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February 18, 2011

Retro-Read #46 Video Jack

Filed under: Retro-Read — Doorman @ 3:47 pm

With years spent reading single issues here and there, juggling storylines of dozens of titles, I decided it was time to find a better way to read comics. So, it was off to the back issue bins armed with the longest want list you’ve ever seen! Putting together series after series and reading them in their complete goodness, I was reborn as the Retro-Reader!

Publisher: Epic Comics
Number of Issues: 6
First Issue: September 1987 ($1.25)
Last Issue: September 1988 ($1.25)
Writer: Carey Bates with Keith Giffen
Artist: Keith Giffen

*Warning! Plot Spoilers Below*

Jack Swift is a dark-haired outsider addicted to television. His best friend, his only friend for that matter, is Damon Xarnett, a mischievous blonde. Damon’s uncle, Zachary, yearns for the old days; when the people of Hickory Haven were friendly neighbors and not overtaken by the daily grind. Utilizing astrology, black magic, and state-of-the-art video technology, Zach intends to change the town. By playing It’s a Wonderful Life through his high-tech video room, the town will reflect the mood and feel of that movie. Unfortunately for him, the boys sneak into the room and, growing bored with the old flick, change the channel.

Hickory Haven is now a twisted version of its old self, warped into something barely recognizable! But, all that can change with a flick of the remote control. This series follows Jack and Damon struggling for control of the remote throughout the town of Hickory Haven as it’s turned into reflections of black and white 50s TV, Sesame Street, monster movies, MTV, pirate movies, late-night soaps, sci-fi movies, and more!

The Bad: I fear that, as time marches on, the TV and movie references will continue to be outdated.

The Good: Even though they may become outdated, the TV and movie references are lots of fun for those of us who know the source material.

The Verdict: Bates and Giffen provide a wild ride, paying tribute to all kinds of television on the way. At first, it appears that the book has little direction but, once you hit #3 there’s a crystal clear picture of where the story’s headed. Although, I don’t recall the subplot of the serial killer on the loose ever being resolved. Giffen’s art is most certainly all his own feel (instead of being pushed towards some manner of “house style”) and is able to capture the aspects of all the different realities thrown into the story. He even calls upon some unique friends to illustrate some of the different tributes. Joe Barney, Stephen DeStefano, Alan Weiss, Carmine Infantino, Michael Gilbert, Fred Hembeck, Kevin MacQuire, Jose Marzan, Trina Robbins, Walter Simonson, Jim Starlin, and Bill Wray all pitch in to lend an artistic hand.

Noteworthy: although these comics were published five years after the first Epic Comic came out, this title had the lowest cover price of any Epic series.

On Ebay: Video Jack | Keith Giffen
On AtomicAvenue: Video Jack


  1. One of my favorite series of all time! I’m a huge Kieth Giffen fan, and he was at his zany best on this series. I even own a page of original art from one of the issues. A great read!

    Comment by Dara Naraghi — February 23, 2011 @ 7:52 am

  2. original art, eh? what’s on the page you’ve got?

    i’m surprised this series has never been collected in TPB form. it’s been around for nearly 25 years!

    Comment by Doorman — February 23, 2011 @ 10:21 am

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