Star*Reach was a fantastic anthology book published by Mike Friedrich, roughly between 1974 & 1978. It featured, throughout it's run, work from such luminaries as Jim Starlin, Howie Chaykin, Craig Russell, Lee Marrs, Gray Morrow & Gene Day among many others. Friedrich was a writer for Marvel ( I think he did Ant-Man with Russell ) before Star*Reach, and became a writer & artists agent after it. Here's Mike in somber mood:
Friedrich called Star*Reach a 'ground level comic', in other words directly between the mainstream & the underground, utilizing the best of both. But what it really was, was the first of the indie comics, the first one to prove that independent publishing could work, and that Marvel & DC didn't necessarily have the monopoly.
And Star*Reach was influential in other ways too: Friedrich was one of the first publishers to let artists own their characters, the first to publish manga in America, and with his serialization of Catholic sci-fi epic The Sacred & The Profane, he would've been the publisher of the first serious, adult graphic novel. ( Had he had the finances to reprint it in book form. )
The first issue I ever saw was no. 6. I swapped it from a kid named Dean Willetts. ( Can't remember what for, but I'm damn sure I got the better end of the deal! )
This was the first 'adult' comic I'd ever seen, in fact, I'm fairly sure it was the first professional comic that wasn't DC or Marvel that I'd ever seen too, so I'm sure there was a little illicit thrill involved there. ( What would Stan say? I'm not reading Marvel! ) And what an issue!
Behind a Jeff Jones cover, you get a stunning, original Elric of Melnibone story by Eric Kimball & Bob Gould ( introduced as Two Man Horse ). Gould's gorgeous Windsor-Smith inspired art is worth the price of the book alone:
Followed by a VERY ' 70's version of the Adam & Eve story from the much missed Gene Day with Steve Leialoha:
Then there's the 2nd part of Joe Staton's Gods Of Mount Olympus, detailing the myth of Pandora's Box:
And Gary Lyda's beautiful cosmic romance Out Of Space, Out Of Time:
All this and Ray Bradbury too! In the parlance of the day, my mind was completely blown. Who knew comics could be like this? Not my tender aged, Marvel loving self, that's for sure.
Along with Star*Reach, Friedrich also published companion titles Imagine ( which was basically Star*Reach pt. 2 ), Pudge, Girl Blimp, Lee Marrs tour de force, and Quack, a funny animal book featuring Micheal T. Gilbert, Frank Brunner, Steve Leialoha, Ken Macklin & some real early work by Dave Sim. More on all those soon, of course, but for now, Reach For The Stars!