101 issues [1985 - 1996]
39 - 109, 116, 126, 144 - 171
I started buying this in the middle of Rick Veitch's run, after I had started reading the early Bissette/Moore/Totleben run from the SAGA series. Somewhere around #79, while at the same time starting to pick up back-issues. Didn't take too long to get just about all the back-issues (a few SAGA ones took a bit longer). I kept reading after the unpleasantness of Veitch's departure. If I knew more about it at the time I probably wouldn't have. Continued reading through the whole Doug Wheeler run, which was hit and miss, definitely below the standards of the previous run but sometimes entertaining enough. I was about to drop it close to the end of that run when a new writer was announced, so I stuck around for that. Big mistake, very unimpressed, took a while for me to overcome the inertia and drop it. I did like Dick Foreman's two fill-ins, so I kept those when I got rid of the rest of that run, hence those two stray issues.
Beautiful covers on many runs of this book, especially when Steve Bissette and John Totleben were involved together or separately. Totleben's fully painted ones on the early Wheeler issues had a lot to do with me sticking with the book after the controversy, and as I said his covers at the tail end of the series had a lot to do with bringing me back.
It's a run full of highlights, of course, but a few favourites:
#44 - Bogeymen (one of the best of the Bissette/Totleben/Moore team, and one of the best serial killer stories I've encountered)
#48 - A Murder of Crows (John Totleben soloing on the art as the American Gothic story kicks into high gear)
#59 - Reunion (Bissette writing an interlude in the middle of Moore's space saga perfectly captures the feel of the best of the series from both the Wein days to the Moore days with the return of the Patchworkman)
#72 - Gargles in the Rat Race Choir (I'm a sucker for an obscure Dylan reference, this is my favourite of the Veitch scripted issues)
#78 - To Sow One's Seed in the Wind (Bissette writing another interlude issue, very poetic)
Most of this series is a keeper, except that I should probably go through Wheeler's run (#88 - #109) and just pick a few better ones to keep at some point. Of course all the Moore run and the first bit of Veitch's are in tradepaperbacks, some of which I've already picked up, so if pressed I could get rid of those, too, but, um, y'know, the trades reprint the covers in those tiny "cover gallery" things instead of full size. And I just like having the issues. I'm so fucking weak, I'm going to end up buried in duplicate versions of comics I can't bring myself to get rid of...
Not really planning on questering for any back-issues to fill the gap.