Grimjack is a character developed by writer John Ostrander and artist Timothy Truman in the early 1980’s. The comic book series was published by the now-defunct (what a shame!) First Comics and ran for 81 issues. Grimjack first appeared in Starslayer, a series published by also-defunct Pacific Comics about a space travelling swashbuckling adventurer created, written, and drawn by Mike Grell. Grimjack’s first appearance was Starslayer #10 and he subsequently appeared in eight additional issues in backup stories.
Grimjack (real name John Gaunt and reincarnated as Jim Twilley part of the way through the series) is a gun-for-hire mercenary that runs his business out of Munden’s bar, a seedy joint where the worst of the worst of alien baddies come for a drink and nefarious business. Munden’s bar is located in Cynosure, a place in space and time where multiple dimensions intersect. It’s essentially a portal city. In a lot of ways, the story has a “Mad Max: The Road Warrior” meets “Blade Runner” feel to it. Lawless post-apocalyptic gunslinging shootouts but mixed with sci-fi and magic. The story is bleak and gritty, and many of the issues are fairly violent.
As was common with many of the independent comics of the 1980’s, each comic typically had a backup story. The recurring stories in Grimjack were based in Munden’s Bar and often had quite a sense of humor. Issue #26 included an early appearance of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The Munden’s Bar backup stories were temporarily suspended to allow for a telling of a grim story from John Gaunt’s childhood. Illustrated by Steve Pugh, the story had a Dickensesque feel to it. The Pit, the slums where John Gaunt is raised, is a the breading ground for violent and degenerate gangs. Understanding where he comes from helps us to better understand the adult Grimjack. We really liked that back story and don’t think it gets enough attention since we see so little information about it online.
Grimjack is one of the best series to come out of the 1980’s independent comic book scene and we’re glad it made it to at least 81 issues. Since recollecting the legal rights to the character, John Ostrander and Timothy Truman created a 6-issue mini-series called “Killer Instincts” which was picked up for publication by IDW (the same house that put out the “30 Days of Night” stories). The story fills in between Youngblood and the Starslayer period. As far as we’re aware, no other stories have been published.
We’ve put together a gallery and a brief synopsis of each issue. Hope you enjoy.