Before I begin, I want you to understand that I have no reason to lie to you. I don’t care about alienating the companies I’ll be attacking in the following article because they have nothing to offer me.
The comic book industry I dreamed about being part of since I was a boy is dead. It’s never coming back. It will never recover.
1990 trading card with original 1977 painting by Arnold Sawyer.
Our universe will never again see a personality like Stan Lee. For the most part, that’s not a good thing. But one must understand and accept that Stan’s career was very much of its time. What he became in his final years was a calculated maneuver, the bookend of a carefully managed and marketed existence. I say that not out of judgment, but out of respect, however begrudging that respect might occasionally be. More than perhaps anyone else, Stan Lee was comic books.
Unless you were alive and paying attention in the 1980s, you probably didn’t know that Transformers weren’t the first toys in America that changed into vehicles. “GoBots” were.
Transformers came from Rhode Island’s Hasbro, in 1984. GoBots came from Tonka, makers of fine metal toy trucks, in 1983. That may be why Hasbro did everything right, from the start- they saw what Tonka had already done wrong. And oh boy… Tonka did just about everything wrong.
I had to move recently, hence the hiatus. If you’re a writer or an artist, moving is extra hell because of all the books. Big glossy ones for the coffee table (if applicable), thick reference tomes, and oodles of little half-finished sketchbooks.
Not an exaggeration.
In 2012, my friend Chay and I worked as audience members for the taping of a popular game show, hosted by Steve Harvey. We helped to provide a diversity that was wholly absent from the proceedings.
Mad medicine was everywhere in the 80s and 90s. There were toys and playsets endorsed by mad doctors, for use by kids. Every time you watched cartoons, you saw a skinny dude with crazy hair in a white lab coat, maniacally mixing chemicals and potions for some nefarious purpose. Under the influence of this, I created my own mad medicine man; Dr. Kill-Everybody.
Dr. K (no hair), with Fronkin Steen and Psuto Moto.
Either the trope became shopworn around 2001, or something happened that discouraged children from playing with chemicals. You don’t see mad doctors and scientists like you used to. Maybe this is a good thing; maybe the concept was subconsciously driving impressionable kids away from lucrative STEM-field careers. I don’t know.
What I do know is this. Mad doctors once flourished in our society, even though they were annoying, and generally sucked.
As an “underground” artist, I go broke often. Sometimes I have to sacrifice comfort or nourishment to pay my rent.
Sometimes, I’m broke because I’m a total assclown who takes public transportation across town to see a $22 popcorn movie, alone. (I didn’t have enough for actual popcorn.)
Even while facing the consequences, I have no regrets.
I don’t know what the hell Al Gore had to do with the history of Transformers, and I don’t want to know. I had to sit through the trailer for his second bullshit global-warming scare film, and he can go fuck himself with an iceberg.
Kidding and perversity aside, we used to have “rocketry club” at school. Well, I didn’t; it was all done away with by the time I reached seventh grade. Kids could care less about the excitement of space and walking on the moon now.