The origins of Chaos Comics start within another defunct publisher, Eternity Comics. Sometime in the early 1990’s, writer/creator Brian Pulido drew a rough sketch of the character Evil Ernie. Eternity Comics, being an independent publisher as well as offering creators the option to maintain their ownership, offered Brian Pulido a chance to publish Evil Ernie while maintaining oversight of his brain child. Brian Pulido went on to publish a number of issues of Evil Ernie with Eternity Comics from 1991 through 1994.
Seeing the success of Evil Ernie under Eternity Comics, Brian Pulido reached out to his friend Steven Hughes and the two set about creating their own publishing company to expand on their vision for the genocidal maniac and the cast of characters that flowed from his adventures. The two of them working together is what brought Chaos Comics to life in 1994.
The gamble was worth it as Evil Ernie took off and the company expanded with Lady Death. Her break-out story The Reckoning marked her as the first in a generation of Bad-Girl comic book characters in the 1990’s.
In 1995, Chaos Comics released Doomsday, a one-off thrash metal album. This singular marketing decision opened up a bevy of opportunities for Chaos to work on other licensed properties. They worked with musical acts such as Megadeth and Static X but also had a contract to do licensed comics for the WWE. They wrote books for wrestlers Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, The Undertaker, Mankind, and Chyna.
New characters, such as Purgatori, Chastity and Cremator, were born organically from the stories of pre-existing characters and given their own titles that both stood alone and crossed over with other books. By tying new characters to the origins of popular ones, Chaos Comics ensured that readers were always invested in the new characters when they branched out. Chaos! Comics was also well known for the company’s wide array of variant covers, ranging from leather and velvet to cloth and premium jeweled editions, many of which remain highly sought after today.
In 1997 Chaos Comics was hit with a copyright infringement accusation and lawsuit, when horror writer Nancy A. Collins claimed that the character and storyline of Chastity had been based on her character Sonja Blue. In regards to the lawsuit Adam Goldfine C.O.O. of Chaos Comics at the time was quoted with the following “Chaos Comics immediately countersued for liable, defamation and interference with Chaos Comics business. Chaos! Comics then filed a motion for summary judgement in which Chaos Comics asked the court to rule that the Chastity storyline and Chastity character did not infringe upon Nancy Collins’ work. Without ever responding to that motion, Collins agreed to dismiss her complaint in exchange for Chaos’ agreement to dismiss its lawsuit against Collins. Chaos did not pay Collins any money at all to secure the dismissal of her lawsuit. Under the circumstances, Chaos! feels that its position has been entirely vindicated.”
However Nancy Collins did rebut this statement with the following “After pressing the lawsuit to the best of my means, I decided to not pursue further litigation. The case was dropped. It was not resolved or settled to either party’s benefit. In agreeing to drop the suit in exchange for Chaos dropping their counterclaim of defamation, I do not concede anything to Chaos and/or Brian Pulido in any way, shape or form. I elected not to pursue litigation because I am an individual, not a corporation, neither do I have employees who will write my novels for me or handle my business affairs while otherwise engaged, and I felt the time & attention necessary to pursue the case would be better served focusing on my writing & film career. I still believe my views concerning the case to be valid and have not changed my opinions concerning them in any way, as is my First Amendment Right as a citizen of the United States of America.” Thus closing a rocky chapter in Chaos Comic’s history.
Moving past the lawsuit, Chaos! Comics continued intertwining all its biggest characters in each other’s storylines. There were few stories that had absolutely no connection to the others, or that did not directly affect the other characters in some way. This was always done with care to establish and maintain a coherent timeline, a system that paid off with the long planned Armageddon story arc that saw multiple arcs converge to create a new central core storyline that led up to January 1st 2000.
The Armageddon story arc is considered the beginning of the end for the Chaos Comics universe, in which all the major characters make a last ditch effort to stop the impending Armageddon. Gathering together all the major players from the Chaos Comics universe, this 4 issue arc was released in the last 3 months of 1999 with the finale release January 1st 2000. The story-lines of all the major characters come together into one cataclysmic event with their individual comics, published along-side these issues, intertwining into the story making for a total of 14 issues that interconnect with the Armageddon story arc. Chaos! Comics published timeline charts and issues lists to allow readers to follow the complex, interrelated story line.
Shortly after the end of the Armageddon story arc, Chaos! Comics bid farewell to illustrator and co-founder Steven Hughes. On February 18, 2000, in Scottsdale, Arizona Hughes passed away after a long battle with cancer. Shortly after Hughes passing, many of the memorials available on the Chaos web site spoke to Hughes popularity with comics fans, many of whom he met through an aggressive schedule of comics convention appearances during which Hughes would spend long hours signing for all-comers. Slightly older than most of the Chaos Comic’s contributors, with a wife and children, Hughes took special care to encourage younger artists.
The death of Hughes was a huge blow as he was in-house talent and coupled with the end of the Armageddon story arc, Chaos Comics made a difficult decision. In 2002, citing declining sales, they filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and began a liquidation of all assets which Chaos Comics held, in turn wiping their debts clean. The company’s remaining assets were turned over to the their court-appointed trustee who in turn sold them off to pay off debtors, most notably including freelancers who had done work for the company. When asked about the decision for Chapter 7 bankruptcy over Chapter 11 bankruptcy Adam Goldfine C.O.O. of Chaos Comics stated that simply filing to reorganize the company under Chapter 11 bankruptcy didn’t seem worthwhile.
After the company filed bankruptcy in 2002, Brian Pulido took their flagship character, Lady Death, to CrossGen Comics and published “Lady Death: A Medieval Tale.” However, CrossGen also went out of business mere months later, leading Pulido to take Lady Death to Avatar Press. This move has proven fruitful with a split storyline of a more classic Lady Death tale and a continuation of the medieval tale being produced side by side. Lady Death eventually found a home with her own imprint, Boundless Comics. In Late 2014 she moved Brian Pulido’s Coffin Comics which exist as the sole producer of Lady Death books.
The rest of the Chaos Comic’s characters were won at auction by the comic retailer, Tales of Wonder, who then sold some characters to Devil’s Due Publishing. DDP had at one point begun several series using Chaos’ characters, also using Chaos Comics as an imprint. In 2012 Dynamite Entertainment acquired its first Chaos Comics character with Evil Ernie. It wasn’t until 2014 when Dynamite acquired Chaos Comics that it started printing under as Chaos Comics (Chaos! Dynamite) imprint. The only character that does not fall into that ownership rights is Lady Death, as previously mentioned.
Despite their legal woes, Chaos Comics has found a way to resurrect itself through Dynamite Entertainment, Their compelling, horror-inspired characters that struck a chord with readers back in the 90’s has found a new audience in the 21st century with the same sensibilities it had when they were founded.
“Zombie” Ben Bedgood is GGR’s newest contributor. Keep your eyes open for more of articles coming soon!