Grimjack was the creation of writer John Ostrander and artist Tim Truman: first appearing as a backup in First Comics Starslayer in November 1983. It soon proved popular enough to spin off into its own series, lasting 81 issues, though First’s bankruptcy in 1991 prevented any new material from being published until 2005.
Grimjack is the street name of John Gaunt, a sword-for-hire, ex-paramilitary, war veteran, and former child gladiator. He operates from Munden's Bar in the Pit, a slum area of Cynosure, a pan-dimensional city to which all dimensions connect.
- All Hail the Great God Mickey!: In both Grimjack and Nexus there are references to a "St. Elvis".
- Anti-Hero: Cynosure's resident go-to guy, Grimjack is willing to do whatever needs to be done to do a job. But despite his gruff exterior, he has a soft spot for people who had the same kind of troubles he had in his past, and has been known to let a deserving person slip out. In the end, he will end up doing the right thing.The name's John Gaunt, a.k.a. Grimjack, and I'm the guy you hire when you need an asshole on your side.
- Barred from the Afterlife: John Gaunt leaves Heaven to save the life of a friend who, if killed at that time, would be condemned to Hell. As a result he is cursed to be reincarnated for as long as the pan-dimensional city Cynosure (where the book is set) exists.
- Black-and-White Insanity: An early version of the Heterodyne Boys (the basis of the characters of the same name in Girl Genius, but specifically not the same guys, according to Studio Foglio) has the characters traveling to an alternate universe with Grey-and-Grey Morality (Grimjack #40), where they end up killing the first guy they meet in a bar. They then proceed to conclude that he must have been evil, because where they come from, only evil people ever die. In their own universe, that is assumed to be true, but in the universe they ended up in, that combined with their abilities essentially makes them a pair of Omnicidal Maniacs.
- City of Adventure: Cynosure. Perhaps justified since it was built at the center of the multiverse.
- Defector from Paradise: John Gaunt died, but chose to leave Heaven and move into a cloned body to save a friend. And hunt down an old enemy. Consequences happen.
- Disco Tech: In issue #76, Grimjack travels to a dimension where sound can be used as a weapon. He, an old friend, and a number of new allies fight to protect "The Heart of Rock" from the evil forces of corporate music. The weapons used are musical instruments. And most of the characters are based on rock musicians.
- The Face of the Sun: Grimjack occasionally ventured to a dimension where the inhabitants were cute sentient animals. The sun of that dimension also was sentient, complete with a face.
- Fantasy Gun Control: Grimjack includes firearms... but since the city of Cynosure exists in multiple dimensions, the natural laws of any given neighbourhood may not let them work.
- Finger-Snap Lighter: Crane, a Con Man is contemplating the collapse of his latest scam when he asks a stranger in an alley for a light. The stranger was Lord Chaos from the sister comic, Warp.
- Inn Between the Worlds: Munden's Bar; in this case, it's a property of the city the bar is in, though Munden's itself gets more than its share of odd customers even by the standards of Cynosure.
- Knowledge Broker: Feetus. Notable in that he and Grimjack were old war buddies and genuine friends. He plays a more important role in the plot than just a source of information for Grimjack.
- Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: The series did a lot of these, especially in its backup feature, Munden's Bar. Played both straight, with a series of images of various incarnations of Iron Man's armor, and Played for Laughs as with a humanoid cat sighing "Oh Bruce!" to a humanoid bat who responds with, "Oh Selina!"
- Mirror Universe: Subversion: In Phil Foglio's short story "Work Ethic" found in #40, heroes from a world in which there is only pure good and pure evil (and the heroes always win), get transported to Grimjack's world, which has a more realistically varied moral spectrum. Thus, since they see that everything is not purely good, they begin to destroy the entire town of Cynosure until Cynosure's protector sends them back to their own dimension. (Incidentally, these heroes, the Heterodyne Boys, later became the inspiration for Girl Genius.)
- Patchwork Map: The city of Cynosure consists of a more-or-less stable central region surrounded by areas — "dimensions" — that phase in and out of contact with the central dimension at irregular intervals, so that the composition, size and shape of the city is always changing. A map of the city was published in one issue, with instructions to cut it up along the "dimensional" boundaries shown, then toss the pieces into the air: at some point in their "flight", the dimensions would be in exact correspondence to what the city looked like at one instant in its history (which point and instant was not specified).
- Patchwork World: Grimjack is set in Cynosure, the city at the center of The Multiverse. It's made of pieces of different dimensions, so one can pass from one reality to another by crossing the street. The laws of physics are known to be different in different parts of the city. Magic works in some parts of the city. Technology dominates in others.
- Refusing Paradise: John Gaunt died, but chose to leave Heaven and move into a cloned body to save a friend. And hunt down an old enemy. Consequences happen.
- Sexy Coat Flashing: Omaha the Cat Dancer does this during her appearance in Munden's Bar Annual, opening her trenchcoat to reveal to the bar patrons that she isn't wearing anything under it.
- Sword and Gun: Grimjack carries both for a simple reason. His home city of Cynosure is a multi-dimensional nexus where the laws of reality can change with the crossing of a street. Magic works in some places, guns in others, but swords work everywhere.
- Wretched Hive: Cynosure, where all the dimensions meet. In many dimensions you need to hire a bodyguard/private cop or a whole private army. Or just be a total badass.
- Yoko Oh No: An early issue has Grimjack trying to protect a No Celebrities Were Harmed expy of John Lennon. In the end, he finds out too late that the stalker's target was the wife, not the musician as everybody had assumed. The killer had blamed her for 'ruining' her husband — but her death resulted in him quitting singing and music all together.