The Maxx, from the cover of the first issue. Artist: Sam Kieth.


Original medium: Comic books
Published by: Image Comics
First Appeared: 1984
Creator: Sam Kieth
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Comic book writers and artists have never received what many of them consider a fair share of the profits generated by their work, especially at the major publishers, which tend to glom the entire property for themselves, treating creative personnel as replaceable cogs in their machine. Even after Captain Victory paved the way for character creators to own the properties they created, perceived inequities …

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… persisted, especially when creative personnel were working on characters the company already owned. Image Comics (Liberty Meadows, WildC.A.T.S.) was formed when several top Marvel artists decided they could do better on their own, and made the imprint so nobody else would get a cut of Spawn, Savage Dragon and their other creations.

Others soon flocked to their banner. Sam Kieth, whose work for DC Comics, especially on The Sandman, had garnered a lot of interest from comics fans, brought them his creation, The Maxx, shortly after the company's launch. The first issue was dated March, 1993. (An incunabular appearance in the sixth issue of Primer, published by Comico (The Elementals, Grendel) in 1984, went nowhere for almost a decade.)

The storyline in The Maxx was more complex than most comics, even non-mainstream ones. Social worker Julie Winters, after being the victim of an especially brutal crime, took refuge in the world of her subconscious, which she called "The Outback". There, she was "The Leopard Queen" (no relation), a jungle goddess along the lines of Sheena or Rulah. When she accidentally hit a homeless man with her car, in circumstances that reminded her of the crime, he got involved with her life in The Outback (where she now spent so much of her time, its stability was threatened), as a superhero called The Maxx. This was all three years in the past, as the series opened.

As it progressed, The Outback came to include several outside-world people, some of whom, such as Mr. Gone, a rapist and serial killer who was telepathically tied to Julie, were aware of its existence and importance in her life. The Maxx opposed him in both The Outback, and outside reality. He was eventually important to the resolution of the first storyline. The series then moved ten years forward (from 1995 to the then-future era of 2005) and switched to the Outback of Sarah (also spelled "Sara"), a troubled teenager whom Julie was counseling.

The comic book series ended with its 35th issue (February, 1998). Wizard Entertainment also did a oneshot in '93, mostly as promotion but also containing an 11-page original story by Kieth with a scripting assist from William Messner-Loebs (Journey, Epicurius the Sage). In 2003, DC reprinted several issues as graphic novels, part of its Vertigo line (Swamp Thing, Animal Man).

Meanwhile, an animated version was made. It first aired on MTV (Beavis & Butthead, Daria) on April 8, 1995. The Maxx's voice was done by Michael Haley (a producer, director and face actor, with few if any other voice credits), and Julie's by Glynnis Talken (who also has done little to no other voice work). Mr. Gone was Barry Stigler, later heard in Transformers and as a pirate in All Grown Up, a Rugrats spin-off.

The Maxx has also been merchandised as toys. It's currently dormant in both of its cartoon venues.


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Text ©2008-09 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Sam Kieth.