The Flea (Mataak) –1995

Now we’ll start at the very beginning, that’s a good place to start…..

Around 1990, I had a character I created called the Flea. He was a six inch tall alien from a distant planet with super strength, invulnerability and the power of flight. Over the course of a few years, I tweaked and changed the concept in preparation for developing a proper comic.

For the next few years, I did various short stories, and I even did a more involved tale and realized way too far into the process that the pages were the wrong dimensions for proper comic pages. Rookie mistake. Took a break. Eventually came back with a better story.

It’s 1995—-The alien was now 18″ tall and his name was”M’tk”, but called Mataak. Named by the two humans he befriended when arriving on earth, John and Theresa Longbow, both of Algonquin Native American descent. “Mataak”, in Algonquin, meant something like “to fight”, I believe. He was also named that because even though he wasn’t born yet, we knew if we had a son, his name would be Matthew. Of course, Theresa was already around, albeit just.

The basic thrust of the issue was that Mataak came to earth in an experimental warp craft to head off an invasion. His distant planet of Myristica had been ravaged by alien warlords. M’tk had learned the location of a future planet targeted by the warlords and vowed to not let that planet suffer the same fate as his. Working with scientists, he was genetically engineered to be the right warrior for the job and sent off in the craft that was much faster than the warlord’s armada and thus beat them to that next target planet: earth, but only just.

The trip to earth for the warlords took a few months, but in that time, M’tk used his time to plan and prepare, then warped over in the nick of time. In hindsight, if I had to do it over today, I might have had Mataak come to earth, have some adventures, get settled in for several issues, then build up to the big invasion. But I wanted to hit the ground running.

Mataak is introduced along with John Longbow and his granddaughter Theresa. She’s the no-nonsense head of a family run corporation and he’s a bit of a mystic, a touch of Yoda in him. He drives Theresa crazy. He senses Mataak’s arrival and he and Theresa go to help.

The warlords arrive and start wreaking havoc, so Mataak has to move fast. Defending a group of humans, he destroys one of the invaders and afterwards, commits what appears to be some form of ritual arrangement of the body. He then attacks another warlord from behind and unseen, whispers “Duvaari” to the other invader, which terrifies him. Mataak successfully makes the invaders think that earth is already infested with their deadliest enemies, the Duvaari. The con works and the warlords are more than happy enough to move on. Afterward, Mataak reveals his craft was only able to make a one way journey, so for better or worse, he was here for the duration. 

Now, I went through all the steps mentioned above to set things up for printing and distribution, and got a decent amount of orders. I had a printer down in Texas work up 3,000 copies– that was way more than I needed but at the time, it was their minimum print run. And, because of the scheduling of the monthly distributor catalog, if I wanted to keep things moving, I had to have another two issues ready to go, so I did create a second and third issue. Sadly, the order numbers for issue two were far too low to rationalize getting a 3,000 print run for that as well. Thus ended Mataak’s book. Issue two would have introduced more side characters and issue three would have been the actual Duvaari coming to attack, with Mataak’s earlier gambit coming back to bite him.

But nothing is ever abandoned. I liked the characters of Mataak, John and Theresa, so they did make another appearance in 2000, in the Epoch anthology book I put out with a bunch of illustrators from my studio. I’ll have a bit more about that in the next entry.

As for Mataak, he once again came back in 2008 as part of a whole superhero team called The Battalion I created for a graphic novel called 100 Covers, which we’ll get to later on. I incorporated the Duvaari invasion into that project, in fact.

Creative side note: a co-worker of mine at the time, Mike Semer, was supposed to actually do the dialog in the Mataak book, but after a miscommunication, he left the project. All because of a typo. It took me a while to figure out what the hell happened.

There was a scene early on where John Longbow sensed something was very wrong, some disturbance in the force, if you will, etc. 

Mike had a wonderful line for John describing the disturbance as “A warp in the wood of reality.” This was a brilliant line. Unfortunately, when he typed it up, he hit the wrong key, so line read as “A warp in the woof of reality.”

Only ever seeing the “woof” version, I didn’t get it at all and when I asked him about it, not realizing he had the typo, he insisted that it was a great line but he didn’t hear me saying woof, thought I was saying wood, thought I just didn’t appreciate it and was assuming I was out of my head questioning him and just being difficult. Didn’t even bother to look back at the sheet at what he typed. And he bowed out of the project immediately. He probably figured I was a temperamental perfectionist. He probably was right. Still…. “woof”.

For the longest time, since we never cleared it up, I was under the impression he thought “woof” was brilliant for some reason. 

I definitely corrected the typo and went with “A warp in the wood of reality.” 

Best line in the book. 

As for the art, it was pretty raw, but even worse was that I hand lettered it. That was painful. I later went back in and digitally redid the lettering. Chalk it all up to early days, I suppose. This was also one of the very last times I used zip-a-tone! Good times. 

Published by rickjlundeen

Storyboard and comic book illustrator/creator/publisher

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