name = Caliber Comics
type = Comic publisher
foundation = 1989
Wayne County, Michigan
key_people = Gary Reed, Jim Pruett
homepage = official|http://www.calibercomics.com
Caliber Comics or Caliber Press was an American
comic bookpublisher founded in 1989 by Gary Reed. Featuring primarily creator-owned comics, in the next decade Caliber published over 1300 comics and ranked as one of the America's leading independent publishers. Caliber ceased publishing in 2000.
Gary Reed, who previously owned a chain of bookstores, began publishing with the release of two titles acquired from
Arrow Comics— " Deadworld" and "The Realm". Other initial launches included " Caliber Presents", featuring Vince Locke, Mark Bloodworth, Tim Vigil, James O'Barr, and Guy Davis; the first issue of "Baker Street", co-created by Reed and Guy Davis; and the initial appearance of O’Barr’s " The Crow".
Reed arranged with "Pocket Classics", a series of illustrated books similar in design to
Classics Illustrated, to be released to the direct marketvia Caliber Press. Over forty titles were distributed. The interest in literary works continued for Caliber when in 1991 the new imprint Tome Presswas launched. Tome featured historical and biographical material centered in addition to literature. Over 65 different Tome Presstitles would be released on subjects as diverse as the Russian Revolution, The Alamo, Amelia Earhart, El Cid, Jack London stories, reprints of classic art print series, and dozens of others.
After its initial launch, Caliber expanded by bringing in new creators and projects.
Jim Calafiorewas first published with his graphic novella, " Progeny". In " Grafik Muzik", Mike Allredintroduced his Madman character, Kevin VanHook's "Frost" series which was the storyline for the film released in 2002, Ted Slampyak's " Jazz Age Chronicles", Philip Hester's "Fringe", Stuart Immomen's "Playground", John Bergin's "Ashes", and other titles such as " Go-Man", " Northguard", " Varcel’s Vixens", and more.
In the early 1990’s, Caliber launched two new imprints, Gauntlet and
Iconografix. Gauntlet was an action-based line whose leading titles were " U.N. Force", "Berzerker" (featuring work from Rob Liefeldand Angel Median), Patrick Zircher's " Samurai Seven", and " Serpent Rising" (based on the stage play). Iconografixdealt with more obscure and cutting-edge material that included humor comics as well as comics often referred to as the "slice of life." Included here were the first issues of Ed Brubaker's "Lowlife", " Meatcake" from Dame Darcy, "Bound & Gagged" from Michael Aushenker, and a number of projects from Dave Cooper, Jason Lutes, and Matt Howarth.
Caliber had ventured into licensed comics with their early release of "
Moontrap", the science fiction film starring Star Trek’s Walter Koenig, and the production of a comic for TromaFilms called ""; but it was the full-color adaptation of " The Rocky Horror Picture Show" that proved the most successful. Another licensed property was Mechanoidsfrom Palladium Books.
The expansion of Caliber continued with some notable projects, including
Michael Lark's "Airwaves", "Silencers" from Mark Askwithand R.G. Taylor, and " Negative Burn", the anthology title that would run for fifty issues (and has since been picked up by Desperado Publishing).
Stabur merger and further expansion
In late 1993, Caliber merged with the
Stabur Corporation. Reed became president of Stabur as well as staying on with Caliber. Caliber began to produce special comics for Wal-Mart, including the series Big Bang Comics(which later would have a long run at Image Comics), Stormquest, and a number of literary adaptations, including a version of " Frankenstein". Caliber also produced some records and a specialty magazine, "ARC", for distribution outside of comics.
In 1993, the principles of Stabur were involved in starting up a new toy company with Spawn creator
Todd McFarlane. Reed was named vice president of McFarlane Toyswhile still running Staburand Caliber. Jim Pruettwas hired to take over some of the editorial duties of Caliber. Reed would stay with McFarlane Toysuntil May 1996.
Caliber expanded in the mid-1990’s with titles such as
David Mack's "Kabuki", Brian Bendis' " AKA Goldfish" and "Jinx", Mark Rickett's " Nowheresville", Mike Careyand Michael Gaydoson "Inferno", and in 1995, Caliber launched the sub-imprint of "New Worlds". New Worlds' titles were loosely connected, and included " Raven Chronicles", " Helsing", "Seeker", "Saint Germaine", " Red Diaries", " Black Mist", and others. Although not an actual shared universe, the settings and characters could cross over with each other and often did.
As Caliber expanded, more editorial staff was hired to handle the growing line of comics.
Moebius Comicslaunched and fan favorites " Mr. Monster" and " Maze Agency" returned. Caliber handled the distribution of Amazing Comicsthat featured the work of Mike Deodato. " Brian Lumley’s Necroscope" and Whitley Streiber's "Communion" series were signed on for comic releases. " Jon Sable" from Mike Grellwas announced but never came out. Caliber also started a new imprint in 1997, Tapestry Comics, that featured an "all ages" approach.
Decline and demise
As the overall comic market declined with the consolidation of the distribution system, Caliber slowly cut back on the number of titles. Caliber found some success of producing comics that appealed outside of the usual comics market with some of the
Tome Presstitles including the " Sherlock Holmes Reader", which had the majority of its sales outside of the traditional comic stores.
The demise of Caliber can be attributed primarily to the problems associated with the
Spawn PowerCardzgame. Caliber had invested heavily in time and money to launch the collectible card game and had great potential with purchase orders. However, the printer of the card game was running behind in production and outsourced the collation of the game to another printer who didn’t understand the random assortment of the cards. When the game appeared with improper collation, the purchase orders, which exceeded over two million dollars, were cancelled. Although a lawsuit was filed and Caliber won, by the time the judgment came, it was too late. In addition, the printer declared bankruptcy and Caliber was left only with portions of the unusable product.Fact|date=August 2008
In 2000, Caliber released the last of its titles, and Gary Reed moved on to concentrate on teaching college biology. Many of Caliber's top titles continued on with new publishers, including "Baker Street", "
Deadworld", "Disciples", "Saint Germaine", " Kilroy Is Here", " Negative Burn", " Raven Chronicles", and " Red Diaries".
Recently, Reed has been reviving many of the Caliber titles with reprints of collections and all new series, initially from
Image Comics, then from Transfuzion Publishing. [ [http://www.transfuzion.biz/ Home page for Transfuzion Publishing ] ]
Caliber titles (selected)
Big Bang Comics"
Brian Lumley's Necroscope"
Kilroy Is Here"
Kingdom of the Wicked"
Nature of the Beast"
Caliber Imprints' titles (selected)
Jack London's Koolau the Leper"
Siege of The Alamo"
Song of the Cid"
* "Saint Germaine"
Brian Michael Bendis
* [http://www.stevenpjones.com Steve Jones]
Kevin Van Hook
*gcdb publisher|id=604|title=Caliber Comics
* [http://www.comics-db.com/Other_Publishers/C/Caliber_Comics/index.html Caliber Comics] at the
Big Comic Book DataBase
* [http://www.garyreed.net Gary Reed official site]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
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