Ever since last week’s podcast, in which we introduced one of our new panelists, JA Scott, there’s been some buzz around some comments made about a comic book series that was done by JA and myself back in the mid 90s while we were still in high school.
As someone who frequently makes his opinions known about the comic book art form, some have commented that it’s much easier to offer critiques on other’s work than actually do the work itself. Rightfully so given I feel there are about 5 comic book podcasts to every 1 comic book series actually created, but I digress.
The point is although we weren’t successful at all with our attempt, JA and I did still make an effort on multiple occasions to put our money where are mouth was and offer up our own work to the comic book community.
Our most successful go at this was with our Adventures of Mind Man series we did in 1994-1995 at the tender ages of 15 and 16 respectfully. Copying what we still believe is one of the most successful ways to produce a comic in “The Marvel Method”, I was the script writer while JA was the artist. We did several issues of this book, and I’ve decided in today’s blog to share some key pages out of issue #6 because I thought they showcased our style well.
The Adventures of Mind Man was the last comic book my cousin and I attempted to make ourselves before ditching the printed medium altogether and instead focusing solely on making movies and TV type programs. This was mainly due to JA being somewhat terrible at meeting any sort of deadline for his art, so from my perspective it was pointless to write scripts that would never see the light of day and I moved on to video as a way to better way to visualize my ideas without having to work with things beyond my control. In fact, issue #6 was the very last book we ever did together and it is actually unfinished with only about half of the pages drawn, and the most of the lettering never completed.
Mind Man was an interesting concept in of itself. Being fans of both science fiction comics and the traditional capes books, my cousin and I decided to merge those two things together into a kind of cosmic Kirbyesque fever dream with hints of Flash Gordon and the X-men.
Not much is known about the Mind Man when he’s first introduced in the series. As someone that hates to this day origin stories, I again picked up my story right in the middle, with this strange futuristic type guy crash landing off the coast of New York in a patchwork spherical spaceship called “the Centrosphere”. He’s fished out of the drink by a shadowy organization called Department D who quarantines the area. They take the unconscious hero to some underground base to run tests which are overseen by this burnt out hippy scientist named Dr. Roben, and his younger fellow scientist, Dr. Kate Buzzborn. Although Mind man can’t remember who is or why he’s here, he does possess extraordinary mental powers, and a whole mess of strange alien artifacts in a uncanny vest all of which are in a shrunken state until they are taken out.
After it’s determined that Department D has ill intent for Mind Man and his abilities, Dr. Robin and Kate help Mind Man to escape and make his way back to his ship. Along the way, they battle a giant mutant octopus, get transported into the future for a bit where they find huge “mech” like robots battling endless wars controlled by mentally powered overlords , and have an unfortunate run in with the dreaded Zombie Criminal Syndicate, a mess of undead gangsters that didn’t like Mind Man trying to muscle in on their turf. Oh and there’s this kooky martial arts master named Raymond Mondray who shows up for a bit to crack some skulls and it turns out Mind Man has a robotic sidekick named “Ron” who was looking for his buddy since they removed him from the ship….and…and… Whew!
And that’s pretty much a recap of the first 5 issues of the series. I know that seems like it’s a lot, but you gotta remember I was born and raised on silver age Marvel books. Even to this day, I feel as if you can’t tell a decent complete story in 1 to 2 issues, then you’ve failed as a writer. The entire notion of filling up 6 issues worth of stuff to tell 2 issues worth of story is only good if you are trying to get on that Trade Paperback meal wagon, meaning a lot of the time it’s unnecessary to the story itself. So I would write pretty dense books with a lot of high concepts and would wrap those up in 2 issues at the max, maybe even one.
So with the backstory out of the way, issue 6 was really like the first issue where Mind Man was going to start exploring his universe and putting the pieces back together of his life before the crash, like for example figuring out who he exactly was. I mean by the end of issue 5, I had gotten him back to his Centrosphere, him and Ron were safe from Department D for the moment, and Dr. Roben and Kate had a communicator with them so they could contact him if they needed his help.
And that’s where this issue picks up, with Mind Man snoozing peacefully for a change when he’s awoken by a call from the Planet Earth. Worried that it might be his friends in trouble, he jumps into action Sigourney Weaver style in just a pair of his tightey whiteys. It turns out to be what Mind Man thinks is just a false alarm, and he decides to have a snack while he’s up. So Ron the Robot leaves to make him a sandwich and by the time he returns, the Earth has completely disappeared and Mind Man as well from the chair in which he was sitting.
I was and still am a huge fan of JA’s visuals in this little exchange, especially the scene in which it’s revealed that the Earth disappeared. I originally wasn’t a fan of wasting page space with flashy oversized panels, but JA wanted to capture the grandeur of the peril by showing very dramatically the Earth sized hole in the universe, and now I definitely agree it was the way to go. I’m actually more impressed that he was already thinking of these things at the tender age of 16, and I wonder where his talents could have taken him if he had stuck to his artist guns and continued to hone his craft into adulthood.
In any case, Mind Man ends up becoming a prisoner yet again, as he’s whisked away into a pocket dimension, ruled by a very Silver Age looking villain named the Architect (the menacing looking guy from the front cover). Although he is responsible for the removal of the Earth from Time and Space, he’s actually not really a bad guy per say, more of a Galactus type character in that his motivations don’t really conform to our concepts of good/evil. He’s just trying to do his job, which is design and maintain planets.
Channeling my inner Kirby, I devised the Architect to be just one of a super old and infinitely powerful race who eventually got bored of sitting around and decided to take a stab at being God for a while by world building in the very literal sense. They assigned certain members of their race to specific regions and gave them a Staff and a Key, two artifacts to help control and direct their cosmic power. The Architect was just the one assigned to our patch of the solar system, and it seems a for a while he’s been missing his key. So all the regular maintenance and such that he should have been keeping up with in terms of the Earth has gone neglected because he doesn’t have all of his tools. But now he finally has located his missing key and it just happens to be in the possession of Mind Man. Now, Mind Man has no idea how he got the key, but it is true that somehow he ended up with it. Upon asking the Architect why he removed the Earth if he just wanted his key back, the Architect just explains that the state of the planet has gotten so bad due to “neglect”, that he has no choice but to just scrap this version and start all over again. Yep, all the pollution, world wars and other assorted terribleness we’ve inflicted on our home means one thing: Kaboom! Bye Bye Earth!
Yup, and that’s your Twilight Zone twist prize, folks. All kinds of murky gray in terms of your baddie. Just a intergalactic handy man that decided that drywall is to far gone to replace so you might as well rip it out and replace it from scratch. And of course, our hero has people he cares for on that planet, so does he want to see it get taken out like last week’s garbage…heck no! But you try arguing your point with a dude with those kind of powers peacefully. So this is going to lead to one hell of a donnybrook with Mind Man’s “Phoenix” level mental powers vs. the Architect’s Power Cosmic.
Unfortunately though, that battle was never drawn. For some reason despite all that build up and what could be the capstone to a corker of issue, JA never drew the remainder of the script. A crying shame really as I feel that could have been something epic for the ages.
Luckily though, I went sifting through my old files and found some parts of the script, so I can say that in the end Mind Man does triumph by breaking the Architect’s staff, which disrupts the balance of the pocket dimension in which he lives, and returns the Earth to normal space. Mind Man though is trapped in ensuing cosmic maelstrom as the dimension disintegrates and like water down a drain disappears from existence. Or so it seems…
In the next issue though, it turns out that due to still possessing the Key, Mind Man was spared a death by oblivion and was instead shuffled into a parallel universe called “Rift World” ruled by former Superheroes that had allowed their Earth to be destroyed, turned bad as a result, and now control a collection of remains held together by their boss, who actually looks a lot like Mind Man himself. Whoooo! Pretty trippy, gang!
That too when unproduced, and it’s at that point, it looks like I stopped writing Mind Man as well. Maybe I was pissed that I didn’t get the finish to issue 6 I wanted, maybe I saw the writing on the wall that this series had run its course and JA wanted to move on to other things. Who’s to say, really? After all we were just a couple of teenagers, and if there’s one thing teenagers are it’s fickle.
Regardless I hope you enjoyed this small sample of The Adventures of Mind-Man. For those of you hoping at some point we will release the other issues in their entirety, I wouldn’t hold my breath. That would be like a whole different website, and I still hold out hope that Mind Man might again see the light of day in print form, maybe when JA and I are in our retirement years with oodles of time on our hands. So until then, I’ll hang on to some of that creative output in secret, hoping to unveil it with brand new stories starring the Marvelous Mind Man some day!