Thursday, April 10, 2014

BY SPECIAL REQUEST

This post of Quantum Comics Blog is in response to a request from a fan-friend of mine who wanted to see Draco Rex and his best mate Baslysk together.  I thought that was a great idea, so here it is.



Friday, April 4, 2014

ALL-STAR ON THE RISE

One of my storytelling role models, Stan Lee himself, openly admits that he has never liked one particular type of character:  the super-hero's teenage sidekick.

You know, all the teenaged Buckys and Robins and Aqualads and Kid Flashes and so forth that have been running around in costumes alongside adult super-heroes since the early history of Batman--Stan never cared for them.  We know what the rationale behind all those characters was supposed to be:  they were meant to give the pre-teen boys who were supposedly the core audience of comic books a reference point, a character with whom to identify, a character they were supposed to imagine themselves as being.  (In Batman's case, Robin was also meant to lighten him up and make his stories seem a little lighter.  Of course that doesn't work any more; the accepted characterization of Batman today is "Dirty Harry in a Cape".)  But anyway, all those sidekicks started a tradition that has persisted in one form or another all the way into present-day super-hero fiction.  

Now at Marvel Comics in the 60s they did it a little differently and had the teenagers themselves be the heroes:  the Human Torch, Spider-Man, the old X-Men.  And they went at their teen characters very differently than DC did.  Over at DC, the sidekick characters--as well as the Legion of Super-Heroes, who were independent teen heroes--were smiling, scrubby-dubby, authority-respecting figures, practically Mouseketeers in costumes.  (That's not true of them any more; we're talking 1950s-60s here.)  The Marvel teens were another matter.  The Human Torch was all hormones and attitude; he ran away from the Fantastic Four at the end of the third issue and was always into cars and girls, only sometimes in that order.  Spider-Man had more teen angst and adolescent anguish than a character on the CW Network.  The X-Men, born with powers that manifested at puberty and feared and hated by common people, were teenage alienation incarnate.  That was the only way that Stan Lee could handle teenagers as super-heroes.  He never liked the idea, and in the book Origins of Marvel Comics he went so far as to call the costumed teen sidekick "a cloying, simpy extension of the hero's personality."  

Stan deemed it irresponsible for adult super-heroes to take costumed kids into battle with them; he thought they had no business putting youngsters in danger and expecting them to battle murderous villains.  No wonder that when Stan and Jack Kirby revived Captain America in The Avengers #4 they killed off Bucky in the backstory, and for years Marvel confined the character to period stories, flashbacks, and time travel stories.  (That tradition has in recent years Soldiered through its last Winter, I'm sorry to say.)  I shudder to think what might have happened if Stan had been writing DC Comics back in the day.  I have this mental image of the Justice League of America weeping over the graves of the early Teen Titans.  Fare thee well, Robin, Kid Flash, Speedy, Aqualad, and Wonder Girl!

But still, the idea of super-heroes with youthful proteges is with us.  It's something we associate with DC a bit more than Marvel.  And it's something especially beloved of gays who read comics.  The reasons why are not hard to understand when you consider that the teen years are the usual coming-out time for young gays, and that this period of life exerts an especially powerful hold on the gay imagination.  So in building the universe of Quantum Comics I wanted to try my hand at having at least one teen sidekick.  I created him for the World Champion.  You remember him, I'm sure, from an earlier post:



Well, the Champ has a sidekick who, in the best tradition of gay comic-book-fan wish fulfillment, is rather more than a sidekick.  After a lot of tinkering with both the character and his look, here's how he came out, so to speak.  Introducing...the All-Star!  TA-DAA...!



Josh Beatty is one of those unfortunate gay youths who encounter hatred, hostility, rejection, and threats of violence where they should never have to deal with them:  in his very home!  When he overhears his own father, a construction foreman, telling Eric's mother that if he ever learned that one of his children was a homosexual, he would thrash that child within an inch of his life--or more--and toss him out like the garbage.  Newly Out but shocked, heartbroken, and fearing for his very life from own father, Josh waited for his chance to escape from a home where he would never feel safe again.  He ran away and never looked back, living in shelters for gay youth until at last finding a haven with an advocacy group that worked with teenage gays and lesbians thrown out by their families for being who they are.  With their help, Josh became an Emancipated Minor and got job training, and when he was old enough he finally got a position as a barista at a gay fitness club in West Hollywood. It was here he met and was instantly in awe of Olympic Gold Medal gymnast Travis Roykirk--just in time for Earth to be invaded by the Ardemian Rief Clan, the event that resulted in the origin of the Environauts!  It was during this upheaval that Travis used the Samson-Vega Patch on himself and became a near-superhuman to help defend Earth.



After the crisis was over and Earth was saved from the invasion, Josh and Travis met up again and Josh learned that his idol/crush was moving on to get re-trained in combat skills with his newly enhanced body.  Fearing he would never see Travis again, Josh begged the hero/athlete to take him along and let him be trained as well.  He wanted Travis to be his mentor--and more.  Travis found he didn't want to say goodbye to the young boy who so admired and so obviously wanted him, so he accepted.  So, as Travis returned to his own mentors for the battle training that would make him the costumed World Champion, Josh accompanied him and was groomed to be the Champ's partner in life and more.  And this, then, was the origin of the boy the world would come to know as the All-Star.  



Next in Quantum Comics Blog:  A little something I'm whipping up in answer to a fan's request.  And as the spring and summer roll on:  More of The Adventures of Lucky Vega!



Friday, March 28, 2014

DRAGON WITH A MANE

While we're looking forward to more of The Adventures of Lucky Vega, I have a number of other things for your entertainment.  Remember a while back when I did a quick pencil sketch of Draco Rex, King of Dragons, with longer hair?  I decided to take that idea back to the old sketchbook recently, and do it up more comprehensively and put color to it.  (And take the mousse out of the hair!)  What do you think about this?



Saturday, March 15, 2014

FRIEND OF THE DRAGON


While we're awaiting the continued Adventures of Lucky Vega, I have a few other things to show you. To start: Here's a brand-new character that I whipped up as a companion for the mightiest warrior in all space and time, Draco Rex. This reptilian rapscallion is called Baslysk, and he is actually a replacement for another character. Therein lies a bit of a story, as always.

Draco Rex was originally conceived--or originally willed himself into existence--as a supporting character for the Environauts. The strength and presence of the character made it clear that Draco would never be content to be anyone's supporting player; he was a star and nothing less. So I undertook to flesh out his background and where he came from, and as I did so one more thing that occurred to me is that as a mythic hero he was going to need a faithful companion. Every great, conquering hero of the mythic type needs a loyal and trusted fellow traveler, someone who always has his back. In the comic books mighty Thor had Balder (who is conspicuously absent from those movies). Orion of The New Gods had his pal Lightray. The TV Hercules went about his legendary journeys with a sidekick named Iolaus. A character to tag along with the deathless Draco seemed like a good idea.
My first notion for Draco's companion was a character I called Loren Python. As personalities go, Python would be most distinctly different from the mighty King of Dragons. He was a wrestler by vocation, with the power to lunge, strike, and pin an opponent with the speed and strength of the snake for whom he's named, and the ability to tap people's nervous systems with a touch, inducing unbearable pain or euphoric pleasure at will. Python preferred to use the "pleasure" side of his powers, and he loved best to use it on...women! In the matriarchal society of Varonia where Draco comes from, Python--who, being a Quantum Comics hero, was excruciatingly beautiful--was every woman's favorite stud, and he loved nothing better than to serve them. He never slept alone and frequented more than one bed in a day. When he wasn't wrestling, or traveling and adventuring with his best mate, Prince Declan Draco, he could be found servicing some maiden or maidens of the realm. Python made Sam Malone look like Sheldon Cooper.
I opted not to use Python eventually, not because he was a bad character--in fact he was a very clever, fun character--and not because he was so egregiously heterosexual, but because he was also too much of a character for a supporting role. He was a lead character in a supporting player's skin, as Draco himself had started out. I decided at length to put Python away and find some other use for him, perhaps try him out as a gay character on his own at some point. Meanwhile, that left Draco without a faithful companion. What to do, what to do?
The answer came from somewhere else in the reptile family. The Basilisk lizard of South America is a relative of the Iguanas. Basilisks have a distinctively look, with prominent, fin-like crests on their heads and backs. They are among the fastest of the reptiles, so fast that they are famous for running across ponds on their hind legs to escape predators. This knack for running on water is said to be why Basilisks are called "Jesus Lizards". Where that actually comes from is that the first time a white man saw a Basilisk do that, he hollered, "JEE-sus!" and the name stuck. I didn't have a super-speed character in the Quantum Comics universe, and modeling one after the Basilisk seemed a wholly unique way to bring one in. So I sat myself down and designed a reptile-inspired speedster with scales and a crest on his back and one of the prettiest costumes I think I've ever come up with, and there he was.

Baslysk, one of the noblest warriors in the realm of Varonia, was honored with a bath in the mutagenic Dragonblood, from which he emerged with dorsal scales and a dorsal crest--and the power to move faster than the eye can follow. He can run across large bodies of water and up and down the sides of buildings. Blink and you'll miss him--but if you're his foe or the enemy of his realm, he won't miss you. He's a messenger and explorer by trade, and a chrononaut (time traveler) at the side of the Prince when called upon. Unlike the pulchritudinous Python, Baslysk is very much a man's man, honoring women as all men under the rule of Queen Tiamat must, but not bedding them. He's for men only. That's the one boundary he doesn't skirt (pardon the expression). If you ever chance to see a green and black blur out of the corner of your eye, relax; that's just the blazing Baslysk en route to perform some deed of bravery like the large-living lizard guy that he is.


Friday, January 31, 2014

SUDDENLY HE REMEMBERS...

This is the last of the Adventures of Lucky Vega strips that I have completed for the time being.  But a great many more are waiting in the thumbnail-sketch stage to be penciled, inked, and lettered for your entertainment in the weeks and months to come; we're nowhere near finished!  And you can rest assured that Quantum Comics Blog will not just be coasting until the strip resumes; I have some other goodies to show you in the weeks ahead.

Meanwhile, we leave off with Trey Blaisdell remembering what he's supposed to be doing this morning, which has nothing to do with the young waitress that he picked up last night, in whose apartment he's just woken up!  As Trey hurriedly tosses on his clothing (for now) and speeds out of the apartment, he leaves behind a girl that neither he nor we will ever see again and--though he can't know this now--speeds away to a future of wonderment and adventure such as he's never imagined!  We'll all be sharing in that wonderment soon, so keep coming back for more.





Saturday, January 25, 2014

ENTER TREY

We take our leave of Lucky himself just for a moment to have a look at what's going on in a little apartment in North Hollywood where another member of our cast is just waking up.  Roger's big brother, Warren Blaisdell III, commonly called just Trey, has not had an easy time in his young life.  He is what people used to call "a wayward youth".  Make that VERY wayward.  He wants to do better than he's done so far, but as we're about to see in our next strip, his wayward impulses still get the better of him.  In The Environauts, when Trey acquires his super-powers, he'll be called Cirrus. You'll also note that his wayward impulses are decidedly heterosexual ones.  For our gay visitors, take heart:  The Adventures of Lucky Vega will have gay characters and gay material as we roll along.  We now just happen to be introducing a very straight boy.  Keep an eye on Trey as our story unfolds.  As you'll also see, he's more than worth keeping an eye on.



Friday, January 17, 2014

OTHER BUSINESS FOR DR. VEGA

We're about to switch scenes in this first Adventure of Lucky Vega.  In this strip we set up a scene transition away from Lucky and company for a moment--just long enough to introduce another character in our cast.  It seems Lucky's pal Roger has a big brother who's been set up for a job interview with Esteban, and Dr. Vega turns his attention at least for a moment away from the mind-boggling mystery of the cybernetic attacks to the potential newest member of his payroll.  We get our first inkling here of whom we're about to meet in our next strip.  Stay tuned, as they say...