In my next Blast from the Past entry I'm going to finally talk about my first Star Wars comic. It'll be the start a of a whole new phase in my professional progress. But for now, I've got one last thing to talk about from my days at Wildstorm.
So, once again we go back to 2003 when I was interning at Wildstorm studios. I've done a bunch of entries about this time period so I wont rehash, but when I was there I learn that Wildcats Volume 3 was coming to an end. As a long time fan of Wildcats, I get it in my head that I should pitch a relaunch. That's right, I thought there was some possibility that they would let me write and draw a new Wildcats series. It's only their flagship title and I was the intern, but I thought, "why not try?" I figured if I present something that is good enough, my lack of experience and career status wouldn't get in my way. It just had to be real good.
I talked to my friend and collaborator on many ideas since 7th grade, DJ Bryant, about the idea of tackling this. DJ has a fantastically creative mind and I knew, I've always known, that having his creative powers in on a project is an advantage. Also, both DJ and I were fans of Wildcats when we were young and just getting into comics. This collaboration would be a lot of fun for us. So, I asked him to develop something with me and we both got pretty pumped on it.
(DJ is currently working on a book to be published by Fantagraphics. You can see his work here http://sequentialmonitor.blogspot.com/ )
The image I've posted above is from early on in this ambition. I did this while working on The Tenth Circle. It looks a lot like Tenth Circle stuff to me. So that means it was probably done in early 2004. I eventually used this image for the cover of our pitch. Most pitches don't come with covers but, then again, most pitches aren't nearly as long as what we ended up producing. We wen't way overboard.
(I can't find a better version of this file) That's a wrap-around cover.
So what was in this pitch/booklet?
We wrote an in depth outline for a twelve issue arc entitled "The Orbs of Power" and it brought the idea of the Orbs, which hadn't really been addressed much since the first mini series, back as a focus. The story followed 4 interwoven story lines that all came together in the end.
The springboard for the whole story originated from a brief story told by Void in issue 8 of the original series. In that story she describes where the Orbs came from, that they were fragments of a cosmic being called Omnia who fights and apparently dies in the ultimate battle of good and evil at the end of time.
We started there. The opening scene in our story was the climax of that battle. We had to create what Omnia looks like and create whatever it is she is fighting. So we create Necronos.
Here's some concept art. (All of the art is by me.)
The central story followed Emp, who returns from the realm he had ascended to, with Void, who has been separated from the Orb that she had been bonded with. He returns with a mission. That mission involves reforming the Wildcats, attaining the Meta-Orb, and ultimately facing the massive robotic embodiment of evil, Necronos. (Side note-- Through the fist 13 issues of the original Wildcats, Emp is the main character. He's like the "chosen one" he's the hero. He and Void are the heart and soul of the comic. Every writer, other than Allen Moore, has completely missed that. Favoring the sexier characters and brushing Emp to the side is something that continually hurt the series and kept it feeling directionless.)
Another of the stories was about Voodoo going undercover into the Daemonite. She ends up discovering that Helspont lives when she takes station on his massive submarine base. The Daemonites are also after the Meta-Orb. Voodoo, struggles with loyalties.
My favorite story thread was Zealot and Grifter's. After having wiped out the Coda, Zealot is in a suicidal state. As if her destruction of the Coda was her erasing all evidence of her existence. In her final mission of self destruction she goes after her mother figure, Tapestry. I used elements of her story much later in the short western story I did with Jeremy Barlow called "They'll Bury You Where You Stand!"
The fourth story was about Jack Marlowe (Spartan) and was a continuation of his story in Vol 3 to it's ultimate conclusion.
We created a back story for Helspont that we wanted to dedicate an issue to telling. He're some of the concept art for that.
In the fist image we see Helspont in a human form, before he acquires his now decaying Acurian host. In the second image, the guy with the cables all over is a new Daemonite character.
Here are some character designs.
I have so many more of these. I'm debating scanning them all... The first one is one of my faves. It's Void except not Void anymore. She's Adrianna Tereshkova. She's bound to the Orb, but no longer physically. The third is Daemonite Voodoo.
Some more Daemonite stuff.
We created a lot of new characters, Most of them had only small parts to play.
In the end, in addition to the extensive booklet outlining our story that included loads of art, we also wrote the first two issues. Our thinking was that we really needed to prove that we could pull it off. But, to be honest, we were enjoying ourselves. It was the first time we had taken our ideas to this level of development. We put a lot of work into this, and ultimately, of course, we weren't going to create this book. Maybe that's why we put so much into it. It, in it's self, was great experience. I feel like I came away with more confidence in my ability to craft story and write. I also learned a lot about true collaboration. I say "true" because most comics don't have "true collaboration".
I actually handed our booklet to Jim Lee. He told me they were already working on a relaunch and it's very likely that after that he never read any of it, which doesn't really bother me. Like I said, we had our fun. In a way, we did make our version. And looking back at what we did and comparing it to everything Wildstorm and DC did after that, I objectively think our version was way better. I have no embarrassment about the ambition and foolishness of this project.
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