Thunder Enlightening, and a Big Bang

Thunder Girl Adventures #16What you’re see­ing here is actu­ally a draw­ing gen­er­ated some years ago for Big Bang Comics. It was a fake old comic cover, done for one of the His­tory issues we put together. Those issues con­cocted a whole fic­ti­tious back his­tory of Big Bang as a comics pub­lisher (bor­row­ing their for­mat from the two com­pleted vol­umes of The Ster­anko His­tory of Comics). I didn’t ink this image; if mem­ory serves, the inks were by Jeff Meyer, who also inked my work on a num­ber of other projects around that time.

The color on this is new, though (which is why you’re see­ing it here). I was recently con­tacted by Big Bang head hon­chos Gary Carl­son and Chris Ecker, asked if I’d be game to finally add color to this cover. They’ve recently part­nered with a com­pany named Pulp 2.0 Press to bring back some of the Big Bang prop­er­ties, and look at new ways of get­ting them out there. I under­stand this image might even­tu­ally end up on prod­ucts like t-shirts, cof­fee mugs, etc. Which would be a very cool thing to see!

So this gives me the chance to talk about a cou­ple other things, while this image is up. I believe I’ve men­tioned my Big Bang asso­ci­a­tion before, but haven’t got­ten into much detail about it. Though I didn’t entirely get in on the ground floor, I came in pretty close to it. Gary and Chris hadn’t yet pub­lished their first few issues through Cal­iber, but were begin­ning to assem­ble the con­tents when I was intro­duced to Gary at Comic Con. This meet­ing came about because writer Nat Gertler and I had done a one-shot for Par­ody Press/Entity Comics called Mis­ter U.S.: 50 For­got­ten Years (This later came out as Big Bang Comics #8). PP/EC tried to solicit for it twice. Unfor­tu­nately, the num­bers weren’t there. But Pub­lisher Don Chin thought there was some­thing there that might be of inter­est to Gary for what he and Chris were work­ing on, so Don made the introduction.

Gary and I hit it off right away. I was first brought in just to help design and draw a Simon/Kirby-ish char­ac­ter they’d had an idea for, called the Badge. But they dis­cov­ered that I could also help with cre­at­ing logos, as well as design­ing a slew of other char­ac­ters and doing occa­sional color work. I didn’t just get to draw like Simon and Kirby, but other artists too, along the way. Plus I even had the oppor­tu­nity to help out with sto­ry­line con­tri­bu­tions. It was a blast, and exactly the sort of thing you hope to get to do when you dream of doing comics as a kid. So, thanks, Gary and Chris!

And while I’m here, this is an oppor­tu­nity for me to say some­thing about Thun­der Girl and Bill Fugate. Thun­der Girl was sort of Big Bang’s nod to Fawcett’s Cap­tain Mar­vel. And Bill Fugate was the per­fect artist to bring her to life and draw her sto­ries. With­out Bill’s involve­ment from the begin­ning, she would not have been the same. Bill’s draw­ings just had “fun” com­ing out of every line on the page. His work was car­toon­ing of the high­est order, in the best pos­si­ble sense. I hon­estly think C.C. Beck would’ve liked Bill’s work a great deal. When­ever Bill man­aged to get a new Thun­der Girl story com­pleted for pub­li­ca­tion, it was an occa­sion. Heck, any time Bill pro­duced any comics work, you knew you were in for a real treat!

I admired many of my fel­low Big Bang con­trib­u­tors for their tal­ents and skills. With Bill, I con­sid­ered myself an out­right fan. I never had the chance to meet him or exchange emails, tell him how much I truly loved his work. Unfor­tu­nately, Bill passed away (much too soon!) back in Feb­ru­ary this year. He was not as well known a name in comics as I think he should’ve been. As I’ve told some peo­ple already: in another world, some very smart pub­lisher would’ve paid Bill big bucks to cre­ate any comics he wanted to draw. And those comics would’ve sold in really huge numbers.

R.I.P., Bill. You are most def­i­nitely missed.

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13 Responses to Thunder Enlightening, and a Big Bang

  1. Gian Luigi Bona says:

    I loved very much Big Bang Comics, I hope to see new mate­r­ial and reprints soon

    • Mark says:

      Thanks for stop­ping by, Gian Luigi.
      Speak­ing not as a con­trib­u­tor, but as a fan, I too would like to see more Big Bang mate­r­ial. Per­haps we should keep an eye on Pulp 2.0 Press for that.

  2. John G. Pierce says:

    I, too, was a big fan of Big Bang. I loved their var­i­ous pas­tiches (which some peo­ple mis­tak­enly called “par­o­dies”). And Thun­der Girl was eas­ily my favorite. One aspect which made her unique was that she had no male coun­ter­part, so she could stand more as her own char­ac­ter, rather than being the distaff ver­sion of some already-existing male fig­ure. Her sto­ries, what few there were, were quite clever, eas­ily the equal or even supe­rior of many of Mary Marvel’s Golden Age tales. Bill’s art gave us a glimpse of what Mary might have been like had Beck drawn any of her solo tales. All in all, a great char­ac­ter. I would love to see her image on some prod­uct or another.

  3. John G. Pierce says:

    And, Mark, I need to give you credit for a clever title, one wor­thy of being ranked up there with Roy Thomas’s “One Man’s Fam­ily” (way back in the orig­i­nal Alter Ego #7) and Jim Steranko’s “Light­ning Strikes Twice, or Play it Again, Shazam.”

    • Mark says:

      Thanks! That’s very high praise, to be put in such com­pany!
      I guess this is one of those “where do you get your ideas from?” kind of things. When I sat down to write the post and had to think of a title, this play on the phrase “thun­der and light­ning” just popped into my head, and I knew I wasn’t going to come up with any­thing better.

  4. Connie Fugate says:

    As Bill’s “lit­tle” sis­ter, you can’t know how much it cheers me to see your kind thoughts about my brother. In a per­fect world, he would have been a house­hold name. Alas, that was not meant to be, but it is good to know how many peo­ple truly appre­ci­ated what a gifted artist he was. I miss him des­per­ately, and thank you for remem­ber­ing him.

    • Mark says:

      Con­nie,
      My con­do­lences for your loss. Thanks very much for stop­ping by!
      Bill always made it all look so effort­less and alive on the page. Like I said above, I con­sid­ered myself a fan! I greatly regret the fact I never had the oppor­tu­nity to tell Bill per­son­ally just how great I thought his work was. For awhile now, I’d been try­ing to think of an appro­pri­ate way to do some­thing about that here. When this cover came up, I real­ized this was the time.

  5. Hi Mark. Another great piece (I have to go back and com­ment on your ear­lier Blogs because I find them so interesting)

    Of course, this one just makes me miss Big Bang. I enjoyed every issue and all the spin-off mate­r­ial. I hope that they can find a way to do trade col­lec­tions of the lot. These deserve the book treat­ment. I must admit my all time favorite BB book is your multi-styled Mr. US issue. I hope he solved that instep problem!

    • Mark says:

      :) Thanks for stop­ping by, Lance!
      There actu­ally was one trade paper­back col­lec­tion that came out through Image some years back, under the title Your Big Book of Big Bang Comics. But mostly it just reprinted the mate­r­ial that had pre­vi­ously been pub­lished through Caliber.

  6. Gene says:

    Big Bang was one of my very favorite titles back when it was being pub­lished, and not much has come along since to dis­lodge it from my top comic book affections.

    • Mark says:

      I’m glad you liked those books, Gene. I think I can prob­a­bly speak for almost the whole Big Bang crew when I say that there was a lot of love put into those comics.

  7. Don Chin says:

    Hi Mark! It’s so good to see you online…it’s been too long. Chris Ecker tagged me on this arti­cle of yours from his Face­book page. What are you up to these days? Still keep in touch with Lyle?

    Merry Christ­mas, Too!

    Don

    P.S. Laura says hello! :)

    • Mark says:

      Don,
      Wow! It’s great to hear from you! It has been awhile!
      You’ve solved a mys­tery for me; I was won­der­ing why I was sud­denly get­ting this uptick of activ­ity on this post com­ing in from the Book of Faces. Thanks for stop­ping by! As to the rest, I think it’s bet­ter we con­tinue this via email.

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