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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