One of the oddest entries in the Larry Marder checklist is the back-up story in this issue of GRIMJACK, where Marder draws and letters a 6-page story written by John Ostrander and Del Close titled “Closed Set”.
GRIMJACK was a science fiction adventure series created by Ostrander and Tim Truman, featuring a city called Cynosure at the nexus of all dimensions. “Munden’s Bar” was a regular back-up for the series (and even had two spinoff specials), featuring the wacky hi-jinks in a tavern owned by Grimjack in the Cynosure, with a wide variety of guest artists contributing stories.
I previously wrote about the story here.
Last time I looked at one of the few stories you’ll ever see written by Marder to be drawn by another artist. This time something equally unusual, Marder drawing a story by someone else. “Someone else” being John Ostrander and Del Close, the story being the backup in GRIMJACK #42. It’s a “Munden’s Bar” story, which means a short story set in a bar which is at a meeting point of all realities (so various guest creators are free to bring in their own creations if they want). Usually fun stuff. I’ve got about two dozen issues of GRIMJACK, and I haven’t yet read the main story in any but this one, but have read all the backups. So I’m not sure if this issue is also good as an introduction to GRIMJACK. The main story is a standalone, but it’s really just a fairly uninspired sci-fi update on a cliche sports story. I preferred most old “Strange Sports Stories” from DC to this.
Getting to the important part, this is a pretty decent story, maybe just slightly above average for “Munden’s Bar” (the best ones I read are by Phil Foglio). No regular Beanworld characters show up in here, although there are a lot of bugs that could be related to Der Stinkle. I suspect that Marder may have had a hand in plotting it, since in addition to various jokes about the movie business, there’s a lot of jokes on advertising, which of course it what he used to work at.
The story is also in colour, and actually doesn’t look bad (especially compared to the over rendered colour Marder got in ASYLUM). Except that one page is =way= out of register.
Overall this was pretty enjoyable, showing a different side of Marder than TOTB usually allows. Worth picking up, and even if I didn’t like the main story much, at least it’s a complete story and not just a chapter of a long serial.
Updating that a bit a decade later, I will say that the Grimjack story does work better when you’ve read more of the series. Also, I cant believe I missed this, but regarding Beanworld characters, there is a brief cameo of a Hoi Polloi and what looks like Dreamishness (maybe one of her Windy Songsterino siblings?).
I still highly recommend it to anyone looking for a different side of Marder.
John Ostrander is still active in comics, even working on a new GRIMJACK series recently with co-creator Tim Truman, plus reprints of the original series published by IDW (I don’t think they included the “Munden’s” stories in the reprint books). Del Close passed away in 1999.