Before I get to the comic, I just want to take a moment to talk about my comic shop. Librarie Astro is a used bookstore on St. Catherine street in downtown Montreal, but they also had a good stash of comics and a great staff for handling pull lists. They’ve been my comic shop since 1996, and I learned not too long ago that they will be closing up in the summer due to issues renegotiating their lease with the new building owner.

This news hit me pretty hard. Over two decades of going there, it’s been an island of stability in my life. Whatever schooling or job, I’ve always had comics waiting for me there on Wednesdays. I’m really gonna miss that place, and Quick Comics rewind owes Astro’s many back-issue sales it’s existence.

Grimjack #10, published by First Comics in 1985, and written by John Ostrander with art by Timothy Truman. Ostrander is probably best known for his work on DC’s “Suicide Squad”, while Truman would work as an artist and writer on books like Johna Hex, Turok and Conan, along with a bunch of Star Wars titles.

The plot is pretty straightforward. Grimjack is a pan-dimensional bounty hunter, a gritty gunslinger who’s short on words in a wild-west world. He’s there to catch a weapons dealer who has been smuggling future hardware, Uzis and assault rifles, into the west. He finds her, a femme-fatale with a bad attitude named Spook. Running afoul of a crooked sheriff and an evil businessman, They get captured together. They escape, hijacking a train with everyone hot on their tail.

The plotting is not high art. The script is just as… Grimjack.

Truman is just as rough on art duties. In the opening pages, Grimjack is shown holding a rifle, then it disappears so he can quickly draw a pistol to show how badass he is. I guess he dropped the rifle he was holding so he could surprise the bad guys with a smaller gun? I dunno. The anatomy is all over the place as well. But the grit? The grit per square inch is off the charts. We’re talking Lenil Yu levels of face lines here. It’s sandpaper.

This book is bad, but it’s 1985, and it’s a step towards the great books of 1986. It’s dark, it’s adult, and in that way, it is showing that comics can be more. But it’s also a small stem, appealing to the 15-year-old in place of the 10-year-old who wants X-Men and Teen Titans. A few years from now, DC will toss Jonah Hex to Truman, and it’ll be this great space cowboy book, and Grimjack comes close here, but this issue just isn’t made for anyone but teens in the 80’s. I had a hard time getting through this one issue, so it shocked me to find out that Grimjack lasted many years and had over eighty issues, plus a web-comic revival in the 2000s.

 

Scott is a writer and founder at 9to5. He’s a host on The 9to5 Entertainment System and does a lot of the graphic design around these parts.

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