Cole Black

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Cole Black Comix
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Cover to Cole Black Comix issue 1, from 1976. Art by Rocky Hartberg
Publication information
Publisher Rocky Hartberg Productions
Schedule about Quarterly
Format Finite ongoing series
Publication date 1976 - 2006
No. of issues 10+
Main character(s) Cole Black
Mickey Moorlock
Creative team
Written by Rocky Hartberg
Artist(s) Rocky Hartberg
Penciller(s) Rocky Hartberg
Inker(s) Rocky Hartberg

Cole Black is an underground comic book hard-boiled detective created by Rocky Hartberg in 1976. The detective first appeared in the self-published full-sheet newspaper-sized Cole Black Comix #1 (1976) which had a print run of only 200 copies all distributed in the Aberdeen, South Dakota area. Hartberg submitted Cole Black to Marvel Comics for inclusion in Epic Magazine in the late-1970s. Although Marvel initially like the concept and accepted the submission, changes in editorial direction at Epic scrapped the project.

In 1980, Hartberg initiated a second Cole Black series, this time in newspaper strip format. Between 1980 and 1983, five issues of Cole Black were published in this format. Each of these issues had national distribution and circulated between 1,000 and 1,500 copies. Informed by Bud Plant and other comics distributors that the newspaper strip format was limiting sales, Hartberg prepared African Dream in traditional comic book format. Although intended for publication in 1984 as the concluding chapter of the first story arc, African Dream was dropped in favor of a less fantastic World War II tale. The previously unpublished story was printed in a limited edition by Boardman Books (USA) prior to the sale of Hartberg's original art.

Cole Black returned in volume two in traditional comic format. Although exact numbers are unknown, about 15,000 copies of volume 2, number 1, were distributed worldwide. Two more issues followed in the same format in 1985-1986. Unfortunately, Cole Black was caught in the black and white implosion of the mid-1980s when the highly speculative market for independent black and white comics crashed.

Although poor sales forced Rocky Hartberg to abandon Cole Black in 1986, several full unpublished issues were already finished. Boardman Books (USA) published African Dream as Cole Black: the Missing Issue in September 2006, and in December 2006, they released Cole Black Comics (ISSN 1935-0023) volume 2, number 4, "Charge of the Lady Bridage," cover dated Spring 2007, using art work finished in 1986.

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