Photos of the two artists taken at roughly the same age.
Photos of the two artists taken at roughly the same age.
He gave us orcs, ents and halflings but I’ve always thought the phrase ‘the story grew in the telling” to be one of the most magnificent creations John Ronald Reuel Tolkien gave to the world. For me it neatly describes the convoluted trails the process of creation can follow…and my reimagined Lieutenant Ninety is an excellent example of that concept.
As I’ve written elsewhere FIREBALL XL5 is the Gerry Anderson program that I will always love the best. I’ve designed new vehicles and uniforms that echo the classic design and I’ve even compiled a list of suggested actors for a rebooted live-action series, but as I was reviewing that list it occurred to me that I’d come up with a group of people similar in composition to Ivory Soap (99 and 44/100 Caucasian). That prompted me to make some changes, not as a measure of political correctness but to stay close to Sir Gerry’s vision which was much more diverse than usual for the times.
…so out went Rob Schneider and in came Chris Rock.
I also wanted a dress uniform for the World Space Patrol and was favoring the long-tailed mess blues that the United States Army used up until recently, but it was a photo of Levar Burton as LT Geordie LaForge wearing that contrived piece of craptacular tailoring that passed for a Starfleet formal dress uniform that snapped the last creative Lego in place for me – add an outsized fedora and a couple of chains and –voila – you have a zoot suit.
It’s a concept that might not be all that far off as what goes around usually comes around. I swore in 1973 that I’d be wearing bell-bottom pants for the rest of my life, and I’ve seen halter-tops cycle in and out of women’s fashion a couple of times. Who’s to say that a “reet pleat” won’t be the height of military fashion in 2119?
Conventions were never a big money-maker for us. When we’d go to cons as a family ini the 1990s we’d run a table in the dealers room in addition to hanging work in the art show – and between the two we would normally cover at least our expenses – and sometimes more. One notable exception was DRAGONCON 1993 when we went $500 in the hole even though I swept the art show in three-dimensional work. However in spite that loss I was glad we went to the con because it was there I got to meet Duck Edwing.
Edwing worked for MAD magazine for 49 years, contributing his own cartoons as well as writing for Don Martin and Paul J. Coker. I loved his work and was fortunate enough to spend thirty minutes talking to him in the dealer’s room, but when we traded portfolios he got a little edgy when I started gushing over his work – I suspect that after seeing my polished cover illustrations Duck may have thought I was being condescending and it took most of that half-hour to convince him that I was sincere – I loved his cartoons because it was something I could not do.
Yes, you read correctly – I am not very good at cartoons. While it is true that the graphic nature of my work can often resemble a cartoonists’ style there is something about the economy of line and conceptual precision that I’ve never been able to master and I usually end up overworking any such attempt, but last week I decided to try again – not with cartoons per se, but with a cartoon style I’ve found in a line of toys.
In the mid 00’s superhero merchandizing was overcome with an epidemic of cuteness. Marvel came out with a line of whimsical versions of their heroes called Superhero Squad while DC came out with a similar line of figures in a tie-in with the animated series Batman: The Brave and The Bold. That connection along with a more stylized look had me favoring the DC figures over Marvel line and I was quite pleased when Mattel continued the line under the Action League banner.
A non-functioning knee has in effect exiled from my second-story studio for almost a month now so my creative work has been limited to drawing tools and designer’s markers. I was putting the finishing touches on a postcard for my granddaughter Heron when I happened to glance at one of the aforementioned DC figures sitting on a shelf next to my Big Papa Chair.
I ended up drawing three figures – and while I used existing figures for reference I drew characters that have NOT been manufactured as part of the toy line:
In each case I went “retro”: Adam Strange is wearing his original Murphy Anderson designed rocket suit, Blackhawk is wear the short-lived mid-60s red-jacketed uniform and Blue Beetle is my favorite Ted Kord incarnation…which I’ve subsequently discovered had actually been created but never actually released as a part of the Action League series. I don’t know if anything will ever come of these drawings, but it was a good exercise in developing a more stylized “cartoony” look without getting too cutesy.
(…the latest update for my Kickstarter campaign)
It’s been a great first week in the campaign. We’re funded 201% which means the project is a go which means:
Once again I want to thank you for support – and also ask you continue to spread the word about Midnight Son both in person and on line. Advertising is effective to an extent but no communication is more effective or convincing than personal communication.
I hope you all have a great weekend!
“We’re not your classic heroes. We’re not the favorites. We’re the other guys – the ones nobody bets on!”
The quote above is a line from the 1999 superhero comedy Mystery Men, a film which tells the story of the Shoveller, Mr. Furious and other lesser superheroes with unimpressive powers who are called on to save the day. It also happens to be one of my favorite films that I rank above other metahuman fare such as Tim Burton’s 1989 version of Batman and Paramount’s 2011 action flick Captain America: The First Avenger. I prefer Mystery Men because I can more readily relate to the everyday nature of the group, because it’s everyday people that I am interested in.
In my life I’ve seen a noticeable change in the quality of life and social mobility which has morphed our society into a very uncomfortable pyramid where the people at the top made a LOT more than the people at the bottom – or even the middle. I’ve heard countless debates over how that situation came about, but at the end of the day I’m pulling for the little guys; the people that do the actual work. It’s because of that preference that (in the words of my fellow paratrooper John Taylor) “I speak to the common man”. I’d much rather read about a lineman than a quarterback, a sergeant instead of a general and a paramedic over a surgeon.
I think there’s something special about stories from everyone’s life and that the “special” has as much to do with the way the story as the story itself. Midnight Son is basically a collection of vignettes from the life of a lonely boy coping with the vagaries of childhood set against changing locales and living conditions – it’s only through the addition of pacing, description, and a sense of both humor and drama that changes “What I Did at Summer Camp” to “Billy and the Bear”. It is my hope that as you read my stories you’ll think about your own experiences in the same way.
I always thought actress Marilu Henner to be something special, but prior to December 19th 2010 my opinion had more to do with her role as Elaine in late Seventies sitcom TAXI, but on the episode of 60 Minutes that night Ms. Henner revealed that she had hyperthymesia or total recall memory and can remember details from every day of her life. That announcement had me sit up and notice because my memory is fairly close to that level of recall – it may not be total comprehensive details of every single day that come to mind but I can come pretty close when I stop and concentrate.
I call it my razor/laser memory and it’s a trait that runs in my mother’s family, through my sisters and me, and on to my children. Like most talents can have either a positive or negative factor in life: It’s endearing that my younger sister can still remember the army card that I swiped from her hand that made it possible for me to win our marathon RISK game on the evening of March 22d 1970, but when that razor/laser prevents a person from “forgiving and forgetting” it can be quite devastating.
Unfortunately the “rememberee” that gets a false impression or skewed perception is in for real trouble because those mistaken memories can just as persistent as was the case when I spent fifty years trying to correct my mother’s take on a cheating incident I was accused of in sixth grade. Faulty perceptions are a major hazard because a person’s frame of reference can change so many times, especially in youth and adolescence and with family members as individualistic as mine total agreement on past events is a rare thing.
…so what does this have to do with my writing? I was in my mid-forties before I learned that not everyone had the same pretty-close-to-total recall when I happened to speak about a sketchy incident from school that an old friend had thought (hoped?) to be forgotten. Fortunately the vast majority of people that I share these memories respond in positive manner in much the same manner they’d react if I’d pulled out a photo album, especially when I stress that what I remember was influenced by my perceptions at the time.
Writing was the next logical step – I’ve always been a fan of what they now call “non-fiction creative writing” as penned by the likes of Tom Bodett, Bob Green, Garrison Keillor and Jean Shephard and I was an early fan of observational comics like Robert Klein and Dave Steinberg so it is no surprise that I took this path when I started seriously word-crunching again.
(more to follow)
(Today’s update for the Midnight Son Kickstarter campaign)
As befitting a weekend progress over the last two days was modest but consistent, but along with pledges came an interesting question:
“Why did you start writing?”
(Or why did I jump into the literary world after a 30+ career as an illustrator/designer?)
The truth is I never stopped writing – a statement which may need a bit of explaining. I started out creating with both words and pictures but when it came time to select a major in college I decided on art for one very important reason: When I am creating art I can listen to music, watch a video or carry on a conversation but when I am crunching words the area around me has to be a monastery with absolute quiet, a situation that would never have been possible with the three precocious children that grew up in our studio.
However, during all that time working in visual art I look every opportunity to write that came my way which maintained my proficiency. While my service as an officer in the military required me to write evaluations I also wrote recommendations for awards & decorations, I put together newsletters for every church congregation or civic organization I belonged to, and I didn’t flinch from writing letters to newspaper editors when needed.
In short I kept in shape, though the process involved writing instead of running, which made easing into the blogosphere a very comfortable transition – and moving from my blog to a book seemed a natural development.
Mornings are rarely my friend but this morning I woke up to a pleasant surprise as sometime during the night the project pledge count had been reached! Reaching this milestone means we will definitely be going forward and getting the books published which will be happy thing for you readers as well as myself.
Thank you all so much.
I also want to extend special thanks to two people who’ve lent special support to me – often literally propping me up – as I’ve gone through the process of writing and sharing my work:
The Kickstarter campaign just went live…and as a not-so-subtle reminder the URL to the project may be found at: