HellCar Number Two Became HellCar One?!
Or How to Make a Comic Outlive It’s Publisher
A surprising amount of drama centered around the release of this issue of HellCar Comix. HellCar was really beginning to pick up steam, but little did we know at that time that changes were a brewing at Alternating Crimes. Some were very good changes, some decisions were being made out of necessity, and fortunately all that occurred happened after creating the stories for the issue, so the drama didn’t affect any of the great quality.
The blurb that describes the issue always sang true:
“BIGGER, CHEAPER, BETTER! On the cover and inside, Daniel Gallant interprets Hubie the Dead Cow. Paul Friedrich does a complete 17 page feature “Onion Head Monster Has Escaped” and Gallant concludes with Danny & Chrissy burning up the inside. Also includes Aleksandar Zograf, Smell of Steve, Inc. and Dale Flattum.”
A really fun issue had been created that I always felt it was the crowning issue of the series. For me at least, this was the best work I had done to date. Paul and I dominated the issue, though if you count that Hubie the Dead Cow story and cover was an adaption of Paul’s characters drawn by me, then you’d really have to say Paul Friedrich dominated the issue. Something I am happy to concede since I also felt he was at a real creative ascension as well.
Fast Changes & Hell Cars
As said before, things really changed as we were putting this issue to bed. To Paul’s credit, he was determined to make HellCar profitable, heaven forbid. At the time my design and illustration studio was really booming so working as a comic book publisher was more of a labor of love for me. Paul on the other hand, though his popularity was quickly rising, was a working artist not many years out of art school. Through some independent dealing on his part, and unknown to me, Paul secures an arrangement where HellCar will be distributed through the Music Monitor Network with ads for bands and an accompanying CD of current bands they wanted to promote. Along with covering printing costs the distribution went from the 3000 we had intended to print and distribute through Diamond Distribution to 8000 through their music network of stores throughout the east coast.
Coincidentally, and adding to the unfolding drama, we had already printed the initial run of the comic, but the printer messed up the cover by printing it as magenta and black instead of the red PMS color and black I had specified. The 2 color cover was not intended as a cost saving measure as much as wanting to experiment with printing methods. After negotiations with the printer, it all turned out to our advantage to discard the first run (OK I kept some) and redo the production of the issue.
This is where the confusion with the numbering of the issue came in. Though this was officially issue 2 of HellCar, the Music Monitor Network wanted to use the new issue for the rollout instead of going back and reprinting issue 1. It was OK with us as this was no longer being distributed through typical comic book channels, so few would notice. And since it would be very odd to explain why HellCar 2 is being used for an inaugural promotion, we accommodated and changed the number.
Though I was excited about these new developments, I admit the change in dynamic was very jarring from what I had intended for my fledgling publishing company. On top of having just done my favorite work, the design and illustration studio I had begun in 1993 was also taking off and changing focus. In recent years I had begun evolving from a general design, illustration and production studio to specializing in Branding, digital delivery and adding a marketing component. As a result, I was at a crossroads. Adding to my dilemma, it had required a lot of effort to be publisher, create comics, design the issues and now production for ads and CD packaging. The potential of commitment was weighing heavily on me.
Though I agonized over the decision for a while, in the end I regrettably left Paul holding the bag by choosing my professional business over HellCar’s future. As part of the transition, we completed the next issue under the Alternating Crimes Publishing banner and I did 2 stories and the production, but the rest fell on Paul. Now christened the sole editor and publisher, he carried that honor through issue 30.
In the end this issue got in front of far more people and as far as I can tell was a bigger success for the effort. I was very proud of that, but the decision also put me on hiatus as a publishing company since HellCar and its stable of artists had moved on with Paul.
Like I said, there was drama. Now let’s forget all that and just enjoy the issue the made me proudest.
Featuring for the first time “Onion Head Monster Has Escaped” complete and full blazing color! Oh and you can view samples and get a little more info too. https://alternatingcrimes.com/hellcar-comix-2/