Tribal Tuesdays: The Story of Tribe and Image Comics

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I am utterly fascinated by the devotion of Tribe fans. They are not as vocal or as visible as the fans of Milestone or other Independent brands. They are similar to a clique in many ways but even more fascinating is how so many people have so many opionions about roughly only four issues of a book published more than twenty years ago.

My own fascination is also telling as I make plans to order the entire set of 90 trading cards so I can dig deeper into the world of Tribe. Stroman and Johnson now both have online presences. I hold on to what they say about Tribe with bated breath.

In a world of reboots (Valiant Entertainment) and assimilations (Wildstorm to DC) Tribe MUST re emerge! If for nothing else than to prove that it was not a fluke, it was not a comic encapsulated and entombed in the 90’s which bore it. No! It must show us the reason for our continued fascination, for our continued dedication to an ideal, a symbol of black unity, power and success that triumphs against all odds.

Before we can get to this re-birth however we must look back to the distant past…..


Why did Tribe leave Image Comics?


Erik Larsen’s version: It was my recollection that Tribe was cancelled for being chronically late. The first issue was months late and issue two was nowhere in sight when it finally did ship. With all of the Image founders having their deadline woes, the boys weren’t looking to add to the problem by having a mess of new books shipping late. It was not an across the board thing. Some books were axed because certain creators didn’t like them or because their sales weren’t all that strong or because they weren’t well-received.

I was in NYC at a show and missed the meeting where the purge was voted on.

Phantom Force was not part of that. We only agreed to do two issues–the ones Jack was part of. Once Kirby was no longer part of the picture and the book was being put together by others–it wasn’t one Image was interested in.

Tribe, Shaman’s Tears, Stupid and Trencher were bounced at that time. Dale Keown pulled Pitt a couple years later. [Source: CBR]

We were having deadlines issues at Image. We took on a few creators who had assured us that they would make their deadlines and those creators failed to meet their promises. Tribe #1 was very late–#2 would have been so late that it would have been returnable. We were getting a bad enough reputation because of our own late titles– compounding the problem by keeping on a group of creators who were also blowing it was deemed unacceptable.

Were it my choice, I would have kept Tribe and given the creators a “get your act together” talk. I was a big fan of the book. Still am, actually.[Source: CBR]

Todd Johnson’s version: now that is a new one. i assure you we are neither nuts or prone to party. but as to the original question of what is the true story – there will never be a true answer because there are too many individuals determining what is the truth. the only truth that matters is that there was a vote – and tribe lost. business, personal, whatever, it doesn’t tarnish the process. the reason was whatever those present thought best at the time for their company. that is the prerogative of ownership. tribe one was not late as erik states though i will agree that tribe two was no where in sight – neither was our check for tribe one. delivery of issue two just would not have been prudent in the established work environment. but i do thank erik publicly for his allowing use of the dragon in tribe and i hold your talent and output in the highest regard. my experience with tribe has been nothing short of positive. i currently live in a house purchased with the tribe one money. at over one million copies, tribe still holds the sales record as the number one selling african american created comic of all time and is also one of image comics best selling number ones. business always makes for strange bedfellows but this is an old issue that might best be put to rest. [Source: cbr]

That’s it this month on Tribal Tuesays check back next month as we continue to highlight the forgotten world of Stroman and Johnson’s Tribe.

#bringbackTRIBE #TRIBEin2018


I'm a Caribbean born Lecturer, Multidisciplinary specialist/Androgogue/Philosophical Pedagogue; with backgrounds in Philosophy, Social Studies and Geography; founder/CEO of World of Black Heroes, freelance writer and all around comic book geek. I enjoy a good book, video games, movies and most of all fatherhood. Written credits include work for where my writing inspired the music compiliation "Kindah" available in multiple languages on Itunes, The Caribbean Journal of Education, The University of the west indies, Comicvine, Independent comics etc.

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