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excellent writing
exceptional art
historical bonus 3
total score 9
Promethean Enterprises #3
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Only Printing / 1971 / 68 pages / Promethean Enterprises
The third issue of Promethean Enterprises follows it predecessors by continuing to deliver a diverse array of superior comic art. And for the first time, the publishers commit to producing future issues, stating in an editorial at the end of the book, "We are going to aim for a semi-annual schedule." Alas, as it turned out this only meant two more issues, but the commitment indicated that Jim Vadeboncoeur, Al Davoren and Bud Plant knew they were connecting with their audience.

After two Rick Griffin covers to launch the series, #3 features an unnerving Robert Crumb illustration on its cover. The book has plenty of early Crumb (including several "Silly Pidgeons" strips from '64 and '65) on the inside and also introduces several other artists to the series for the first time, including Richard Corben, Johnny Chambers, Spain Rodriguez and Bob Zoell.

There is only one article in this issue; "The Weirdest Tale of All" by Emil Petaja, a fascinating essay about Weird Tales, a fantasy and horror fiction pulp magazine that ran 279 issues for 30 years from the 1920s to the mid '50s (and was subsequently revived and revamped several times in the decades that followed). The magazine became somewhat infamous in 1924 for publishing a story about necrophilia. Weird Tales, with its Lovecraftian content and lurid cover art, is the pre-EC pulp mag that would most likely appeal to underground comics fans.

George Metzger returns with his second installment of "Panoply Mind," in which the lead character, Listus Varon, encounters an old man squatting in the woods who gives Varon life advice that foretells an unpleasant future. At least the second chapter lays the groundwork for a potentially interesting third chapter, but bear in mind these chapters only arrive about once a year. Promethean is not the best vehicle to present a serialized story.

As in previous issues, the middle of the book contains portfolios and samples of illustrators in a section entitled "Gallery." This issue provides the strongest and most diverse artwork yet, with solid contributions from Jim Valadez (a stark serigraph of Captain America panels), Spain Rodriguez, Rob Brown (four beautiful works), Roy Krenkel (terrific figure studies), Bhob Stewart and Anne Vadeboncoeur, who appears in her third consecutive issue with her strongest work and then disappears from the final two issues (see Historical Footnote below). The Gallery section alone is reason enough to obtain a copy of Promethean Enterprises #3.

Towards the end of the book, Richard Corben provides a tragic eight-page love story called "The Story of Oteg," which would not be reprinted domestically until 1986 in Richard Corben Complete Works #2. The story was colorized in 1987 for Children of Fire #2, but I think the black-and-white version is more enjoyable. "The Story of Oteg" is one of Corben's somewhat early efforts and shows that his illustration and composition skills have already reached an exceptional skill level.

The best work in Promethean Enterprises #3 represents the strongest the series has offered so far and there's very little weak content to be found. If there is only one issue that best represents the totality of what Promethean Enterprises is about, this is probably the issue, but it would only narrowly edge out issues #2 and #4 (with #5 and #1 trailing only slightly behind).
It is currently unknown how many copies of this magazine were printed. It has not been reprinted. The covers are printed on a heavy cover stock and the interior pages are printed on white offset paper.

This issue is the last that featured Anne Vadeboncoeur (her best stuff, too). After a careful crawl of Jim Vadenoncoeur's website, I finally did confirm that Anne is his sister. Her name is now Anne E. Shoemaker-Magdaleno and she has her own extensive website as well as a blog where you can view her enormous gallery of fine artwork.
Jim Vadeboncoeur Jr. - coeditor, 4 (editorial), 66 (editorial)
Al Davoren - coeditor, art director, 3 (shared)
Bud Plant - coeditor
Robert Crumb - 1, 4-6, 13, 18, 24, 46, 50, 65, 67
Richard Corben - 2, 51-58
Rick Griffin - 3 (shared)
Emil Pataja - 7-11 (article)
John Fawcett - 12
George Metzger - 14-17, 44
Kenneth Smith - 19, 22, 25
Bill Henry - 19
Marty E. Rice - 20-21, 23
Roy G. Krenkel - 25, 36-37, 68
Jim Valadez - 26-27
Spain Rodriguez - 28-29
Rob Brown - 30-33
J.R.R. Tolkien - 33 (quote from The Hobbit)
Dennis Nolan - 34-35 (collaboration)
Robert Inwood - 34-35 (collaboration), 38
Anne Vadeboncoeur - 39-41
Bhob Stewart - 42-43
Raymond Wong - 45
Wilhelm Busch - 47-49
Bob Zoell - 59-61 (collaboration)
Al Metter - 59-61 (collaboration)
Johnny Chambers - 62-64