In the mid 90’s The Maxx really changed my life, not for the worse or the better, but for the weirder. I was already a nerdy kid who collected comics, but pretty much only superhero comics. Then I saw the MTV cartoon and fell in love with all the weirdness. Sure the X-Men were weird I guess because of their mutant powers, but nothing like this.
Story: The Maxx is a homeless person in real life, who thinks he’s a superhero. In his mind, he hallucinates and goes to Pangea, which is the “Australian outback” to him, where he is a warrior and can defeat everything. Maxx has a social worker named Julie Winters.
She is an attractive and curvy woman that The Maxx needs to protect in his mind. Ultimately the line of what is reality and his hallucinations blur. Mr. Gone is the main villain, with back stories that links him to Julie. He is mad that The Maxx protects Julie in the outback so he wants to kill him.
The outback has Isz’es, which are cute white omnivores. When they are brought into the real world, the Isz turns black and becomes cannibalistic. Mr. Gone can control the Isz’es with his powers.
The story gets really gritty and dark. Mr. Gone is a serial rapist, he has mind control powers that he tries to use on Julie. Maxx as a vagrant is being thrown in and out of jail. So aside from being pretty weird in general, this was probably the first comic I’ve really read that deals with serious issues. So for me it was really a gateway of what else can be done in comic format. Which is pretty limitless with a mature audience.
MTV. The creator of The Maxx–Sam Keith was approached by MTV and got to oversee the show’s look. Which is why the TV show looks so much like the comic. The cartoon The Maxx lasted 13 episodes in 1995. It was part of MTV’s Oddities, which included other animated shows like The Head, Æon Flux, and Liquid Television.
Sam Keith’s panels in the comic pretty much came to life in the show, sometimes including paintings by Keith for key moments in the show. A DVD of the show is available through Amazon for only $11.99!
I highly recommend it. Also included is an interview with Sam Keith and producers reminiscing about how lucky they were to have complete control. You can also stream full episodes of The Maxx for free through mtv.com.
The show was my first introduction to The Maxx, after that I ransacked local comic shops to get my hands on the comic. I have bought the DVD a few years ago and it still holds up today. I was worried at first, you know sometimes when you revisit something from the past and you think what the hell was I thinking, but not the case this time! I would love it if a Blu Ray eventually came out.
Action Figures and Ashcans. McFarlane Toys did a Maxx action figure toy in 1996. This was when they had only been doing Spawn figures, so it was just a part of their Spawn line. Lots of variants of this figure too. I have two of them, one with a white Isz one with a black Isz. Shocker Toys have made a few Maxx action figures, and also a Mr. Gone figure. These ones are part of their Indie Spotlight series. They also have a 10 pack of Isz’es!
Back in 1993 when Image comics first released The Maxx, they did a limited run of “Ashcans” as well. These Ashcans variant books are super rare and are worth big bucks. The first 3 issues of The Maxx had these 4 different color Ashcans. I am always looking for these suckas when I’m at a comic convention. Maybe one day I will score one.
Maxx Maxximized. In celebration of the 20th anniversary of The Maxx, The Maxx: Maxximixed was released recently. IDW is releasing the issues, it is a retelling of the original, with new colors and sometimes different artwork. Sam Keith said the color palette in the Outback has always bugged him, and imagined it softer, and now he gets to do just that.
Some tweaks on continuity in the story and some lost sub-plots are what you are going to get out of these new reprints as well. Reading a recent interview with Sam Keith, it looks like we aren’t getting anymore new Maxx tales. It’s too bad, but I am glad that he isn’t just cranking something out that he doesn’t have passion for anymore. The Maxx will always have a special place in my heart.