Publication Dates: 1991 – 24 October 1991
Number of Issues Published: 32 (#1 Sample Copy – #31)
Dimensions: 21.3 cm x 29.5cm
Publishing Format: Was Ongoing Series
Information thanks to the Grand Comics Database
Toxic! was a British weekly comic book published by Apocalypse Ltd. A total of 31 issues were published from March 28 to October 24, 1991.
Toxic! was the idea of Pat Mills, Kevin O’Neill, Mike McMahon, John Wagner and Alan Grant. The aim was to provide creators an outlet for their work to be published with them retaining the rights and control of their work. This was in contrast to 2000 AD, which Mills had also launched in 1977. Toxic! was to be the main rival of 2000 AD, and Toxic! would be in full colour throughout as opposed to 2000AD, which was still mainly published in black and white.
Toxic! was published by Apocalypse Ltd, an offshoot of Neptune Distribution based in South Wigston, Leicester. Neptune also owned Trident Comics which printed black and white comics by mainly new, unpublished creators.
The first title released by Apocalypse was a Marshal Law special titled Kingdom of the Blind published in October 1990. This was followed by the first issue of Toxic! in March 1991. Toxic! was initially dominated by Mills (Mills had rejected John Wagner’s proposal for Button Man based on its supposed similarity to Accident Man. It later appeared in 2000 AD). His Marshal Law strip was seen as the flagship title and a character to perhaps rival Judge Dredd. Mills also wrote Accident Man (with Tony Skinner) and Muto-Maniac in the first issue, which was rounded out by a short strip by Alan Grant and Simon Bisley.
This first issue set the tone of Toxic! as it upped the levels of violence, bad language and general anarchic tone that Mills had felt was lacking in 2000AD at the time. The second issue saw Wagner and Grant’s The Bogie Man strip start in an adventure called The Chinese Syndrome. The strip did not fit comfortably with the others and The Chinese Syndrome stopped suddenly with issue nine, and a different story (The Manhattan Project) started with issue eleven. The second issue also saw the launch of the love-it-or-loathe-it strip The Driver co-written and co-drawn by David Leach and Jeremy Banx, one episode of the which resulted in a visit by the local constabulary to the offices of Toxic after a complaint from an offended reader about Toxic containing obscene material. Issue #15 saw the start of (‘The Dinner Ladies From Hell’) written and drawn by David Leach, described as a cross between Dennis Wheatley and Robert Rankin.
This was not the only strip which suffered problems, Marshal Law began to miss issues, and some of the material replacing it proved not to be as popular. Some strips meant to be published by Trident Comics were even used to provide filler material. This hurt the title as although it had sold well initially, sales were dropping and it became clear that there were problems with Apocalypse paying creators. These problems meant many creators such as Mike McMahon saw work published which he had not been paid for. After 31 issues the comic was cancelled and shortly afterward Apocalypse went bankrupt. This meant many involved were never paid and some of those never worked in comics again.
Toxic! may have ended up being a failure but it proved a full colour weekly comic could be done. This changed 2000AD as it was forced to change its format to mirror the full colour format of Toxic!. It also gave some creators their first major break into comics, Mike Carey being one of several examples.
Several strips did go off to other publishers. Mills took Marshal Law, Sex Warrior and Accident Man to Dark Horse, Wagner and Grant took The Bogie Man to Atomeka Press, and several other strips were recycled in 2000AD.
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PRESENTS PRESENTS PRESENTS
Toxic! Presents 01 – Marshal Law – Kingdom of the Blind