Tuesday, September 6, 2011

80's Oddities: The Champion (Special Studio, 1990)

The Champion was a story that originally appeared in Epic Illustrated #33 in December of 1985. It was the first collaboration project of writer Doug Moench and brothers Dan and Gene Day. Gene had helped layout some pieces of Dan's artwork for the project, which was completed three days before Gene's untimely death in 1982. Dan Day re-released The Champion in comic book form in 1990 with six additional never-before-seen pages that did not appear in EI #33.

And Dan's artwork clearly is the showcase for this story, as it is absolutely amazing stuff. The story is simple: an evil mage has imprisoned a beautiful maiden high atop his castle, and nothing will stop the champion from rescuing her. Although the plot line is bare bones, Moench still manages to make it interesting with some great construction of prose:

Those who passed before mock him, as then and ever, from the safety of stone. And the traps now laid for him...are no worse than those webs of dark knowledge which ever baffled his skull. No surprise then that such traps could contain surprises...shaped into images of himself under the helm. 

Dan Day's stylistic use of pencils fit perfectly in black and white form. Everything is sharp and heavily detailed, and the blacks flow with the whites like a match made in heaven. Dan's skeletons really look good using this style. Although some of the art looks as if it were a bit rushed, that makes sense since it was completed in only three days.

The Champion turns out to be a memorable piece of eighties fantasy. If you get a chance to read it, by all means do so. The issue that Special Studio (a division of Diamond Press) put out also includes an extra Dan Day story entitled "Flight", which is equally as awesome. Check out Flight in it's entirety below. Click on each image to enlarge the page.


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