The world stopped, with people in a state of shock and awe, when word hit that Prince, born Prince Rogers Nelson, died last Thursday at the age of 57.
It was inconceivable that someone with so much life, passion and legend would no longer be with us in the here-and-now. With a successful concert (Piano and a Microphone) in the books, plus a reported new album (HitNRun: Phase Two) — Prince was still brewing up projects at an amazing rate.
The acclaim and interest in his life has sparked a curiosity into a little known fact involving the Purple One: his numerous comic book appearances.
The multi-talented prodigy, who was a super Batman fan, first made his initial appearance in comic books way back in 1985.
John Severin of EC Comics (Entertaining Comics) drew for the satiric magazine Cracked. Issue #209 featured an original cover drawn by Severin with Boy George, Michael Jackson, The Gremlins and Prince on the front. The art is still available to this day.
For the next ten years, Prince would go on to make several other appearances in issues of Cracked between 1985 and 1995.
In between that time, the Minneapolis musician heard that director Tim Burton was adapting his favorite superhero for the big screen. The year was 1989 and Prince wanted to be a part of the impending success.
As Danny Elfman worked on a musical score soundtrack for the Batman movie, Warner Brothers and Prince created a musical tie-in with their own soundtrack to the Michael Keaton-starring movie.
Two years prior, in 1987, Prince would make his first leap between comic book companies by joining Marvel’s own Captain America in issue #327. As Cap faced off against the Super-Patriot, Prince appeared alongside ‘80s superstars during an AmericAid ‘86 concert.
Even though the focus was between the Super-Patriot, Captain America and who was better, seeing the Purple One share the panels with Steve Rogers was an incredible sight. Witnessing that moment at a young age dulled the insults that were perceived when Shooting Star #1 parodied the likenesses of Prince, Madonna, Michael Jackson and Boy George.
Later on, the years moved Prince into the realm of being a comic book protagonist, as he starred in a comic based on his own life. The year was 1991 and Prince headlined Rock N’ Roll Comics’ own book, which detailed his life from birth till about 1989 when he began working on the Batman movie. Throughout the pages, Prince would appear next to ‘80s and ‘90s luminaries such as Sinead O’Connor, Elton John, Arsenio Hall and Paula Abdul.
In 1994, Prince was such a compelling fixture within independent publishers that the Piranha Press released Prince and the New Power Generation: Three Chains of Gold, which became a collector’s item even before the turn of the century. Within the pages, Prince and his band head out to the Middle East to help a princess locate three powerful chains. Each magical artifact held great power and the opportunity for profound control.
Prince — Alter Ego was another key appearance from the Purple One where he embarked on a fantastically epic adventure. Locked in a mortal battle with a man from his past, Prince was faced with his greatest foe ever: an opponent who could turn music into a destructive force the world has never seen before. Riding into Minnesota on a dope purple motorcycle, Prince was badass as he beat up chumps with his bare hands, and proved to be every bit of hero you’d expect Prince to be.
Piranha Press, which was an offshoot of DC Comics, had commissioned the legendary Dwayne McDuffie to write the three-book story arc. Denys Cowan (Deathlok, Xombi) and Brian Bolland (Batman: The Killing Joke, Wonder Woman) also contributed to the creation of this phenomenon, which found Prince saving the day his own way.
Saving us was what he did in numerous ways from encouraging the weirdo in us to come out to making it cool to have your own fashion statement. In the end, Prince was one of the greatest influences to ever grace this place called earth, and we were all made the better for it.
Now, gather around, grab these issues off the shelf and commence to read them in tribute to Prince.