A little random in writing but it was originally a slideshow presentation, so there was talking in between to help get my point across but you get the idea:
The project will be two stories that I’m thinking of either separating them into two issues, or adding them together as a graphic novel or together in a style similar to the old Marvel comic two in one’s like Tales of Suspense featuring Iron Man and Captain America etc. From an animating point of vie, I’m still stuck. I still wrote the two draft scripts as if they were going to be two short films with an original intention to animate one. But with time being a constant factor, and the possibility of another animated project to do this year, I may either keep it as a trailer to promote the graphic novel, an animated comic book or just a few sequences from the stories animated as a means to promote the book/CDC. Cult Fiction Comics Australia has discussed the possibility of releasing the material under their “CFCA Indie” banner.
The book will be traditionally drawn on Blue Lines (where possible) and I’m yet to work out whether I’ll ink by hand using pen, pen/brush or digitally ink, which I don’t think I can (but at least digitally colour and letter).
I have two heroes that I am writing/drawing. The stories are like origin stories in a sense that the characters are engaged in a current “mission” of sorts, but in the process are thinking to themselves (via inner monologue) the motives of what drives them. I like the idea of the visuals not marrying up exactly with what the character is saying. So there are two stories, one based in World War 2 and the other is suburban Brisbane present day.
I tried to encompass a few little tidbits and cover some archetypes of the Marvel/Timely history but at the same time cover elements in a story that I enjoy in heroes, but with an Australian identity.
I chose World War 2 because of several reasons:
Ø The popularity of the Superhero genre via American comic books exploded in this period.
Ø Jack Kirby (along with Writer/Artist Joe Simon) created their first successful Superhero for Timely publications (the original Marvel Comics)- Captain America.
Ø Stan Lee was hired by relative Martin Goodman, publisher of Timley Comics, as Simon and Kirby’s assistant. Lee’s first stories and scripts were for Captain America, and Lee states his first favourite character.
Ø Not to take away any of the heroics and honour of the wars our Aussie troops have taken part in in recent years after 1945, WW2 is not an ambiguous war- the enemies and the purposes of the allies were more easily defined. (That’s why the Nazi’s and Axis make for easy Hollywood/comic book enemies).
I therefore wanted an Australian equivalent, without just whacking on an Australian flag as a costume/uniform. And I figured an Aussie Soldier would be more subtle than that.
The second story tries to encompass the heroes of Daredevil and Spider-man in more the realms of the vigilante. In the issues/graphic novel, I don’t want them to have powers or costumes per se, but there are obviously some thought towards a look without going too over-the-top.
Basically the story is “The Soldier” is serving in New Guinea 1943, with a vague connection to the 9th Division of the AIF. As “The Soldier” tries to locate a group of lost soldiers taken hostage by the enemy. While doing so, he contemplates his reasoning to why he dons a mask in his fights in the War.
The next story is set in modern Brisbane with the grandson of the Soldier from WW2. The young man dons the mask in a effort to stem the tide of growing vandalism and violence in his local neighbourhood.
Both stories try to look at why these two men decide to don the mask- both not necessarily to change the world but affect the lives around them no matter how small the event or the action undertaken.
Marvel Heroes in the 60’s were derived from the idea that the stories and circumstances were close to real life. Of course there were elements of Science Fiction, Mythology and make believe (The nature of the genre and medium), but the stories were very character driven. When the early sales figures of Fantastic Four came in as positive, Lee and Kirby were very savvy in a sense that they were able to take what were essentially the successful elements from the books and distribute this across the entire line. So what they had, along with Steve Ditko’s Spider-man were characters who were heroes but “with Feet of Clay” as many writers have put it.
Marvel heroes were different from the homogenous and traditional fairs offered by the then industry gold standard DC. Marvel heroes bickered, they fought, they were not always adored by the public and authorities. They got sick; they had (then) complicated lives. They each had an individual voice (thanks to Stan’s dialogue) that meant that if the words were put into a book, The Thing’s Bronx street talk would sound different to Thor’s quasi-Shakespearian, who then could be distinguished to the Silver Surfer’s poetic torture-riddled monologues.
I have always been a fan of the “Street Level” heroes:( In particular to Lee/Kirby/Ditko era) Spider-man, Daredevil, Captain America, Nick Fury. Even the early stories on the Fantastic Four, Iron Man and the Silver Surfer have street level and realistic settings which for me, really helped sell the realism in the stories. The early stories of the FF where they didn’t wear uniforms, or when they couldn’t afford the rent to stay in the Baxter Building or some monster or villain was causing trouble in down town Manhattan. Though not overly popular in sales outside his appearances in the Fantastic Four, the Silver Surfer series drawn by John Buscema had some great scenes where he interacted with regular people who despite being saved by him, fear him and resent him for his appearance and their own misunderstanding. I liked that it affected the Silver Surfer to the point that he would be torn as to if he should bother helping such a race at all.
But, I tended to gravitate towards the heroes with bigger character flaws or those who didn’t really have much or any superhero powers at all- I guess it partly was easier for me to enjoy a character/story grounded close to realism but also the conflict or danger seems more prevalent if I felt that the character could snuff it at any moment- a wrong slip, a stray bullet, a cosmic blast.
Spider-man was my first hero that attached me to comics. Like Lee has said, If you can suspend your disbelief enough to believe that a nerd can be bitten by a radioactive spider and gain super powers, then Lee and Ditko’s tales of teen angst and overcoming human impulses and guilt for the greater good are fantastic and are as relevant and empathetic to audiences today as they were when first conceived over 40 years ago.
When it comes to writing a graphic novel, I know I’m no Alan Moore. I definitely concede that in my wildest dreams that I cannot create any of the far out and cosmic and tales of Gods and Monsters that Jack Kirby was able to conjure out of thin air. But in terms of my project all I wanted to do was concentrate on a favourite genre of mine and have some work that I can use to promote myself to the industry.