All October long I will be exploring the context behind (using reader danjack’s term) “meta-messages.” A meta-message is where a comic book creator comments on/references the work of another comic book/comic book creator using the characters in their comic. Each time around, I’ll give you the context behind one such “meta-message.” Here is an archive of the past installments! If you have a suggestion for a future meta-message, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today we look at one of the most upfront metafictional issues of a comic book that you’ll see, American Flagg #46, which addresses the state of the comic post-Chaykin and prepared readers for his return to his creation in #47.
With a couple of fill-in issues thrown into the mix, Howard Chaykin wrote and drew the first 26 issues of American Flagg. Then he had a fill-in artist on #27. Then Joe Staton drew a three-parter from #28-30. With #31, Mark Badger became the regular artist and Chaykin phased himself out as the writer of the series, with first Steven Grant writing the book and then J.M. DeMatteis.
Readers kept complaining about the book not having Chaykin. Not that Grant and DeMatteis were not good (as both guys are quite good) but the fans had identified the book with Chaykin so much that they “needed” Chaykin on the title.
So issue #46 was devoted to this concept, with the reader being directly engaged by the narrator of the comic.
First, through a mixture of new art and re-purposed artwork from older Chaykin issues, we are treated to a celebration of Chaykin’s run…
Followed by an examination of how readers complained about the writers who followed…
This all leads to the announcement (via a text page in the middle of the story!!) that Chaykin would, indeed, be returning to the book with #47, plotting the book with Mindy Newell. With #47 and 48 drawn by Paul Smith and Mike Vosburg drawing #49-50. Originally they announced Chaykin as doing #51 on, but that soon turned into a brand-new #1. Chaykin eventually left this new volume of American Flagg, as well, around #11. It ended soon after.
FunkyGreenJerusalem sort of suggested this one (he hadn’t read the issue, but he had heard about it).