Free rare Neil Gaiman comic available from Steve Bissette (offer ends TONIGHT)

9 Jun

by Mike Hansen

Sweeney Todd TABOO PD cvrI’ve ordered mine. If you want it, you should order right now -

Comics legend Steve Bissette (of Tyrant, Taboo, and Swamp Thing fame) has a special offer at his online store: with every purchase (no matter how small!), he will include a free copy of the 1992 Sweeney Todd Penny Dreadful, written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Michael Zulli, originally included in the now-very rare Taboo #6. I’ve never seen a copy of this myself, though I’ve searched for it for 20 years – so there’s no way I was going to pass this up.

Mr. Bissette asked me to spread the word about this offer, which I’m happy to do! As he posted yesterday, this offer is in its final hours – at midnight TONIGHT, unless he runs out of copies before then – so if you want a really cool and rare piece of ’90s comics history, go place an order now! There’s a lot of great stuff available, from Tyrant (one of the most acclaimed self-published series of the ’90s) to Taboo (one of the greatest horror comics series ever, containing the first chapters of From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell) to many other terrific books.

From his announcement (sample page in the link):

This genuinely rare Gaiman & Zulli gem was originally offered in 1992 as a pre-order special with all pre-ordered copies of Taboo 6. It was available only through Direct Market distributor pre-orders of that Taboo volume, shrinkwrapped with Taboo 6 all initial shipments to retailers. That was the one and only time the Penny Dreadful was made available to the market.

Since only a few thousand copies of Taboo 6 were preordered, this exclusive Penny Dreadful is among the rarest of all Neil Gaiman and Michael Zulli‘s 1990s comics/graphic novel creations.

Printed on crisp white newssprint, this 16-page preview of Neil & Michael‘s then-about-to-debut Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street measures 6″ x 9″ and is jam-packed with the fruits of their research and initial collaboration. It features Neil’s “Sweeney Todd: A Brief Introduction,” a never-reprinted essay by Neil that spans the entire booklet, cover to cover.

It is heavily & handsomely illustrated with vintage Penny Dreadful era artwork from the original Sweeney Todd penny dreadfuls, rare 19th century photographs, prints, and line art, and over a dozen Michael Zulli pencil and pen-and-ink portraits of Sweeney, Mrs. Lovett, and the Fleet Street settings. The centerspread is a map of Fleet Street, and the entire Penny Dreadful was designed and executed by Michael Zulli and Neil.

This is a loving and lovely artifact of the project-that-was-never-to-be (only a single chapter—the prologue—was published, in Taboo 7, along with a full-color promotional poster Michael created and Tundra/SpiderBaby published to promote Taboo 7).

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