Starchild (comics)

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Starchild was a densely illustrated fantasy comic book self-published in the 1990s by James A. Owen. There were 24 issues total, and the series has been collected in a boxed set of reprints titled The Essential Starchild from Owen's Coppervale Press.

Starchild grew out of three projects Owen had been working on: a fantasy-based series entitled Pryderi Terra of which a single issue was published, an abandoned Elseworlds story for DC Comics (also titled Starchild, which is the meaning of Superman's birth name Kal-El in his native Kryptonese) and a 1990 Classics Illustrated adaptation of Silas Marner which also never saw print. The story was influenced by fairy tales and old English legends, and involved an old family secret linked to a dark and mysterious forest. The art was influenced by Dave Sim and Gerhard's Cerebus the Aardvark, a link from which Owen made no attempt to distance himself. Several issues even mimic Cerebus’ comics-industry satire, with cartoon versions of Neil Gaiman and even Cerebus himself ("Serbius") appearing in minor roles. The latter spoof went some way toward defusing criticisms Owen was merely a Sim/Gerhard copycat.

Owen initially associated with Sim as well as self-publishers Jeff Smith, and Colleen Doran when he first entered the comics field. Yet his personality quickly gained more attention than his book, and he developed a reputation for aggressive self-promotion.

Starchild's sales never matched those of Cerebus or Bone, and Sim eventually dissolved ties with Owen – but not before responding to Owen's "Serbius" spoof by giving Starchild's boggle-eyed barkeeper character Martin Humble a surprisingly substantial role in the graphic novel Guys.

Five issues of Starchild were published by Image Comics, and Owen continued to appear at the San Diego Comic Con with a massive Starchild display featuring life-sized animatronic characters. In recent years Owen has reinvented himself as a novelist, with a fantasy trilogy titled Mythworld meeting with success in Germany.

The material has been kept in print in the six-volume Essential Starchild trade paperbacks through Owen's Coppervale Press Imprint, and a one-volume edition, originally planned for late 2006, ended up being funded through Kickstarter in July 2013.[1]

A trade paperback French translation of Starchild: Awakenings was released by Kymera Comics in the Fall of 2005, and additional volumes are forthcoming.