Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Update for Newcomers: 'The Soldier Legacy' and research

(Above) 'Tides of Hope' page contribution.

You know, I just realized that the past handful of blog posts have been about various convention attendance, sketches and thank yous, which I feel are important. BUT, it's been a while since I've attempted to document my workings through the Solider Legacy comic series, sharing my methodology (more for my research requirements) and discuss my research paper for my Doctorate.
I guess it's because my day job monopolizes most of my time, and then I try not to sit on the internet and waste time that could be spent writing, pencil, colouring or any over the other pile of things I have to get through. But, having said that, since I'm almost sold out of my second run of #1's and the first run of #2's, I figure someone may get bored enough one day to check on this blog just to see where all the concepts for this Aussie hero/action series came from.

Well, the Archive section (2009) is the best place to see the idea grow from a few notes for the final step when #1 was completed. It was first exposed to the public as a small print run comic book at the one day Sydney Armageddon show at Town Hall, followed by it's much larger launch at Brisbane Supanova 2010 where I virtually almost sold the lot. Various projects and freelance work initially slowed the production of the 2nd issue (plus full time work beginning slowly after Brisbane '10), until I completed it at the end of 2010 and printed up in January. It was around this time that # 1 hit COMICS ETC. in Brisbane, where they sold surprisingly well alongside Spawn, Spider-man and Superman on the monthly comic wall. (#2 is currently in store of those who missed getting a copy over the weekend, I believe there are a couple left.)

So I'm just going to take a moment to free flow type a bit of what I was mentioning to various people over the Brisbane Supanova weekend in order to give a little insight in what I'm doing.

Basically, the whole series is a work-in-progress, or more so a studio output based on the research found from my Doctorate work, which is exploring various American superhero comic book writers/artists methodologies and how these books tell a story visually and the representation of the 'hero' in their books. I believe that despite the limited Australian comic market and it's size and form compared to the American comic market, a local comic book can sell provided that the production of the book, and the visual and story content is engaging/entertaining for the viewer and speaks in the familiar 'language' that the comic book/reading audience is familiar with i.e.: the 3-act structure of film and current script/drama writing (I say 'current', but we all know the path of the traditional 'hero's journey' has followed this formula for hundreds of years).

So I figure, study the successful graphic novels, look at what the prominent and praised writers and artists are doing, and try to take that concept across to the concept of what an AUSTRALIAN HERO would be. Let's face it, in Pop culture or folk history, we have few heroes- but look at NED KELLY and MAD MAX- Outlaws, strong iconograpy (the helmet, the outfits). Hell, Max's 'origin' is almost a Frank Castle revamp (the 2004 Punisher film even stole the family death scene from Mad Max 1 shot for shot- the director even admitted it!). In our culture, the ANZACs and DIGGERS are a powerful metaphor for the Aussie spirit that never gives up, who is the underdog, who digs in and fights hard, but above all looks after his mates. As Superheroes strongly reflex American socio-economic and political history, and grew out of the Great Depression/WW2 era, it was only natural that I gravitated towards this period for an Aussie Digger as the protagonist of the series. Plus, as a Huuuuge Jack Kirby fan, his first success being 'Captain America' (with Joe Simon in 1940) and Stan Lee's first scripting gig on the early books (#5 comic script, short story issue #3), AND the both of them reviving Cap in the 1960's, and their awesome action/war series 'SGT FURY AND HIS HOWLING COMMANDOS', I wanted to emulate the feeling of these books and not get too preachy in the content of the books (I'm just not that good of a writer and feel like I'd insult the intelligence of current serving armed forces members who have had the experience over me.)
The young hero (grandson of the Solider) comes from my love of Steve Ditko's early AMAZING SPIDER-MAN stories where the hero is this vulnerable young guy trying to make sense of his new role as a vigilante. That and the early Bill Everett/Joe Orlando/Wally Wood DAREDEVIL's had that vigilante/street appeal to me, and along with a nod to Lee Falk's THE PHANTOM, I wanted a linage of the Soldier's deeds to the current story (hence the 'LEGACY'). The Brisbane Suburban setting seemed like a gimme to me as it was different from the usual 'hero in city', and I live in one and know from reading the local papers just how crazy it can be in certain parts at night.

Plus, I figure at the end of the day, if a young kid reading the comic decides to Google '9th Division A.I.F', Sattleberg, New Guinea 1942/43, Owen gun, Kokoda even...they may learn something about their own history they didn't realise.

Or Google 'Jack Kirby' for his astounding contribution to all the characters they watch in the morning before school (and realize it wasn't just Stan Lee solo :) ).

I hope this little free-form post answers the basics of where I'm coming from with this comic series. I will slowly begin putting up some pencil pages from the current #3 work-in-progress, and notes for my confirmation research if anyone is still awake after reading all this and is vaguely interested.

See you later internet :D

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