I know I bang on about the old HeroPress play-by-post game that Steve, Pete, Nick, and I created back in the 1980s, but looking back I'm continually reminded what an incredible feat it was.
At its peak, I believe we - and a select group of friends who'd stepped up to be gamesmasters of their own campaigns in our universe - were processing individual turns for over 50 players around the globe.
If HeroPress had a power, it was to generate passion in its participants because, at the time, in the pre-Internet Dark Ages, there was nothing like it.
For instance, the last issue of the HeroPress fanzine that we produced - before the game was (temporarily) subsumed by Fantazia magazine, we had four pages of readers' letters.
Yes, some were about the game, but the majority were arguing - quite vehemently - the merits of comic book storyines at the time, the advent of "mature themes" in mainstream comics, sex and violence etc
It was passion.
And out of this passion, came the first (and, sadly, only) issue of HeroPress Showcase, our very own comic book.
This was an anthology title put together by one of our most active participants, a gentleman called Chris Lowe, from Derby, who managed to wrangle a 44-page fanzine-sized comic, with nine strips in it.
These weren't all superhero stories, and only one was actually directly connected to our play-by-mail campaign (Paul Sparrowham's Pythoness, telling the origin of his character in the game).
The first story was Psychokiller, a horror tale by me, based on a short story I'd written several years earlier, and illustrated by Mad Cow. The art was way better than the story deserved and I suspect Chris just put it in to be kind to me.
Next up was Paul's Pythoness, with art by Paul Carey, the first part of what was to be an ongoing story of his character's adventures.
|Two-page spread from Pythoness.|
This was followed by a humorous two-page tale by Chris Lowe, illustrated by Paul Tierney, entitled Doctor Foster And The Thing In The Book.
|New York, by David Tomas.|
Another first chapter of an on-going story followed, New York by David Thomas. Then we had a one-page tale, Wooden Heart, by Mark Devlin and Mike Kinsella, followed by the opening chapter of Chris Lowe's Pesky Kids.
|Wooden Heart, by Mark Devlin and Mike Kinsella|
Graham Sim, Mark Toner, and Fat Mac gave us the twisted tale WYSIWYG.
|by Graham Sim, Mark Toner, and Fat Mac|
The first chapter of sci-fi actioner Project Archangel, by Mark Devlin and Robert Andre, followed, and the issue rounded-out with a beautiful one-page story on the back cover, Comix by Nigel Maughan (see below).
Showcase was clearly a lot of work to put together, but hopefully the 65p cover price helped Chris cover some of his production expenses.
I'm not exactly sure when during the life of HeroPress this was published as the issue is devoid of dates, but I'm immensely proud of this single issue of Showcase that came out of the HeroPress machine back in the day.
Especially because it was conceived, and put together, by someone not directly connected with the launch of the whole HeroPress endeavour.
I never met Chris, never even spoke to him on the phone, all correspondence was via snail mail, but I owe him a debt of gratitude for taking our idea and running with it in a direction we could only have dreamed of when we were first started playing superhero roleplaying games.
Of course, technically, this wasn't the first HeroPress comic, as Steve had single-handedly-produced an issue of The Gauntlet, back in 1987, which I'll take a look at next week.
|click to embiggen|