Friday, 9 December 2011

The Rites of Alchemy: Big Bang... And Theories (Part 1)

As previously seen on earlier blogs, there are plenty of comics that never get published or see the light of day for various reasons. As part of a pre-Christmas special "The One That Got Away" series, I'm going to be publishing, for the first time anywhere, the cancelled series, The Rites of Alchemy by writer Dick (now Richard) Foreman and artist Paul Johnson. I was the assistant editor on the series and it was one of the last projects I worked on before leaving DC. Here's the original blurb that was put to promote the series:
And here's writer, Richard Foreman's take on the whole series:

"Rites of Alchemy was to have been a 12 issue mini-series for DC’s Vertigo line. 8 issues got scripted and I think Paul Johnson, the artist, got as far as #6 [Editor's note: Actually, the last issue Paul drew was #4, and only 11 pages of it]. The plot concerned a retired cop (Wesley Cale) who gets drawn into opposing an apocalyptic conspiracy.

"There is a belief that those who successfully complete the lengthy and abstruse process of alchemical transmutation achieve immortality and superhuman abilities. This was posited in the storyline. Cale gets involved at the climax of centuries of conflict between a loose affinity of good-guy immortals and a cabal of bad-guy immortals who intend to make a transmutation of the entire planet. As is the way of these things, Cale becomes a linchpin in the struggle. In order to thwart the conspiracy, he must first himself perform the ‘great work’ and achieve immortality, while the cabal throw everything they’ve got against him.

"Paul was turning out some great artwork and it was a bit of a shock when DC dropped it. I think it was an accountants-led decision. Comics sales were declining at the time, and my ongoing series, Black Orchid, although one of the better selling Vertigo titles, wasn’t doing as well as hoped. It was a time of sink or swim. I sank.

"Looking back on it after 17 years, I have continuing doubts about the way the story was to end. The more I got into it, the more I began to think that maybe the ‘bad guys’ had the right idea."

Please bear in mind that Paul drew the series with the intention that it would be coloured by Tom McCraw, but the project never got that far. Clicking on the pages below will provide you with larger, more legible, artwork. So, without any further ado, here is the first issue of The Rites of Alchemy:
These postings will be happening right up to Christmas morning so stay tuned!
Next: All That Glitters...


Arion said...

Great cast of characters. I like the cop that hasn’t forgotten how to unravel a mystery and the 18th century alchemists. And I love the immortal teenager, I see a lot of potential in Fulcanelli. So there will be two more issues plus 11 pages from issue 4? Why haven’t the authors tried to pitch this to Image or other publisher? It’d be great to have this published.

By the way, in a few ways I'll be posting a review on Milligan's Enigma. I should credit you as assistant editor, right?

TimTrue said...

Both creators have left the world of comics behind for quite sometime, so never had the inclination to finish off the series! It was a very different world 17 years ago and there weren't as many indy publishers out there willing to take a risk on a series like this. I agree I'd love to see it finished, but it's unlikely! Next part will be up next Friday (16 Dec).

Re: The Enigma credit, yeah I came on with issue #2 as assistant editor, but I never got an official credit in the book. In fact my first official credit in a book was The Extremist #1, despite also working on Sebastian O #3 and other titles.

Arion said...

I understand things were different in the 90s.

I'm slowly buying Vertigo titles that I missed when they were originally released. The Extremist is definitely on my list.

I loved Sebastian O, if I could, I'd convince Morrison to write more about him or at least give me the rigts of the character for free! Sebastian O was such an innovative creation.

Well then, I'll let you know once my Enigma review is up.

Oh, I've put some of my drawings in my blog, but you can find them all here:

Arion said...

Hello Tim. I just wanted to let you know that my review of Enigma is up, feel free to leave a comment.