Eclipse Comics was an American comic book publisher, one of several independent publishers during the 1980s and early 1990s. In 1978, it published the first graphic novel for the newly-created comic book specialty store market. It was one of the first to offer royalties and creator ownership of rights, and the first comics company to publish trading cards.
Eclipse was known for its eclectic mix of titles and products. Many noteworthy creators got their start or did early work there, including Chuck Austen, Donna Barr, Dan Brereton, Chuck Dixon, James Hudnall, Scott McCloud, Peter Milligan, Tim Truman, and Chris Ware. Veterans published by Eclipse include Steve Englehart, Don McGregor, Gene Colan and Mark Evanier.
The company is known for its role in the publication history of the acclaimed and contested series Miracleman.
The company was founded as Eclipse Enterprises by brothers Jan and Dean Mullaney in 1977. Eclipse published one of the first original graphic novels (as opposed to collected reprint material), Sabre: Slow Fade of an Endangered Species by Don McGregor and Paul Gulacy. Published in August 1978—two months before Will Eisner's more famous, graphic short-story collection A Contract with God—it led to a 14-issue spin-off series for Eclipse.
McGregor went on to write two additional early graphic novels for Eclipse, each set in contemporary New York City and starring interracial-buddy private eyes Ted Denning and Bob Rainier: Detectives, Inc.: A Remembrance of Threatening Green (1980), with artist Marshall Rogers, and Detectives, Inc.: A Terror Of Dying Dreams (1985), with artist Gene Colan, who would become a frequent collaborator.
During the early 1980s, Eclipse moved several times: from 81 Delaware Street, Staten Island, New York, to 295 Austin Street, Columbia, Missouri, and then to the small towns of Guerneville and later Forestville in Sonoma County, California.
Beginning in Missouri, Eclipse expanded operations under editor Cat Yronwode (who was married to Eclipse co-founder Dean Mullaney from 1987–1993). With Yronwode as editor-in-chief during a period of expanding attention to the art form, Eclipse published many innovative works and championed creators' rights in a field which at the time barely respected them.
During Yronwode's tenure, Eclipse published superhero titles including Miracleman by Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman, The Rocketeer by Dave Stevens, and Zot! by Scott McCloud. and also brought out graphic novels featuring opera adaptations, such as The Magic Flute by P. Craig Russell and classic children's literature such as The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien .
In 1985, Eclipse published Women and the Comics, a pioneering book on the history of female comic strip and comic book creators that Yronwode co-wrote with the cartoonist Trina Robbins. As the first book of its kind, Women and the Comics garnered quite a bit of attention from the mainstream press as well as comics fandom.
During the 1980s, Eclipse brought out a new line of non-fiction, non-sports trading cards, edited by Yronwode. Controversial political subjects such as the Iran-Contra scandal, the Savings and Loan crisis, the AIDS epidemic, and the Kennedy Assassination, as well as true crime accounts of serial killers, mass murderers, the mafia, and organized crime were covered in these card sets.
In 1988, in partnership with Viz Communications and Studio Proteus, Eclipse published some of the earlier Japanese manga translated into English. It later expanded its manga line in collaboration with Studio Proteus.
In 1986, Eclipse lost most of its back-issue stock in a flood. This, along with the repercussions of Mullaney and Yronwode's divorce, and the mid-Nineties collapse of the direct market distribution system, forced the company to cease operations in 1994, and file for bankruptcy in 1995. The company's intellectual property rights were later acquired by Todd McFarlane. Eclipse's last publication was its Spring 1993 catalog, which was a complete bibliography of its publications.
- Catherine Yronwode. "Eclipse Comics Index". luckymojo.com. Retrieved 2007-10-31.
- "Conan in Comics? Yes. Hulk? Sure. But Fafner? Wotan?" by John Rockwell, The New York Times (newspaper) April 5, 1990
- "Women in the Comics: Assertive and Independent Women Make a Comeback" Miami Herald (newspaper), Dec. 1, 1988.
- "Comic Books Are For Adults Too" by William Singleton, Scripps Howard News Service, Chronicle-Telegram (newspaper), Jan. 7, 1988.
- "Funny How Things Change" Daily Herald (newspaper), Dec. 28, 1988.
- "Trading Card Fame for S&L Scoundrels" by Judith Crossen, Reuters, Philadelphia Daily News (newspaper), Sep. 9, 1991
- "A Full Deck of Scandals at a Glance" by Susan Trausch, Boston Globe (newspaper), Sep. 18, 1991
- "Insider Trading with Keating, Milken", Daily News of Los Angeles (newspaper), Oct. 20, 1991
- "Price tag on JFK intrigue Assassination aficionados spawn cottage industry" by Kathryn Jones, The Dallas Morning News (newspaper), Nov. 22, 1991
- "Kennedy Assassination is an Industry with Growing Market", Associated Press, Elyria Chronicle-Telegram (newspaper), Nov. 28, 1991
- "Ban Urged on Sale of Crime Cards", The Record (newspaper), Apr. 30, 1992
- "'True Crime' Cards Thriving Despite Outrage", New York Times (newspaper), Jun. 16, 1992
- "Killer Cards Hit Capital Stores Amid Criticism", Sacramento Bee (newspaper), Jun. 19, 1992
- "Killer Cards: Two groups trying to deal fatal blow to criminal cards", The Oregonian (newspaper), Aug. 18, 1992
- "AIDS cards to include condoms", Milwaukee Journal Sentinal (newspaper), Sep. 23, 1992)
- "AIDS Awareness is in the cards", Dallas Morning News (newspaper), Jul. 7, 1993
- "AIDS Activism turns to cards" Dayton Daily News (newspaper), Jul. 13, 1993
- "Ban Sought on Cards depicting AIDS victim" Boston Globe (newspaper) Jan. 15, 1994
- "Newswatch: Business News: Eclipse Copes with Divorce and Back Debt," The Comics Journal #165 (January 1994), p. 12.
- "Comics Publishers Suffer Tough Summer: Body Count Rises in Market Shakedown," The Comics Journal #172 (Nov. 1994), pp. 13–18.
- "Newswatch: Eclipse Files for Bankruptcy," The Comics Journal #174 (February 1995), p. 25.
- "McFarlane Buys Eclipse Assets at Auction," The Comics Journal #185 (March 1996), pp. 14–15.