Tag Archives: Star Trek

Steve Jobs and Charles Napier and Mr. Spock, all in one week!

I’m hardly the place to go for news on the net, but I wanted to comment on the loss of these three from the world this week.

Steve Jobs was one of the architects of the future, mostly by taking advantage of Xerox’s disinterest in marketing the personal computer that Xerox itself invented back in the 70s.  He may not have invented the mouse driven graphic interface, but he knew how to put it into stores and into your house, and helped bring about the world in which you’re reading this on the internet.  Only fifty-six years old when we lost him, so it REALLY SUCKS that he doesn’t get to see what the world he created will look like in the actual future.

Speaking of the Actual Future, us Trekkies just lost a couple of highly important folks as well.

Both of them! Damn it!

The delightful space hippie on the left was played by Charles Napier, who also passed away today.  He’s finally stepping out to Eden, Yea Brother.   Depending on the day of the week, this is my favorite episode of Star Trek.  (Some days it’s City on the Edge of Forever when I’m in a serious place).

The fact that Napier, the squarest-jawed actor in the history of Hollywood,  played this guy with such conviction is a HUGE part of what made this episode special to me, and the song he sang was so wonderful, you’d have to be a Herbert not to enjoy it.

Charles Napier, world's toughest space hippie.

And to round out the set of endings happening recently, Leonard Nimoy announced on the weekend that he was permanently retiring Mr.  Spock.  Leonard Nimoy has had some health troubles and after 80 years on the planet, doesn’t get around as well as he used to.   No more audio books, no more appearances at Star Trek Conventions, he will not be in the new movie, the character is over, unless you count the new guy.

Which we do not.

Obviously, nothing lasts forever, but I need to go hug kittens from all the crappy news today.

Ty the Guy OUT!

Here now your bonus Hugging a Star Trek Kitteh moment.

RED SHIRT?!?! Damn. The fuzzy thing is gonna die.

HAPPY 45th BIRTHDAY STAR TREK! YAY!

Anti Gravity device at work.

Even though I had the wonderful privilege of working on Star Trek in a very peripheral capacity a few years ago, writing a Trek Graphic Novel for IDW, I still consider myself, first and foremost, a fan…hell, I’m a sickening Trekkie.  I have been since I was a kid, and watched these marvelous stories in their first run, back in the 60s.

And I have a blog, so I’m obligated to mention this birthday of sorts, and make a few personal observations about the show and its characters and what they’ve meant to me as the five year mission stretches out into its 45th year.

On the Sapphire Anniversary of NBC airing “THE MAN TRAP”, I give you my personal choices for –

THE TOP FIFTEEN star trek CHARACTERS of all time!

15- GARY MITCHELL

I'm rosebud, okay? And I'm not a sled this time.

Ah, Gary Mitchell.  For a character that made only one appearance on the show, he’s held a place in my heart ever since.  I think it was because he was Kirk’s best friend since his Academy days, and Gary represented the loss of youth that adulthood inevitably brings.  I don’t want to let him go anymore than I want to let go of my toys and comic books.  Gary was a little less disciplined than Kirk, a little more boyish, and it’s why he wasn’t promoted as fast.  But when Jim loses his best friend in the first episode, it hardened Kirk into a man, and made him a little more relaxed about staying youthful, all at the same time.  When I had a chance to write that Star Trek graphic novel for IDW a couple of years ago, my first chapter strongly featured Gary Mitchell.  I still don’t want to let him go.

14 – SPOT, PORTHOS and the TRIBBLES.

Who's a pretty endothermic quadruped? Yes you are...

 I’m an animal lover.  I live with three cats at the moment, and have shared my life and dwelling space with dogs, fish, birds and various other life forms since I was a kid.  A house ain’t a home until it has a pet in it, I always say, and Star Trek was no exception.   The fact that Data the android owned a cat, and treated it with calculated amounts of affection rung my bells.  And if you’ve never heard or read Data’s ODE TO SPOT, you’re in for a treat:

Felis catus is your taxonomic nomenclature,
An endothermic quadruped, carnivorous by nature.
Your visual, olfactory, and auditory senses
Contribute to your hunting skills and natural defenses.
I find myself intrigued by your subvocal oscillations,
A singular development of cat communications
That obviates your basic hedonistic predilection
For a rhythmic stroking of your fur to demonstrate affection.
A tail is quite essential for your acrobatic talents.
You would not be so agile if you lacked its counterbalance.
And when not being utilized to aid in locomotion,
It often serves to illustrate the state of your emotion.
Oh Spot, the complex levels of behavior you display
Connote a fairly well-developed cognitive array,
And though you are not sentient, Spot, and do not comprehend,
I nonetheless consider you a true and valued friend.

Damn straight.  Shakespeare can suck it.

And Porthos was probably my favorite character on ENTERPRISE, other than the sexy Vulcan lady, but that was for different reasons.  They sort of wrote the dog out of the series as the seasons went on, I suspect because he was asking for more money than Scott Bakula, but they should have given in to his demands.  The space race of the 20th Century was begun by animals:  Laika the dog, Ham the Chimp, and John Glenn the senator.  I love that Star Trek recognized their contribution to exploring the galaxy and included them.

Even these damn things.

13 – KOR

Evil, but cheerful. Respect.

The first Klingon, (and for a few conventions we attended together, a fun drinking buddy).  There’s a group of Star Trek fans who seem to only be interested in the culture of the Star Trek Badasses.  These fans wear the gear, speak the language, play with the weapons, and occasionally put on Hamlet in the original Klingon.   Of course, Worf, Gowron, Kang and a few others are all part of the glorious tapestry that is Klingon culture, but if it weren’t for John Colicos, and his brilliant portrayal of Kor, all these poor souls would be pretending to be Wookies, I promise you.

12  – Lt. Uhura

Rocking the Gold!

Besides being one of the most important figures in the civil rights struggles of the 1960s, Lt. Uhura was a childhood crush that I’m never getting over.

Back away Templeton. Don't make me cut you.

She was told by no less that Martin Luther King Jr. that she wasn’t allowed to quit the show when she became frustrated by the parts she was getting in the later seasons.  King knew how important it was to see a high ranking African American aboard the bridge, and on away missions, and NO ONE MENTIONED she was black or female except the ghost of President Lincoln.  She was simply part of the crew.  It’s hard for modern audiences to get how big a deal that was in 1966.  I grew up watching Star Trek, and her example (and to a similar extent, Sulu’s) is a big part of why racism makes no sense to me.  If you can do the job, you’re part of the team.

And oh, she was sexy as it gets. I know I shouldn’t have noticed that, but I did.

11 – Commander Will Riker

Like a version of Captain Kirk, but with his own hair, Riker was clearly supposed to be Next Generation’s sexy hero, but he never quite turned out that way.  Instead, he was the middle manager in your office that sort-of behaved like your big brother and wasn’t as cool as he thought he was going to end up in life.  For god’s sake, a trombone?!?  Still, he was the character that got to own Star Trek’s single greatest moment…that cliffhanger at the end of Best of Both Worlds Part One….when Picard/Locutus of Borg tells Riker that resistance is futile and Riker says “FIRE”.  And we all had to wait SIX GODDAMN MONTHS to see what happened.  Riker won me over in those four letters.

10 – QUARK

The hunnies dig big ears.

Star Trek’s great comedy relief character was the main reason that DS9 worked for me.  I was never that fond of Captain Sisko (at least until he shaved his head) and really didn’t like Major Kira – they were both humourless stumps.  But the Ferengi with a lust for profit and a secret heart of gold was Trek’s guarantee of a smile each week.  The one where the Ferengi go to Roswell is tied with Trouble with Tribbles as the funniest episode of Trek ever made.

9 – THE GUY IN THE RED SHIRT

One of them is DOOMED!

He’s Dead Jim.  The poor bastard is up-the-ass screwed.  You know it, Kirk knows it and so does the guy on the transporter who you never heard of before today. That’s what duty is all about, my friend -  staying calm and carrying on.  But don’t despair, he has his own entry in wikipedia, his own society, his own movie!  He’s only on screen for eight minutes, but he goes out a star!

Great career move, kid!

When Picard and Riker wore red shirts in the pilot for TNG, I was sure they were going to die before the first commercial break.   They broke the curse for a few years, but you’ll notice in the new Star Trek movie, the guy in the red re-entry suit that goes after the Romulan bad guys on the big space drill goes SPLAT when the other two don’t.

8 – THE ENTERPRISE

In a universe that included sentient androids, sympathetic hortas and a pointy eared devil as one of the heroes, we’re allowed to call the ship a character.  And she was played by Majel Roddenbery for decades so she even had to sleep with  the producer to get the part.

Look at her warp drives. She was practically begging for it.

The Enterprise was a huge part of the success of the franchise.  It was large enough that entire stories could be set aboard her when the budget ran low for alien rock formations.  It was fast enough that it could get you across the galaxy by five thirty tomorrow morning.  And when the engines canna take it, there’s excitement a’brewing.  When she died in SEARCH FOR SPOCK, I choked up as much as I did when Spock died in the previous movie.  And though she came back, she didn’t have to Pon Farr anybody, so it wasn’t as much fun.

7 -  DOCTOR McCOY

"I’m a DOCTOR, not a plot device!".

Actually McCoy was one of the best plot devices in modern fiction.  Playing hot to Spock’s cold, or emotion to Spock’s logic, McCoy served as the other half of the two-headed Greek Chorus that Kirk and the viewers relied on to get them through the story each week.   What started out as a support character, McCoy became an essential part of every tale, getting his own title card in the second season, and embedded into the Id/Ego/Superego triangle that made the core of Star Trek work.

McCoy at work, showing "emotion".

6 – CAPTAIN PICARD

I have to admit, he wears that uniform as well as Uhura did.

Kirk was a super-hero, but Picard was the father figure that solved everybody’s problems, and managed to make bald men sexy again after Yul Brenner died.  He “made it so” with calm, reasonable decisions, and never lost his shit unless he was gunning down Borg, which was understandable (and damn cool, actually).  Where the original crew was very much a group held together by military rank, and shared duty, Picard’s presence made the Next Generation cast into a family.  Brilliant.

5 – ORION SLAVE GIRLS

 Uh-huh.  That’s right.  You know what I’m talking about.  Almost as much as Vulcans, the Orion Slave Girls became a symbol for Star Trek, even for people that never watched the show.  She featured strongly in the pilot, tempting Captain Pike like an apple in paradise.  She showed up in the final credits of almost every episode.  She and her sisters showed up in a few memorable episodes of ENTERPRISE, the new movie, and every nerd’s dreams for a few decades now.

She even looked a hell of a lot like Batgirl that one time.

Orion Slave Girls are what Leia’s Slave Bikini WISHES it was,  if it wasn’t the  nerd-wienie-shrinking girl-next-door virgin pretense that it actually is.    Orion Slave Girls put out, my friend.  And they know how to do the ice cube tricks and everything.

4 -   WORF

No denying it. Worf is the bad ass pimp of the Trek Universe.

He’s the ultimate outsider – the enemy of the federation, sitting on the bridge of the Enterprise, and he can kill you with his left ball if he feels like it.  He was the living embodiment of controlled rage, bottled up in Star Trek’s longest running character (eleven seasons of TV and five of the movies!) and he was just the balance that Captain Picard’s calm demeanor needed to make the Next Generation the mega-hit that it was.

And he owned Gene Simmons' hair with more style than Gene did.

3 -  DATA.

I got no strings, and I have fun. I'm not tied down to anyone.

 The wooden puppet that wants to be a real boy has never been done better.  Pinocchio was the inspiration, but Roddenbery, Spiner and company did SO much with the idea – exploring what constituted identity, sentience and humanity, from feelings of love, duty and creativity, to being “fully functional, programmed in multiple techniques”.

Demonstrate your programming, big boy.

And because they were constantly creative with him, the character actually grows and develops over the course of the series and films.  He learns he has “family”, he learns to dream, and he eventually gets his emotion chip, and learns to deal with genuine fear, sadness, sexuality, and the rest of human experience.   Just like we all did when we got our emotion chips at puberty.

2- MISTER SPOCK

Second only to the Beatles as THE 60s pop icon.

 When I was a teenager, I used to get painful, debilitating migraine headaches.  I mean kick-you-in-the-skull, blinding, enraging pain that would last for days.  There was no medicine that would help and it got so bad some times I thought I’d die from the sheer agony of it all.   With nothing but desperation driving me, I tried Spock’s mantra from many episodes of the show.  “There is no pain.  Pain is an illusion”.  I’d say it to myself, trying to Vulcan the hell out of that problem.

And, by the great bird of the galaxy, it worked. It was a life changing lesson -  that the mind can control the body.  That you can decide to survive the unsurvivable.  You can beat back the worst crap storm if you absolutely need to, by power of will.

Spock means that much to me.  He transcended a mere fictional character and became a part of my basic DNA when I was young.  I got to meet Leonard Nimoy once, and I couldn’t help it, inside my head I was telling myself I was in the room with Mr. Spock.  He matters so much to me that, even though it would have been funny, I resisted posting a photograph of Spock with his shirt off being held at gun point by Nazis .

No I didn't.

But I almost resisted and that’s what matters.   I’ve also tried the nerve pinch thing on the neck a few times, but that part turns out to be fictional.

1- CAPTAIN JAMES T. KIRK

Yes, that's a laser in my pocket, and yes, you're glad to see me.

He’s tied with Batman as the best Super-Hero ever created, and according to Eddie Murphy,  Captain Kirk is the coolest white man ever born.  I’m hard pressed to put it any better than that.

There’s a moment in the first Star Trek motion picture, where Kirk takes command of the ship before they all head out into space to take on V-Ger, and quite probably die.  Right after he leaves the bridge, Uhura smiles and tells Sulu  that now that Kirk is back in charge, they just might come home alive.  That she was brave enough to go into space, fully expecting to die, tells you much about Uhura’s courage.  But suddenly expecting to survive simply because Kirk is in command…that tells you everything you need to know about Kirk.

Plus, he got to make out with the hot alien ladies, and he got to do this:

KHAAAAAAN!

That’s Star Trek’s other great moment (along with Riker saying “fire.”) and they’re both four letter words.

I don’t know about you, but I wanted to grow up to be Captain Kirk, and like the memory of Gary Mitchell, I’m not quite ready to let go of that idea either.  Star Trek has been my comfort food, my fan favorite, my joie de vie and my guilty pleasure, almost constantly since I was little.  I’m a little older than the franchise itself, but as long as we’re both here, I’ll be celebrating each anniversary with them, with just as much joy as I did the first time the Man Trap came on my TV and scared the poop out of this four year old boy.

See you Trekkies in five years when we pass out the silver.

PS:  I had two runners-up, but a list of 17 sucks…so here are the honorable mentions:

I have a schoolboy crush on Ezri Dax, and I can't help it.

He's somewhat of a retread of DATA's machine-that-wants-to-be-a-man bit, but Robert Picardo made "The Doctor" a unique character all to himself.

UPDATE:   When you type things up quickly at six in the morning, the brain goes fuzzy.  I cannot believe I didn’t include Q in the list, and that’s a mistake.  He likely would have come in somewhere in the top ten, maybe around eight or nine.  Forgive me for overlooking that great character.  Amazingly enough, I’ve gotten emails lobbying for Garek more than anyone, and no mentioned Q at all….so somehow, we ALL forget him!

I think it's possible he memory-wiped me.

 

Ty the Guy OUT!

Here now, your BONUS Star Trek Moment:

Presented without comment.

Happy Birthday Leonard Nimoy.

Happy Birthday Len!  Actor, director, photographer, national treasure, icon, and tied with Batman as the fictional character I most wanted to be when I was twelve years old.  (Then I discovered girls, and wanted to be Kirk, as he got more tail!)

I wish I had a larger scan of this one. It's my portrait of Spock I did as part of an audition to work at Mad Magazine.

When I was a teenager, I used to suffer from terrible migraines in both my head and my stomach.  Debilitating, awful pains.  Pain relievers didn’t work (they still don’t, I’m immune to morphine, believe it or not), and I had no other tools to battle these pains but mental concentration.  I used to repeat Spock’s mantra at times like this “There is no pain.  It is all an illusion, it is not real…etc.” paraphrasing from a few episodes put together, admittedly.  But it WORKED.  I discovered the very useful trick of controlling my mind and learning to control the pain.  And all because of my rock-solid belief in the reality of Vulcans, Mr. Spock, and his world.

I would not have gotten through my teen-age years without him.  So this is personal.

Thanks for being in our world, Leonard, from the bottom of my heart.

TY THE GUY OUT!

And now, some personal Templeton/Nimoy bonus moments!

To start with, there's the Star Trek mini-series I wrote...

ALSO:  I auditioned for a small part in the film “THE GOOD MOTHER” which Leonard directed.  I didn’t get the part, but I got to meet the director at the audition, which was a thoroughly pleasant experience.

Pictured: Actors I didn't get to work with.

ALSO:  My ex-brother-in-law Michael Burgess, DID have a part in the movie THREE MEN AND A BABY (another Nimoy Opus), but had nothing but unpleasant things to say about Nimoy, so screw Burgess.  He’s divorced from sister, he’s an epic ass, and not much of an actor, anyway.

 

Pictured: More actors I've never worked with.

Also:  I have every Leonard Nimoy music album ever made, all original vinyl pressings,  and once produced a video for the song “If I Had a Hammer” when I worked at CITY TV in the 80s.  I can’t find the video, or you’d be seeing it everywhere, believe me.

Feel? Feel? What are these emotions you speak of?

Bun Toons Countdown 2010 Part IV! Star Trek in Four Panels!

Today we offend the Trekkies.  When this first ran in November, thousands read it, and thousands objected.  Mostly Riker fans, but who really cares about them?

This got reblogged on Wil Wheaton’s site…I’m still getting a tons of hits from this one a month later.  FULL DISCLOSURE:  I’m a Trekkie…I’ve written a Star Trek Graphic Novel for IDW, and I’ve not only got discs for all 30 seasons of the shows, I’ve got all the Power Record Read Along comics…so no harm done, okay?

There’s so much you can do in just four panels.  First the world of Star Trek…and now…

Coming Soon:  Quantum Physics All in Four Panels…easy as pie.

See you tomorrow, on New Year’s Day for the most popular Bun Toon of the year…tens of thousands of hits, just because it’s all about SEX!

Ty the Guy OUT!

Here now, your New Year’s Eve Comic Book Moment of Zen:

Darn, this is the last day of 2010 that I can promote this issue of Mad Magazine:

Star Trek Bun Toons, YAY!

Ah, hardly up by noon, but this one took a couple of minutes, and so it’s only Saturday morning by Hawaii time.  That still counts, right?

Today I boldly toon where no bunny has gone before.

Here it is.  All summed up.  You needn’t look further.   I’ve been investigating Star Trek for decades,  I own all the episodes, all the series, the  movies and cartoons, and even wrote a STAR Trek TOS OGN for IDW that nearly won a JSA,  and I’ve got it all down to a science.    Now, I present to you…

Beam me up Mr. Kyle, I’m afraid there’s nothing more to be said.

Ty the Guy OUT!

Here now, your Star Trek Comic Book Moment of Zen:

Yes, it’s real.

————————————————————————————

Unseen Star Trek – from the LOSER.

As promised on the weekend, I said I’d do a fun blog about my recent Star Trek graphic novel whether I won or lost the Shuster Award for Best Writer for that very project.

As you can see from the title of the blog, I lost.  The winners of the awards can be found here!  Congrats to all the talented folks who were recognized for the contributions we get to make to canadian, and comic culture.  YAAAY all around.

But here’s the fun blog anyway.

Star Trek:  Mission’s End was illustrated by a wonderfully skilled young Canadian named Stephen Molnar, who worked himself ragged to get the likenesses, the costumes, the backgrounds, the aliens, and the whole “feel” of Star Trek absolutely right.  He’s a big part of the reason people liked the book, if they did.  I’m going to show you guys a couple of Steve’s elegant pages in pencil and inks in a moment.  You’ll have to get the comic, GN or phone app to read it in colour; the final product belongs to Paramount and IDW.

Not mine to give away online, without a spanking.

But here’s where the fun comes in.  A couple of months ago, a fellow named Darrin Egan took one of my Comic Book Bootcamp courses, and was interested to try his hand at a full set of sample pages, based on an existing script that was yet to be published (so he couldn’t be influenced by the published version).   Though the Trek issues had already come out at the time, Darrin hadn’t seen them, and was interested in trying his hand at the pages.    Below are both versions:  First, the terrifically talented Steve Molnar, artist of the published story, in either inks or pencils,  followed by the vivacious version by Darrin Egan, from the same script, but without seeing Steve’s art.

Obviously, I’m a pushy writer, as the basic storytelling is remarkably similar.  So the parts that mirror each other, are the fault of a micromanaging writer…it’s the little ways in which they differ I find fascinating.  At any rate, I thought you guys might enjoy.  They’re both good at likenesses, and storytelling rules.  Each has strengths.  It’s like the Tiger and Princess.

Steve Molnar, pencils and inks

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Darrin Egan - pencil

page two and three was a double page spread.  Click on the images to make them bigger…

Steve Molnar - pencils and inks

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Darrin Egan - pencil

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Next:  The sexy moment, with the ripped shirt and the flirty, sweet GLAVIN!

Steve Molnar - pencil and ink

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Darrin Egan - pencil

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Finally, the two page spread that reveals that we’ve been inside a HUGE space ship, originally piloted by giants, and now long abandoned and overgrown with foliage and giant insects.   I think they both knocked it out of the park, though I do confess, the last panel of  Spock in the Molnar layout, is what made this whole introduction work for me.  The concept of the satanic character in the middle of Eden, interjecting and ruining everyone’s appreciation of the nature.  Darrin did a GREAT job on every panel,  but his Spock is a little too friendly for the “beat” of that moment.

Again, these are double page spreads, so click on ‘em to make ‘em bigger.

Steve Molnar - just pencil this time

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Darrin Egan - pencil

Wasn’t that fun?  I’d love to hear how much you like Darrin’s pencils…so would Darrin, I imagine, and he deserves a little slap and tickle for these excellent pages (and please, feel free to equally gush about Steve Molnar’s work, but he’s already a comic book superstar, so he’s getting raves from all quarters fairly continuously!).

And one last bit of unseen Trek before we head on over to Ten Forward for the afternoon….When I first found out I had a chance to do some Star Trek comics, a good friend of mine, Richard (Pitt, X-Man)  Pace (here’s his blog, where he’s doing a GORGEOUS painting of a jungle girl at the moment…) jumped up and asked if he could participate.  Schedules and other things precluded his helping out, but the sample sketch he tossed my way was so lovely, I’m including it here at the bottom of this entry.

Richard Pace pencils

I’d love to do a Star Trek comic book with ANY of these individuals in the future, should the fates or the Great Bird of the Galaxy allow.

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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Bunny Funny

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Many years ago, back when Ty and I were first living together, we went on a trip to New York that was to be capped off by our first convention together.  A chance to see Ty in his environment, in his element, with his peeps.  Heh.

My first sign of trouble was that Ty had never heard of the con before, “Odyssey Trek–what the heck kind of a name is that?”  The second sign of trouble was in the hotel lobby, “Honey,” I asked in a slightly confused voice, “Why is there a Klingon baby in a stroller?”.  Yep.  He’d been invited to a Star Trek convention.  Star Trek–not Star Trek comics, Star Trek.  Turns out one of the organizers was a huge Ty Templeton fan and really didn’t care that the rest of the committee apparently couldn’t see the point of inviting Ty–he wanted to meet Ty, so by God, he invited Ty.

It was a long weekend.

To be fair, Ty loves Star Trek and happily counts himself as a Trekkie (and defiantly so–won’t use the term “Trekker” and mocks those who do).  He was thrilled speechless to write a Star Trek mini last year.  But back then–

It was a long weekend.

I was threatened by the Klingon bodyguards when I tried to stand near Ty at a signing table–turns out he was beside Gowron, Chancellor of the Klingon Empire.  I believe I threatened to emasculate a few of them.

It was a long weekend.

 

Keiren

My inner Mad

021 jay leno

00 spockWhen I put up those Harvey Pekar sketches last week, I mentioned that neither of the drawings were in my “usual” style of doing a likeness.  At this point in my career, I’m not sure I have a style, but I do have some vague idea of what sort of final drawing will look right to my eyes, and these ideas are usually rooted in Mort Drucker and John Severin…two of the great Mad artists of my youth.

As you can see by the drawing of a young Jay Leno (done for a Canadian TV Guide some years ago) and the Movie Spock (done for my own amusement last year), my line work tends towards Drucker’s when I’m just trying to make a portrait.

00 woody

Oddly enough, when I fit a likeness into a story (as I did with these panels from various editions of the Factoid BIG BOOK series, or as I’m currently doing with my fun Dexter gig), I find my line work and sensibility tends towards John Severin.   Probably because Severin was slavishly realistic, and Drucker was more playful.

00 orsonEither way, when you add the Jack Davis influence in the Pekar drawing below (coupled with a blatant attempt to inject a little R. Crumb in there, another Harvey Kurtzman protege), I’ve obviously never gotten over my early crush on Mad Magazine.

And I ain’t never gonna.

Ty the Guy

00 frank and mia

Credits

I’m not going to do a list of Ty’s credits when there are a number of places online that keep a thorough list…trying to get Ty to remember all the work he’s done always reminds me of a story of the actor Richard Burton*:  a reporter once showed him a list of movies Burton had been in hoping to trigger some interesting anecdotes.  Turns out that Burton had no memory of half of them and kept asking the reporter why he thought he had been in them.  Okay, that was because Burton was a roaring drunk, and Ty doesn’t touch a drop of the stuff…but Ty’s memory is about as bad.

Harley globe

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