In 1997 I felt it was time for Shi and Crusade to expand its market share, and our product output eclipsed that of 1996.
We started the year with yet another dream project of mine, a crossover with Marvel Comics' brooding icon, Daredevil. After which, I completed The Way of the Warrior storyline and turned towards history for inspiration with the dual-themed Shi ~ Heaven and Earth. It was a very busy time.
To continue Crusade's expansion, we contracted a host of seasoned artists and writers to add their vision to the Crusade universe. The result, Angel Fire, was introduced. We returned to the Japanese anime style with the futuristic smash hit Manga Shi 2000, penned by Dan Mishkin and penciled by Jason Orafalas. The freshness of other creators' ideas added a whole new color to the Shi spectrum. The Shi revolution had begun.
More talent was added to the pool as the Crusade Fine Arts Editions were produced, combining the very best of what the comic industry had to offer. These fully painted stories told a darker and more sinister side of the Shi universe, introducing mythological tales of history and life on the forgotten streets on New York City. Scribed by Professor Gary Cohn and beautifully painted by Marc Sasso and Val Mayerik, the Shi ~ East Wind Rain mini-series brought the Shi cast back 50 years in time and the days leading up to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Also released was Shi ~Nightstalkers, fully illustrated by Mayerik, which pit Shi in a struggle against former beau and ex-cop Pete DeNyse and the corrupt system he vow's to bring down.
Many specials were also released in 1997. Shi ~ Rekishi was our first source book, told by Way of the Warrior Detective Joe LaBianca and written by Tom Sniegoski and Chris Golden, with pencils by superstar J.G. (Jeff) Jones. Jeff also lent his talents to the Tony Bedard scribed Tomoe ~ The Unforgettable Fire. Film and Television star (and Shi fan) Tia Carrere joined the Shi revolution at the San Diego Comic Con to help launch of our first monthly title Shi ~ The Series. We also installed our guaranteed shipping schedule to insure that books and merchandise were delivered to our readers on time.
With the growing demand for more Shi, we expanded our product line and established Crusade Collectibles Inc., a new merchandising company that distributes comics, T-shirts, posters, mugs and other hard to find collectibles to our fans.
Overall, 1997 proved to be our most productive year - one of change, focus and unmatched professionalism. On a personal note, I'd like to extend my sincere thanks to the Crusade staff, especially Crusade Editor in Chief/ Writer Tony Bedard and Editor/Hipster Jeff Zapata, for they will never know just how much I appreciate all the heroic deeds they performed that year. Someday I will repay them.