I’d never heard of Hollywood Superstars until I got old buddy Nat Gertler’s press release for the new reprint volume. Turns out that it was an abbreviated (only five issues) series that was originally put out by Epic Comics (a division of Marvel) from 1990-1991. It was a comic before its time. There were no superheroes in it (although various action scenes were included). It was an indy comic that would appeal to general audience readers before they were used to buying such a format.
The three main characters were led by Jerry Naylor, a stunt coordinator who left the movie business after an accident. He tried to stop a director from allowing an unsafe stunt which killed some extras but wasn’t successful. Aspiring actress and incompetent secretary Melody Blake is the crush of stand-up comic Leo Haney, which allows for a variety of one-liners in the dialogue. Together, they’re detectives.
Since Hollywood Superstars was written by screenwriter and raconteur Mark Evanier, I knew it would be authentic, since he knows Hollywood. (And at that link, he tells the story of how the book came to be.) Artist Dan Spiegle, who also collaborated with Evanier on Crossfire and Blackhawk, provides clean, classic lines (as I’d expect from someone who started making comics in the 50s). That style is a help in reading this volume, since it’s a black-and-white reprint of a series originally released in color.
The art here is occasionally murky, as can happen with such projects, but this is a convenient, cheap way to read the series without having to hunt down little-known back issues. I believe it’s print-on-demand. In the PDF, there were a few pages where the art was slightly crooked. I don’t know if that’s the way they were originally or an artifact of preparing to reprint, since I didn’t see the physical book. (Then again, you may not even notice; I tend to be obsessive about such things.)
Hollywood Superstars pleasantly reminded me of Hooper, particularly since many of the stories deal with the potential of movie stunts going wrong. The only other case involves an older, jaded, still-aspiring actress who hates men. The stories are told in broad strokes with sometimes blunt humor and the occasional shower scene with one of the women. (Evanier says they were originally trying to target young women, thus the soap opera aspects, but visually, this book is aimed at the usual male audience.) I enjoyed the chance to read comics from a more innocent time. Everyone’s motivations were obvious, the bad guys eventually got what was coming to them, and there were plenty of jokes.
Hollywood Superstars is not available in comic shops, only through Amazon.com. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)