Dr. Radium. Artist: Scott Saavedra


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Slave Labor Graphics
First Appeared: 1985
Creator: Scott Saavedra
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In the1980s, market conditions were such that the American comic book industry offered unparalleled opportunity for individual talents to put their visions before the public. In many cases, the so-called "independent" publishers produced material very similar to that of industry giants Marvel and DC, such as American Flagg and Captain Victory, but some smaller Direct Market publishers, such as Slave Labor Graphics, specialized in material more characterized by …

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… idiosyncratic quality than commercial appeal. Slave Labor was the publisher of, among others, The Jam, Milk & Cheese, Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, Little Gloomy and It's Science with Dr. Radium.

Dr. Radium was a scientist of the future — the last scientist, says publisher publicity releases, in a world that mostly ignored him. Except his assistant, Roy. Roy was scared of him. Thus isolated, the doc pursued the goal of scientific knowledge uninterrupted — except by occasionally having to deal with the Elvi, aliens who vaguely resembled a certain dead rock'n'roll singer. He was the earliest published creation of cartoonist Scott Saavedra, who later assembled Java Town for Slave Labor.

Saavedra first used the character in 1985, when Dr. Radium appeared in his self-published fanzine, Comic Book Heaven. At the same time, one of his old high school associates, Dan Vado, was preparing to start his own publishing company, Slave Labor Graphics, designed to put into print that which Vado thought should be in print. His first act as publisher, in 1986, was to take over publication of Shadowstar (no relation), a superhero some friends had self-published for two issues. Also debuting within a year of Vado assuming the publishing role was It's Science with Dr. Radium. The first issue was dated September, 1986.

Dr. Radium lasted seven issues, which were bimonthly at first, but slipped a little after a few months. The last one was dated March, 1988. But he was back in 1990, with the oneshot Dr. Radium's Big Book, which was published in the same format as Mad or Vampirella, with magazine-sized pages. He was back again with the five-issue series Dr. Radium, Man of Science, which Slave Labor published starting with a cover date of October, 1992.

New Dr. Radium material hasn't been published in several years. But most of the old stories are kept in print, in graphic novel form.


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Text ©2009 Donald D. Markstein. Art © William Van Horn.