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average writing
skilled art
historical bonus 2
total score 6
Back Cover
Back Cover
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Tales of Lost Times
Only Printing / 1979 / 36 pages / Lost Cause Productions
From their homes in Des Moines, Iowa, Arnold Willis and Tim Lowe produced four underground comics in the late 1970s and 1980, with Tales of Lost Times being the third of the four. The other three were called Lost Cause Comix, but I don't have any of them yet. (Still waiting for my old CPG compatriot awillis to toss me a copy of them. I know he has them in his garage!). I presume that with its different title, Tales of Lost Times presents characters and stories that are independent of Lost Cause. Arnold Willis scripted and illustrated all of the stories.

The book gets off to a pretty strong start with "The Conqueror of Mighty Kren," a 12-page sword-and-sorcery adventure set in an unspecified era, though the main protagonist is costumed in Viking gear and the characters converse with an affected Shakespearean lexicon. The story concerns the Viking dude, whose name we never learn, secretly infiltrating the catacombs of Kren, where he seeks the tomb of a sorceress named Magi.

Once inside the catacombs, the Viking dude encounters a sword-wielding woman who is apparently also wandering around surreptitiously, as she doesn't want to be seen by the army of guards who patrol the catacombs. The Viking and the woman are initially at odds, but then she agrees to sneak him through the hallways and a secret pit to Magi's tomb. The Viking doesn't understand the consequences of getting too nosy inside Magi's tomb, and the woman, who does understand, is tragically too late to stop him. At the end of the story there's a small note that indicates this is only Chapter One, but it seems like it delivers pretty much an A-to-Z story.

There are three more tales in Tales of Lost Times: a six-pager about an astronaut visiting a strange planet and not living to regret it; a seven-pager about a woodsman mage (sorcerer) who erroneously thinks he's captured a new sex slave; and another seven-pager about an intergalactic art trader who finds new sculptures through the cruelest of means. These are all fairly simple stories…in fact, two of them are entirely free of narration or dialogue. The middle one has dialogue and is probably the most compelling of the three.

Willis's artwork is lacking in some areas, but those areas don't include effort. He provides painstaking detail in his illustrations, especially for the two stories with dialogue. However, his portrayals of characters in heavy action are often unconvincing and awkward. For all the effort he made in drawing the stories, you'd think he'd have made a little more effort to study and emulate great comic-book action scenes from the past. Still, the texture and detail in his illustrations are often impressive.
Lost Cause Productions printed approximately 5,000 copies of this comic book. It has not been reprinted.

Arnold Willis - 1-35
Chuck Phillips - 36 (art)