Tag Archives: history of comic book heroes

THE KIRBY QUESTION and More Unseen DC

First off–Nomination Shmomination.  I’m honoured, and hope all the other nominees are killed in a sudden, painless skiing accident at once.  Otherwise, should they survive, I’m good if Ian Boothby gets the Shuster.  He’s rock solid funny every month over at my secret home, BONGO comics, and may not have been properly acknowledged for that yet.

Ah, the whole KIRBY thing.  If you’ve lived under a rock for the last few days, you might have missed that Kirby’s family is suing MARVEL and DISNEY for the rights to many of the characters he created, or co-created, or was down the hall when someone else co-created them (in the case of the obviously-not-created-by-Kirby Spider-Man, for instance).  I’ve read some pretty passionate calls for the Kirbys to go sink their teeth into Marvel for what was done to Jack, and some equally passionate calls for the Kirbys to back off and accept that their dad sold that stuff to Martin Goodman decades ago, and that they’re just trying to reach into Disney’s very deep pockets.  I have to admit, I come down on the side of the family, simply because us creators have to stick together, and I’d hope someday my family can reap the millions and millions that will someday come our way from my dramatic re-design of the ROCKET RED costume, or the creation of a spin-off version of MODOK in Howard the Duck.  But I’m a sucker for anything that’s anti-corporate, EVEN IF IT’S THE CORPORATION THAT EMPLOYS ME FROM TIME TO TIME.

So, I’m very interested in hearing from the folks that drop by.  Pro-family or pro-Disney, let’s holler, as the kid’s say.

No, dude.  Not SUPERMAN should holler…oh, wait, this is more of that Unseen DC stuff, today with 25% more Jerry Seinfeld?  In honor of the truly horrific flogging that Jerry’s new show “The Marriage Ref” is getting all over the critic-o-sphere,  I’m posting some of the images of Superman that went into the production of the Jerry Seinfeld/Superman/American Express commercials of six or seven years ago!   And since we’re going for “Unseen” as a theme this month, I thought I’d start with some of the preliminary artwork, and dig out the finished (and printed!) versions later.  These were all meant to be “snapshots” of Jerry and his best pal SUPERMAN, hanging out at the ball game, doing laundry, walking their dogs together and male bonding in a totally heterosexual, dockers-wearing kind of a vibe.  Here are some of the REJECTED sketches I did.  They didn’t like the flying Krypto, and wanted him walking, they didn’t like the look on Superman’s face, so that got re-drawn something like eight times.  These are the Unseen comp versions.  There are five or six of these “snapshots” in total, here’s a few to chomp on for now!

Stay Tuned for more silly reasons to repost the Mad Cover as the days wear  on, and ALL NEW BUNNY FUNNIES this weekend, as the blog morphs into a webcomic.  Slowly, but very uncertainly.

Ty the Guy

UNSEEN DC! I continue to draw for the blind!

Yes, I know that’s a slightly offensive joke, but when are the blind going to read it?  There ain’t no braille internet!  The archeology of my studio continues with stuff far more recently unseen than all those mid-90s X-Men things of last week.  This was officially unseen only two years ago, by many thousands and thousands of Canadians, many of them from the “Big Smoke” itself, Toronto. The occasion was the Seventieth birthday of the Big Blue Boy Scout, and our local paper THE TORONTO  STAR, asked me for either an article about it or a drawing, I never recall details…but I’m not one to just write something when I could draw it, or not just draw it when I could write it, or something like that, and I ended up doing both.

The art that ran in the paper was nice and big, but there’s a hell of a lot of colour missing when you slap the image onto newsprint.  So, although the drawing and article was distributed to well over a hundred thousand households (I’m guessing the Star’s circulation is far over that number, but I’m too lazy to look it up), the art has “never been seen” in its proper, bright and colourful form, until this blog.   Up there.  At the top.  You have to scroll back up.

Click on the image of the newspaper below and it will open in another window large enough to read the article, should you wish (click twice).  It’s not a bad article, I mention the words “Jesus” and “Jews” more than you’d expect, but that’s my nature.

I’ve had a life long association with the Toronto Star, not just because I’ve done articles and artwork for them from time to time, and know some editors and reporters socially…but when I was a young child, my father (Charles) was the city editor, and eventually, managing editor of the 60s version of that paper.  So the Star is more like “home” than it is just my city’s newspaper.  And since I’ve done a few of these illustrations for the Star over the years, I might dig ‘em up, and put them here on the blog. You’ve been warned…(cue scary music!)

Ty the Guy

PS:  Don’t forget to check back here this, and every weekend, for ALL NEW TY TEMPLETON FUNNIES!  I’ll turn this blog into a webcomic YET!

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Extremely Unseen Marvel Punisher, more Slightly Seen DC and HOVERBOY FRIDAY! plus the big announcement! AND Nepotism Thursday. How long is this $)(*#$)(*##!! Title?!?

As promised, we look at some very unseen Marvel art from the same period.  The image above is from a very fun project I did with my pal SAM AGRO in the 90s.  The comic was “THE PUMMELER“, a parody of one of Marvel’s more popular characters, for a company called PARODY PRESS (best known for Adolescent Hamsters…) but Sam had a ball writing up a tremendous trio of very funny “Mad” style stories.  Worth finding in the back issues, if you can.  The cover to the left was by Sam Keith, who pitched in to help Agro get an audience.   If you follow the Pummeler link above, you’ll see the interior pages!  Sam is a well known storyboard artist who has helped the world be sickened and thrilled by the HUGELY successful SAW series of movies — been part of an academy award winning art team for FLY AWAY HOME–and he boarded tons of episodes of EWOKS and DROIDS in his day.  All that PLUS a loverly run writing great scripts for DC’s Looney Tunes comic book for years.  Is the name LEGEND appropriate?  Considering he’s one of the instructors at the highly esteemed TORONTO CARTOONIST WORKSHOP that I instruct at, I’ll have to say “yes”, LEGEND is the word.) Man, can I plug the pals and co-workers, or WHAT?!?

Watch this segue.   We’re staying with the silly images of the Punisher theme, and moving over to another living legend, Dana Moreshead.  Who is clearly not the name on the card above.  How confused am I?

There, that’s Dana.  And his odd looking pet, the name escapes me, and I don’t want to say Skipper when it was Sparky, or Spanky or Elliot Spitzer, but it was something like that.  I drew that portrait of Dana at least a decade ago, but I’m sure at least ONE of those furry creatures is still cute.  Dana was the Marvel guy who gave me all these wonderfully odd gigs that I’ve been posting for the last two weeks, and he deserves his humble thank you on this blog for the fun, fun art jobs he tossed me atop of.  And hopefully the smile or two he’s bringing the eleven readers of this post as I dig through the original art pile over in the corner and scan baby scan.

So what was that Punisher toy with the human head on it?  And who’s this poor soul with the dragon crapping on his hair?  These were a series of cards that were created for the Marvel staff one summer for convention season.  That way, when they met people, they had a card with some ‘zaz and zing and pep!  And their image on it, so names and faces could match up for business deals, etc.  A good idea, actually.  The gag was to make everyone into their own version of a Marvel Hero.  I did at least four of them (that I’ve found so far).  The funny thing, most of these staffers are NOT a Marvel Character, but a toy version of one, or standing near one.  I’m not sure that conveyed the joke.

I still have tons more fun stuff from the Dana era of Special Projects.  He is still one of my favorite people, even if he no longer gets me work.

Another installment of the AOL Flood Safety messages from 2006.  Sketch and final art.  The only time I ever drew Supergirl for the animated universe, unless you count the toy designs.  Aquaman I’ve drawn lots and lots, he’s featured in the Brave and Bold issue I drew in 2009, but has yet to come out.

But here’s Aquaman warning a man about having adequate storm drains, and not living under a f***ing wall of mud.  That’s so dumb he really deserves to die.

Hoverboy.com is back up and running!  Marcus Moore, fellow curator, and webmaster of the site, was found,  alive and well, after months lost in the barrens with his experimental jet co-pilot, Jarred.    As of this posting, the fate of his experimental jet c0-pilot, Jarred,  has not been revealed, though it can be noted that that Moore seems to have put on weight during his ordeal.  “Plenty of possum in those woods.” is the only response a visibly shaken Moore has given to reporters when asked about his friend, experimental jet co-pilot, Jarred.  We wish he and his family good luck in the future, and keep on looking for that poor kid.

The good news is that Hoverboy.com is once again operational, with a NEW installment of the weekly comic strip reprints.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve been sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting for the poor lad to hover away from those clouds, these last few months.  Hovermaniacs the world around, breathe out a sigh of relief.  Go check out the installments we’ve found so far, for this excellent example of heroism and manhood of the golden age!

And now for the BIG ANNOUNCEMENT.  (yeah, like you’re still reading after so long and drawn out a post today…).  Starting NEXT weekend, and every weekend after that, I’ll be posting Ty Templeton Funnies!  Never before seen  material, created to be seen in web form.  Wait…does that make this blog a…

WEBCOMIC?!?!?    Tune in NEXT WEEKEND and see….

Ty the Guy.

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MARCH MARVEL MADNESS. X-MEN PARADE.

When this started, I figured it would be a one or a two day thing, but the more I dig, the more I realize, I have an avalanche of images for Marvel projects.  And I haven’t even gotten to any of my Underoos or Candy Apples work yet!  Today, a clearance-style parade of the X-Men video and DVD box covers you haven’t seen yet!  Heck, some of these, I’ve never seen.

You’ll notice that all these covers have the wrong title, or often the same title (Deadly Reunions), even when they’re clearly telling the PHOENIX SAGA (those images of Jean crashing a Space Shuttle and flying away from the ocean are a bit of a giveaway).  That’s not a sign that the producers of the show just plumb ran out of titles, it’s that I started including suggestions for the title placement when I sent in the artwork (so we wouldn’t have any more of Wolverine’s arms covered up), and the only title copy I had available was from the first of the video boxes that I’d scanned.  So that title became the title of ALL the series (more or less) from a certain point on, when I was laying out the covers.

Look down this column a little bit, and you’ll see what is probably my favorite of this series…starring Wolverine and Alpha Flight all in one cover?  This Canadian boy was happy to play with THOSE toys for the day when this one came in.  Towards the end of the series, they were doubling up the episodes in each box, so that you could get twice as much mutant action per tape, and the covers were asked to be “split” images from that point forward.  It made for more challenges, as it’s hard to design a striking cover with a big f***ing line down the middle.

Just as I’d gotten used to doing TWO images per video box, suddenly for this next cover, they went for THREE episodes in one tape, and asked “could I include the following characters in the cover:  EVERYBODY in the Imperial Guard, and everyone in the X-Men?.  And the New York Yankees if you can fit them in…” I got out the triple zero brush for inking this one.

This was for a store poster, that ended up being printed something like seven feet tall.  I actually saw one in a video store, this GIANT thing…and I asked the store if I could have a copy of the poster when the promotion was done, as I’d drawn it and they wouldn’t send me a seven foot poster.  The guy in the store said he wanted it for himself, and asked me to sign it.  Which I did.  So THAT guy has a version of this poster, and I don’t.  Hmmmph.

That’s it for today’s Marvel Madness Parade. Next up are a set of images for some Marvel Card series that no one, I mean NO ONE has seen outside the industry, and it’s not because they didn’t print up lots, and didn’t distribute them…it’s because…wait that would be telling.   See you later, Marvel Zombies.

Ty the Guy

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DIGITAL HOVERBOY FRIDAY

Here we go again, fellow Float Fans!  It’s that day of the week, and time for the greatest bucket wearing hero of the twentieth century (and 2nd greatest bucket wearing hero of all time!) HOVERBOY!   This week:  Hoverboy goes DIGITAL!

We start with the Hoverboy: FLOATING FIGHTER video game of 1982, manufactured in the EXCITE-O-VISION format from Softie Games.  This unique format promised to be the first home-system 3-d graphics on the market, with an effect that was described by the designers as “graphics floating in front of your very eyes”.  Naturally with a slogan like that, they set their sites on the leading floating character in the super-hero market to launch their fledgling game company.

When Superman turned down Softie Games, they tried to get the license for Captain Marvel, and then Hawkman, followed by Dr. Fate, Ghost Woman, Sky-Man: The Helium Filled Detective, Thor, Casper the Friendly Ghost, The Blimp (from the Inferior Five), The Specter, Dr. Strange, Dr. Druid, Flight Boy, and a character I’ve never heard of elsewhere called “FLOATY: Clown Chimp of the Stratosphere”.

Eventually Softie settled on Hoverboy, and the rest is long forgotten history.

The first impediment to success was the design of the basic game.  Though the three-dimensional graphics of the EXCITE-O-VISION format were quite spectacular, the simple geometric figures and low-pixel backgrounds made the game seem dreadfully old fashioned for the sophisticated gamers of the eighties.   To top it all off, HOVERBOY: FLOATING FIGHTER was originally test marketed only in  the poorer counties of Louisiana and Georgia, a population made up mostly of low income African-American families, who had little or no awareness of Hoverboy, or indeed computer games for the home at that time.

The test-market scores for the game were exceedingly low, and the two phrases most often spontaneously given in written reviews were “Can I get my money now?” and “What the hell?  Who would do this for FUN?”

HOVERBOY: FLOATING FIGHTER was never released, and the money spent in developing it was lost.  Softie Games president, Lionel Jackson, was devastated by the adventure and swore off the game industry forever to his family and friends, mere moments before he was hit by a bus.

Another tragic loss, blamed on the HOVERBOY curse, by those too uneducated to know better.  Blamed on a drunken bus driver named Clement McManus, by the coroner for the city of San Fransisco, where the accident happened.

Next up:

Above is one of the more public tributes given to Hoverboy in recent years.  For fans of the movie “THE INCREDIBLES” there’s a moment near the beginning of the film, when Mr. Incredible heads up to his attic retreat, to wax nostalgic for his heroic past.   Eagle eyed Hoverboy fans like myself instantly noticed the clear nod to the Battlin’ Bucket on the top shelf to the right of the door.  Is that a HOVERBOY helmet up there?  It looks like the late sixties version, though it’s hard to say, considering how often the design changed from show to show, or even comic to comic.  At any rate, Incredibles Director, Brad Bird, is a well known Hoverboy fan, and has mentioned him in many interviews, so the familiar helmet isn’t all that unexpected.  Hoverboy references abound in Bird’s work, including The Simpsons, Iron Giant and Ratatouille (look for ‘em yourself, once you know they’re there, they’re easy to spot!)

As always, head on over to the nearly abandoned HOVERBOY MUSEUM for more about the history and future of this amazing and popular character from the world of Superheroes.

Coming up:  More Marvel March Madness as soon as I scan the Spidey Stuff.

Ty the Guy

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Hoverboy Fridays! AWAY!!!

As regular readers of this blog know, I’ve been showing off bits and pieces of my own Hoverboy collection for months now, trying to recall the days of glory and wonder that was the Battlin’ Bucket’s heyday.  (And let’s be honest about this:  I won the rights to the character in a poker game with the grandson of original co-creator Charles Nutt, and my efforts are selfish…I plan to make the Hoverboy movie someday, and want the character fresh in everyone’s minds before I do!)  But today, I have something to show you from my basement, AND something wonderful sent in from a fan in Europe, (where Hoverboy is vastly more popular than he is in North America).

My home collection includes about half of the two hundred and thirty-six published comic issues, but only about seventeen of the officially licensed toy figures, so I’m not as well stocked with the 3D Hoverboy collectibles as I’d like to be.  Still, I do have a few and the stuffed toy to the right was my first.  As old as it is, it’s still in excellent condition after more than thirty years in my possession.  To be fair, the toy is stuffed with wood chips and the plush daycron/rayon/einsteinium surface gives you a rash if it touches your skin, so it wasn’t played with much when I was younger, and my kids don’t care about it at all.   But it’s official, and it’s very old, so it’s a treasure.

Far less official is this “Inverse Hoverboy” custom figure I made when I was about twenty four years old.  It’s based on a REGULAR Hoverboy action figure, I simply repainted him and peeled off the H decal, and reattached it sideways for the familiar “I” of Inverse Hoverboy.  Of course, reattaching it, I made a mess, and outlined it in marker, which clearly shows.  There’s a thriving underground of unofficial Hoverboy toys, as so many of the officially released ones were used as evidence in civil cases (and a few criminal ones), making them very hard to find in perfect shape.  Or, in the case of the famous “Iroquois Cereal Choking Toys” of the fifties, it’s impossible to find one not covered in mucous and expectorate substances.   

But below is the toy considered the holy grail of Hoverboy collectors.  Known simply as the “HOVERBOY TIN TOY” , it was manufactured in Belgium and sold around Northern Europe JUST before the Nazi invasion put a stop to that for the duration. Hitler himself issued the order, claiming that Hoverboy’s likeness was a clear violation of the Nazi trademarked character UBERMENSCH, and there would be lawsuits involved if the Belgian manufacturer continued.  Less than a thousand were ever sold, and only eight are known to exist in any form.

The TOMART’S FIGURE GUIDE lists the value of this at well over a hundred dollars, but I’ve never seen one in as beautiful shape as this one is.  One wonders if the photo is retouched…yet I’m assured this is genuine.  I’ve offered the fan $128 dollars (CDN) for this item, but he’s refused (and he’d like to remain anonymous to avoid the flood of offers he’d get otherwise).  At least he was kind enough to send us this photo, where I can share it online so that you might gaze upon the toy that drove Hitler crazy and smile.  Thanks to Alain Mauricet of Brussels, let’s give him a hearty “HOVERBOY AWAY!” from the gang.

For more of this Bucket based madness, as always, you may visit the Hoverboy Museum.  Unfortunately, since Marcus Moore, curator of the museum,  has been listed as “officially missing” since his experimental jet went down on Baffin Island shortly after Christmas.  The museum hasn’t been updated in months, and Moore’s heirs are squabbling about who “owns” the site… a twin brother with an eyepatch was seen lurking about the estate in recent weeks, so there is still no real sense that things are settling down.  Still, there’s much to enjoy at the site until such time as we get it up and running again.   Keep Marcus in your prayers.

Ty the Guy

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Comics that Matter (to me, anyway)

One of the nicer things that my vast fame and fortune has brought me is that I get interviewed from time to time about the comics that were most influential on me and my career…the comics that matter.  And I’ve been asked enough that the answer is down to a science now.

The first one is BATMAN #251, THE JOKER’S FIVE WAY REVENGE.  This is the first DC comic I ever purchased with my own money, and WOW, what a doozy to start with.   There’s a great saying that goes–“The Golden Age of everything is 12 years old”.  That’s when your opinions form, that’s when you find the best version of TV, movies, comics, fiction, girls…the stuff that you measure all the others against for the rest of your life, and this is one of the comics that falls into that category for me.  I often wonder if I’d be doing this for a living if my first comic had been something by lights lesser than the great DENNY O’NEIL and NEAL ADAMS!  And it’s not just a comic by these titans, it’s the comic that re-introduces the Joker to the world, with a brand-spanking-new homicidal bent to him like never before.

In previous years, the Joker had been a tepid character…robbing banks with rubber chickens, and kidnapping clowns, and the like (gems like “JOKER’S MILLIONS” were still undiscovered by me at the time, so I didn’t know Joker much beyond his TV show version…) But this story involves Joker murdering his entire gang, just to make sure he got the one member who was an informant.  He kills these guys with bombs, electrocution, and ends with tossing an old guy into a shark tank, wheelchair and all.  Illustrated by Neal Adams in his “new” exciting style, this was like no other comic I’d ever seen, and I instantly wanted more, more, more.  Sadly, Neal only drew one further  Batman comic (for a while anyway) before handing the series over to the wonderfully skilled Irv Novick…but it didn’t matter.  I was addicted to both Batman and Neal Adams for the rest of my life, and still am.   As an adult, I go back to this comic and re-read it, and I use it as a teaching tool in my TORONTO CARTOONISTS WORKSHOP classes to show off story and character construction.  Fortunately, it’s not just my own nostalgia that makes this comic a classic, and everyone I show it to, is as blown away by it as I am.

Next up:  These two issues of the Avengers were the first two Marvel comics I owned.  Purchased by an older brother when I was about seven years old, and left (in very lovely condition) at my Grandmother’s apartment until years later when I got to read them, probably at the age of twelve.  Again…for a first introduction to these characters of Cap, Thor, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Blank Panther, Yellowjacket, Wasp and of course…the Vision…this was a magnificent place to start.  EVEN AN ANDROID CAN CRY is often cited as one of the best written superhero comics of the sixties, and I’d be in no position to argue.

Roy Thomas‘ script is touching, exciting, and intelligent, something this child of STAR TREK and TWILIGHT ZONE (my favorite shows as a kid) recognized as different from the other stuff that comics were about.  And the artwork by John Buscema and George Klein is stunningly good.  It remains, to this day, my mind’s eye version of the what the PERFECT Marvel comic artist should strive to achieve….with layouts that jump around the page, but still lead the eye correctly from panel to panel.  Human bodies, drawn with exquisite anatomy and detail, are leaping and jumping from the first page to the last, and the second issue in the two parter is essentially a long conversation about what to do with the android in the building that tried to kill us.  A conversation?!?  And it was that exciting and lively?  If I ever get half this good as either a writer or a penciler, I get to retire with a smile.

These three comics (along with a few issues of Mad Magazine, Tintin and Asterix that were also left to me by older siblings) are the bedrock foundation of my love of this biz.  If, instead, I’d purchased as my first comics, BROTHER POWER THE GEEK, PATSY WALKER, or RED WOLF, we can rest assured I’d be a baker or a plumber at this point in life.

Besides getting me into the lifestyle…I’ve been influenced more directly by these comics by mining them for scripts and images more than once.  Seen above, my cover for BATMAN ADVENTURES #31 is clearly an homage or an all out steal of the #251 cover.  At the time I drew it, I was not conscious of the similarity, but that’s what an influence is…it’s there inside your brain telling you “If you want to make it more dramatic, make the Joker one hundred stories tall!” without realizing why you’re doing it.  It’s not theft, it’s INFLUENCE…

The Vision story I stole far more directly.  When I was assigned the writing chores with AVENGERS UNITED, one of the first scripts I turned in was a re-working of Thomas/Buscema’s original VISION story, only with the twist that my issue was called “Androids Can’t Cry”, and I switch out the ending.  This one I WAS conscious of ripping off, and I had so much fun playing in the sandbox that had been there since I was a child, it’s hard to explain the joy.  When I met Roy Thomas, years later, the first words out of my mouth were babbling nonsense about apologizing for stealing his story, but I couldn’t help myself, etc.  I’m certain he walked away from the meeting believing I was a madman and has mercifully forgotten me.

Since I brought ‘em up, next time out in “COMICS THAT MATTER” I’ll discuss the early Tintin and Asterix and Mad stuff that sits inside my brain, below even this superhero stuff.

Ty the Guy

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