This week we begin Tales of the Irreal, my first attempt at using Golden Age characters to create comic book stories which resonate with our contemporary times.  I mentioned earlier that Moon Man was my first such attempt but that’s not altogether accurate.  While Moon Man was the first story I finished, I actually had written and drawn up TOTI#1 a few weeks earlier.

As the origin story goes, I had sat down with a local “comics booster” who was running a little local convention and he suggested I look at the old Golden Age characters for inspiration.  I was skeptical.  Growing up I had been vaguely aware of the comic book superheroes of the 40’s, but they remained obscure and inaccessible and to my mind, kinda lame.  But once I started looking into them I realized how many characters had been created back then and then disappeared into obscurity.  Whats more, viewed as a collection of characters, the Golden Age universe took on Simpsons Pantheon levels of zaniness and oddity.  To my booster friends credit, I was inspired.  (much to my chagrin the fellow dropped out of sight soon after that…)

To my thinking, what these Golden Age characters needed was a good mash-up…one with a little bit of concept to it.  I thought of the format to TV’s Law & Order… how each week had a predictable lay out of crime and punishment.   Someone finds body.  Cops investigate and develop lead.  Lead doesn’t pan out but puts them on to another lead.  Lawyers step in and then a twist.  Its the same show every week, just plug in the different superheroes…or something like that.  For TOTI, the idea was to follow the original format of the first comics which contain half a dozen or so characters in their own 6-8 page adventures.  My innovation was to have each story interconnected, but told from the perspective of a different character for each six page chapter.  So it would have a Rashomon effect to the storytelling.  (I don’t know if this was something regularly done in the 40’s…it’s not something I’ve encountered…when I thought it up I had no knowledge of it either way).

I quickly had Issue #1 plotted up and I like the idea so much I quickly developed three or four additional story ideas, as well.  I actually just plotted out a new one last month.  If I had been a smart comic book creator I probably sould have stuck with the idea instead of focusing in on our friends Roger’s story.  The problem was that, as you will see, I was still trying to figure out working on the computer in my default program Adobe illustrator 10.  By the end of the issue (only the second comic book I’ve ever attempted),  it had become quite tedious and I didn’t think it was holding up all that well and I was worried about burning out on the whole concept (something that had happened to me before in my art making career).  I needed to switch gears, and out sprung the Enchanted Dagger.  Luckily, Ol’ Roger has just about conquered that urge to quit halfway through, a big challenge for any creator, i’d bet.

The cover of TOTI#1 was one of the the last things I made for the issue, possibly the last thing I worked on before starting EDag, so this is pretty representative of where I was at.  I definitely was trying to make things tighter and tighter and use vectors for the inking.  I comment more on the art as the story goes, I’m sure.  The cover as it appears here is without any Photoshop touch up, so you can see where I was at.

Finally, the cover is in clear reference to the EC comics of the 1950’s, which might have actually been a Silver Age book, but whose counting.  In my mind, each episode would have a different old school look.