Common Grounds

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For other uses, see Common Ground (disambiguation).
Common Grounds
Issue #1 Cover A by J. Scott Campbell and Matt Milla
Publication information
Publisher Top Cow Productions
Schedule Monthly
Format Limited series
Publication date 2004
Number of issues 6
Main character(s) See "Characters"
Creative team
Writer(s) Troy Hickman
Artist(s) Issue #1 Cover A::
J. Scott Campbell
Matt Milla
Issue #1 Cover B, #2-6:
Rodolfo Migliari
Common Grounds Pinup:
James Raiz
Roland Paris
Sonia Oback
Liberty Balance Pinup:
George Pérez
Mike Perkins
Tom Smith
Penciller(s) Dan Jurgens
Michael Avon Oeming
Ethan Van Sciver
Chris Bachalo
Carlos Pacheco
George Pérez
Angel Medina
Sam Kieth
Inker(s) Al Vey
Michael Avon Oeming
Jon Holdredge
Roland Paris
Norm Rapmund
Aaron Sowd
Tom Bar-Or
Jesus Merino
Mike Perkins
Sam Kieth
Letterer(s) Robin Spehar
Dreamer Design
Colorist(s) Guy Major
Peter Pantazis
Brian Buccellatto
Sonia Oback
Tom Smith
John Starr
Beth Sotelo
Creator(s) Troy Hickman
Collected editions
Common Grounds ISBN 978-1-58240-841-5

Common Grounds is a six-issue comic book limited series created by writer Troy Hickman and published by Top Cow Productions in 2004. The series examined the life of superheroes and villains in and around a chain of coffee shops called Common Grounds.

Common Grounds received two Eisner Award nominations in 2005, for "Best Short Story" and "Best Anthology."[1]


The series began in 1994 as the black-and-white mini-comic, Holey Crullers, written by Hickman and drawn by Jerry Smith, and was circulated through mail order and direct sales at comic book conventions (resulting in very few copies of Crullers being in existence today). In 1997, Wizard magazine became aware of the cult comic, and devoted a four-page article to it (a first for a photocopied, black-and-white mini-comic).

Then, serendipitously, in 2003, Wizard editor Jim McLauchlin became editor-in-chief of Top Cow Productions, and quickly contacted Hickman about getting the rights to the Holey Crullers scripts. By the beginning of 2004, Common Grounds had been launched as a six-issue series, featuring Hickman's stories and new artwork by comics superstars such as Dan Jurgens, George Pérez, Mike Oeming, Chris Bachalo, Sam Kieth, Angel Medina, Carlos Pacheco, and Ethan Van Sciver. Jurgens was the regular artist, providing art for one short-story every issue, while one of the guest artists provided the art for the other(s).

The series received a great deal of critical acclaim and garnered an even larger cult following, and in November 2007, a trade paperback was published collecting all six issues. The series' fame continued to grow even after publication had ceased, and in the summer of 2005, it received two Eisner Award nominations (Best Anthology and Best Short Story for "Where Monsters Dine," drawn by Angel Medina).


The original 1990s comic series, Holey Crullers, centered on a chain of doughnut shops named "Holey Crullers". The name was a clever word-play on the fact that a doughnut is a type of cruller, a deep-fried cake pastry, with a hole in the center and also paid homage to the regular humorous outbursts of Robin in the 1960s era Batman.

Hickman reported that the decision was made to update the central concept from a chain of doughnut shops to coffee shops and change the name to Common Grounds in an attempt to be timely and more relevant to the coffee culture in the US in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Just as with the previous title, the name "Common Grounds" includes some double entendre in that it simultaneously brings to mind a safe, neutral haven where those of differing viewpoints can find some agreement ("common ground") and also recalls an important aspect of coffee, namely the "grounds". It was an absolute rule that no superheroes or villains were allowed to fight within any Common Grounds outlet, under penalty of not being served again.

The series includes an in-story reference to the name change in issue six when the company founder explains to an interviewer that he originally wanted to call his chain "Holey Crullers", but received a letter from the lawyers of the "old 60s superhero tv show" in which the sidekick always says "Holy This" and "Holy That" (see Holy cow (expression)), so he opted for Common Grounds instead.


The first volume of Common Grounds consists of thirteen self-contained stories (though there is a thread of continuity) in six issues featuring numerous superheroes and villains, including Speeding Bullet, Man-Witch, Mental Midget, Flammabelle, Digital Man & Analog Kid, the Acidic Jew, Deb-U-Ton, Strangeness & Charm, Blackwatch, the Liberty Balance, Eternal Flame, Big Money, and American Pi.

Hickman addressed a number of themes in the series which some may consider uncommon in the mainstream comics industry, including aging, obesity, differing moral codes on good vs evil, second chances, patriotism, religious faith, guilt and regret, hope, suicide, self-doubt, responsibility for one's own life and choices, redemption, and a number of touching issues regarding familial relations. He accomplished this by de-mystifying his superheroes and villains and exploring their humanity in a way that normal people could relate to them.

Ironically, Hickman also poked a little fun at the growing cynicism and rise in popularity of the gritty, scowling, heavy-handed anti-heroes who became so ubiquitous in the mainstream American comic industry from the late 1980s through the mid-2000s, but his "big break" came from a publisher primarily known for producing just such comics.


  • Ed Franklin
  • Gerald Smith, a.k.a. Speeding Bullet
  • Gabriel "Gabe" Alexander, a.k.a. Mental Midget
  • Robert Louis Dupree, a.k.a. Man-Witch
  • Jenny Saunders
  • "John" the serial rapist
  • Tim Lesley, a.k.a. Analog Kid
  • Chris Lesley, a.k.a. Digital Man
  • Patricia Van Buren, a.k.a. Deb-U-Ton
  • Moshe Chomsky, a.k.a. The Acidic Jew
  • Sam Henderson, a.k.a. Strangeness
  • Clarise Henderson, a.k.a. Charm
  • "Thorny" Thorndyke
  • Benjamin Bellott, a.k.a. Commander Power
  • James McLain, a.k.a. Blackwatch
  • The Superheavyweights
    • Susan LaBelle, a.k.a. Knockout
    • Red Fox II
    • Miniaturian
    • Coldspell
    • Hi-Tec
  • The Liberty Balance
    • Earl Lumley, a.k.a. Lift-Off
    • Gail Milgrim, a.k.a. Belle-Air
    • The Flaming Follicle
    • Mach Master
    • Magna-Woman
    • Captain Gallant
  • The Eternal Flame
  • Lea Anne Lyster, a.k.a. Kittycat
  • Jeff Bailey, a.k.a. Big Money II
  • Larry the delivery guy
  • Grondar
  • Crittorr
  • Kkrapp
  • Wang Dang Doodle
  • Claire Grant, a.k.a. American Pi
  • Zhang
  • Stevie Parsons
  • Michael O'Brien, a.k.a. Big Money


Issue Titles Major Character(s) Cover Artist(s) Penciller(s) Inker(s) Colorist(s) Release Date
A: "Beyond the Speed of Life"
B: "Head Games"
A: Ed Franklin, Speeding Bullet
B: Mental Midget, Man-Witch
J. Scott Campbell, Matt Milla
Rodolfo Migliari1
A: Dan Jurgens
B: Michael Avon Oeming
A: Al Vey
B: Michael Avon Oeming
A: Guy Major
B: Peter Pantazis
February 2004
A: "Roles"
B: "Elsewhere"
A: Jenny Saunders, "John"
B: Analog Kid, Digital Man
Rodolfo Migliari
A: Ethan Van Sciver
B: Dan Jurgens
A: Jon Holdredge, Roland Paris, Norm Rapmund
B: Al Vey
A: Brian Buccellato
B: Guy Major
March 2004
A: "Sanctuary"
B: "Heir of Truth"
A: Deb-U-Ton, The Acidic Jew
B: Strangeness, Charm
Rodolfo Migliari
A: Chris Bachalo
B: Dan Jurgens
A: Aaron Sowd, Tom Bar-Or
B: Al Vey
A: Brian Buccellato, Sonia Oback
B: Guy Major
April 2004
A: "Time of Their Lives"
B: "Fat Chance"
C: "Glory Days"
A: Commander Power, Blackwatch
B: Knockout, Red Fox II, Miniaturian, Coldspell, Hi-Tec
C: Lift-Off, Belle-Air, the Flaming Follicle, Mach Master, Magna-Woman, Captain Gallant
Rodolfo Migliari2
A: Carlos Pacheco
B: Dan Jurgens
C: George Pérez
A: Jesus Merino
B: Al Vey
C: Mike Perkins
A & B: Guy Major
C: Tom Smith
May 2004
A: "Where Monsters Dine"
B: "Lovelife"
A: Larry, Grondar, Crittorr, Kkrapp, Wang Dang Doodle
B: The Eternal Flame
Rodolfo Migliari
A: Angel Medina
B: Dan Jurgens
A: Jon Holdredge
B: Al Vey
A: John Starr, Beth Sotelo
B: Guy Major
June 2004
A: "This'll Be the Day"
B: "Loose Ends"
A: American Pi, Zhang
B: Stevie Parsons, Michael O'Brien
Rodolfo Migliari
A: Sam Kieth
B: Dan Jurgens
A: Sam Kieth
B: Al Vey
A & B: Guy Major
July 2004


1 Rodolfo Migliari made the alternate cover for Issue #1.[4][5]
2 Issue #4's cover art was inspired by Edward Hopper's "Nighthawks" painting.[6][7]

Collected Editions[edit]

The series has been collected in a trade paperback that includes:

  • Cover and Pinup Gallery1
  • Common Grounds Timeline
  • Holey Crullers Bonus Material
  • Liberty Balance Pinup by George Pérez, Mike Perkins and Tom Smith

1 Includes Issue #1's alternate cover by Rodolfo Migliari and a pinup by James Raiz, Roland Paris and Sonia Oback depicting various superheroes battling Crittorr and Wang Dang Doodle.


  1. ^ "2005 Eisner Nominations Announced, 4/14/2005". 14 April 2005. Retrieved 10 September 2014. 
  2. ^ Troy Hickman, Common Grounds trade paperback, November 2007, Table of Contents, pg. 3
  3. ^ Troy Hickman, Common Grounds trade paperback, November 2007, Cover and Pinup Gallery, pg. 131
  4. ^ Troy Hickman, Common Grounds trade paperback, November 2007, Cover and Pinup Gallery, pg. 131
  5. ^ Troy Hickman, Common Grounds trade paperback, November 2007, Issue #1 Cover B, pg. 133
  6. ^ Troy Hickman, Common Grounds trade paperback, November 2007, Cover and Pinup Gallery, pg. 131
  7. ^ Troy Hickman, Common Grounds trade paperback, November 2007, Issue #4 Cover, pg. 136

External links[edit]