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average writing
exceptional art
historical bonus 4
total score 8
Sometime Stories Back Cover
Back Cover
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Sometime Stories Inside Front Cover
Inside Front Cover
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Sometime Stories
Only Printing / 1977 / 32 pages / Hourglass Publishing
Sometime Stories is not really an underground comic, but I've reviewed plenty of others that weren't either. One of the points of Comixjoint is to provide reviews on vintage comic books that are sold or marketed as undergrounds (even if they're really not) so people have an idea what they'll be getting into. Sometime Stories is a British sci-fi/fantasy comic book with no nudity, drugs, foul language or extreme violence.

But Sometime Stories is still historically significant because of the artists who produced it. Brendan McCarthy and Brett Ewins were college buddies at Chelsea Art College in London when they collaborated on Sometime Stories, which was their first professional comic book. Though they ended up not getting paid a dime for it, McCarthy and Ewins were both able to leverage the experience to launch very successful careers, primarily in sci-fi/fantasy comics.

Sometime Stories includes several other artists who kicked in some work (including an interesting one-pager from Brett McCarthy's brother Jim), but 90% of the book is made up of fantasy stories from McCarthy and Ewins. These stories are very character oriented, as the artists try to establish roles and personalities that could be developed in long-term serialization.

The two most prominent characters, McCarthy's Finn MacCool and Ewins' Felix Adler, are featured in the 14-page opening story, "The Mystery of the Green Box." This story represents one chapter in what would've been an epic saga if the title had survived. "The Green Box" is a mystery-adventure about stolen national monuments, and while it's decently written and fairly intriguing the plot is ultimately predictable. What's not so predictable are the illustrations by both McCarthy and Ewins, which are well crafted and dense with amusing minutia and comic-book references that are fun to pour over.
The MacCool/Adler story takes up the first half of Sometime Stories, but there are a couple of four-to-five page solo stories later in the book that feature other characters by McCarthy and Ewins. All of the stories and characters in this issue were intended to have continuing adventures in Sometime Stories #2, but while that issue was completed it was never published. As previously mentioned, McCarthy and Ewins were never paid as promised by the publisher for the first issue. Not only that, but all the artwork for the second issue was stolen, save the front cover art for #2 that Ewins had kept at his house (see right).
Sometime Stories #2
Sometime Stories #2

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But to say they turned lemons into lemonade is an understatement. Within months after Sometime Stories came out, McCarthy and Ewins were both earning money with other jobs in comics. McCarthy started working for 2000AD, illustrating Judge Dredd and contributing other stories that led to even more opportunities. He collaborated with Ewins and Peter Milligan on the excellent Eclipse Comics anthology, Strange Days. As his star rose, McCarthy worked as a designer on the films Highlander, the live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Lost in Space. He was also brought in by Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels to provide visual gags for the film Coneheads.

McCarthy spent much of his latter career working in film, animation, and television, but he kept working in comic books as well. He returned to 2000AD in 2010, partnering with Al Ewing on a Judge Dredd story that spoofed the Dr Who TV series. He joined Ewing again in 2012 to produce The Zaucer of Zilk, a critically acclaimed mini-series that McCarthy described as a cross between Harry Potter and Aladdin Sane. He recently began working on a new psychedelic series for Dark Horse Comics called Dream Gang.

Brett Ewins story is a bit more ill-fated. He enjoyed similar success as McCarthy soon after Sometime Stories, providing Judge Dredd and Rogue Trooper stories as well as front cover art for 2000AD. While working on 2000AD he also produced the award-winning mini-series Skreemer for DC and launched the long-running monthly comic magazine Deadline (best known for introducing Tank Girl). Over the course of the 1980s, Ewins took on way too much workload and it all came crashing down when he suffered a serious mental breakdown in 1991. His health would further deteriorate in the coming years as he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and battled physical conditions (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis) that made it almost impossible for him to work on comics.

Despite all these issues, Ewins seemed determined to remain creatively active. After taking an extended break from comics, he spent eight years putting together a comics anthology that was published by Cyberosia Publishing in 2004. But his troubles were hardly over. In 2012, Ewins was injured during a confrontation with police in his home, during which he stabbed a police officer with a kitchen knife. Immediately after the confrontation, he suffered a heart attack that put him in a coma, kept him hospitalized for three weeks, and resulted in a collapsed lung. Once released from the hospital, Ewins was jailed on two charges stemming from stabbing the police officer.

After spending seven months in jail, Ewins' trial concluded in September 2012 and he was found guilty on one of the two charges. He spent another two months in jail awaiting sentencing, after which he was released with time served. Ewins has spent the last couple years recuperating both physically and mentally. He's still not healthy enough to work on comics, but his enormous contributions to comic art continues to be celebrated.

Both Brendan McCarthy and Brett Ewins, as well as Jim McCarthy (who also was a music journalist), had long and prosperous careers in comics. And while their artwork in Sometime Stories is good, they all improved greatly (and quickly) as they moved on. As a stand alone book, Sometime Stories is fairly entertaining, but it's also frustrating because the intriguing stories and characters that were intended to be continued in future issues never were.
It is currently unknown how many copies of this comic book were printed. It has not been reprinted. In additional to being a comic-book character created by Brendan McCarthy, Finn MacCool was actually a famous, mythological Irish legend who was a warrior and a leader of the first Irish army in third-century Ireland. Several period novels have been written about his exploits by various authors. McCarthy was aware of the Irish legend, as he stated on his blog page about Sometime Stories: "Finn Mac Cool was based on my continuing interest in most things Irish, seeing as that's where I spent most of my childhood, growing up in the West of Ireland."

Brett Ewins' character Felix Adler also turns out to be a real figure in history. Felix Adler was a German American professor, religious leader and social reformer who founded the Ethical Culture movement. In his lectures and essays, Adler looked beyond the concerns of family, labor, and race to the long-term challenge of reconstructing schools and government to promote greater justice in human relations. I wonder if Ewins knew who Felix Adler really was. I have to presume he did, though I can't see any evidence of it in Sometime Stories.

The Starlog advertisement on the back cover is cool because it promotes the 4th issue of a major science-fiction media magazine that ran for more than 30 years. Starlog was launched in 1976 and early issues focused on TV shows like Star Trek and The Bionic Woman and movies like Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Brett Ewins - 1 (collaboration), 2 (editorial), 3-17 (collaboration), 18 (art, shared), 19 (shared), 27-30
Brendan McCarthy - 1 (collaboration), 3-17 (collaboration), 19 (shared), 21-25
J. Arthur Biffo - 28 (shared)
G.P. Rice - 18 (script, shared)
Mick Bodman - 18 (shared)
Felix Adler - 19 (collaboration, shared)
Roger Kaputnik - 19 (shared)
Jim McCarthy - 20
Macasso Bros. - 26 (art)
Tony Clark Jr. - 31
Starlog Group Inc. - 32 (ad)