Cover of Redfox Book #1 by Brian Bolland
|Publication date||January 1986 – June 1989|
|No. of issues||20|
|Written by||Fox (issues 1-20)
Mike Lewis (issues 1-4)
Chris Bell (issues 6-19)
|Inker(s)||Fox (issues 1-5)
Dave Harwood (issues 6-10)
Tony O'Donnell (issues 11-?)
|Letterer(s)||Melvyn James (issue 1)
Jack McArdle (issues 3-15)
|Book Two||ISBN 1-870217-01-2|
Redfox herself first appeared in Dragonlords fanzine. Fox, the comic's artist and creator, used the strip to comment on barbarian fashion-sense in fantasy games, and later expanded his heroine's story into a three-issue Redfox fanzine.
The fanzine stories were revised and redrawn to form the early issues of a bimonthly US-format black & white comic, which were reprinted in the two Book of Redfox graphic novel compilations. Harrier Comics published the first ten issues in the UK. Valkyrie Press was then established solely to publish Redfox, but later took on Bryan Talbot's comic The Adventures of Luther Arkwright. After a further ten issues, publication ceased. An 8-page "origin of sorts", written by Martin Lock and drawn by Fox, was published in Swiftsure #9 (July 1986), another Harrier Comics title.
Redfox #7 (January 1987) had a specially painted cover by John Bolton. A number of the top UK professional comics artists gave their support to Harrier Comics by contributing covers in this way.
The Demon Queen Saga
Issues #5-10 comprised a story arc officially titled "The Demon Queen Saga", which was a turning point in more than one way. The series, which began as a comedy set in a fantasy world, suddenly became driven by angst and tragedy. (This was around the time when comics such as Watchmen were popularizing treatment of more serious and adult themes.)
Additionally, it was during The Demon Queen Saga that writer Chris Bell joined the creative team, usually co-scripting the story over Fox's plots. Chris Bell recounted how this happened:
|“||The last six pages of Issue 6 were written in about three hours, when Fox had visited Chris Bell in Bristol for a weekend and stayed for three weeks and needed a script in a hurry to take back up to Nottingham with him. Chris had never written for comics before; Fox presented her with the image at the top of page 22, the phrase "a collection of enchanted cutlery", and a deadline of "yesterday". So she sat in her kitchen and wrote it. To her astonishment, he accepted it, and asked her to do the next issue as well, because the script for that had been abandoned half-finished. This was the beginning of the partnership which lasted until the end of the comic, two and a half years later.||”|
The story itself was an obvious clone of The Dark Phoenix Saga. Both The Demon Queen Saga and The Dark Phoenix Saga share the following plot:
- Character A gains a new source of power (Zebethyial's ring in Redfox, the Phoenix Force in X-Men), which turns her from one of the weakest members of the cast to one of the most powerful. (Redfox #1/X-Men #101)
- Character A has no notion of the nature of this new power, but quickly accepts it nonetheless. (Redfox #1/X-Men #101)
- Character A becomes more vicious and unscrupulous, prompting her friends to become concerned. (Redfox #5-6/X-Men #129-132)
- A traumatic event causes Character A to lose control of herself to the source of her new power and become a god-like evil being. (Redfox #6/X-Men #134)
- With her power increased to the level of a god, Character A kills a vast number of innocent people. (Redfox #6/X-Men #135)
- In response, authorities from multiple worlds mobilize to kill Character A. (Redfox #9/X-Men #136)
- Character A's friends fight to free her of the dark influence, but are easily overpowered. Character A renders them all immobile and begins tormenting them. (Redfox #9-10/X-Men #135-6)
- A friend of Character A, who Character A overlooked, uses psychic abilities to free Character A from the force controlling her. (Redfox #10/X-Men #136)
- In her moment of lucidity, Character A commits suicide in order to prevent herself from killing any more people. (Redfox #10/X-Men #137)
Fox was unashamed to admit that The Demon Queen Saga was almost entirely derived from the legendary X-Men story arc. Besides giving the story an obviously similar title, when a reader wrote about issue #5 "Is this the start of some 'Dark Redfox' kind of saga?", Fox teasingly replied that there was little resemblance because Dark Phoenix had a weaker sense of humor.
- He's one of these hocus-pocus merchants... you must know the type. Yeah, that's right, always gushing on about manipulation of the cosmos, and their dedication to the science of magic for the benefit of mankind. - Ratty
- Estaque is an old wizard with a long beard who lives in a tower in the middle of nowhere, conducting weird experiments and summoning strange creatures. Bumbling and incompetent, he still puts up a good fight when he has to.
- But then the people who call themselves my friends so often don't understand me at all. Take that wretched procession, for example. I can't think where ever they got the idea that I like all that dancing in the streets. - Griff
- Lyssa The Axe
- By the way, I'm known as Lyssa the Axe. Slayer of men. Vanquisher of cities. Mercenary extraordinaire! And I turn out a mean curry too. - Lyssa
- Lyssa was born Lady Alicia Y Maris D'Almeric, but ran away from home rather than live the dull life of a noble. A disappointed idealist who's turned to drink, her dislike of killing could be considered a disadvantage in her chosen career as a mercenary.
- Redfox (aka "Redfox the Barbarian")
- Prettier than Conan, Funnier than Elric, Shorter than Red Sonja, Redfox - Another kind of heroine -- Book of Redfox, cover quote
- Barmaid turned adventurer, Redfox sets out to steal the treasures of the Temple of Pthud, only to discover that crocodile traps are the least of her problems. World-renowned for being short, blonde and having lousy dress sense.
- Shoquastikan (aka "Ratty")
- It ain't easy you know, going through life knowing that you're nothing more than a mistake. One chemical too many in the test-tube, and out I popped. - Ratty
- Ratty is a sentient rat, the result of one of Estaque's numerous failed experiments. He's just here for the beer, though he saves the world for a hobby.
- You want the throne room. Let's see, turn left at the snake pit, straight down the hall of knives, turn right at the croc pool, and it's the second door on your left..... or was it left at the croc pool? - Trog
- Trog is the caretaker in the Temple of Pthud. Trog clears up bodies, puts slime on the walls, that kind of thing. It's a highly responsible job.
- Whitefox (aka "Snowy")
- Whitefox is one of Estaque's more successful projects, the result of an attempt to clone Redfox. He produced a near-perfect copy... other than her extreme magical abilities, poker skills, albino skin and respectable dress sense.
Other figures from British comics of the time helped out now and again: for example, Bryan Talbot contributed the cover art for issue nine, and Neil Gaiman wrote part of the final issue when Chris Bell was rather distracted by the imminent arrival of her baby.
The series has been collected into trade paperbacks:
- Redfox Book Two, Harrier Comics, ISBN 1-870217-01-2