Black Orchid Promo Poster

Black Orchid Mini-Series Promo Poster (circa 1989)
art by Dave McKean
22″x27″

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This promotional poster was available around the time that Neil Gaiman’s Black Orchid mini-series was released. I was told it may have been a freebie/handed out at local comic shops. Until a couple months ago I’d not seen the poster before, and wasted no time in picking it up. Dave McKeans’s artwork is amazing. I love this mini-series and how Gaiman and McKean explore the characters involved in the story. For a glimpse into the series, check out the Gaiman/McKean interview in Speakeasy 91 from 1988.

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DC Holiday Special 2017

Swamp Thing
“The Echo of the Abyss”

Whenever a Holiday Special is released I always think, “there’s going to be a Christmas tree in the mix, there’s gotta be a Swamp Thing reference hidden in there somewhere.” Seems like a no brainer; just hide an inverted triangular nose/mouth shape amidst some shiny red ornaments. No such luck on the Swampy fur tree in this DC Holiday Special, but Swamp Thing is well represented as mistletoe…
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The Holiday Special houses eleven “festive fables” but I was only focused on one. I held off on writing about the short Swamp Thing holiday story because I didn’t want to spoil the good time for anyone. It’s such a short story, it wouldn’t take much to do so.

“The Echo of the Abyss” depicts Christmas for the crew members of Space Station Archer. They’ve been quarantined for the past six months because a nuclear war looms back on Earth. Supplies are running low along with moral. With it being Christmas and the news —of what seems like eminent doom for life on, and within proximity to Earth—from back home, crewman Ciampo is having a tough time keeping it together.
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Ciampo brought mistletoe aboard the Archer to celebrate the holidays. It appears Swamp Thing either stowed away via mistletoe or surfed through cosmic, organic matter to Space Station Archer. Either way, we’ve seen him do it before and he’s ready to spread some Christmas cheer and a little can-do attitude.
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Hearing the news from planet Earth, Ciampo stares into the abyss and sees only despair. His holiday spirit is swallowed by impending doom and negative thoughts. Rather than waiting to meet his demise, Ciampo decides to take matters into his hands and expedite the process. But, Swamp Thing is right on his heels…
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Swampy’s generation from the mistletoe is kind of gnarly and really cool! The first few panels of Swampy emerging from the mistletoe reminds me of Richard Corben’s work, but quickly turns into more of a new52 rendition.
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In Ciampo’s panicked state of mind, he wants to beat death to the chase by plunging into the void, and dragging the crew of Space Station Archer with him. Swamp Thing intervenes, asking Ciampo to appeal to humanity and look for hope, not darkness.
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Swampy tries his damnedest but Ciampo is off the rails and he needs to be tied up until he can calm down. Thankfully, Swampy uses the green to ease his mind and leach out the negative thoughts… kind of like instant meditation brought to you by the Green.
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“before, I only saw death. Now I only see life.”

Swamp Thing saves the Space Station from Ciampo’s tantrum and fortifies the space stations organic-based supplies. He may have saved the day but I’m not entirely sure how the crew members will fare in the days to come. During battle, he says to Ciampo, “Death… is a phase… but it’s not your time.” Perhaps Swamp Thing will swing down to Earth and provide the same hope for those with their triggers on the nuclear weapons. Perhaps Swamp Thing wanted to give the crew members of Space Station Archer one final glimpse of happiness and hope before it all goes to hell.
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One thing is for sure, I really enjoyed this story. What rang out to me most was Swamp Thing urging Ciampo to keep his composure under fire. I’ve always felt, it’s not so much what you face in life but how you face it. A lot can be said for someone by how they handle difficult situations. Staying true to your morals, lifting others up in a time of turmoil, and contributing to the solution, not the problem are traits that usher hope into the future.

I hope everyone, everywhere (even The Bearded Men of Space Station 11) has a wonderful holiday season.
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Speakeasy 91

Speakeasy 91 (1988)

This issue of Speakeasy (the UK Comics Magazine) was brought to my attention by Ilke Hincer, the research guru behind George Perez’s website george-perez.net. When he comes across an obscure Swamp Thing related item he sends the info my way and I try to track it down. It’s an amazing back-n-forth and I always appreciate his leads.
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The book features a Swamp Thing ad and he’s mentioned in a great Black Orchid interview, with Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean.

The ad appears toward the front of the book and highlights Swamp Thing – volume 8 of Titan’s Swamp Thing tpb set. The Titan set is made up of 11 books, collecting Swamp Thing #21-64 and includes Annual #2. The black and white, softcover trades can be found online easily and look amazing. I’m always thankful for non-US editions that are printed in black and white. The artwork tends to pop much more and it’s easier to appreciate the detailed inks.

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I got Speakeasy 91 for the ad but equally thrilled to read the Black Orchid interview with Neil Gaiman. He mentions Swamp Thing a couple times!

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Below, Gaiman discusses pitching characters to Karen Berger and Dick Giordano.

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Gaiman mentions that Orchid’s travels take her down to Louisiana to see Swamp Thing. As you know, this is just the tip of the iceberg for the cool interactions and appearances Swampy has within the series.

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Gaiman mentions Veitch’s plans to incorporate his plant mythology into the Swampy continuity. We later saw Gaiman’s plant mythology develop within, Midnight Days: “Jack-in-the-Green”, Books of Magic, and The Children’s Crusade. I spoke with fellow Swamp fanatic and friend, Rich Handley about this interview and he provided the following insight, “he (Gaiman) and Jamie Delano were going to use it as the template for their tenure on Swamp Thing before they decided not to become the next writers. This is the first I’m hearing of Veitch being involved. Given that Veitch had only been scheduled to be on the title until issue 90 anyway, my guess is that Gaiman said Veitch but meant to say Delano.” Rich always comes through with the thorough ST info.

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“He looked for what made the character interesting for him and went on from there” Neil Gaiman talking about Alan Moore’s advice on revamping heroes.

Neil Gaiman recounts his need to establish a strong origin story for Black Orchid: “I had to… come up with an origin… I didn’t want her to be bitten by a radioactive orchid.”

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The icing on the cake in this Speakeasy 91 is the Dave Stevens interview. I’ve been a Rocketeer fan since I was a kid. I love the costume and pulp-like adventures. I usually stumble upon Stevens/Rocketeer articles/art because Stevens was getting a lot of attention around the time Alan Moore was working on Swamp Thing. Most comics magazines, where you’d find interviews or articles relating to Swamp Thing around this time, would typically have some blurb about the Rocketeer as well.

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Swamp Thing on Transformers UK

Transformers Magazine 48 UK (1986)
“Swamp-Thing”

It’s strange to be sharing a Transformers comic but I’d been looking for this book for a few years, and it arrived this weekend! I wanted to get a hold of it because it’s titled “Swamp-Thing” and “Swamp Thing” is on the cover. Surely if “Swamp Thing” is on the cover… he’s in the book? Unfortunately not, but the book was titled to reference the greatest DC character of all time, our Swampy.
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How cool is that? Swamp Thing’s popularity crosses over into Marvel and Transformers by way of a UK trade’s title. It’s worth mentioning, Transformers Magazine was a weekly UK publication that reprinted/serialized portions of Marvel’s 1984 Transformers series.  The “Dinobot Hunt” storyline was meant to help bridge the continuity gap between the US and U.K. Transformers series.
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“To Slay the Swamp Thing!” is not something that occurs in the book. In fact, the story in question takes places in Littlewood, California; “Northern California… amidst redwoods, inland waterways and rivers”. The thing in the swamp is Sludge, the Dinobot.

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Autobots and Decepticons are on the hunt for Sludge;  with differening methods.
The dicepticons get the drop on the autobots and capture Sludge.
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The only visual reference to Swamp Thing (or any monster for that matter) is the panel below. Like so many Swamp Thing scenarios, a bruised and battered figure emerges from the murky swamp with a victim of unfortunate circumstances.
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Much like the images below
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Cauldron of Fear 1 UK Fanzine

Cauldron of Fear 1 (1975)
This little U.K. Fanzine came my way a couple months back and it features an article about bayou monsters. It’s in amazing condition and is more of a square format. The size and number of pages allows for a single staple for saddle stitch binding. With all the craziness involved in putting together the Holland Files zine, it’s fun to see different methods and a smart use of resources.
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“Something from the Bayou (an’it shore ain’t blue.)” discusses EC’s role in horror comic, helping to usher in and uphold the monster from the swamps trope.
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Continue reading “Cauldron of Fear 1 UK Fanzine”

The HSPPA Collectibles Prop Pin

My Swamp Thing legs arrived!
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This amazing limited edition pin is available from The HSPPA. It’s adhered to a backing card signed by Daniel Emery Taylor! I love this wacky idea of ST legs as a pin. A tuber pin would be great too!
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Head over to their store to get these fun looking legs. I bet they can get them to you in time for Christmas!

“The HSPPA presents:  collectible prop pins

These pins are caricatures of the actual screen used props in The HSPPA’s Museum of Screen Used Movie Props.

#002: SWAMP LEGS
Seen in the classic horror-comic sequel, THE RETURN OF SWAMP THING!!!

This is a LIMITED EDITION, of 100!! Each pjn ckmes with a Card Back signed by DANIEL EMERY TAYLOR, who played “Darryl,” Swamp Things little buddy, in The Return of Swamp Thing!!!
• Enamel Pin
• Card Back, Autographed
• 2.25-in
• dual post (rubber backers)
• Original Art by: Dani Romero”