Director of 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' Video Is Helping Create the Next Comic Book Shared Universe

The new All Time Comics universe comes from contemporary creators, comic legends and the man who directed Nirvana's most famous music video. (No, really.)
Jim Rugg/Fantagraphics

After four decades of publishing some of the most critically acclaimed alternative comics in the medium, Fantagraphics made a surprise announcement Thursday: In 2017, it's going to launch its own shared universe superhero line. As might be expected, however, All Time Comics isn't going to be exactly the same as Marvel or DC's output.

The brainchild of two brothers  —  underground comics writer Josh Bayer and filmmaker Sam Bayer, the man behind Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" video 25 years ago — the six-issue All Time Comics line will feature a combination of alternative cartoonists and veterans of the mainstream superhero genre creating a world inspired by the superhero comics of the 1970s and '80s.

"All Time Comics is both an expression of affection for the books that shaped our lives, and a link to a pre-internet time when comic book culture was more precious and rarefied. It originates from a lifetime of research and our devotion to the comics medium," Josh Bayer explained in a statement from the publisher. "This project is a chance to work with not only acclaimed independent figures like Noah Van Sciver and Ben Marra, but to spotlight superstars of the field like Al Milgrom and Herb Trimpe. I see All Time Comics like an Obelisk: something that can be admired but with a greater significance beyond itself. It stands for all comics."

In addition to work from the likes of well-known alternative comics talents like Jim Rugg, Johnny Ryan and Van Sciver, the All Time line features two notable events for longtime superhero fans: the first comic book work from Milgrom — the veteran comic book writer and artist who co-created DC Entertainment's Firestorm in 1978 — since 2014, and the final comic book work from Trimpe, the artist who died last year.

The first issue of the line, All Time Comics: Crime Destroyer No. 1, will debut in March, followed by a second Crime Destroyer issue, two issues of All Time Comics: Blind Justice and issues of All Time Comics: Bullwhip and All Time Comics: Atlas throughout 2017.

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