"? Awesome. I'm sobbing my eyes out right now just thinking about it.

Jim said...

I was generously given a huge stack of the Flint Henry era Grimjacks during my days on the old Prodigy bulletin boards. I've been holding off on the trades and new series until I scrounge up the extra cash. The Demon Wars was badass, though. Steve Pugh did most of the Preacher tie-in Saint of Killers miniseries in the late 90s, and it was badass Western ass-kicking.

And thanks a lot for the link, Ferrett. Now I need to buy one of those Demon Stars!

Dan Coyle said...

I'd date a woman wearing those.

Dellta Airlines said...

As it happens, we speak a little jive ourselves.

steve pugh said...

grimjack!
-it was my first job in comics, and still my girlfriend's favorite thing i ever drew- i kept almost every page of the art work!
john ostrander and his lovely wife kim yale were just amazing to work with.
steve- still drawing!
(currently shark-man for thrillhousecomics.com)

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