My Misspent Youth: Stig’s Inferno by Ty Templeton

I read a lot of comic books as a kid. This series of posts is about the comics I read, and, occasionally, the comics that I should have read.

When I was buying comic books during my high school years, I mostly opted for the superhero offerings of the big two publishers, Marvel and DC. By that time, it wasn’t a matter of availability. Purchasing new comics from spinner racks in the grocery store or local drugstore had already shifted into a near impossibility, causing me to satisfy my need through monthly orders from a subscriptions service, getting a big block of comics shipped to me from Texas or Colorado. It would have been just as easy for me to check the boxes underneath the independent publishers as it was to select the more familiar offerings. For whatever reason, I was always nervous to do so. I needed some reassurance that a book was first-rate and ideally a nice, clean entry point. For Stig’s Inferno, the darkly comedic series by Ty Templeton, the latter criterion was fulfilled when it jumped from dinky Vortex Comics to the comparatively mighty Eclipse Comics, arguably the most significant indie publisher of the late nineteen-eighties. The first Eclipse issue was promised to be a generous jumping-on point, and so it was.


The core plot was about a regular schmo who bumbles his way into the netherworld, further complicating and already vexing situation by inadvertently positioning himself to be the new ruler of hell itself. All it really took was settling into the wrong chair.


I’m not precisely sure how I became aware of Stig’s Inferno and subsequently convinced it was a comic I needed to read. There were a slew of resources I studied on a regular basis (Comics Buyer’s Guide, Amazing Heroes, the various promotional publications sent out by the subscription service comic shops), so it must have been in one of those. It’s likely that a landslide of rave reviews is what it took for me to commit to shelling out a hefty two dollars for each issue of Stig’s Inferno. Presumably, those reviews would have emphasized the loopy satire and the dense artwork, packing comedic asides into the individual panels. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if there was a comparison to Harvey Kurtzman’s work somewhere in the various write-ups, and I knew enough about the history of the form to dutifully fall in line with a modern creator who was a descendent of that canonized master.


Any reluctance I had proved foolish. I loved Stig’s Inferno, reading it over and over and sharing favorite gags with my comedy-adoring compatriots just as resolutely as we repeated beloved lines from The Blues Brothers or Caddyshack. Much as I enjoyed the main story, I was even more enamored with the spare bits that filled out the issues, like a text piece that offered dozens of potential band names and album titles to aspiring musicians (one of my friends and I briefly operated under the delusion that we could record songs under the name Organized Virus, despite meager musical ability) or the expert mockery of horror comics in the story “Wa-Hooma! The Beast That Walks Just Like a Regular Guy!” (with art by Sam Keith).


In some respects, I got to Stig’s Inferno a little too late. It’s tenure at Eclipse Comics lasted only two issues before the title was folded for good. Stig’s story ends with him discovering that he has developed supernatural powers and a “Next Issue” blurb that basically shouted uncertainty over where the story could go next. It’s an agreeably ramshackle ending for a series that was wild and unhinged in all the best ways.


Fantastic Four by Stan Lee and John Buscema
Contest of Champions by Bill Mantlo and John Romita, Jr.
Daredevil by Frank Miller
Marvel Fanfare by Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum and Paul Smith
Marvel Two-in-One by Tom DeFalco and Ron Wilson
Fantaco’s “Chronicles” series
Fantastic Four #200 by Marv Wolfman and Keith Pollard
The Incredible Hulk #142 by Roy Thomas and Herb Trimpe
Uncanny X-Men by Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum
Godzilla by Doug Moench and Herb Trimpe
Giant-Size Avengers #3 by Steve Englehart, Roy Thomas and Dave Cockrum
Alpha Flight by John Byrne
Hawkeye by Mark Gruenwald
Avengers by David Michelinie and George Perez
Justice League by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire
The Thing by Dan Slott and Andrea DiVito
Nexus by Mike Baron and Steve Rude
Marvel Premiere by David Kraft and George Perez
Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars by Jim Shooter and Mike Zeck
Micronauts by Bill Mantlo and Butch Guice
Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland
What If? by Mike W. Barr, Herb Trimpe and Mike Esposito
Thor by Walt Simonson
Eightball by Dan Clowes
Cerebus: Jaka’s Story by Dave Sim and Gerhard
Iron Man #150 by by David Michelinie, John Romita, Jr. and Bob Layton
Bone by Jeff Smith
The Man of Steel by John Byrne
Fantastic Four by Doug Moench and Bill Sienkiewicz
“Allien and How to Watch It” by John Severin
Fantastic Four Roast by Fred Hembeck and friends
The Amazing Spider-Man #25 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
Marvel Two-in-One #7 by Steve Gerber and Sal Buscema
The New Mutants by Chris Claremont and Bob McLeod
Dark Horse Presents
Bizarre Adventures #27
Marvel Team-Up #48 by Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema
Metal Men #20 by Robert Kanigher and Ross Andru
The Avengers by Roy Thomas and John Buscema
Fantastic Four by Marv Wolfman and John Byrne
Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra
American Flagg by Howard Chaykin
Marvel and DC Present by Chris Claremont and Walter Simonson
Batman by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli
Marvel Two-in-One Annual #5 by Alan Kupperberg and Pablo Marcos
Web of Spider-Man by Louise Simonson and Greg LaRocque
Super-Villain Team-Up #12 by Bill Mantlo and Bob Hall
What If? #31 by Rich Margopoulos and Bob Budiansky
Fantastic Four by Scott Lobdell and Alan Davis
Magik by Chris Claremont and John Buscema, Sal Buscema, and Ron Frenz
Marvel Two-in-One Annual #7 by Tom DeFalco and Ron Wilson
Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters by Mike Grell
Avengers #202 by Jim Shooter, David Michelinie and George Pérez
Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. by Jim Steranko
Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers by Jack Kirby
What If? #6 by Roy Thomas, Jim Craig, and Rick Hoberg
Iron Man #39 by Gerry Conway and Herb Trimpe

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