I first encounted Coley & Blackburn in Eros Comix' RETURN TO VOODOO ISLAND, a 2-issue mini-series published in 1991. There was somewhat of a "boom" in X-rated comics at the time, and Fantagraphics decided to throw their hand in by creating their Eros imprint-- which is still going today. Blackburn's work stood apart from the pack for several reasons. Among them was the writing, which was intelligent, heartfelt and compelling in a way most "adult" comics just aren't. The other was the art. The only other person in comics I've ever seen with a style even remotely similar to his was Harry G. Peter, the original artist on WONDER WOMAN. This fits, as WW in its original form, to this day, is considered both a very unusual, and somewhat controversial series.
I somehow missed the 2nd Coley mini, IDOL OF FLESH, but picked up the 3rd one, WEB OF EVIL. This led directly into the 4th, THE DEATHSNAKE. I eventually got the issues I was missing, and at some point, managed to get in touch with John Blackburn. What I discovered was that Blackburn had self-published 3 earlier Coley books-- 2 short-story collections, and a full-length graphic novel. The amount of back-story and character development in these was so extensive, it had me shaking my head wondering, how on Earth could Eros have passed on putting these things out themselves? (It's no wonder RETURN TO VOODOO ISLAND was so hard to grasp all the fine details of the first time around-- it was a sequel to several stories I'd never been able to read before.)
Needless to say, I got ahold of the 3 earlier books, read them, and then re-read the entire rest of the series, in sequence. At a time when I barely had time to read most new comics I was buying, the Coley books became one of the few series I actually read SEVERAL times.
I wound up doing detailed reviews of the books for several online sites, extensively-detailed indexes of all of them at the GCD site, and generated very nice images of the covers to go with them. But the GCD images only go up to 400 pixels. I wanted to show them off better than that. I'm sure Coley would agree, "BIGGER is better."
COLEY ON VOODOO ISLAND (1989)
It appears that "Under The Caribbean Moon" (or possibly the entirety of VOODOO ISLAND) was also published in MEATMEN Vol.13 (1992?), Winston Leyland's anthology series. I'm still missing Vol.13, so I'm not sure how much was included. Blackburn would be a regular fixture in MEATMEN, with all-new stories appearing in every Volume from #15-25.
COLEY: WILD IN THE STREETS (1989)
The 2nd story in the book, "Roller Boogie Hotrod", introduces Jessica, who would be an important character in the book "BREATHLESS". This episode also appeared in MEATMEN Vol.14. The last panel (seen here) was altered. The version in WILD IN THE STREETS serves as a lead-in to the sequel, "BREATHLESS".
One of many pin-ups Blackburn liked to include in his books.
One of my favorite scenes, this one from "Coley Loves His Bike", the 3rd story in WILD IN THE STREETS. The episode was also reprinted as a "flashback" as part of "BREATHLESS". The man in this scene winds up selling the rights to his video to his better-connected brother, Quincey Quartermain, through whom Coley begins a very successful career as the star of a series of X-rated "art" films.
I think the scene here is hilarious!
COLEY: BREATHLESS (1991)
Here's a scene where he dances at a club to show off his "voodoo" powers.
Harry "Lance" Larue is the aged former film star turned "art film" director who makes Coley his star, and who Coley also takes as one of his lovers. Harry's an outspoken misogynist who doesn't play favorites-- he hates everybody. (Well, only most people.) This scene has him make a point which is sure to offend some people. God bless America and free speech!
(Continued in Part 2)
See my detailed indexes of these books at the GCD site
See the John Blackburn memorial at Prism Comics
Art (C) JOHN BLACKBURN
All prominent characters are Trademarks of JOHN BLACKBURN
Find John Blackburn & other creators' work at the EROS COMIX site.