Saturday, June 30, 2012


We all know that characters in comics can do things that people in Life as We Know It cannot.  But that isn’t limited to characters with super-powers.  For instance, suppose you are a character in comics and you are a man in your 50s who’s led an unhappy, unfulfilled life in which you’ve never had the love of your dreams.  In fact, what if you met and worked with the man who was everything you wanted, but he was exactly the type who never wanted you and was a heterosexual besides?  And suppose this man died, leaving you in grief for what could never have been.  If you were such a character and you also happened to be an expert in robotics and artificial intelligence...perhaps, just perhaps, you would set out to design, build, and program the man of your dreams and make him everything you ever wanted, created to love you!  In The Adventures of Lucky Vega that’s exactly what a man named Professor William Favor did.  The result of his work to create the love for which he’d hungered all his life was an android named Tycho!

Tycho is an android, programmed to be Professor Favor’s companion, servant, and committed lover.  He is a fully sentient, artificially intelligent being.  He even has free will; he is actually capable of breaking up with Professor Favor and leaving him!  But he doesn’t--because in the way of so many sentient beings for as long as sentient beings have existed, he adores, worships, and is devoted to his creator!  In a twist that some characters (such as Lucky himself) find bizarre and disturbing, Tycho never even calls William Favor by his first name; he is given to addressing and referring to his creator as “The Professor” or “Sir” in spite of the intimate (to say the least) nature of their relationship!  And Tycho is even equipped to defend himself and his master from danger; he is superhumanly strong and possesses electrical and magnetic powers. 

To make things even more intriguing, though the man in whose perfect likeness Tycho was made is dead, the lover android is the exact image of one who is very much alive.  David Strayhorn, the man Professor Favor loved, was part of Dr. Esteban Vega’s space initiative, working both to perfect humanity for life in space and perfect man’s ability to travel to the stars.  David Strayhorn died in a test of an experimental space-warp engine.  But Strayhorn’s look-alike son, Jeff, is still with us, just as heterosexual as his late Dad--and sleeping with Paloma Reyes, Dr. Vega’s head of security and Lucky’s fitness and self-defense instructor.  Suffice it to say that when Paloma first gets a look at Tycho she is in for a very embarrassing surprise when she thinks the artificial being is her favorite bedmate!  And from there, things keep getting interesting...

Dr. Franken Furter, eat your heart out!

Thursday, June 21, 2012


"He is the Champion, my friend.  And he'll go on fighting to the end..."

With the 2012 Olympics just a little more than a month away, what could be more fitting than a hero who was an Olympian?  Ladies and gentlemen, it's the one-and-only World Champion!

Travis Roykirk is a character I've had for many years who has existed in different forms, but he has always been a gymnast with an Olympic Gold Medalist background.  Men's Gymnastics is one of the few sports that I will actually take time to sit and watch on TV, and I look forward to seeing it in every Summer Olympics.  I think of male gymnasts as not just superb athletes but beautiful artists, and I like their sport not for its competitiveness but its grace and beauty and its expression of personal, physical excellence.  (Of course that doesn't stop me rooting for the Americans; I am a little competitive.)  

In his last iteration before this one, the openly gay and proud World Champion was an Australian clad in a gymnast's outfit in the colors of the Olympic flag (blue, yellow, black, green, red, white).  As I thought about him I realized that my heroic cast was lacking one primal archetype:  the all-American, flag-wearing hero in red, white, and blue.  This was my motivation for changing his origin to make him an American and for re-doing his costume to its present design.  Travis, prior to becoming the World Champion, appears in The Adventures of Lucky Vega as a gymnastics champion and a hardbody Martial Arts competitor specializing in Tae Kwon Do and the Bo staff.  Hardbody training transforms bone, causing it to lay down more tribeculae (calcium structures) after being traumatized.  In this manner bones grow denser, harder, more durable.  Ancient martial artists rendered their bones denser by striking sand, stone, and iron.  I picked all this up from an episode of a program called Fight Science on National Geographic Channel featuring an Australian fighter named Bren Foster who is one of the most spectacularly beautiful specimens of manhood you will ever see.  He went on to star as Quinn in the daytime soap Days of Our Lives!  

Watching Bren and learning about hardbody training, I naturally began to spin the whole idea into concepts for my work; I had been looking for details to use in the origin of the World Champion and this was a natural.  It sets up things that happen to Travis after his Olympic Gold Medal wins, when he becomes the chosen protege and surrogate son of a man named Jack Samson who is the world's leading exercise and fitness mogul (and the father of a brave young gay lad who died standing up to bashers).  It is because of his closeness with Samson that Travis becomes the recipient of the Samson-Vega Patch, a super-body-enhancing skin patch created as part of a project to prepare humans for life in space.  Wearing the Patch takes Travis from physically superb to nearly superhuman and is a critical step in his odyssey to become one of the leaders of the world's emerging super-heroes.

Wearing the red, white, and blue with pride, Travis Roykirk is truly the Champion of the World!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


I often think about questions of identity and self-image.

For instance:  Some people think the desire for physical beauty is shallow and superficial.  Is it really?  And some people I've known have seemed to believe that everyone else in the world is "pretentious," or that any attempt to distinguish yourself in the world or to stand out from other people is just a neurotic bid for attention or merely a pose.  But is that actually so?  Can there be nothing sincere about it?  Not according to some people.  To some, personal distinction is not a legitimate concern.  You have no business believing you are, or wanting to be, any more special than anyone else, regardless of your mind or your gifts or anything you may have to offer.  Anyone who wants to be anything more than another sheep in the flock or another brick in the wall (apologies to Pink Floyd) is pretentious.

And who are we, really?  Are we the selves that we present to the world?  Or are our real selves, our truest and most legitimate selves, the people that we are inside?  I tend to think it's the latter.  The real "you" is the "you" of your dreams.  Much of the business of living is, or I think should be, the attempt to peel away the falsehoods of the people we are in common life and expose the real self within; or to turn ourselves inside out and release the people we carry around inside us.  That's why we go to the gym and go on diets and patronize plastic surgeons and follow the latest fashions.  I'm sure it's also one of the motivations for going to school (or going back to school), for taking classes and pursuing degrees and keeping ourselves in growth.  Part of it, a very significant part, is the quest to transform the self.  Remember what Yoda once said to Luke Skywalker:  "Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter!"  

And that's the way I see super-heroes.  The super-hero is a metaphor for our dream selves.  He is an ordinary person turned inside out.  He's the person who has reached inside and woken up the "luminous being" sleeping within him.  In his physical beauty, in his superhuman powers, he is the human who has shed the shell of the mundane and become who he really is.  And that's one of the reasons we've always loved super-heroes.

The character of the Quantum is based on this theme.  I originally called him Wonder Boy and he originally had a different costume.  I renamed and made him over because in Wonder Woman in DC Comics there was once a teenage character to whom the Amazons gave the honorary title of Wonder Boy, and on seeing this I thought at once, Now all DC has to do is trick out this kid with powers and a costume and have him recruited by the Teen Titans or Young Justice, and I'm going to have to scramble for a new name.  So I decided to be proactive about it.  And besides, having a hero called the Quantum in a brand called Quantum Comics makes the same kind of sense as Marvel Comics hanging onto the name Captain Marvel (and creating a succession of characters to keep the trademark in play, forcing DC to call any comic book starring the original Captain Marvel "SHAZAM!")  

The Quantum is a character that I created to address issues of identity and self-image.  What you're seeing is one character with two distinct physical forms, one of them super-powered.  Corey Lonigan is a college student majoring in computer game design.  He is handsome but not the athletic "jock" type and frequently feels invisible in the presence of such boys as well as attractive girls.  But he acquires a power that complicates the "game" of his life quite a bit.  Corey is a metamorph with the power to become...well, the taller, even handsomer, wondrously muscled figure you see in the costume here.  And in this other form, Corey is not only super-strong and invulnerable; he can fly and can assimilate, process, and shoot energy from any source.  Corey takes to calling his other physical self "The Quantum" and embarks on a secret life as a super-hero who gets the kind of attention and respect that at times eludes him in his original form.  But because he's a smart boy, it all makes him wonder what it is that people really see in him when he's "that way," and whether it's all for real and whether it's all really worth it, and whether the Quantum could ever have what people think of as "a real life."  He even wonders whether the nature of his transformation might be a message he's unconsciously trying to tell himself.  Does the Quantum being that kind of specimen mean that Corey is gay and trying to come out?  Yes, in the Quantum we have a super-hero who is a questioning heterosexual!

Corey Lonigan/the Quantum, more than any other costumed champion, is a character who questions himself and everyone and everything else--because when you're one boy who is two boys, you have to assume that nothing in yourself or the world around you may really be what it seems!

Friday, June 8, 2012


I don't know how I managed it, but somehow I actually forgot to create a new post for this week!  Well, let's make up for that straight away, shall we?

Before you stands the simplest, yet perhaps the most complex, of all Quantum heroes:  WILD JON!  He's a character who will be introduced in one of The Adventures of Lucky Vega, but there's enough to him for adventures of his own to go on forever.  Wild Jon is an example of how I sometimes don't draw inspiration necessarily from comics but from media and entertainment outside of comics.  The inspirations for this character actually come from the movies--in particular certain Walt Disney movies and, if you can believe it, the musical Across the Universe!

Jon actually dates back to a series of illustrations that I created, that I sold on eBay:  Jungle Jon, Prince of the Wild.  After I saw the movies Across the Universe and Enchanted I was so touched and moved by them that I wondered if I could capture some of the feelings that I got from them in super-hero form.  Across the Universe, if you'll recall, was a musical incorporating Beatles songs, telling the story of a boy named Jude who came from Liverpool, England (natch) to find his natural father in America, and in the process found true love and the social turbulence of America in the 60s.  What touched me was the purity and simplicity of Jude's spirit.  All he really wanted was love.  He wasn't a screwed-up, neurotic character; he was a boy with very pure motives.  No one has greater trouble in this world than people with pure motives, a fact well illustrated in the story of young Jude.  (And with great music to boot!)  

Enchanted, the long overdue self-parody of the Walt Disney company, was another story of a character with pure motives, and one that shrewdly tore down and rebuilt everything that people have ever loved about Disney movies.  It was also one of the very essence of Disney-style romance, and I especially admired how they made Manhattan seem like a magical storybook kingdom.  I tried to take that feeling on board for my own creation, as well as using elements of other Disney flicks such as the Disney Tarzan (obviously) and Bambi.  All of that went into the mix of creating Wild Jon.

Our young hero, Jon Wilde, is more than he appears to be.  He is in fact the Prince of a race of human/animal shape-changers from an alternate, perhaps future, Earth that is modeled after those shows you may have seen on cable TV that imagine what Earth would be like if all the humans disappeared.  His father is a wealthy Englishman who traveled to that world by means I won't reveal (because it's one of my cleverest ideas!) and became the consort of a wolf/human Princess, giving her a son, Prince Jon.  Unlike the rest of his tribe, Jon is not a shape-changer, but he possesses a unity with the natural world, a range of animal-like powers, and the ability to befriend and command all beasts.  Through other twists I won't tell you (which include the death of Jon's mother in a twist inspired by Bambi), Jon's father brings  him to this world and raises him in what the narration will call "the enchanted kingdom of Manhattan," where he grows up to be the wild but princely boy you see here.  (I imagine the whole thing being narrated in the style of an ongoing bedtime story, complete with "Once upon a time...")  Jon's one true love, whom he recognizes by scent alone, is Tom Tierney, a law student who represents everything that Jon is not:  rational, intellectual, analytical, methodical, orderly.  Tom and the animal-like, instinctive, emotional, spontaneous, wild Jon are total opposites, but theirs is a love of two individuals who complete each other by being what the other lacks.  And basically, there is a purity and innocence of spirit about Jon that the world cannot touch no matter what it does, which melts Tom's skeptical, clinical heart.

There's a lot more to the stories of Wild Jon:  the Museum that his father builds in Manhattan with a penthouse at the top where Jon lives; the evil, jealous Queen Cynbar of the world where Jon comes from, who can become a terrifying harpy; her enforcer, Shaag, who can morph into a murderous Sasquatch Bigfoot with immense strength; the means of travel between the two worlds that I'm still not going to tell you...  I'm still working out a lot of it, but the saga of Wild Jon will be one of the most fascinating parts of Quantum Comics.