This one ended up with much brighter colors than I’d planned. I’ve colored all my previous illustrations in RGB mode in Photoshop. RGB is the format used for online images. This illustration was done in CMYK mode. CMYK is the format used for print. The colors didn’t look this bright when I was working on them. They’re only showing up like this now that I’ve posted the image online.
Or maybe I’m seeing things.
Nope. Above is an RGB version.
Apparently I have much to learn. Which is why I’m doing these things.
Godzilla. Gamera. King Kong. Gorgo. Konga. Reptilicus. Daikazu. What do these monsters all have in common?
Each of them has headlined their own comic book series.
Only one, Daikazu, is an original comic book creation. The other monsters all starred in movies first. Daikazu starred in 11 black and white comics (eight of Daikazu, the regular series; three of Daikazu vs. Gugoron, a miniseries) published from 1987 to 1991. It was a fun book – written, drawn and published by Mike Wolfer. It was a fun book. I wish it had had a longer run. After suspending Daikazu Wolfer has had a long career doing adult oriented horror comics.
Daikazu is the monster on the right. The monster in the background is unnamed and only makes an appearance in this illustration.
One thing I do remember about Wonderland is how many of the characters wore glasses. This is page four and already three characters are bespectacled. I don’t have any trouble drawing glasses now but back in 1993 I thought they were kind of tricky.
It’s an odd experience when I find a piece of art I’d completely forgotten that I’d drawn. As soon as I see it again I recognize it as mine and I may even remember some of the details of its creation. This page and the six pages that follow are really vague in my memory. I suspect that a big part of the reason for this is that I didn’t write the story that’s being illustrated. When I’m illustrating someone else’s story I don’t feel the same attachment to the characters that I do if I’m the writer. It’s not that I put any less effort into the art, it’s just that the characters usually don’t stick around in my head after the job is done. They didn’t originate with me. I draw their portraits and they move on.
In 1993 Brave New Words had shut down. I was still friends with the publisher. We talked on a regular basis and he brought me projects to work on. One of those was a miniseries about the apocalypse. I think. He was going to write the script and I was going to draw it. I think he intended to shop it to a publisher. I don’t think he planned to publish it himself.
The series was called Wonderland. I’ve found parts of the script for the first issue. There’s a lot that happens off stage with characters reacting to things that the reader hasn’t seen. I believe it concerned a group of people who were out to prevent the end of the world. A lot of stories are about that. I remember that he wanted to the art to be high contrast black and white. If I remember correctly, he didn’t send me a full script. He faxed me the script in pieces. This was in 1993. I had a Mac desktop that I was sharing with my room mate. There was no email or internet.
The project didn’t get any farther than a script for the first issue and seven finished pages on my end. We moved on to other things.
Amazing Spider-Man #103 is the first comic book I ever bought. It’s also the both the first story and the first comic I can remember reading. In all likelihood my mom bought it for me but I know I bought each subsequent issue myself. My brother and I got small monthly allowances and most of mine went to buying Spider-Man each month. The date on the cover is December 1971. Since magazines post dated their issues by about four months that issue was probably on the stands in September. I would have been a little more than seven years old. I’d obviously read other stories prior to this one – after all, I knew how to read. But this is the story that made its mark. If you look at the type of things I draw and the sorts of stories I read then Spider-Man #103 looks like a big sign post pointing me toward those interests.
I might have known who Spider-Man was before I read this comic. The Spider-Man cartoon series had played on television from 1967 to 1970 and it’s possible I saw episodes of it. I don’t remember. I do know I hadn’t read a Spider-Man comic before this issue.
It’s a strange one to have started with. Most of Spider-Man’s previous adventures took place in New York City where he fought various super powered criminals. This story (running in issues 103 and 104) removed Spidey from his usual stomping grounds to the Savage Land, a Lost World in Antarctica inhabited by dinosaurs and other prehistoric beasts. There he encounters a giant monster, the survivor of a crashed alien ship. It’s a sort of a retelling of King Kong without the final act of Kong getting dragged back to New York. I hadn’t seen King Kong yet so the story was new to me.
After this story Spider-Man returned to fighting supervillains in New York. I kept reading his adventures until sometime in the 1990s. I read a lot of other comics about a lot of other superheroes but Spidey remained my favorite. He wasn’t so powerful that his victories came easily. He was smart. He was poor. His enemies were weirdos – the Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Hammerhead, Man-Wolf, the Vulture, the Sandman and so many others. Eventually I gave up reading monthly comics. I no longer had the budget or the time to get to the comic store on regular basis so I didn’t miss the latest issues. I haven’t bought an issue in over 15 years now. While I occasionally look at collected editions of recent Spider-Man stories at the library I don’t pay a lot of attention to the character any more.
I’ve still got that first comic. I haven’t read it in years. I’m almost afraid to read it again. It’s unlikely to hold up as well in reality as it does in my memory. It’s in one of the 18 long boxes of comics that survived the culling I did of my collection back in 2004. Did so many of my interests start with that comic or did it just embody them?
I already loved dinosaurs. This story had them. It had a lost world where they still survived. It had ape men and ruined temples. It had jungles. It had a misunderstood monster. It had a giant monster. It had mysterious aliens. It had a jungle man and his faithful saber-toothed cat. It had a superhero who couldn’t fly. For some reason, very few of the superheroes I’ve invented can fly.
It didn’t have examples of all my obsessions. It would have been a really messy story if it had. But that’s okay. It would be sad if I had developed all my obsessions before I was eight.