A Brief History Of Caliber Comics

Caliber Press began publishing in early 1989. Included in our initial launch were Caliber's first issues of Deadworld; The Realm; Caliber Presents featuring Vince Locke, Mark Bloodworth, Tim Vigil, Jim O'Barr, and Guy Davis; the first issues of Baker Street and The Crow.

In 1991, we started up the Tome Press line which covered material that was based on literary adaptations, historical and biographical works, and classic art. We did some 65 different Tome Press titles on subjects as diverse as the Russian Revolution, The Alamo, Amelia Earhart, El Cid, Jack London stories - everything from the Zulu Wars to the Bible.

In the following year, we launched two new imprints, Gauntlet and Iconografix. Gauntlet was an action based line and the leading title was U.N. Force which sold exceptionally well. Iconografix dealt with more obscure material,the type that is hard to define but is often referred to as the "slice of life" or cutting edge titles. Included here were the first issues of Lowlife, Meatcakes, some early Dave Cooper work, a Jason Lutes one shot and some issues from Matt Howarth.

During the period of the early nineties, we brought out Grafik Muzik where Mike Allred first introduced his Madman character, developed Kevin VanHook's Frost, ran Jim Calafiore's Camelot Eternal, brought out Ted Slampyak's Jazz Age Chronicles, Go-Man, Phillip Hester on Fringe, and an adaptation of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

MILESTONES

Most of the crew at Caliber Comics are often asked about how Caliber started, what were the earlier titles, and the like. Here, we thought we'd cover some of the historical highlights of the company in a rather brief fashion. Many of the dates are rather tentative because, after all, we'd never planned on getting this far!

Summer 1988- At a meeting at his comic store in Westland, Mi. Gary Reed announces the formation of a new comics company to be called Caliber. In attendance were creators Guy Davis, Vincent Locke, Mark Winfrey, Mark Bloodworth, and Dirk Johnston.

Fall 1988- The initial titles are announced. Deadworld and Realm from Arrow Comics will now be published by Caliber. A new series, Baker Street, co-created by Reed and Guy Davis, is scheduled and an anthology series is proposed, to be called High Caliber. Reed meets with a local film company about doing a adaptation of a movie they're doing which stars Walter Koenig and is called Moontrap.

Early 1989- Production work begins on the comics and solicitation of the new titles as Caliber is introduced. The staff of Caliber consists of Reed and two of his store employees, Chester Jacques helping with editorial and another employee assisting in art production. Reed secures hot artist, Tim Vigil, for a serial and cover for High Caliber. Later, a customer at the store, James O'Barr, shows Reed the first two issues of a series called The Crow which Reed adds to the Caliber line-up.

Spring 1989- The first Caliber titles are released. The initial title released is Deadworld #10 to be followed by Caliber Presents (which was originally to be called High Caliber, but is changed because of a possible conflict with a movie coming out), Realm 14 followed by Crow 1 and Baker Street 1. Moontrap follows soon after. The "official" debut is at the Capital City Trade Show. Caliber gives away 1000's of copies of first prints of Crow. Soon after, Caliber releases the Progeny graphic novel from newcomer J. Calafiore.

Reed makes arrangements with "POCKET CLASSICS", a series of illustrated books similar in design to Classics Illustrated to be released to the Direct Market via Caliber Press.

Summer 1989- Caliber sets up at their first Chicago Convention. There, they sign up new titles such as Go-Man and Fringe. Other new titles released over the summer include Cheerleaders from Hell, Gringo, and Northguard.

Early Winter 1990- Snarl, Varcel's Vixens, and Frost are new titles added to the schedule. Reed hires Kevin VanHook as Production Manager.

Spring 1990- John Bergin debuts his Ashes series and Jazz Age Chronicles comes to Caliber. Nate Pride joins to assist in art duties.

Summer 1990- Caliber releases an adaptation of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and it is Caliber's most successful title to date and is Caliber's first color book. Mike Allred debuts his Creatures of the Id one shot which features the very first appearance of Madman (as Frank Einstein).

Fall 1990- Caliber launches two new color series, Billy Nguyen and Grafik Muzik. VanHook leaves to eventually become Editor in Chief at Valiant Comics.

Spring 1991- Caliber signs a deal with Palladium Books, a role playing company, to release comic adaptations of the games. The first and only release is Mechanoids. Caliber signs up Michael Lark (later of Terminal City fame) and his series, Airwaves.

Summer 1991- Caliber releases Silencers from Mark Askwith and R.G. Taylor and launches a new line of comics built around literary adaptations, biographies, and historical events....Tome Press.

Spring 1992- Caliber launches two new lines of comics. Iconografix debuts in April and Gauntlet in May. Also in April, Caliber launches the first of its Calibrations incarnations.

Summer 1992- Caliber produces a specially made comic for Troma Films...Frostbiter, which is distributed at the Cannes Film Festival but never released to the comics market.

Fall 1992- The long running series of Deadworld and Realm come to a close, setting the stage for a re-launch the following year.

Early Winter 1993- Caliber releases UN Force which gains national attention on CNN and HNN. Sales skyrocket on the series...for awhile. In February, Caliber releases Berzerker #1 which remains Caliber's top selling black and white book even today.

Spring 1993- Caliber releases all new versions of Deadworld and The Realm. Another series released, Sinergy, gets a great deal of critical acclaim.

Summer 1993- The first issue of Negative Burn is released and will become Caliber's longest running consecutive series to eventually end at number 50.

Fall 1993- Caliber merges with the Stabur Corporation. Caliber's only two employees (Gary Reed and Nate Pride) move into the Stabur offices and Reed becomes President of Stabur as well.

Spring 1994- Reed is named Vice-President of McFarlane Toys while still running Stabur and Caliber. Jim Pruett is hired to take over some of the editorial duties of Caliber.

Summer 1994- Caliber releases records and a specialty magazine, ARC, and enters distribution with records and magazines. Caliber produces special comics for Wal-Mart distribution including the series of Big Bang and Stormquest. Notable releases in the summer include Big Bang and Renfield.

Fall 1994- Caliber provides an adaptation of the Frankenstein novel for mass market. It is Caliber's best selling title ever and continues to be so even through 1998. A new series, OZ, is released also and will eventually have nearly 30 issues published by Caliber.

Winter 1994- Caliber continues to provide mass market distribution comics including Stormquest and ten of the Tome Press titles at sales 10-12x what the "comics market" orders. Caliber releases the first issue of Kabuki.

Spring 1995- Caliber hires Joe Martin and releases the initial launch of PowerCardz.

Summer 1995- The imprint of New Worlds is launched. Initial titles include Raven Chronicles, Inferno, and Searchers. Tim Parsons is hired on for Special Projects.

Fall 1995- The Spawn PowerCardz are released. In addition to comic stores, the game cards are released to national markets such as Toys R Us and Target.

Winter 1996- Caliber has great success with three new series--Legendlore, Cavewoman, and Deodato Comics.

Spring 1996- The first issue of Moebius Comics is released. Other new titles include the "under a buck" series of Calibrations and the debut issue of Kaos Moon. Reed leaves TMP and Caliber moves to new offices. Nancy Durand, who worked with Reed at TMP, is brought into Caliber as Administrator.

Fall 1996- Caliber launches the Tapestry line. The initial releases are Explorers, Pakkin's Land, Patty Cake, and Terror Tots. Although the line is heavily praised, the sales are disappointing.

Winter 1997- Daemonstorm featuring a cover from Todd McFarlane, is released. Joe Pruett is hired to serve as Creative Director. Caliber options Searchers and Deadworld and hires an agency in Hollywood.

Spring 1997- Three new series prove popular: Saint Germaine, Dicks (from Garth Ennis and John McCrae), and Red Diaries. Red Diaries proves to have a strong following in mystery books stores around the country and is released later in hardcover collections.

Summer 1997- Caliber brings two favorites back to the stands with Mr. Monster and Maze Agency. Caliber announces licensing deals with Whitley Stieber's Communion and Brian Lumley's Necroscope and also announces the return of another comic favorite, Jon Sable (which never materialized due to creator Mike Grell's heavy schedule outside of comics). Caliber releases the Amazing Comics imprint from Glass House Graphics featuring the art of Mike Deodato.

Fall 1997- Caliber announces the relaunch of Tome Press. Two new creator owned series launch, generating great reviews in LifeQuest and Little White Mouse.

Winter 1998- Caliber launches the Caliber Core universe which is a cohesive universe that ties together many titles. Although the Core universe is structured around events and characters from Raven Chronicles, Black Mist is the first release.

Spring 1998- Caliber divides its line into different sub-imprints which include the Caliber Core and the titles designated as Caliber Fantasy. Of course, Tome Press continues under its own imprint.

Summer 1998- Caliber announces a regular title of Caliber Core which features many of the characters found in other Core books. Legends of Camelot is also announced as a series.

Fall 1998- Caliber focuses on titles that sell through its web site and finds a great success with the Sherlock Holmes titles.  The Tome Press line, although not supported within the direct comics market finds a new audience via the Internet.

Spring 1999- Caliber focuses most of its efforts into the Internet with an expansive web site and distribution outlets through most of the major on-line booksellers for it's graphic novels.

Fall 1999- Caliber announces the return of Cavewoman in an all new series.  The series, even though it doesn't feature contributing art from creator Budd Root, places high on Diamond's ranking list.

Winter 1999- Caliber develops a special arrangement with a major on-line service to develop its properties for exploitation and rights management.

2000 and beyond- The comics market continues its fall and as stores dwindle, Caliber slowly fades from publishing.  The focus switches to producing comics and other material based on comics for exploitation in other markets.