As a comic book collector, once in a while something so special to you comes along that you hold it so close to your heart that when it comes to an end you actually feel devastated and feel like giving up the hobby as a whole. That happened the day I found out that Crossgen Comics was going bankrupt and closing up it's operation. I was Crossgen super-fan #1 and I credit the company with making me care about comic books again after about a year and a half of not really giving a hoot. Sadly, after X-Men went down the tubes in the late 90's and DC canceled one of my favorite comic book series ever (Sovereign Seven) I was left with little to purchase every month and relied on buying comic books such as Amazing Spider-Man, Captain American, and JLA, which were all books I somewhat liked but wasn't truly enjoying due to the ramification of the loss of my absolute favorite series. I still dabbled in Hitman via DC Comics and was enjoying that quite a bit, and I focused on getting other books like Crimson and Battle Chasers by Image's Cliffhanger imprint (despite their lateness), but my “love” for the industry was dimming and something had to be done otherwise I was about to give up completely.
For months I had been reading in Wizard Magazine that Marvel was planning to unleash a line of comics that were going to re-imagine the Marvel Universe. The line would become known as their “Ultimate” line and I finally had something to look forward to once those books saw release, but they were still months and months away. While visiting one of my local comic book stores I came across 4 books that were clumped together in a small corner of the store and they all had a #1 on the cover, I picked them up and flipped through them and decided that I would give 3 out of 4 titles a shot. The 3 books I picked up were Scion #1, Sigil #1, and Mystic #1, I decided against Meridian #1 because it looked to be the weakest of the bunch and I didn't have the extra cash to pick it up (though I did get it later on). The logo on the front of all 4 books was similar to a ying/yang and later I found out that all of these characters had this image branded to them and it would become a mark for “sigil-bearers” within the Crossgen Universe. Well, when I got home to read these comics I read Mystic first and really enjoyed the amazing art that this book features as well as the main character which struck me by surprise as I've never really read many comics at that time that featured a strong female lead other than a couple team books. I read Scion next and instantly fell in love with the “King Arthur” style tale and all the characters involved, especially the main hero Ethan and his nemesis Bron. I knew this book would be something special but what I didn't know is that it would become my absolute favorite series throughout the next couple of years being rivaled only by Ultimate Spider-Man and a team book by Crossgen called Crux. I finally got around to reading Sigil after that and while I felt it was a good book I didn't really like the artwork and I felt the book was a little to “sci-fi” for my liking, but I would continue on with the series until it's end. Actually, about 10-12 issues into the series the book got a new writer and artist and eventually became one of my favorite books by the publisher, it just took them a little while and I'm glad I stuck with them as Sam Rey and Tchulsarud battled throughout the universe in epic battles.
Some months after the #1's hit the stands Crossgen announced that more titles were coming and that the initial 4 titles released have been highly successful. It wasn't long until The First (a team book with cosmic beings who watched over the entire universe) hit the stands, followed by Ruse, Sojourn, and Crux. Crux went on to become my 2nd favorite title that Crossgen ever published and as the series went on a felt connected to this book much like I did with Sovereign Seven, my favorite comic book series that was canceled in 1998. Crux told the story of a team of Atlantians who went into a hibernation status and woke up in a future world that had been shattered to it's core. The lineup was fresh, the stories were fun, and the book featured countless supporting characters (Danik, Aristophanes, Thraxis) that helped the book to tell fantastic stories, which had just led me to a revelation of sorts. The revelation being that many of Crossgen's books featured supporting characters that were either as cool, or even cooler than the main characters in their respective books. A few characters that come to mind aside from the ones I had mentioned earlier would be Exeter (Scion), Garath (Sojourn), and Roiya (Sigil), all of which have really made their mark on me at one point and have been a key reason as to why I purchased these books. Well, soon after the second wave of titles came there was a slew of books in the third wave, and it seemed as if Crossgen was just getting started. Comics within the third wave included Brath, Route 666, Way of the Rat, Negation, Chimera, Solus, Mark of Charon, and others, but the only ones I personally cared about out of this bunch was Brath, Negation, and the Mark of Charon (which was a mini-series).
Soon after the third wave of books hit it was announced that there was going to be a line of comics that didn't connect to the “Sigil-verse” and that there was going to be a whole bunch of new and exciting things going on with Crossgen. The line of comics would become known as “Code 6” and Crossgen published a slew of books based upon existing properties such as Masters of the Universe, and Escape from New York. Some of the other things Crossgen began doing was publishing comics online through a strategy called COW (Comic on the Web), and publishing 5x7 digest format trade paperback's they called “Compendia” with a mix-match of titles within their line for a low price. I personally didn't care for any of these ventures and aside from Masters of the Universe I basically ignored Code 6 comics all together and never purchased any of their digests. Crossgen was one of (if not the first) comic book publishers to put their titles up on the web for digital viewing and they were pretty innovative with the Compendia line of digests, but sometimes being too innovative can come back and bite you in the ass and that's kind of what happened here with Crossgen. Things looked to be on the up-swing as they began releasing normal sized trade paperback's which were being stocked by Barnes & Noble as well as Borders, but once the retailer began carrying more and more Marvel and DC TPB's they started sending back their Crossgen product to the publisher for a refund. This hurt Crossgen and eventually they began to sink into debt with their creators which saw many up and leave the company before it's closure.
Despite the turmoil going on behind the scenes I was highly enjoying all the titles I was reading by Crossgen and for a solid 3 years they were without a doubt my favorite publisher on the stands. My friend Kenny (Stelfo64) bought into the company as I did and started buying titles like Sigil, Scion, Sojourn, and Crux, he found a comic book store near him where he was actually able to find the “Primer” sample comic and the “Crossgenerations” book by the publisher which was sent out before the #1's hit the stands and he was able to pick them up for me to help complete my collection. One time I remember fondly was when Kenny and myself walked into one of our local comic shops I took a swipe right for the new release rack and spent about a minute browsing around and when I turned around he had a stack of about 20+ copies of Sigil in his hands. He had started reading Sigil a year or so before and fell behind and this was his way of catching up. On top of that we hit up several other comic book stores that day and he ended up buying a slew of other Crossgen titles, investing heavily into the publisher and having fun being a comic book fan in the process. Isn't that what it's all about?
After the collapse of Crossgen I went through a bit of a down time similar to what happened when DC canceled Sovereign Seven. I was buying random titles like Batman, Superman, JSA, Amazing Spider-Man, and a couple of other random titles but I wasn't feeling them nearly as much as I did the Crossgen books and eventually I sold off my entire comic book collection which consisted of 9 long boxes and 2 magazine sized boxes full of comics (which I regret doing). About a year later I decided that I was going to get back into comics but it was going to strictly be through trade paperback's and that would be it, but eventually I went back to floppies and spent thousands to get back a solid amount of what I once had as well as tons and tons of comics that I've discovered over the past several years. I now have 7 long boxes full of comic books and it's growing rapidly as well as over 500 TPB's spread across 2 massive bookshelves, but imagine how many comics I'd have if Crossgen never bit the dust and was still publishing today. It's funny how I bonded with the company the way that I did, it was exciting to me and it really felt like home and that I was a part of something special. To this day I still see Crossgen fans bring the company up on random forums, and when I do I stop and smile while I remember the great times I had buying, reading, and collecting Crossgen titles. It was truly one of the biggest highlights I've had (or will ever have) as a comic book collector and I will always cherish those memories until the day I die.
As always I want to take the time to thank those who took the time to read my blog, it's much appreciated. Also, you can always check me out at www.twitter.com/manga4life as well as TZ and CBR, feel free to say “hi”.
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