It’s a common misconception that comics are solely the realm of costumed vigilantes in spandex fighting a war against super criminals... also in spandex. But if you actually have a viable franchise with a profitable character(s), you can bet a comic book publisher can easily turn it into a monthly funny book. And speaking of properties that can turn a profit, there’s none better than those found in the world of video games. From Sonic the Hedgehog to Mega Man, there have been plenty of video game icons making the jump to panels on pages, all except for one particular Italian plumber: Super Mario. It’s true, for all his popularity, Mario and the rest of the gang haven’t appeared in a comic for years—and here’s why they should!
Who is Super Mario?
Mario and his friends certainly don’t need an introduction, but the plucky plumber’s little-known comic book legacy just might. Mario jumped his way onto comic book store shelves all the way back in 1990 during the waning days of the Nintendo Entertainment System. Published by Valiant Comics, the publisher released a number of different comic series featuring Nintendo’s world famous mascot: Super Mario Bros., Game Boy and Nintendo Comics System among others. The comics featured designs, stories and characterization similar to those seen in the Super Mario Bros. Super Show cartoon series and, as an added bonus, the Super Mario Bros. comic featured segments such as the faux-advice column “Ask Princess Toadstool” and “Koopa’s Believe It Or Else!”
Valiant’s line of Nintendo comics didn’t exactly have the staying power due in large part to insipid and generic storylines, but that didn’t mean North America would never see another Mario comic again. Beginning in early 1992, Nintendo Power magazine started to run a monthly Mario comic strip series based loosely on the Super Mario World video game. Illustrated by Charlie Nozawa and written by Kentaro Takekuma, Super Mario Adventures told the absurd little story of Mario, Luigi, Friendly Floyd the traveling salesman (yes, really), and others trying to rescue Princess Toadstool from Bowser and derail the mad king’s planned nuptial with the Mushroom Kingdom's kidnap-prone matriarch.
Upon the end of Super Mario Adventures—and two subsequent mini-comics entitled “Mario Vs. Wario” and “Mario Vs. Wario: The Birthday Bash”—this would be the last time North America saw a Mario comic.
Why He Deserves His Own Series
Let’s see here... maybe because Mario hasn’t had his own series for roughly 20 years? Today, Mario’s popularity rivals that of the unbridled fervor seen in his heyday during the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, especially given the number of officially licensed merchandise featuring the almighty mustached one’s visage seen of late. Right now the Sonic the Hedgehog and Mega Man comic series from Archie Comics are currently the undisputed kings of the video game comic book hill, with the former having been around since the advent of the Sega Genesis. If this is anything to go by, there’s a definite market for comics starring the well known mascots of the gaming industry.
With so many games under the Super Mario franchises’ belt (with more being added on a regular basis), there’s a wealth of colorful and exciting characters and locales, both old and new, to work with; writers will have storylines for decades to come—so there are zero excuses for writer’s block. All this talk of a Mario comic series, however, begs the question of who would take the reins of publishing it. With Archie Comics definitely not an option (as well as Marvel and DC for obvious reasons), perfect candidates would be Boom! Studios’ children’s imprint, Kaboom!; IDW; or the newly revived Valiant Entertainment (who says you can’t go home again?). Of course, all of this can’t be done without Nintendo’s blessing, but if we can show enough demand, Mario will be giving Sonic and Mega Man a run for their money!
With a dedicated writer in combination with a loyal fanbase, we can have a Mario comic series for the ages that, unlike Valiant’s original run, won’t be an obscure and forgettable footnote in Mario’s storied history.