Revolutionary Comics

Revolutionary Comics (1989–1994) was a U.S. comic book publisher best known for the series Rock 'N' Roll Comics, launched in 1989. Founded by publisher Todd Loren, the line featured unlicensed biographies of rock stars, told in comic book form but geared for adults, often with very adult situations (nudity, drug use, violence, etc.). Some musicians featured in the comics, like Frank Zappa and KISS, were supportive; while others like the New Kids on the Block considered Revolutionary’s comics akin to bootlegs and sued.

Loren claimed the First Amendment protected the journalistic rights of his "illustrated articles" and he took the matter to the U.S. District Court in California, who agreed. Loren’s win against the New Kids established, among other things, that comic book biographies were entitled to the same protections as other unauthorized biographies.

Loren hired Hey Boss artist Larry Nadolsky to draw the first issue of Rock ‘N’ Roll Comics, profiling Guns N' Roses. On the comic’s release, Guns N' Roses lawyer Peter Paterno sent Revolutionary a cease and desist order. This was reported in a Rolling Stone story that directly resulted in the entire 10,000 copy print run selling out in two weeks, thanks to buyers who thought Guns N' Roses would sue the comic out of existence. No lawsuits actually happened, and the comic went into multiple new printings eventually totaling over 150,000 copies.

Rock ‘N’ Roll Comics #3 and #4, on Bon Jovi and Mötley Crüe, respectively, did result in lawsuits. The bands had exclusive merchandising deals with Great Southern/Winterland Productions, which threatened comic distributors over carrying the issues and got a court injunction prohibiting Revolutionary from distributing either comic. This forced Revolutionary to build its own distribution network outside traditional comic shops, eventually getting them into music and gift retail outlets which had never carried comics before. This independence from the comic book marketplace served the company well, as sales continued to rise from issue to issue, with their Metallica comic going into multiple print runs totaling over 75,000 copies.

Read more about Revolutionary Comics:  History, Litigation, Documentary Film, Creators Associated With Revolutionary Comics