The Comic Speculator: Small Press Gems

Cover of SCUD #1
Cover of Milk and Cheese #1

The Comic Speculator is a blog by Worthpoint Comic Book Worthologist Matt Baum that discusses back issue comics and the back issue market.

For the most part the small-independent comics press is vastly overlooked when it comes to back issue comics. Because of the extremely limited print-runs and cult nature of the small press indy-comic back issues are grossly undervalued and with the economy on it’s current downturn comic values are bottoming out. Comics and other collectibles are often the first thing to go as food and gas prices rise but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The whole idea for this blog came to me the other day when I spotted a 1st printing of Milk and Cheese #1 on Ebay. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a 1st print Milk and Cheese #1, in fact I remember being impressed when I found the 3rd printing that I currently own. Bad economy = prime comic shopping. I guess we can thank “W” for something. As the stock market gets uglier and housing prices bottom out people start selling their comics and suddenly back issues of Milk and Cheese, Cerebus and Strangers in Paradise, all of which are really hard to find small press comic, are popping up for sale.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not waving an upside-down flag and cheering for the death of the U.S. Economy, I’m just pointing out a rare chance for comic collectors. For once I’m calling the glass half-full.

There’s plenty of indy-comic-back-issue gold for the collector out there but today I’m going to focus on a few titles that I loved as a lad.

Milk and Cheese; Written and drawn by Evan Dorkin.
By the time I discovered Milk and Cheese the series had already hit cult status and been reprinted several times over. I think the 1st #1 issue I purchased was a 5th printing back in 1993. The comic centered around an anthropomorphic carton of milk and a wedge of cheese that would go on short, often one-page, alcohol fueled rampages for any number of reasons. One strip that sticks in my memory is the duo destroying a generic American city after finding out that Hereve Villachaize, (the little person from Fantasy Island) was dead. The comic was ridiculous in premise and perfect in it’s biting satire and violent simplicity. I still laugh out loud while reading Milk and Cheese strips I’ve read hundreds of times. Dorkin went on to write another series called Dork and work on animated projects like Cartoon Network’s Space Ghost: Coast to Coast and Warner Bros’ Superman.

Milk and Cheese #1 was published by Slave Labor Graphics in 1991 and had to have had a print run of less than 5000 issues. Issue #1 1st print currently guides for $50.00 but has sold for more than $100.00 on line. As I stated earlier I have never seen a 1st print of Milk and Cheese #1 and would probably pay way too much for one given the chance.

Here’s a brief checklist of the rarest Milk and Cheese comics and listings of what they guide for in Near Mint Condition:

#2 (titled “Other Number 1”), $30.00
#3 (titled “Third #1), $20.00
#4 (titled “Fourth #1), $10.00
#5 (titled “First 2nd issue”) $10.00

Multiple reprints exist for each of these issues and are only worth cover price.

Scud: The Disposable Assassin; Fireman Press; Written and drawn by Rob Shrab.
Scud was the tale of a robotic assassin that could be purchased from a vending machine that self destructs after killing it’s target. The hero of the book, a Scud Heart-Breaker model has been programmed with an almost human AI in order to allow the robot to be as creative as the client wishes when killing it’s target. Upon reading the warning label on his back detailing his self destruction upon killing his target, Scud decides to let his target live and instead maims his target, a genetically altered monster that spouts music lyrics, and is forced to carry out hits for money in order to pay for his original target’s hospital bills. If this premise sounds insane it’s because it is. Scud was a hyper-violent-pop-culture-comedy in the vein of a Quentin Tarentino film. If Tarentino was on psychedelic drugs that were smuggled from the future. Most recently the complete Scud was reprinted in one giant edition called “The Whole Shebang” by image comics and is available in both hard and soft cover.

Scud creator Rob Shrab has also worked as a writer for Comedy Central’s Sarah
Silverman Show
and co-wrote the 2006 animated film Monster House. Shrab’s art is only matched by his bizarre sense of humor and encyclopedic-pop-culture refrences. Scud is not for everyone but those who do love it love the hell out of it. The current reprinting of the series has brought Scud to a whole new audience and rekindling interest in Scud back issues.

Currently Scud issue #1 1st printing guides for $6.00 in Near Mint condition but I challenge you to find one. Fireman Press was another extremely small, now defunct, company that printed very low runs of the early Scud issues which, in my opinion, are grossly under-valued. Runs of Scud are already starting to see higher prices on Ebay and if the rumors of an animated film version are true, could be going for premium prices soon.

Next time in The Comic Speculator I’ll be taking a look two other Indy cult classics, Dave Sim’s Cerebus and Terry Moore’s Strangers in Paradise. For info on new comics check out my other blog, ”This Week in Geek” where I discuss the new comics of the week that could be tomorrow’s hot collectibles. If you have any questions about these books or anything else in the comic book world feel free to contact me or post your question in the Comic Book community forum. Want to know what your comics are worth? Join Worthpoint for free and post your titles in the “Ask A Question” section.