Weird Colors

It was recent­ly point­ed out to me that in Sav­age Drag­on #235, Erik Larsen had reprint­ed a bit of my old Big Bang Comics work. This was orig­i­nal­ly part of a larg­er sto­ry­line (I believe called “The Time­bomber”) spread over three issues, where Erik had loaned Big Bang Edi­tor Gary Carl­son the use of his Sav­age Drag­on char­ac­ter, and Drag­on was being bounced around through time, inter­act­ing with mul­ti­ple Big Bang char­ac­ters in dif­fer­ent eras. 

Gary had me con­tribut­ing to this sto­ry in sev­er­al ways, but the one that’s rel­e­vant here is that I pen­ciled and let­tered a three page seg­ment (nice­ly inked by Patrick Tuller), where Drag­on met up with Big Bang’s Dr. Weird. It orig­i­nal­ly appeared in Big Bang Comics #12. I chose to draw it in the style of Gold­en Age comics artist Bernard Bai­ly, prob­a­bly best known for his work on DC’s Spec­tre and Hour-Man strips. I also attempt­ed to match the let­ter­ing seen on those strips, which I’d assume is Bai­ly’s, but I don’t know for cer­tain.

Back when I was orig­i­nal­ly work­ing on this, there were hopes that the issue might be print­ed in col­or, but it end­ed up in b/w. Because there had been that chance though, I actu­al­ly had done some col­or guides for the seg­ment, and I think I mailed col­or pho­to­copies of them to Gary.

Fast for­ward to this three-pager’s appear­ance in Sav­age Drag­on #235: Final­ly it gets to be seen in col­or! Even if any­one had remem­bered their exis­tence, the copies of my orig­i­nal col­or guides were like­ly nowhere to be found, so this was recol­ored from scratch. I thought per­haps vis­i­tors here might enjoy com­par­ing the two ver­sions, see­ing where some choic­es are the same, and oth­ers are dif­fer­ent.

Just a cou­ple of comments/observations about the new ver­sion. I appre­ci­ate the fact that the col­orist who did this for re-pub­li­ca­tion stuck with the old school col­or palette. When you’re try­ing to do some­thing that looks and feels like a gen­uine old com­ic, noth­ing ruins the illu­sion faster than a col­or approach that isn’t from that time peri­od!

Also, I noticed that a sort of end­ing cap­tion was added at the end of page 3 that was­n’t part of the orig­i­nal. Who­ev­er did it either recy­cled por­tions of the let­ter­ing I had done ear­li­er in the sto­ry to get what they need­ed, or attempt­ed to let­ter it from scratch so that it looked like my faux Bernard Bai­ly let­ter­ing. Either way: again, try­ing to pre­serve the illu­sion that this was the real deal. So: thumbs up for all of that!

 

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4 Responses to Weird Colors

  1. John G. Pierce says:

    Mark, it is great to see this again, and espe­cial­ly in col­or. And it was clever of you to imi­tate the style of let­ter­ing (whether by Bai­ly or not) of the old Spec­tre sto­ries. How­ev­er, as some­one who knew Howard Kelt­ner, Dr. Weird’s cre­ator, via cor­re­spon­dence, I feel con­strained to men­tion that Dr. Weird was NOT based on the Spec­tre, at least not direct­ly. Howard was a great fan of the MLJ line, and his favorite char­ac­ter was Mr. Jus­tice. Now, in all like­li­hood, Mr. Jus­tice was in turned based on the Spec­tre, so in essence your take on the let­ter­ing makes sense. I don’t recall ever hav­ing seen any of the orig­i­nal Mr. J. tales, so who knows what style of let­ter­ing they used?

    • Mark says:

      As you point out, Dr. Weird was a pre-exist­ing char­ac­ter who was added to the Big Bang uni­verse. I believe Gary Carl­son actu­al­ly pur­chased the rights direct­ly from Howard Kelt­ner, and that when­ev­er Dr. Weird appeared, they tried to make sure there was a cap­tion acknowl­edg­ing that the char­ac­ter was Kelt­ner’s cre­ation.

      I can’t speak to what Kelt­ner’s source of inspi­ra­tion was, but in the con­text of Big Bang Comics and the Gold­en Age, Dr. Weird seemed to nat­u­ral­ly fit into a role sim­i­lar to that of DC’s Spec­tre. Hence my going with Bernard Bai­ly’s style, for both the art and the let­ter­ing. It’s all about what the mate­r­i­al seems to call for. If this had been writ­ten as more of a ’60s tale, for exam­ple, I most like­ly would have attempt­ed a Ditko-esque style instead.

      Big Bang was always about try­ing to invoke a sense of deja vu famil­iar­i­ty, that feel­ing of “comics his­to­ry through a fun­house mir­ror,” rather than just being exact dupli­cates of what­ev­er arche­types the char­ac­ters were con­struct­ed on. The dif­fer­ences between the Big Bang char­ac­ters and their arche­types were just as impor­tant (if not more so) than the sim­i­lar­i­ties.

  2. Craig says:

    Great job on the art! I enjoyed see­ing the sto­ry in col­or and own and enjoy all of the orig­i­nal Big Bang comics. The col­orist was Adam Pruett. He col­ors a lot of the Sav­age Drag­on back­up mate­r­i­al. https://comicvine.gamespot.com/adam-o-pruett/4040–66393/

    • Mark says:

      I’m glad you liked this, Craig! Big Bang was a whole lot of fun to be a part of. It felt like some­thing spe­cial while we were doing it.

      And thanks for the clar­i­fi­ca­tion on the col­orist. I appre­ci­ate that Adam Pruett fol­lowed through with the intent of the art­work by stick­ing to the “old school” palette. Like I said, noth­ing can ruin a thing like this faster than a col­orist who does­n’t play along!

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