Deathmate Tour Book
I started collecting in 1984 with Crisis on Infinite Earths #1 and have been a dedicated fan ever since. I did stop buying monthlies when the average singles were $2.99 (it’s now $3.99)… much more than the $0.60 to $0.75 cents when I started collecting. There’s an argument to be made though, comic books published today are printed on better paper, and thanks to digital, the colors and letterings are much cleaner and readable.
Anyway, two of the books I ran across were these signed Deathmate Tour Books at Heroes Comics & Cards in Fresno, California, on August 14, 1993. The funny thing is that the Deathmate Tour Bus broke down on their way to Fresno, so, according to my friend in line with me, he said that the signing was delayed by six hours! We’ll just take his word for it, as it’s established that I have poor memory (and in fact, did not remember my friend in line with me). Anyway, by the time the bus did arrive to the comic book store, it was dark, and there were probably only 10-20 fans left.
The Deathmate crew were just so grateful to see any fans that they gave us the Deathmate Tour Books with the Certificate of Authenticity for free. The autographs shown are by Brandon Peterson, Dan Panosian, Sal Regla, John Ostrander, Dan Fraga, Jimmy Palmiotti, J. Scott Campbell, Joe Quesada, and Jorge Gonzalez.
Joe Quesada, J. Scott Campbell (as Jeffery Scott), Jimmy Palmiotti, and Brandon Peterson, are probably some of the (now) best known artists in the group. I was also surprised to see John Ostrander on this tour (he wrote Legends with art by John Byrne as the “sequel” to Crisis and introduced the then-new Justice League of America). Quesada, as you know, was the most beloved and longest-serving Marvel Comics editor-in-chief, other than Stan Lee.
Just to give you the backstory on Deathmate, this was the company cross-over event between two rising comic companies at the time: Image Comics and Valiant Comics. The event would go down as a disaster, with all of Image’s comics not shipping on time. Despite the epilogue issue having a February 1994 cover date, Wikipedia suggests the actual shipping date were delayed, by as much as six months. Former Valiant editor-in-chief, Bob Layton, recounts having to fly to Los Angeles and literally sit on Liefeld’s doorstep until Liefeld finished his penciled art for the Deathmate Prologue, and who then inked the artwork himself in an Anaheim hotel room.
In an interview with Todd McFarlane interview by Larry Marder from Image Comics: The Road to Independence (TwoMorrows Publishing), regarding the Deathmate, McFarlane said that the long delays of the Deathmate books forced them to put in place the ability to return unsold books if they were delayed. Here’s what McFarlane had to say about the Deathmate Tour: