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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