Swashbucklers Free Online to Benefit Mantlo

Swords of the Swashbucklers, a graphic novel plus 12-comic series by Bill Mantlo and Jackson Guice, is now available online for free. Earnings from the commercial sponsors will go to benefit Mantlo’s care.

Press release after the break, with reminiscences from Guice and Colleen Doran about Mantlo.

With the cooperation of Bill’s brother Mike Mantlo, co-creator Guice, and series artists Geof Isherwood and Colleen Doran, all royalties from Swords of the Swashbucklers will be redirected to Mike to assist with Bill’s quality of life.

In 1992, Bill Mantlo was struck by a car and suffered extensive brain injuries. Today, he requires 24-hour care and is not expected to fully recover. Though Medicaid covers his basic needs, the project will help with new clothes and other life improvements.

“I have to thank to Roger Stern for the idea,” says Steve Horton, Smashout Comics publisher. “He suggested I contact Bill’s estate about Swords of the Swashbucklers, as I had wanted to see it back in print. And now, here we are! I couldn’t be happier that we’re able to assist Bill and his family this way.”

As a special bonus, with participation of artist Polly Law, the first issue of the regular series includes the hard SF short story Rising of the Moon, originally published in EPIC Illustrated #5. Also, Guice has provided promotional artwork and original art scans, which appear as back covers of the books.

“In the early 1980s, I had the tremendous blessing of finding myself working with writer Bill Mantlo on my first regular assignment in comics (The Micronauts),” says Guice. “In addition to taking a nervous young artist under his wing, and helping guide me through some very intimidating first few months of experience in the industry, Bill and I soon discovered a strong collaborative spirit between us — constantly on the phone — bouncing ideas back and forth for potential new characters and projects to come. It became something of an ongoing joke between us, as we invariably would drift off topic into discussing — yet another — new project idea, whenever we spoke.”

“As our run on Micronauts was coming to a close, Bill and I had several project ideas we felt strongly enough about to consider submitting to EPIC, the then new creator-owned line of books at Marvel. We weren’t entirely sure yet what we wanted to work on next, only that we were determined to continue working together. I had recently acquired studio space for myself in a rented loft and had dubbed the place, Swashbuckler Studio. Bill called shortly after the studio phone was hooked up, and I answered, ‘Swashbuckler Studio — Butch speaking.'”

“Without pause, Bill said in his usual enthusiastic way — ‘That would make a great name for a comic series someday!’ — and we laughed. A day or two later, however, Bill called once more and excitedly began describing his broadstroke initial ideas for a space-faring pirate series he wanted us to pitch to EPIC — SWORDS OF THE SWASHBUCKLERS. And that’s how it all began.”

“Wow, I don’t know what to say,” says Doran. “It is some of my early comics work, and definitely not good work from me, but what a privilege to get to have a chance to work with Bill Mantlo! Bill Mantlo was not only a wonderfully prolific and imaginative writer, he was an outstanding human being.”

“I met him while working on Swords of the Swashubucklers, and he was so good and kind to me. I was having a legal problem with a publisher who had claimed all rights to my work, and Bill Mantlo was in his early days as a lawyer. He was able to go over my contract, and was able to tell me that I was not only in the right, but he helped me find the contacts and get the representation I needed to wrest my book away from the publisher who was trying to get my copyrights and trademarks.”

“Bill owed me nothing. I was not a good artist, and was not an important person. I was a beginner working on my first job for Marvel Comics, and all Bill knew about me was that I was in trouble and needed a hand. He was incredibly generous with his time and attention, and I will never ever forget that out of all the hundreds of people in the business, he was one of a small handful that stood by me and helped me when I was a complete nobody. He wasn’t interested in sucking up, he wasn’t interested in making a lot of money, he just wanted to do the right thing.”

“My only regret is that I could not be a better artist for Bill. After all these years, I hope my small contribution to Bill’s work can help him out in some small way to make up for the invaluable kindness he did me. I guess…I knew what to say after all. Thank you, Bill Mantlo. I love you.”

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