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Remembering Herb Trimpe

Posted on April 21, 2015 at 9:55 PM Comments comments (2)

Originally, I planned to write a blog post to talk about Wildcard, our recently completed third issue and the upcoming fourth issue, which features some major developments in the life of Elizabeth Bradford. Then I heard the sad news about the death of Herb Trimpe, and I knew I had to discuss his life and work, instead. I started reading comics in the late 1970s, and while I read some DC titles, I was a Marvel fan from the get-go. Now, to some people, Marvel’s 1970s output was a low point between the 1960s Jack Kirby/Steve Ditko/Stan Lee House of Ideas and the early 1980s golden age led by John Byrne, Frank Miller, Chris Claremont, Walt Simonson, etc. But not to me. To me, Marvel of the 1970s was a wonderful time, when Marvel stretched its legs and expanded into new characters, new titles and new approaches to storytelling. And I swear, Herb Trimpe drew half the comics I bought back then (and Sal Buscema drew the other half. But that’s a story for another day). Trimpe joined Marvel in 1967, following a four-year stint serving in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War. He soon became the signature artist on The Incredible Hulk, and drew nearly 100 consecutive issues of that title. Many of the Hulk’s most famous stories came during this era, including issue #181 – the debut of Wolverine. During my youth, Trimpe frequently was called upon to draw Marvel books based on licensed characters. My favorite of this bunch was Godzilla, and I also was a regular reader of Shogun Warriors. In the 1980s, Trimpe became synonymous with G.I. Joe. Perhaps my favorite Trimpe work was the Machine Man limited series he did with writer Tom DeFalco. A long- dormant Machine Man is reactivated in a dystopian future, where he finds himself in conflict with an evil descendant of Tony Stark. But beyond his amazing body of work, Trimpe left behind a legacy that would make the heroes he drew proud. An outpouring of comments from friends, family and former co-workers focused on Trimpe the person, not the artist. It’s clear he was beloved by those who knew him. My biggest regret as a comics fan came just a couple of years ago. Trimpe was signing and sketching at a comics convention in Charlotte, and I fully intended to get his autograph, and perhaps a sketch. However, his line was so long that I thought “I’ll swing back by later in the day.” I never did – and I never will now. But if I could, I’d tell Herb Trimpe “Thank you for so many great memories. You truly were an important part of my childhood.”

Marvel or DC ? Who Ya Got?

Posted on September 26, 2013 at 4:35 PM Comments comments (1)

epsi or Coke? Beatles or Rolling Stones? PC or Mac?

Some questions just naturally divide people into two distinct camps. For comics fans, that question always has been “Marvel or DC?” The lines between the two companies have, for sure, blurred in the past couple of decades, as creators hop back and forth between companies more frequently than in the past. But the Marvel vs. DC question remains a point of debate wherever comics are sold, read and enjoyed.

I’ll be up front about it – as a kid, I was totally in the Marvel camp. My first comic book love was Spider-Man (as I discussed in a previous post), and I remained a devoted Amazing Spider-Man reader from the Len Wein/Ross Andru era of the late ‘70s through the Dave Michelinie/Erik Larsen run of the early ‘90s. So it’s no surprise I was drafted into the Marvel Army.

Oh, sure – I read the occasional DC book. I was a regular reader of The Flash early on in my fandom, and the company’s ghost story anthology books were always a lot of fun. But Spider-Man was my guy and Marvel was my company. At one point or another, I regularly read pretty much every superhero book Marvel published at the time – Captain America, the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Thor (once Walt Simonson took over the book), the Uncanny X-Men, and, of course, all of the Spider-Man titles. I have little doubt that when I’m working on Wildcard, I am channeling these Marvel influences from the so-called “Bronze Age of Comics.”

But somewhere in the 1980s, my steadfast Marvel loyalties began to shift to the Distinguished Competition. A little at first, then a lot. Part of this, no doubt, was due to familiar Marvel talent such as Gerry Conway, Marv Wolfman and George Perez taking on plum assignments and DC (and knocking them out of the park). For example, I had never been a Superman fan until John Byrne’s Man of Steel mini-series. But when Byrne, whose work I had loved on FF, moved to Superman, I went with him.

But part of it was simply that DC stepped up and began published some truly great material in the mid- to late 1980s: Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Year One, Justice League International, the rebooted Wonder Woman and Superman books, and more. These projects caused me to give DC a fresh look – and I liked what I saw. I still bought plenty of Marvel titles, but I made sure that I set aside some pennies to pick up the latest DC offerings as well.

So what about you? Which company did you like growing up—and did that change over time?

 


A Nod to Influences and Inspirations

Posted on July 2, 2013 at 11:45 AM Comments comments (0)

When I was a young comics fan, I read pretty much anything I could get my hands on. But Spider-Man was always at the top of my list. That amazing web-slinger captivated me like no other hero, and I was an avid reader of any and all Spider-Man titles.

 

But why? Was it his powers? While admittedly cool, other heroes offered plenty of equally impressive talents and abilities. Was it his costume? It’s a great design, no doubt. But the Flash, Wonder Woman, Captain America and plenty of other heroes also have iconic union suits.

 

No, the reason I was so enthralled with Spider-Man had more to do with the man under the mask. While Spider-Man almost always defeated the bad guys, Peter Parker had a string of misfortune that even Charlie Brown would pity. From Aunt May getting sick and Mary Jane rejecting his marriage proposal to flunking a test and getting chewed out by his boss, J. Jonah Jameson, Peter never benefitted from being Spider-Man. In fact, being a costume superhero often proved detrimental to Peter Parker’s personal life. Yet, in spite of those self-imposed hardships, he never stops using his unique talents to help others.

 

I started reading Amazing Spider Man during the period when writer Len Wein and artist Ross Andru were at the helm. While not the most famous run of Spider-Man stories, it nevertheless was a good one, with Spider-Man battling such foes as Will O’ the Wisp, Stegron the Dinosaur Man, Doctor Faustus and an all-new Green Goblin. At the same time, Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema had launched a companion book, Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man, and the soon-to-be-legendary team of Chris Claremont and John Byrne chronicled the wall-crawler’s adventures in Marvel Team-Up. Overall, it was a great time to be a Spider-Man fan, and I eagerly scooped up all three books on a monthly basis.

 

Before long, I found reprints of such classic Spider-Man stories as the Stan Lee-Steve Ditko and Lee-John Romita Sr. runs. The early 1970s era of writer Gerry Conway teaming with artist Ross Andru was a particular high point, with such landmark stories as the death of Gwen Stacy and the original Clone Saga. After reading these older stories, I was more hooked than ever.

 

I certainly consider Wildcard to be influenced by the Spider-Man comics of the 1960s and ‘70s. Elizabeth Bradford isn’t Peter Parker in women’s clothing – the differences go well beyond that. But I wanted Elizabeth to have that same selfless sense of duty. The idea that true heroes will do what is right, regardless of the cost it inflicts on the hero, resonates deeply with me and is reflected in Wildcard.

Wildcard Synopsis

Posted on June 24, 2013 at 7:45 PM Comments comments (0)

 

Going to work, living on her own and getting a date? Those things aren’t quite so simple.

 

Wildcard is the story of a young woman who tries to juggle a secret identity as a superhero with all of the normal pressures that most recent college graduates must face. She’s trying to fit in as a rookie middle school teacher and figure out the rules of grown-up dating. Battling crime as Wildcard is the only time she feels truly comfortable. Of course, it’s a hobby that can get her killed if she’s not careful, particularly since she is still new at the superhero game.

 

Wildcard combines young adult drama with fun, even slightly campy, superhero action. It’s a story that has wide appeal – few of us are heroes, but we all have to grow up one day.

 

Elizabeth’s adventures are now available for free at wildcardcomics.webs.com No registration required – just click and read.

 

Wildcard is created by artist Tony Rubino and writer Bruce Buchanan. Please contact us for more information – and thank you for helping us spread the word about this project.

 

Welcome to Wildcard!

Posted on June 5, 2013 at 1:20 PM Comments comments (1)

Hello – and welcome to the Website of Wildcard Comics! We will be using this space to tell you a bit more about this comic, its characters and behind-the-scenes stories of how Wildcard came to be. For this first installment, I thought I’d go back in time…all the way to the beginning, in fact….

I’m six years old and combing the toy aisles of my local Kmart store. Something catches my eye – a comic book. Amazing Spider-Man, to be precise. I knew little about comics or superheroes, but something about this book begged – no, demanded – that I purchase it. Or, more to the point, that I pester my parents into buying it for me.

That began a lifelong love affair with the comic book superhero set. The heroes I grew up with certainly weren’t perfect – the aforementioned Peter Parker was a psychologist’s dream – but they were noble, they were likable, they were good guys (and gals). You wanted them to succeed, despite the odds stacked against them.

It is that quality that I miss most in today’s superhero comics. Too many of the heroes just aren’t likable. They are flawed to the point where they just aren’t heroes in the traditional sense.

When Tony Rubino and I started Wildcard, my goal was to recapture the heroism I found in those comics of my youth. Elizabeth Bradford (AKA Wildcard) doesn’t have it easy, not as a first-year history teacher, as a single professional out on her own for the first time or as a rookie superhero. She will make mistakes and, like all of us, she has her flaws. But she will always strive to do make the right choice – dare I say, the heroic choice. My hope is to create a character who you, the reader, wants to see succeed.

Wildcard’s journey is just starting. Thank you for sharing it with her – and with us.

Wildcard Comics Blog

Posted on June 2, 2013 at 10:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Welcome to Wildcard comics blog!


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