FULL CIRCLE: A Comic Book Origin Story [Part 1]

So here’s the latest scoop. I’m getting into the comic book biz. Yep. You heard that right. Besides my current work in progress with Jeremy Robinson in his upcoming King novella entitled GUARDIAN, I’m also working on an original comic book series featuring the gorgeous artwork by Danish artist Christian Guldager…and trust me, it’s going to be epic! 
In case you haven’t guessed by the title card to the right, the first story line of the series is entitled SPOOK MALONE AND THE GHOSTS OF TIME.
But before I get too much into what this comic book series will be about or when you might be able to expect it, I thought it best to spend some time giving you some of my credentials…my bona fides, as it were…in regards to my comic book savvy. After all, not just anyone can write a good comic, can they?  Well, with that being said, let me tell you my comic book origin story. But a word of warning first. This might contain some horribly embarrassing admission of the utmost geekiness.
Like many great comic origin stories, mine began when I was a child, though it probably didn’t really kick in until I was what today they call “pre-teen”. Now, as someone who makes a few pennies here and there writing books, I’m a tad embarrassed to admit this next thing, but I wasn’t a big reader at that age. Heck, if I’m honest, I’d have to say, I despised reading with every fiber of my being. Up until around the fifth grade, I wouldn’t touch a book if my life depended on it (unless perhaps, that book was about Pete Rose or Johnny Bench (I was an enormous fan of the Big Red Machine back then)). And though I had been an Underoos-wearing, towel-tied-around-my-neck superherophile since the day I stepped out of diapers, I wouldn’t even touch a comic book if I could at all help it. That’s how much I loathed reading. No need to read comics back then, in my mind. Back then, I’d get my superhero fix the way God intended…by watching Saturday cartoons. With the SuperFriends, Filmation’s Tarzan/Zorro, Hong Kong Phooey, and a schmorgasbord of other super hero awesomeness in celluloid form, why on earth would anyone need to read? Right?

Then, around the fifth grade I suppose, along came my very best friend at this point in my life. A guy named Jeff Jasper. He was the quintessential embodiment of fifth and sixth grade coolness. Football player. Lady’s man. Mr. Popular. All around nice guy. He was also very much a closet comic book nerd. And on one fateful day, as we were hanging out at his grandmother’s house after school, he introduced me to a very special issue of the X-MEN (I can’t remember which specific issue, but it featured a villain who would soon become one of my favorite Marvel bad guys (and, by the way, inspiration for my ENIGMA Directive villain known as Freakshow)…Arcade. When he handed me the book, it nearly scalded my fingers, so opposed I was to reading. But with some positive peer pressure, my good friend Jeff convinced me to take a gander at it…and I was absolutely hooked from that point on (I was captivated by Nightcrawler as well. While most people revel over Wolverine, the “fuzzy elf” has always been this writer’s all time favorite Marvel hero). 
From that point on, I bought every X-MEN story I could get my hands on…which wasn’t easy in southeastern Kentucky in the early 80s. We didn’t have comic book stores back then. There were pitiful few comic book shows/conventions that came near my town. And the Internet wasn’t even a twinkle in Al Gore’s imaginary eye…much less Amazon. So I had to make due where I could (which usually consisted of my neighborhood pharmacy (yep…back then, comics were sold in pharmacies and grocery stores, kids)). 
Nightcrawler. How cool is he, right?!

From the X-MEN, I moved onto other favorite Marvel titles: Spider-Man (in all his titles). The Avengers. Captain America. The Defenders. Doctor Strange. Oh, and I loved me some Conan the Barbarian back then too. It’s also where I was introduced to my all time favorite Robert E. Howard character, Solomon Kane.

I also started reading Thor comics too (though honestly in hopes they’d feature Beta Ray Bill), which is probably the single greatest comic I ever read in terms of usefulness in later life. It wasn’t because I was a huge fan of Thor (though I did enjoy mythology in general). Rather, Thor comics were so beneficial to me for a very huge reason. Through Thor, I developed an amazing understanding of “King James English”. And let me tell you, as a Baptist, that was a gift beyond imagination. By reading Thor comics, I soon found that reading my Bible (back then, pretty much all we had were King James Bibles) was a million times easier. Not only could I read the Bible now, but I could actually understand it! All thanks to Thor! Thor comics also helped me to develop a greater understanding of Shakespeare, so that I became a huge fan of his as well (Hamlet and MacBeth being my all time favorites, by the way).

So, kids…parents don’t like you reading comics? Easy-peasy! Tell ’em they’re uber-educational! Tell them you’re preparing yourself for the fantastic world of the Bard! Or a theologian. How can they argue with that, right?

Yes. I did own the MEGO Batman!

But I digress. I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t point out the superhero to beat all superheroes. The one who I’ve idolized since the days of the aforementioned Underoos…who I’ve followed from even before the glorious days of reading comics. I am, of course, talking about Batman. 

The ultimate hero. Fighter. Detective. Scare-the-heck-outta-the-bad-guys billionaire! I’ve known who this hero is since before I could even read, thanks to the cheesy Adam West Batman TV show of the 60s, the SuperFriends of the 70s, and the wonderful MEGO action figures that I used to collect. Ahem…and yes, there really were Underoos involved as well. 🙂

Throughout my comic book collecting years, Batman was the standard in which I measured everyone. He’s why I’m not a big fan of Superman. But he’s also why I’m not a big fan of everyone’s favorite X-Man, Wolverine. Batman represented constrained rage. Disciplined fury. He never acted without first thinking everything through. He was Sherlock Holmes and Bruce Lee all rolled into one Evel Knieval daredevil of awesomeness. And he has remained my all-time favorite superhero to this very day.

Before I get into the whole “What in the world is this blog post about anyway?” thing, I think I should share a bit more about the time line for my comic book loving ways. I continued reading and collecting comics all the way through high school (yeah, I didn’t date a lot back then. lol). But eventually, I grew to the point where reading the comics just wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to create them. I wanted to write them. And, at the time, I even had dreams of drawing them as well.

Sometime between 1989 to 1991, indie comics were practically unheard of (at least to me). And digital comics were something only imagined in the wildest of imaginations. So, as someone just finishing up with high school and moving into the college years, I began focusing my creative juices on creating some really sensational comic book characters. Looking back, I realize that they probably weren’t all that “creative” or “original”. And the idea of creating a character who didn’t wear some sort of mask or spandex hadn’t even crossed my mind (all I ever read were superhero comics, after all). But I worked at it. I designed. I sketched. I plotted. And all the while, only one of my creations really stood out from all the rest. The character was good. Really good. So good, in fact, that I was determined to pitch the character to someone who might actually be able to use it.

And who better to pitch the idea to than my favorite comic book writer of the time, Scott Lobdell of X-MEN fame. Since there was no such thing as e-mail, Facebook, or Twitter back then, making contact with people in the industry wasn’t nearly as easy, so I took a chance. I wrote up my pitch, inserted the character sketch I designed, placed a stamp on the envelop, and mailed it direct to Marvel Comics in care of Mr. Lobdell. 

Honestly, I never expected to hear back from Marvel. Never expected to hear from Mr. Lobdell. It was, after all, a pipe dream. After all, how many people out there were trying to break into the comics business at that very moment? I doubted anyone would pay my ideas any attention at all.

Then, one day, after coming home from school, I noticed the light blinking on our answering machine. Casually, I strode over to the kitchen counter with the machine sat and pressed the button. “Hi,” came the voice on the other end. “This is Scott Lobdell, trying to get a hold of Kent Holloway.” My world spun. I was simultaneously elated and shattered at the same time. Lobdell had called my house! He’d been looking for me! And I wasn’t home to receive his freaking call!!! ARGH! Worse…naturally, he didn’t leave a return number. I had no idea whether he’d call me back or not. Had no idea WHEN he might try to call me back if he decided to do so. What in the world was I going to do? Never leave my house again?! [See the comment about “dating” above…it really wouldn’t have been that difficult to do. Ha!]

Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait long.

But I’ll get to that particular conversation, as well as how all this ties into how comics have influenced my writing career, AND a sneak peek (including original artwork) at my upcoming comic book series NEXT WEEK! Same bat time! Same bat channel! 🙂

By the way…BIG NEWS! We’ve just reached our 100,000th blog hit!!!!

To celebrate, I’ll be doing a very special giveaway next week. The winner of the super easy contest will receive print editions of EVERY ONE of my books. I’ll fill you in on how to win next week.

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