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solid writing
skilled art
historical bonus 3
total score 7
New Legends
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Only Printing / January, 1973 / 36 pages / Boston Comicworks
New Legends was created by four college students in Boston, all of whom earned art degrees at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. New Legends is the first significant underground comic from Boston and predates Kris Jackson's UMass comic books by a couple years. Though not named as editor, it is apparent that Robert Gould led the team who produced content for the comic book, as the inside back cover includes blurb that credits Gould for keeping the other artists "chained to our drawing boards, crankin' out the next ish!" (The "next ish" was never produced.)

New Legends is comprised of four stories of equal length, leading off with Gould's sci/fi-fantasy adventure, "Transformer," in which three astronauts are on a long-term mission requiring years of space travel. The astronauts are hooked up to "metabolism cords" that fill all their nutritional needs (not sure how they piss or shit through those chest cords, though). One day, two of the astronauts suddenly die, leaving the third to quickly ascertain if his fate will follow his mates. He recognizes that it will and sends a message to mission control "that this mission must be terminated." He then cuts off his own life support system and ejects from the ship, but somehow becomes "transformed into an entity far more than man." There's some implication of eternal life in the final panel, but I can't wrap my head around the logisitics behind that.

The second story is "Keeno Komix" by Thomas Canty, a somewhat surreal story about a businessman on the streets who doesn't realize he's in a comic strip controlled by exterior forces. He goes through a series of strange experiences, including invisibility, before he is struck down by a truck, leaving the custodians of the comic strip to take care of his corpse. It's actually a fairly clever concept that suffers a bit from weak execution, but at least it made me smile.

Eric Kimball then contributes "Little Games," which is about a sadistic executioner with superhuman powers named Kadaver. Kadaver once worked in death camps during a "series of wars," but when the wars ended his passion for mass murder had not, so he set up his own personal torture fantasyland to continue his killings. The plot centers on one of Kadaver's prisoners, named Anderson, who is not allowed to die even when he wants to. Considering both the writing and the artwork, "Little Games" may be the best of the four stories.

The final strip is "Continental Crisis Comics" by Brian Cody. Like "Keeno Komix," Cody's tale involves a protagonist who doesn't realize he's in a comic strip controlled by exterior forces. But at least this character does recognize he's in a comic strip! From the start, he believes he is the star of the comic, but he soon learns he plays only a supporting role in the grand scheme of the strip. "Continental Crisis Comics" features Cody's highly stylized cartooning, which works well for the bizarre storyline.

New Legends is a sneaky-good underground. The cover art leads one to believe the book contains a lot of fanzine-ish science fiction comics, when in reality the sci/fi stuff takes up only a quarter of the book. And while Gould's work is decent, I'd say the stronger work resides in the other three stories. But all four of its contributors deliver smart comic stories with varying degrees of success.

The future careers of the four men who produced New Legends earns the book an extra point for historical importance. Indeed, it is rare for a one-shot underground to result in professional art careers for multiple creators, but that is the case here. After earning their degrees and producing New Legends, Gould and Kimball formed Two Man Horse, a partnership that created award-winning original comic stories based on Michael Moorcock's popular Elric of Melnibone book series, which were first published in Star*Reach comics. Gould and Kimball later formed the New Romantic Brotherhood with Barry Windsor-Smith and Jeffrey Jones, which produced many works inspired by their love of Pre-Raphaelite art and philosophy.

In 1999 Gould founded Imaginosis, a very successful, California-based media arts company that provides management and consulting services to visual artists and major entertainment companies in film, television, publishing, licensing and live theater.

Eric Kimball went on to specialize in webcomics and is the writer of Blade Bunny, Exiern, and Legacy. Blade Bunny is a manga comic about a sassy but dangerous ninja, illustrated by Erwin Prasetya. Exiern is about a barbarian warrior who is accidentally changed into a woman by a wizard's spell. He/she rescues a princess and they become friends while battling medieval knights and dragons. Kimball's webcomics have also been compiled into a trade paperbacks.

Like Gould and Kimball, Thomas Canty also had a passion for Pre-Raphaelite art and went on to pioneer a "New Romantic" style of painting influenced by his idols. His work has been exhibited at the Society of Illustrators gallery in New York, as well as in museums and galleries across the United States. Canty is a member of The Endicott Studio, a non-profit creative organization dedicated to works inspired by myth, folklore and fairy tales. It's rather amazing to compare Canty's exquisite paintings to the comic work he contributed to New Legends.

Brian Cody, the fourth contributor to New Legends, has worked at a multitude of jobs as an art director, creative director and director of marketing for a variety companies. At the same time, he sustained a long and successful career as a children's book illustrator. Cody currently lives with his family in Ipswich, a small coastal village north of Boston, where he is an avid and accomplished watercolor painter.
It is currently unknown how many copies of this comic book were printed. It has not been reprinted.
Robert Gould - 1, 3-10
Thomas Canty - 2, 11-18
Eric Kimball - 19-26, 25
Brian Cody - 27-34, 36