August was a month of relaxation, taking a break from work and being constantly connected to the internet. Now fully rested, it feels good to get back to the grind of writing posts with my monthly installation of Adobe Offsetting. For September I thought I would donate to the Digital Comics Museum (DCM) and also give a special shout out to Jon Morris‘ book, The League of Regrettable Superheroes: Half-Baked Heroes from Comic Book History. His book is a delicious companion to any research about the forgotten titles and heroes of the Golden Age of Comics.
Time off/game on
While I was on vacation, I packed a lot of reading for a project I’m working on. My reading materials ranged from chronicled travel in Alaska at the turn of the century to an endless supply of digital comics. For my project, I want to visually tell a story that’s loosely based on my grandfather’s childhood. Instead of tackling an overly ambitious animation, I decided that making a graphic novel might be more approachable for a one-person team.
So for most of August, I immersed myself in researching the locations I want to write about while also gleaning some tips on the art of story telling. Resources like archive.org and the DCM provided a wealth of helpful materials. Compiling a stack of digital books for my Samsung Note Pro made my luggage a few pounds lighter.
For the art, I love the style of storytelling and art in Golden Age Comics. They have just the right amount of art and story for me. The style has a visual simplicity that’s reinforced with blocky colors.
The one physical book I packed for my retreat was Jon Morris’ The League of Regrettable Superheroes. I stumbled upon Jon’s book earlier this summer. It’s a great round up of unlikely heroes—told with a sizable helping of humor and a dash of historical relevance. I found the book not only entertaining, but also invaluable while searching DCM’s archives.
Last year I donated to the DCM. Their mission is to make Golden Age Comics available to the world. Unfortunately, server space is not free and maintenance and upkeep costs money—that’s where donations are crucial.
Try out their site and if you find it helpful, consider sending them a few bucks for support.
Jon Morris was a great sport in answering a few questions about his new book, The League of Regrettable Superheroes. Jon is a cartoonist and graphic designer by trade. He’s spent many years writing about comic characters and plot lines that are less than favorable on his blog, Gone & Forgotten.
What inspired you to create The League of Regrettable Superheroes?
Well, I’ve been writing my blog—Gone&Forgotten—on and off for about fifteen years, and before that I came from a household just stuffed to the rafters with old comics. Both my parents collected comics—my father had taught himself to read English using comic books when he first came over from Germany, which accounted for a lot of the books. Their collection contained a lot of books from the Forties and Fifties, including loads of characters who’d never really made a splash with the readers the first time around. I thought it’d be nice to see these lesser-known characters get some attention and celebration.
Have you always been rooting for the underdogs?
Basically. There’s something really appealing about near-misses and almost-weres, more so than the most popular characters. I’d never really been into Batman, Spider-Man or The Hulk (I have to admit to being a big Superman fan, though), but my favorite characters growing up included Metamorpho, Black Lightning, Power Man, Plastic Man—the lesser lights of the comic book firmament.
I can remember playing superhero with my friends in first or second grade, and while they were playing Captain America and the Hulk, I insisted on playing Ragman…
The history of comics is beautifully woven in between each forgotten superhero you discuss. What is the funniest or most interesting thing you learned while researching the book?
Well, I had never heard of Mother Hubbard before doing the research for the book, and she turned out to be the most insane and terrifying character I’d ever seen in comics. A legitimate witch, she (naturally) fought Nazis but also fought eye-stealing elves and baby-eating ogres. It’s genuinely alarming stuff!
I was also really humbled to see how often the names of Joe Simon and Otto Binder kept popping up. I’d always known them as the creators of some significant characters, and I’d idly known Simon for co-creating some of my favorite weirdo characters (Prez, Brother Power, the Green Team, et al), but looking at the length of their careers and the sheer number of ideas they brought to comics was really impressive.
As an artist, what value do sites like digitalcomicmuseum.com and comicbookplus.com offer?
They’re both invaluable, I absolutely wouldn’t have been able to do half the research needed for the Golden Age section if it weren’t for those resources. Plus, they’re just plain fun—I’ve started reading the Crimebuster stories from BOY Comics and they’re some of the best superhero comics I’ve read from that era.
Do you think you might have another book of unsung heroes in you?
I sure hope so—the original list of contenders was more than a thousand characters, so heaven knows there’s plenty to fill another book!
As part of my monthly contribution, I am also a subscribing member of the Blender Cloud with a reoccurring monthly donation. If you are first learning Blender, this site is a wonderful resource of videos for learning modeling and animation techniques. They also have access to all the art and assets from their upcoming open-source animation, Cosmos Laundromat.