Body Bags AKA Dogtown
Your first question might be, “is this going to be any good?” and obviously as far as the film goes, we have no idea. As far as the comic goes, well it was probably the freshest new comic to be released in 1996. Granted 96 was a long time ago.
However I’m a firm believer had Dark Horse put any effort behind the marketing of it, you wouldn’t even need to ask the question. Dark Horse made an enormous misstep in not marketing the book correctly, or at all outside of other Dark Horse comics.
Instead they put their advertising dollar behind later installments of Frank Miller’s Sin City, a book people were already well aware of and didn’t need the marketing at that point. I could go on and on about this… but hey, if you got a book coming out called Body Bags, that almost nobody knows about. Probably would have been better to use the toe tag marketing gimmick on that at San Diego Comic Con 1996, rather than the Sin City book everyone already knows about.
Mack first appeared in 1993 on a trading card for the Creators Universe card series… however the female character on the card is not his estranged daughter Panda, who appears in the comic series first published by Dark Horse.
As the story goes, when Pearson was originally creating the comic a movie called the Professional came out and apparently is was so similar to what Body Bags was going to be. Jason Pearson ended up changing the story as a result. On the back of the trading card it mentions a mysterious young woman, however she was not Mack’s daughter at that point of the evolution of the characters.
So Panda’s first appearance is in the Dark Horse Preview book which has pages from the first issue of the comic, which would be released one month later. She appears on the cover, i’m not sure at time of writing this if she appears inside the interior preview pages.
Body Bags issue #1-4 (Dark Horse 1996). The 4 part story entitled Fathers Day. From the early reports this will be the source for the film. All the Blanc Noir titles from Dark Horse were supposed to revolve around a city called Terminus. It was also collected as a trade paperback from Dark Horse, which might have only had one or two printings. The covers for the 4 issue mini series were drawing by legendary artist Michael Golden.
Dark Horse Presents Annual 1997. This is the second Body Bags related story, which is a short black and white story.
Dark Horse Maverick 2000. This is another short Body Bags related story with Mack and Panda.
12 Gauge Comics through Image Comics reprinted Fathers Day as a two book reprint set in 2005, before printing it again as a trade paperback in 2009.
Body Bags 3 the Hard Way 2006. This reprints the 2 Dark Horse short stories and has a new short story. There are 3 cover variations for this issue.
Body Bags One Shot 2008. This is the first new full length Body bags story published via 12 Gauge Comics through Image Comics. There are 3 cover variations. There is also a preview edition that was available at conventions that 12 Gauge Comics was attending.
Body Bags Fathers Day and Theory of Violence TPBs Image Comics 2009-2012. These two trade paper backs reprint ALL the Body Bags stories to date. As far as I know it is not still available from Diamond Distribution or Image Comics. I could see it going back into print now.
Is there anything else?
Eventually a new graphic novel is due to be released, Body Bags: Don’t Die Until I Kill You. It was funded a few years ago on Kickstarter but little is known about the story or how close it is to actually being released at time of writing this.
So that’s basically it for books relating to these characters. It will be interesting to see how this all ends up playing out from a speculation standpoint… or if the film ever makes it out of development/pre production hell. I hope it does, I’ve been a big fan of this series since the word go. All I can really say to wrap this up…
Itsa’bout damn time!
Update 06/03/18: Thanks to David Unlikely for pointing out Ghost #16. It has a 3 page preview of Body Bags. It consist of the color cover for issue #1 and 2 pages of black and white interior art. Thanks to Topher for getting me photos of the issue so I could confirm it this for the article.