Eclipse Comics was an American comic book publisher, one of several independent publishers during the 1980s and early 1990s. In 1978, it published the first graphic novel intended for the newly created comic book specialty store market. It was one of the first to offer royalties and creator ownership of rights, and the first comics company to publish trading cards.
Intellectual property acquired by Todd McFarlane 1996
|Founder||Jan Mullaney, Dean Mullaney|
|Headquarters location||Staten Island, New York, then Columbia, Missouri, then Guerneville, California, then Forestville, California|
|Key people||Catherine Yronwode|
|Publication types||Comics, trading cards|
|Imprints||Independent Comics Group|
The company was founded as Eclipse Enterprises by brothers Jan and Dean Mullaney in 1977. Eclipse published one of the first original graphic novels, and the first to be sold through the new "direct market" of comic-book stores, Sabre: Slow Fade of an Endangered Species by Don McGregor and Paul Gulacy. Published in August 1978, it led to a 14-issue spin-off series for Eclipse.
McGregor went on to write two additional early graphic novels for Eclipse, each set in contemporary New York City and starring interracial-buddy private eyes Ted Denning and Bob Rainier: Detectives, Inc.: A Remembrance of Threatening Green (1980), with artist Marshall Rogers, and Detectives, Inc.: A Terror Of Dying Dreams (1985), with artist Gene Colan, who would become a frequent collaborator.
Creators whose early work appears in Eclipse publications include Chuck Austen, Donna Barr, Dan Brereton, Chuck Dixon, James Hudnall, Scott McCloud, Peter Milligan, Tim Truman, and Chris Ware. Veterans published by Eclipse include Steve Englehart, Don McGregor, Gene Colan, and Mark Evanier. The company published Alan Moore's series Miracleman (stories originally published in the U.K.).
During the early 1980s, Eclipse moved several times: from 81 Delaware Street, Staten Island, New York; to 295 Austin Street, Columbia, Missouri; and then to the small towns of Guerneville and later Forestville in Sonoma County, California.
Beginning in Missouri, Eclipse expanded operations under editor Cat Yronwode (who was married to Eclipse co-founder Dean Mullaney from 1987 to 1993). With Yronwode as editor-in-chief during a period of expanding attention to the art form, Eclipse published many innovative works and championed creators' rights in a field which at the time barely respected them.
During Yronwode's tenure, Eclipse published superhero titles including Miracleman by Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman, The Rocketeer by Dave Stevens, and Zot! by Scott McCloud. and also brought out graphic novels featuring opera adaptations, such as The Magic Flute by P. Craig Russell and children's literature such as an adaptation of The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien.
In 1985, Yronwode and cartoonist Trina Robbins co-wrote the Eclipse book Women and the Comics, on the history of female comic strip and comic book creators. As the first book on this subject, its publication was covered in the mainstream press in addition to the fan press.
During the 1980s, Eclipse brought out a new line of non-fiction, non-sports trading cards, edited by Yronwode. Controversial political subjects such as the Iran-Contra scandal, the Savings and Loan crisis, the AIDS epidemic, and the Kennedy Assassination, as well as true crime accounts of serial killers, mass murderers, the Mafia, and organized crime were covered in these card sets.
In 1988 Eclipse created a new division, Eclipse International, as it partnered with the British independent publisher Acme Press to distribute Acme's comics in the American market. (Eclipse had previously partnered with British publisher Dez Skinn when it had published Miracleman.) Highlights from the Acme/Eclipse era included Power Comics, a four-issue superhero title by writers Don Avenall and Norman Worker, with art by Dave Gibbons and Brian Bolland. The title was originally published in Nigeria in 1975, and the title's character's names was changed from "Powerman" to "Powerbolt" to avoid confusion with the character Luke Cage (also called "Power Man"), published by Marvel Comics. Another notable title from the Acme/Eclipse era was Aces, a five-issue black-and-white anthology of serialized Jazz Age genre stories which were originally published in Europe. Eclipse also distributed Acme's two-issue anthology Point Blank, which promoted itself as "The Best of European Strip Art".
In 1989 Acme acquired the comics license for James Bond. Acme and Eclipse co-published the official graphic novel adaptation of Licence to Kill, with art by Mike Grell, and then published Grell's three-issue series James Bond: Permission to Die — the first James Bond comic book storyline not adapted from a previous work — from 1989 to 1991. Eclipse also distributed Acme's three-issue licensed limited series Steed and Mrs. Peel in 1990–1992, by such notable creators as Grant Morrison and Ian Gibson.
In 1990 Acme teamed with Eclipse to release Eddie Campbell's The Complete Alec, which collected three previous "Alec" publications — Alec (1984), Love and Beerglasses (1985), and Doggie in the Window (1986) — together with some unpublished material. The collection won the 1991 UK Comic Art Award for Best Graphic Novel Collection.
Eclipse's arrangement with Acme lasted until 1991.
In 1988, in partnership with Viz Communications and Studio Proteus, Eclipse published some of the earliest English-translated Japanese manga, such as Area 88, Mai, the Psychic Girl, and The Legend of Kamui. With the success of these titles, the manga line was expanded.
After-effects of the 1986 flood, Mullaney and Yronwode's 1993 divorce, and the mid-1990s evolution of the direct market distribution system caused the company to cease operations in 1994. and file for bankruptcy in 1995. The company's intellectual property rights were later acquired by Todd McFarlane for a total of $25,000. Mullaney also attributed the company's demise to a problematic contract with the book publisher HarperCollins. Eclipse's last publication was its Spring 1993 catalog, which was a complete bibliography of its publications.
- Mullaney, Jan; Mullaney, Dean (August 1978). "A Word from the Publisher". Sabre: Slow Fade of an Endangered Species. Eclipse Enterprises. p. 1 (unnumbered).
- McGregor, Don (August 1978). "Afterword". Sabre: Slow Fade of an Endangered Species. Eclipse Enterprises. pp. Afterword 2–3 (unnumbered).
- Gough, Bob (2001). "Interview with Don McGregor". MileHighComics.com. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved September 13, 2011.
- Yronwode, Catherine. "The Eclipse Comics Index". LuckyMojo.com. Archived from the original on September 17, 2002. Retrieved September 13, 2011.
- Rockwell, John (April 5, 1990). "Conan in Comics? Yes. Hulk? Sure. But Fafner? Wotan?". The New York Times.
- "Women in the Comics: Assertive and Independent Women Make a Comeback" Miami Herald (newspaper), Dec. 1, 1988.
- "Comic Books Are For Adults Too" by William Singleton, Scripps Howard News Service, Chronicle-Telegram (newspaper), Jan. 7, 1988.
- "Funny How Things Change" Daily Herald (newspaper), Dec. 28, 1988.
- Crossen, Judith. "Trading Card Fame for S&L Scoundrels", Reuters via Philadelphia Daily News, September 9, 1991
- Trausch, Susan. "A Full Deck of Scandals at a Glance", Boston Globe, September 18, 1991
- "Insider Trading with Keating, Milken", Los Angeles Daily News, October 20, 1991
- Jones, Kathryn. "Price tag on JFK intrigue Assassination aficionados spawn cottage industry",The Dallas Morning News, November 22, 1991
- "Kennedy Assassination is an Industry with Growing Market", Associated Press via The Chronicle-Telegram (Elyria, Ohio), November 28, 1991
- "Ban Urged on Sale of Crime Cards", The Record (Bergen County, New Jersey), April 30, 1992
- "'True Crime' Cards Thriving Despite Outrage", The New York Times, June 16, 1992
- "Killer Cards Hit Capital Stores Amid Criticism", Sacramento Bee, June 19, 1992
- "Killer Cards: Two groups trying to deal fatal blow to criminal cards", The Oregonian, August 18, 1992
- "AIDS cards to include condoms", Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (newspaper), September 23, 1992)
- "AIDS Awareness is in the cards", Dallas Morning News, July 7, 1993
- "AIDS Activism turns to cards", Dayton Daily News, July 13, 1993
- "Ban Sought on Cards depicting AIDS victim", Boston Globe, January 15, 1994
- Yronwode, Catherine; Nagasiva, Nagasiva (2002). "The Lesser Book of the Vishanti: A Companion to the Dr. Strange Comic Books". LuckyMojo.com. Archived from the original on September 13, 2012. Retrieved September 28, 2010.
- Best, Daniel (September 3, 2011). "20th Century Danny Boy: Miracleman: Neil Gaiman's Writer's Agreement". Ohdannyboy.blogspot.com.au. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
- Curson, Natasha. "Acme – take two Earthquake Pills and exit over cliff...," Natasha Curson blog (August 18, 2010).
- Conroy, Mike (2004). 500 Great Comicbook Action Heroes. London: Chrysalis Books Group. ISBN 978-1-84411-004-9, p. 293.
- "Bond Violence Gets Artistic 'Licence'". The Palm Beach Post. July 28, 1989.
- Yang, Sam. "A Loaf of Bread, A Jug of Wine and Eddie Campbell," The Comics Journal #145 (Oct. 1991), p. 59.
- "British Awards Announced," The Comics Journal #142 (June 1991), p. 17.
- "Newswatch: Business News: Eclipse Copes with Divorce and Back Debt". The Comics Journal (165): 12. January 1994.
- "Comics Publishers Suffer Tough Summer: Body Count Rises in Market Shakedown". The Comics Journal (172): 13–18. November 1994.
- "Newswatch: Eclipse Files for Bankruptcy". The Comics Journal (174): 25. February 1995.
- "McFarlane Buys Eclipse Assets at Auction". The Comics Journal (185): 14–15. March 1996.
- MacDonald, Heidi (March 30, 2007). "Mullaney on Eclipse". "The Beat" (column), Publishers Weekly. Archived from the original on May 7, 2007.
- Eclipse (publisher) at the Grand Comics Database
- Eclipse Comics at the Comic Book DB (archived from the original)
- "Eclipse Books". ISBNdb.com. Archived from the original on October 20, 2012. Retrieved September 13, 2011.
- Rubin, Paul (August 14, 1991). "Keating Gets Carded: Your Money Might Be Safer in These than in an S&L". Phoenix New Times. Archived from the original on September 14, 2011. Retrieved September 13, 2011.