I wanted to try a more serialized story like you’d find in comic strips. A sci fi adventure story about two young idiots, who like all of us at that age, think we’re immortal. Still a bit drunk from the night before, they stowaway on an experimental test rocket. Said test rocket is due to be unmanned for said experiment. The two young idiots merely being on the ship disrupts the experiment, causing a change in trajectory and navigation. The ship hurtles through a wormhole and ends up in our neighboring galaxy.
One of the idiots is killed on impact. The other is not so lucky. He wanders around the alien planet and although he manages to survive, he comes out a very different person in the end.
The screaming Zebra men of Alpha Centauri are the initial antagonists and they end up being used in the second Mickey & Maj story a few years later. I’m actually not sure if I was ever able to print a sample of these up. The horizontal format makes for fine web viewing but not so much for a standard printed book. And I went black and white simply to enhance the sci fi feel.
I had them all posted in an online book site which was very nice, where you could leaf through the pages on screen. But the site eventually went belly up. I’ll have to see if I can cobble together the collection and put it up on Amazon some day.
There was a point several years ago when I thought I might go in a different direction, style-wise. Maybe humorous, absurd, content, an almost completely new identity. Satire, social commentary, oddities, something that I hoped would pass for “wit” in some cases. Mostly, just bizarre stuff that would make me laugh.
Thus was born Emil Farful.
I did a fair number of these and eventually collected them in a book and put it up on Amazon.
I made a couple contributions to an anthology mag, the Hamtrack Idea Men somewhere around 2009. One of which was “What would you do for Love?”, a black and white eight pager about a man who’s lost all sense of reality after losing a loved one. That’s when a doll starts talking to him, telling him that it can bring his love back to him– If he does what it says, including murdering the cable repair guy. Each issue of the anthology had a running theme each time and this one was “love”, so I twisted things around into a dark twilight zone chapter. Each page had gray tones until things got extremely intense, at which point I shifted to stark black and white. All in all, I think it worked well.
The second story I did was a short four page affair called “3 Minutes”. I don’t remember the specifics or the theme as I type this but seeing as how it was only four pages, let’s just take a look at the whole thing:
This one has been on the back burner for quite some time– ever since 100 Covers, when the tale of the Blue Bomber was told across 8 of the project. A long forgotten hero, who’s story began decades earlier, brought back into action to face off against his old foe who had once again resurfaced, Emperor Zoh.
This was one of three epic length storylines that ran during that first 100 Covers and I think I was able to hit all the major beats well enough to tell the over all tale.
The thought had since crossed my mind several times to go back and tell the whole story of how The Bomber and Zoh both came to be and to finish their stories in grand fashion. There are still things I would need to get straight, the narrative still percolating in my head. We’ll see if it all makes it through to the art stage.
If it were to be done properly, I think it would have to be four 20 page issues, or one large graphic novel, around 80 pages total. We’ll see.
I’ve always loved a good comic book cover. They say a picture paints a thousand words. When you get your comic on the stands with hundreds of others, the cover should set yours apart, set the world on fire, or just lure the reader in.
But a good comic cover can tell part of the story in itself. Set a tone, show off the main threat, you name it. I don’t have much use for generic pin ups. If you see the latest issue of Spider-man and it’s the 14th issue in a row where they have a guest artist draw him just webslinging over New York, again, they’re doing everyone a disservice.
So I wanted to tell a whole bunch of stories with *just* covers. I created a Superhero team called The Battalion and presented their adventures through *only* the first 100 covers of what would have been their comic run. Thus, “100 Covers”.
The reader would take in each cover and they’d be presented with a certain scenario. Then, their imagination would take over. There was usually enough moving parts in most any cover to get the wheels turning. For those who were already comic fans or those who are just acquainted with superheroes in some form, there are certain bits of shorthand– things you already know, like the good guys would always win. Certain bits you might automatically mentally add, but once again, we go back to that picture painting a thousand words. The cover opens the door, your imagination can open it wider.
It had the virtue of never having been tried before and I thought it would be an interesting challenge. I tried to fill out a decent sized, well balanced team. We had “Rockefeller”, the stone-skinned leader, “C-4”, the munitions expert, “Malator”, a woman bonded with and alien shape-shifter, “Mataak”, making a return to my universe, “Rush”, the team speedster, “Whipcord”, the hand to hand combat expert who could also handle a whip and “Elof”, Asgardian Prince (formerly Steve Steel back in the day).
I chose to present a team’s adventures for the project for a couple reasons. First, variety. Since the bulk of the story would be getting represented in the covers only, I wanted to be able give a wide variety different villains for different individual heroes, mix and match team ups, you name it. And if you’re working with a team, if there’s some transformation or threat, showing three or four team members on a cover, you can show the stages of a threat or the effect on one member while another reacts, etc. With a single hero, it’s a little tougher to tag team an added dimension to the narrative. It’s all about the quick read, getting the message across. I had one cover where the threat was the members being transformed into condensed balls of energy. With the team, all in one cover, I could show each member hitting the next stage of the transformation. Member #1 had no effects yet, while member #7 was shown in the final stage of the transformation.
So plenty of possibilities. And I had a lot of fun coming up with villains and monsters as well. One of the most enjoyable parts of the exercise was coming up with interesting names for alien races, like The Obsidian Pride, a lion race with an extremely dark blue skin tone. I also did several multipart stories. Quite often, big teams have big scale adventures, so a six part or eight part adventure gave me the excuse to show six or eight major beats or cliffhangers from a big story.
There was an eight part alien invasion story that I really sunk my teeth into over one weekend. Immersed in the ambient music of author Eric San Juan, I feverishly drove on, presenting the first several parts of the invasion all in red, as things got worse and worse and the Battalion was on its last legs. When the tide shifted and the team got the upper hand, the colors shifted back.
Side note, the invaders were the Duvaari, the invisible, reptilian monsters originally mentioned way back in Mataak.
There was also a Seven part “Father’s Day” story spread out amongst the main members, showing their interactions with their various fathers or kids. Finally, there were also a series of covers showing each member’s origins.
Most of my books up until now had been black and white but this was a 100 page color graphic novel. So there was absolutely no chance of being able to afford a standard print run, going through Diamond.
And although everyone who saw the book gave it high critical praise, it took some explaining to everyone else. It was hard for a lot of people to wrap their minds around the concept.
So, I went with Print on Demand for this one. Both 100 Covers and it’s sequel, The Second 100 Covers are still available in both digital and print formats HERE.
I had a notion about doing a third volume, “The Last 100 Covers” but, although I’ve got 25% of it done, I’m not sure when or if it’ll see the light of day.
Under normal circumstances, I’d list the excellent, powerful, extremely significant episodes (or all of the above) and then honorable mentions for those that were still well enough above average to warrant viewing. To be honest, taking all of Series 11 and 12 into account from the Chris Chibnall/Jodie Whitaker era, I cannot give you a list of stellar or magnificent episodes. At best, I can give you three that were a cut above the others in this era. As for the rest, the best I can do is honorable mentions because this era, —I’ll be generous: This era has not been good. So, the eps of this era that were a cut above the rest:
1) The Woman Who Fell to Earth. This first ep seemed to show some promise. Showrunner/writer Chibnall makes an attempt to introduce the companions, but sadly, never really bothers to follow up with his creations, to continue to develop them. Their evolution basically begins and ends here. Jodi does well enough post regen to think she would improve.
2) It Takes You Away – beautifully directed and written mostly by someone other than Chibnall (who’s the anti-Holmes, the anti-Moffat), this was an interesting tale, dealing with an interesting concept. Decent character development and outing for all the companions too. Thank you, writer Ed Hime.
3) Fugitive of the Judoon. Shocks, surprises, and amazement occur when the Doctor shows up and kicks ass. This was the one ep in this whole era that got me excited about DW again, for the first time since Capaldi. A shame they couldn’t follow it up properly.
*Rosa deals with Rosa Parks and the part of the ep co-written by Malorie Black was quite good. The filler crap by Chibnall is what busted it down to HM.
*Demons of the Punjab was quite an intense, educational and enjoyable story that could and should have been a pure historical, but all the sci-fi elements intruded and watered down an otherwise top notch story so, busted down to HM.
*Skyfall began S12 and although the first half was quite good, the second half consisted of Chibnall stealing more and more bits and ideas from his predecessors and rehashing them poorly. Second half drags it down to HM.
*Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror is simply a good story, well told and educational to boot. It earned the HM.
This is just a humble blog to recognize 50 years of wedded bliss for Lynn and Dave Horwath. I think it’s a testament to true love when an assassin with such a kill record, and checkered past, with so many haunted memories, can leave the life behind to sweep a dancer off their feet and give up the stage, the fame, the glitter.
Full disclosure: I never did see Dave dance. But I’ve heard stories.
Ely. Always just have to say….. Ely. They say a picture paints a thousand words. Well, say Dave and Lynn, then add Ely and you’ve really rambled on.
In this era of social distancing, it’s a bit difficult to have a huge shindig for the happy couple but holy moly, Ely is one long damn drive, so these remote means will have to do. And hey, clean up is a lot easier!
But what ho, you might say, “Usually, you find a way to make everything about you, Rick. Kudos for stepping out of the spotlight to–“
OH, they couldn’t have done it without me… the actual marriage. Oh no, no, no, I had the rings.
I was the ring bearer in the ceremony. Had I made a break for it, nothing would have been legal and they’d still be dating, have no kids, because, you know, “not married”–wink wink, so no grandkids, etc. wow.
Ah just kidding, the rings I carried on the pillow were decoys for presentation.
I remember very little of the event (I was only 8 years old).
I remember Lynn looking quite lovely in her dress, Dave looking dapper–when doesn’t he? (ex-dancers are always in shape)
What else… lots of people there, I remember my cousin Renee… danced with her. Yeah, from what I remember, a great time!
Dave and Lynn, best of all wishes and congratulations on 50 years!
This was another bizarre entry that fell into limbo, only being available on print in demand at Comixpress while they were in business.
Maybe that’s for the best. (?)
This one was odder than most. Loki, trickster god of Asgard, put a curse on a whole village, turning them into fruits and vegetables. Man sized, anthropomorphized fruits and vegetables that survived in this new bizarre village. The vegetable people represented one faction, the fruits, the other.
We got to briefly look at what kind of life this was, a bit of the culture. We also got a twist ending and of course the tomato makes a cameo but where do his loyalties lay?
I gave fruits and vegetables some semblance of emotion. Love, menace, loyalty… I had two pineapples spar in a match. I might be most proud of the carrot. Just sayin’.
This was my first full scale color project, as since the only place it would be produced was print on demand, I didn’t have to worry about the usual conventionally high print costs of an initial run elsewhere, so the Food of the Gods were in color.
Aside from the digital files, I think there was only ever one physical copy printed up. I’m sure it’s worth a million!
Talk about dark. This book never really saw the light of day. It, like so many other of my older comics were available at a certain print on demand service called Comixpress, until it went out of business. The difference was, this one never got solicited to Diamond for whatever reason. That might have been when Diamond shifted around the goal posts and made it tougher for independents to get their books in there– but don’t worry, they charged more than ever for ads if you did get in. That was probably the end of me soliciting through conventional means and The Middle Man was the first casualty.
It was originally called the Middle Man because it told the stories of the one moment right after death for several people in different circumstances. One guy who got offed in a mob hit and thrown in a trunk, one old woman who died of old age surrounded by family, one man who just jumped off a high rise to his death. In each instance, one second later, all time would stop and this gentleman would materialize and have chat with the recently deceased.
The gentleman was based physically on John Cleese, not any of his many funny character’s personalities though. In my mind, this would have been akin to a fairly serious Cleese in the acting job of a lifetime.
The chat was mostly the gentleman assessing how and where to “place” the person after death. We’re given the idea that there are more destinations than we think for those who’ve passed.
It’s about 30 pages like the majority of my work back then, black and white and quite often very somber obviously.
In the end, I think I lacked the writing confidence to really dive in and see this through to even a second issue. A combination of me not being a capable enough writer to handle the content, along with it being– in addition to sometimes lovely or amusing– a very depressing book at times. Case in point: Of the various types of people he visits in that second, the last we see is time frozen as the gentleman walks into white. The camera backs up more and more, eventually seeing he’s walked into the heart of the explosion when the second plane hits the World Trade Center.
That was about as far as I was willing to go. I didn’t feel up to chronicling whatever discussion the gentleman would be having one way or another or even who it should be with.
So, I ended it there.
Creative side note: since cable tv started showing a tv show based on a comic I’d never heard of called The Middle Man, I obviously had to change the name, so it became “One Last Moment”.