The mid-80’s success of series like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Cerebus, Flaming Carrot Comics, Usagi Yojimbo, Concrete, etc., caused a black and white comics boom. Suddenly, comic shops were flooded with them. The success of their TMNT comics and the new boom inspired Mirage to expand their publications beyond TMNT, beginning with a Fugitoid one-shot, which lead directly into TMNT #5. Former Muppeteer Tony Basilicato signed on with his series Prime Slime Tales in 1986. After only 2 issues the series moved to Now Comics, where it lasted for 2 more issues and then DIED. New Mirage staff artist Michael Dooney launched his own series, Gizmo, featuring the intergalactic travels of a humorous robot and his dog-like companion. Mirage artist Jim Lawson launched Bade Biker and Orson, starring a mild-mannered motorcyclist and his small frog-man pal. The indie talent-featuring anthologies Gobbledygook and Grunts were published as one-shot specials along with a collection of pretty lame rock ‘n roll-themed gag strips by Mirage staffer Ryan Brown.
Then the black and white boom imploded and the expansion efforts whithered away with only a few specials breaking up the TMNT logjam in the late 80’s/early 90’s, including a Gizmo and the Fugitoid mini-series and a goofy one-shot about sausage-shaped monster cliches called Hallowieners. In 1989, Mirage published an interesting collection called Mirage Mini-Comics, which contained a dozen 3″x4″ mini-comics by various independent creators such as Mark Martin, Rick Veitch, and Steve Bissette. Without any fanfare at all, Mirage published the last few issues of the cult series, The Puma Blues.
In 1992, Mirage published an Usagi Yojimbo spin-off mini-series by Stan Sakai, called Space Usagi. The experiment was a success and Sakai moved the main Usagi series to Mirage. This new series was published in color and signaled Mirage’s move toward color. Eventually, another Space Usagi mini-series was released. A new black and white anthology series, Plastron Cafe, was launched and then cancelled after only 4 issues. Jim Lawson released a well-illustrated but somewhat aimless mini-series, Dino Island. In 1993, Mirage artists Peter Laird, Michael Dooney, and A.C. Farley initiated the misguided Next Comics project, a strange attempt at creating an integrated super hero universe. Laird’s effort, Stupid Heroes, was decent but slavish in its attempt to replicate Jack Kirby. Dooney’s series, Xenotech, did nothing to distinguish itself from the many identical series pouring out of Image and Marvel Comics at the time. Only Farley’s Bioneers seemed to be on track for something special but was extremely complicated and never made it past the first issue.
Shortly after, Mirage’s publishing arm closed its doors. Laird and Lawson formed a new publishing company that could possibly be considered a successor to Mirage, called Zeromayo Studios. They began work on a series of ambitious series of graphic novels about interplanetary motorcycle racing called Planet Racers. After the project was completed, Lawson created the series Paleo: Tales of the Late Cretaceous. Each issue relates a day in the life of a dinosaur, with lavish illustrations and compelling stories. Most of the former Mirage staff, with the notable exclusion of Kevin Eastman, started a company called Funatix! with the aim of launching new annoying multimedia kids enterainment franchises. After years of failure they decided to get the ball rolling by publishing comics featuring some of their properties. These comics went to press but were never released.
With the rebirth of Mirage Publishing in 2001, most of these projects went by the wayside as Mirage artists once again had TMNT-related work.
Mirage Studios Non-TMNT Publication History
Prime Slime Tales #1-2 (1986)
Gizmo #1-6 (1986-1987)
Bade Biker and Orson #1-4 (1986-1987)
The Puma Blues #20-23 (1990)
Plastron Cafe #1-4 (1992-1993)
Usagi Yojimbo Volume 2 #1-16 (1993-1995)
Gizmo and the Fugitoid #1-2 (1988 )
Space Usagi #1-3 (1992)
Dino Island #1-2 (1993)
Stupid Heroes #1-3 (1993-1994)
Xenotech #1-3 (1993-1994)
Bioneers #1 (1994)
Space Usagi Volume 2 #1-3 (1994)
Rockola (1988 )
Mirage Mini-Comics (1989)
Zeromayo Studios Publication History
Paleo: Tales of the Late Cretaceous #1-8 (2001-2003)
Planet Racers Book One: Life Season
Planet Racers Book Two: Off-Season
Planet Racers Book Three: Janus Rising
Funatix! Publication History
Eagles of the Vortex #1 (2000)
Howlers #1 (2000)
Lewis and Klork: The Lost Planet Expedition (2000)
Stuff created for Mirage but published elsewhere after the publishing arm folded
Guzzi Lemans #1-2 (1996) published by Antarctic Press
Construct #1-6 (1996) pubished by Caliber Comics
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