Critters

 CRIZ   (Fantagraphics, 1986-1990)

™ and ©1986 Fantagraphics Books, Inc.

(From The Slings & Arrows Comic Guide)

There are very few anthologies that leave one feeling that every strip deserves its place. Critters almost manages it in that, even if there are some strips that you don’t enjoy, Kim Thompson’s editorial selection is of a consistently high quality so that you can admire the craft if not the result.

Critters proved to be a valuable showcase for both new and established creators, though only Stan Sakai’s and Cathy Hill’s creations continue to be published in the U.S. Funny animal strips had seen a resurgence of interest in the mid 1980s (with Omaha, Albedo and Neil the Horse leading the way alongside the longer established Cerebus the Aardvark and Maus), and Thompson provides space for practically everyone of note in the field, including Sam Kieth (#7, #11, #12, #23), Ty Templeton (#8, #11, #23—including a song on the free flexi-disc—and #50), Mark Armstrong (#7, #8, #11, #13, #23), Steve Lafler (#9, #11), Holland and Wilber (#11, #17, #19, #21, #23, #24, #29, #31, #32), Jim Engel (#18, #50), Steve Purcell (#19, #50), Mark Martin (#30, #50), Stephen DeStefano (#32, #38, #50), Donna Barr (#38), Arn Saba (#50), Tim Fuller (#15, #18, #22, #28, #31, #34, #38, #44, #50), Cathy Hill (#50), Doug Gray (#50), Joshua Quagmire (#1, #50) and Sergio Aragonés (#50).

Stan Sakai’s excellent samurai tale Usagi Yojimbo appears in #1, #3, #6, #7, #10, #11, #14, #23, #38 and #50, while the Groo-like “Adventures of Nilson Groundthumper and Hermy” features in #5, #16, #27 and the whole of the Critters Special (1988). From the same source (Albedo), Steve Gallacci’s Birthright is a furtherance of the science-fiction series “Erma Felda,” which began in that title (#1–6, #12–17 and #47–49).

Translated from the Danish by Thompson himself, “Family Gnuff” by Freddy Milton is the heavily Barks-influenced story of a family of dragons. Lighthearted and good-humored, the strength of this strip serves as the cornerstone for much of the title’s run (#2–5, #7, #9–11, #13–16, #19–26, #30–34, #40). Issue #2 contains a preview of the just-released Captain Jack series by Mike Kazelah, who contributed a number of other strips to Critters, though his best work remains that on Captain Jack (#42, #50). J.P. Morgan’s “Fission Chicken” and Tom Stazer’s “Lionheart” are both parody strips, the former of super-heroes, the latter of hardboiled detectives. Well presented, they only occasionally hit all the right points but are generally good fun.

William Van Horn’s “Ambrose” and “Angst” series, however, are definitely worth looking out for. The former is a Krazy Kat-inspired frog (#22, #25, #26, #30, #33, #38), the latter has a couple of small-time crooks waxing philosophical about their lot (#20, #45, #50). Another series inspired by a great newspaper strip is Kyle Rothweiler’s Duck “Bill” Platypus. Taking Pogo as a starting point, this is much more manic and surreal (#34–37, #41).

From #39, each issue contained a single character in hopes of improving sales but the series ended with #50, on a high, though, with an 84-page issue. Cathy Hill’s “Raccoons” strip had previously appeared in The Dreamery while Doug Gray’s The Eye of Mongombo was a short-lived but excellent title about an intrepid explorer who was turned into a duck. Reed Waller and Kate Worley’s “Speakingstone” (#12, #20) was unfortunately never finished. ~NF

Recommended: #1–3, #6, #7, #10–11, #14, #20, #22–23, #25–26, #33, #38, #42, #45, #50

Jump to issue:
  NotesWriterArtist

#1

  6/1/1986
  $2.00
  $15.00
2 copies available from $12.00
B&WStan SakaiStan Sakai

#2

  7/1/1986
  $2.00
  $2.75
2 copies available from $3.20
Captain Jack debut  

#3

  8/1/1986
  $2.00
  $3.25
2 copies available from $2.99
 Stan SakaiStan Sakai

#4

  9/1/1986
  $2.00
  $2.25
5 copies available from $1.25
   

#5

  10/1/1986
  $2.00
  $2.75
5 copies available from $0.99
 Freddy Milton, Kim Thompson, Stan Sakai, Toren Smith, Martin Brock, Steven A. GallacciFreddy Milton, Stan Sakai, Lela Dowling, Steven A. Gallacci

#6

  11/1/1986
  $2.00
  $3.25
6 copies available from $0.99
 Stan SakaiStan Sakai

#7

  12/1/1986
  $2.00
  $4.25
6 copies available from $0.55
 Stan SakaiStan Sakai

#8

  1/1/1987
  $2.00
  $2.25
6 copies available from $1.00
   

#9

  2/1/1987
  $2.00
  $2.50
6 copies available from $0.99
 Tom Stazer, Steve Lafler, Freddy Milton, Kim ThompsonTom Stazer, Steve Lafler, Freddy Milton

#10

  3/1/1987
  $2.00
  $4.50
3 copies available from $1.80
B&WFreddy Milton, Stan Sakai, Tom StazerFreddy Milton, Stan Sakai, Tom Stazer

#11

  4/1/1987
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  $3.00
4 copies available from $1.80
   

#12

  5/1/1987
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  $3.25
4 copies available from $1.75
 Steven A. Gallacci, Sam Kieth, Kate WorleySteven A. Gallacci, Sam Kieth, Reed Waller

#13

  6/1/1987
  $2.00
  $3.00
3 copies available from $0.96
Gnuff story; Birthright II storyFreddy Milton, Mark Armstrong, Steven A. GallacciFreddy Milton, Mark Armstrong, Steven A. Gallacci

#14

  7/1/1987
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4 copies available from $1.99
   

#15

  8/1/1987
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5 copies available from $1.50
B&WTimothy Fuller, Steven A. Gallacci, Raoul Vezina, Michael T. Gilbert, Jeff MorganTimothy Fuller, Steven A. Gallacci, Raoul Vezina, Michael T. Gilbert, Jeff Morgan

#16

  9/1/1987
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  $2.50
1 copy available for $1.25
B&W  

#17

  10/1/1987
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2 copies available from $0.99
Indicia says Sep 87; B&WTom Stazer, Steven A. Gallacci, J. HollandTom Stazer, Steven A. Gallacci, Ron Wilber

#18

  11/1/1987
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  $2.25
3 copies available from $1.35
Indicia says Sep 87; B&W  

#19

  12/1/1987
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3 copies available from $1.35
   

#20

  1/1/1988
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  $2.50
2 copies available from $1.50
   

#21

  2/1/1988
  $2.00
  $7.50
1 copy available for $7.99
 J.P. Morgan, J. Holland, Freddy MiltonJ.P. Morgan, Ron Wilber, Freddy Milton

#22

  3/1/1988
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  $3.00
2 copies available from $1.81
Watchmen parody cover; Indicia repeated from issue #21  

#22 Variation A

  3/1/1988
  $2.00
  $4.75
1 copy available for $14.99
Variant cover; Indicia repeated from issue #21  

#23

  4/1/1988
  $3.95
  $6.00
1 copy available for $21.99
Includes flexi-discStan Sakai, Tom Stazer, Sam Kieth, Ty Templeton, Alan Moore, John Leasure, Tim Fuller, Freddy Milton, Jeff Morgan, J. Holland, Ron Wilber, Mark Armstrong, Bob Conway, Marc SchirmeisterStan Sakai, Tom Stazer, Sam Kieth, Ty Templeton, Doug Erb, Kevin O’Neill, John Leasure, Tim Fuller, Freddy Milton, Jeff Morgan, J. Holland, Ron Wilber, Mike Kazaleh, Bob Conway, Marc Schirmeister

#24

  5/1/1988
  $2.00
  $2.50
1 copy available for $1.75
 Freddy Milton, J. P. Morgan, J. HollandFreddy Milton, J. P. Morgan, Ron Wilber

#25

  6/1/1988
  $2.00
  $2.75
2 copies available from $1.75
 Tom Stazer, Anthony Smith, William Van Horn, Freddy MiltonTom Stazer, William Van Horn, Mark Martin, Freddy Milton

#26

  7/1/1988
  $2.00
  $3.25
1 copy available for $1.75
   

#27

  8/1/1988
  $2.00
  $7.00
2 copies available from $1.00
 Stan Sakai, Anthony Smith, Tom Stazer, J. P. MorganStan Sakai, Tom Stazer, J. P. Morgan

#28

  9/1/1988
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  $2.75
2 copies available from $1.75
   

#29

  10/1/1988
  $2.00
  $3.25
1 copy available for $4.99
 Mike Kazaleh, Anthony Smith, Tom Stazer, J. Holland, Volker ReicheMike Kazaleh, Tom Stazer, Ron Wilber, Volker Reiche

#30

  11/1/1988
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  $2.75
2 copies available from $2.27
   

#31

  12/1/1988
  $2.00
  $3.25
3 copies available from $1.50
   

#32

  1/1/1989
  $2.00
  $3.00
1 copy available for $4.99
B&WStephen DeStefano, J. Holland, Freddy Milton, J. P. MorganStephen DeStefano, Ron Wilber, Freddy Milton, J. P. Morgan

#33

  2/1/1989
  $2.00
  $3.00
2 copies available from $1.45
Includes insert of the Fantagraphics Complete Catalogue for Winter 1988/89; B&WJeff Morgan, William Van Horn, Freddy MiltonJeff Morgan, William Van Horn, Freddy Milton

#34

  3/1/1989
  $2.00
  $4.00
2 copies available from $2.70
B&WMike Kazaleh, Tim Fuller, John Wilcox, Kyle Rothweiler, Marc MarcusMike Kazaleh, Tim Fuller, Frank Lintzen, Kyle Rothweiler

#35

  4/1/1989
  $2.00
  $4.00
3 copies available from $2.15
B&WJeff Morgan, Kyle Rothweiler, Tom Stazer, Marc SchirmeisterJeff Morgan, Kyle Rothweiler, Tom Stazer, Marc Schirmeister

#36

  5/1/1989
  $2.00
  $3.75
3 copies available from $1.80
B&WTom Stazer, Kyle Rothweiler, Jeff MorganTom Stazer, Kyle Rothweiler, Jeff Morgan

#37

  6/1/1989
  $2.00
  $12.00
1 copy available for $6.99
   

#38

  7/1/1989
  $2.75
  $3.50
2 copies available from $4.00
Usagi YojimboDonna BarrDonna Barr

#39

  8/1/1989
  $2.00
  $2.75
No copies available
Fission Chicken  

#40

  8/1/1989
  $2.00
  $2.50
1 copy available for $4.00
   

#41

  9/1/1989
  $2.00
  $1.50
1 copy available for $1.50
PlatypusK. RothweilerK. Rothweiler

#42

  9/1/1989
  $2.00
  $11.50
2 copies available from $2.50
Captain Jack  

#43

  10/1/1989
  $2.00
  $1.75
1 copy available for $1.20
   

#44

 
  $2.00
  $1.00
1 copy available for $9.99
   

#45

  11/1/1989
  $2.00
  $10.00
1 copy available for $9.99
Ambrose  

#46

  11/1/1989
  $2.00
  $13.50
1 copy available for $12.99
 Tom StazerTom Stazer

#47

  3/1/1990
  $2.00
  $2.00
No copies available
Aka Birthright #1 of 3Steven A. GallacciSteven A. Gallacci

#48

  4/1/1990
  $2.00
  $19.00
No copies available
Aka Birthright #2 of 3Steven A. GallacciSteven A. Gallacci

#49

  5/1/1990
  $2.00
  $6.00
No copies available
Aka Birthright #3 of 3Steven A. GallacciSteven A. Gallacci

#50

  3/1/1990
  $4.95
  $45.00
1 copy available for $84.99
Final Issue  

Special Edition #1

  1/1/1988
  $2.00
  $4.00
1 copy available for $1.50
Special #1Stan SakaiStan Sakai