Epic Illustrated
Epic Illustrated 1.jpg
Epic Illustrated #1 (Spring 1980). Cover painting by Frank Frazetta.
Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics/Epic Comics
FormatOngoing series
Publication dateSpring 1980–February 1986
No. of issues34
Editor(s)Archie Goodwin

Epic Illustrated was a comics anthology in magazine format published in the United States by Marvel Comics. Similar to the US-licensed comic book magazine Heavy Metal, it allowed explicit content to be featured, unlike the traditional American comic books of that time bound by the restrictive Comics Code Authority, as well as offering its writers and artists ownership rights and royalties in place of the industry-standard work for hire contracts. The series lasted 34 issues from Spring 1980–February 1986.

A color comic-book imprint, Epic Comics, was spun off in 1982.

Publication history

The magazine was initiated under editor Rick Marschall in 1979 under the title Odyssey, and originally set to launch as an issue of Marvel Super Special.[1] After Marschall learned of at least seven other magazines titled Odyssey, the project was renamed Epic Illustrated and launched as a standalone series.[2] Marschall was replaced by editor Archie Goodwin in September 1979, several months before the first issue was published.[3]

Stories, series and format

The anthology featured heroic fiction and genre stories, primarily fantasy and science fiction, in a broad range of styles. Established mainstream-comics talents such as John Buscema, Jim Starlin, John Byrne, and Terry Austin were featured, as well as such independent-press creators as Wendy Pini and The Studio's Jeffrey Jones, Michael Kaluta, Barry Windsor-Smith, and Bernie Wrightson. Goodwin commissioned stories by many new artists, including Stephen R. Bissette, Pepe Moreno, Jon J Muth, Rick Veitch and Kent Williams.[4] The full-color magazine format allowed for a broader range of color than the traditional three-color printing process, and many of the stories, and all the covers, were painted.[5] Fantasy artists who did not normally work in the comics field, such as Richard Corben, Frank Frazetta, The Brothers Hildebrandt, and Boris Vallejo contributed covers.[6] The contributors to the series retained ownership of their material and were paid royalties.[7]

Epic Illustrated also included an occasional Marvel Comics protagonist, such as the first issue's Silver Surfer story by Stan Lee and John Buscema. Each issue usually featured a main story, a number of regular serials, and anthological shorts.[4]

Writer-penciler John Byrne and inker Terry Austin produced "The Last Galactus Story" as a serial in Epic Illustrated #26–34 (Oct. 1984–Feb. 1986). Nine of a scheduled 10 installments appeared. Each ran six pages, except part eight, which ran 12.


Due to its expensive nature to the company and low sales, the magazine was canceled with issue #34, leaving the last chapter of "Galactus" unpublished and the story unfinished. Byrne later revealed on his website that the conclusion would have seen a dying Galactus releasing his power, causing a new big bang and transforming his herald Nova into the Galactus of the next universe.[8]

Selected stories

Collected editions


  1. ^ "Marvel Comics: Odyssey Renamed Epic". The Comics Journal. Stamford, Connecticut: Fantagraphics Books (46): 12. May 1979.
  2. ^ Lee, Stan. "Bullpen Bulletins: Stan's Soapbox", Marvel Two-in-One Annual #4 (Marvel Comics, 1979).
  3. ^ "Marvel Fires Rick Marschall, Archie Goodwin Named to Edit Epic". The Comics Journal. Stamford, Connecticut: Fantagraphics Books (51): 5–6. November 1979.
  4. ^ a b Kirk, John K. (May 2016). "Epic Illustrated". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (88): 59–72.
  5. ^ Daniels, Les (1991). Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World's Greatest Comics. New York, New York: Harry N. Abrams. p. 183. ISBN 9780810938212. Oversize, with full-color artwork printed on glossy paper, Epic Illustrated was Marvel's most luxurious publication to date.
  6. ^ "Epic Illustrated Magazine List". Heavy Metal Magazine Fan Page. Archived from the original on May 27, 2012.
  7. ^ DeFalco, Tom; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2008). "1980s". Marvel Chronicle A Year by Year History. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 197. ISBN 978-0756641238. Epic offered its creators ownership of the material and paid them royalties rather than the traditional page rates. ((cite book)): |first2= has generic name (help)
  8. ^ Byrne, John (n.d.). "Byrne Robotics: Frequently Asked Questions - Questions about Aborted Storylines". Byrnerobotics.com. Archived from the original on October 31, 2014.
  9. ^ Dueben, Alex (March 1, 2016). "Former Marvel Editor Returns to 'Last of the Dragons', Talks Mentoring Talent". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on June 5, 2016. One of Potts' first comics projects, 'Last of the Dragons', originally published in Epic Illustrated, has been repackaged and released by Dover Books. The story, written and illustrated by the comics veteran in the early '80s, has a unique take on monks, ninjas, samurais and dragons as a group of monks in 19th Century Japan have trained dragons and plan to bring them to America.