First Comics was founded by Ken Levin and Mike Gold in Evanston, Illinois in 1983. Their first big publishing break came when they successfully purchased the publishing rights to all of Capital Comics lineup after the distribution company folded up its publishing arm in 1984. The titles that carried over from Capitol: Badger, Nexus, and Whisper, along with Dreadstar, Grimjack, and American Flagg formed the core of their comics line. In 1984 First brought a lawsuit against Marvel Comics and the primary printer of comic books at the time, World Color Press (nee Quebecor), citing anti-competitive activities. The suit dragged on through most of the 80's before it was finally settled in 1988. In 1985, First moved its offices to Chicago and co-founder Mike Gold left to take an editorial position at DC, taking Howard Chaykin, Mike Grell and Timothy Truman with him.
In 1986 First started newsstand distribution, making it one of the few independent comics publishers of the time to use both direct market and newsstand distributing. First continued to experiment with different publications from the mid 80s through the early 90s. First worked closely with Michael Moorcock, adapting several of his Eternal Champion stories, including Elric, Corum, and Dorian Hawkmoon. They published the English translation of Kazuo Kaike and Goseki Kojima's Lone Wolf and Cub, and Shatter, the first all digital comic. Their final publishing venture was a partnership with Berkeley Books bringing back Classics Illustrated, the revered adaptations of "classical literature" started by Albert Lewis Kanter in 1941. Unfortunately, the series was short lived as First Comics ceased publication in 1992.
First Graphic Novels
- Jon Sable, Freelance (reprints issues 1-6 of the original series) 1987
- The Next Nexus (reprints the Next Nexus limited series) 1989