L-r: Colleen, Martine, Mickey, Dodger, from the victim's point of view. Artists: Richard Howell and Ricardo Villagran.


Original medium: Comic books
Published by: Claypool Comics
First Appeared: 1993
Creator: Richard Howell
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From Desperate Desmond to The Brain, a lot of comics have had "heroes" who didn't quite fit the "good guy" mold. Deadbeats had bad-guy protagonists, but not like Doctor Doom or The Phantom Blot,

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… where the main character sets out to forge a career of evil, and acts deliberately to further that goal. These guys were more like Johnny the Homicidal Maniac or Evil Ernie, doing bad stuff just because that was their nature — kind of like Dracula, but without the gravitas.

But the Deadbeats characters bore more of a direct resemblance to Chastity, a late '90s Chaos! Comics (Lady Death, Bad Kitty) character, in that they were teenage vampires. But not exactly like her, in that she was clearly the protagonist of her series. Deadbeats was more about the community the kids lived in. They were prominent characters, but the series wasn't quite about them. It was more about a vampire infestation of the small seaside town of Mystic Grove.

Of course, the only thing more improbable than a vampire infestation of a small town like Mystic Grove is two vampire infestations, and two infestations is what Mystic Grove had — Aside from the Deadbeats (Colleen, Dodger, Martine, Mickey and Southie, plus whoever they "recruited" the way vampires usually do), there were The Eternals, most prominently represented by Hermano, King of the Vampires.

Deadbeats mainly concerned an ongoing conflict between the two groups. It ranged over not just present-day Mystic Grove, but also, through time travel, throughout the town's history, and even into its near future. It even traversed dimensional barriers, involving several parallel worlds, with shifting alliances as parties frequently switching sides in what amounted to a vampire soap opera.

Readers first encountered the Deadbeats/Eternals conflict in Deadbeats #1, dated June, 1993. It was scripted and pencilled by Richard Howell, and inked by Ricardo Villagran. Howell is better known for his artwork on such properties as DNAgents and Hawkman, but has also written things like the '70s cult classic Portia Prinz of the Glamazons. Villagran, whose credits also include the Eclipse version of Airboy, had more input on the creation than is usual with inkers.

The publisher was Claypool Comics, one of the more successful early 1990s independent comic book publishers. Aside from Deadbeats, Claypool also did two other interrelated fantasy titles, Soulsearchers & Company and Phantom of Fear City. Claypool also did an ongoing licensed property, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.

Claypool published Deadbeats steadily for 82 issues, until March, 2007, reprinting early issues in a series of three graphic novels. In addition, there was a special in 2006. The story continues on the Internet.


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Text ©2010 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Richard Howell