Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Red Tiger

Click on each image to make it bigger, natch.

Sometime in 1978, I believe, I created, for Russ Wiseman's art class at Holland Central High School, a comic book written and drawn by myself featuring a poorly designed character named Paul William Baker, rather melodramatically code named "Fury". Fury was a secret agent type who had been blown up by a supervillain and rebuilt with solid steel fists that could fire some sort of energy beam out of them. He rebelled against the villain, natch, becoming the villain's worst enemy (as the Late Great Jeff Webb once wryly noted, the number of villains who have stupidly created their own worst enemy by taking some stubborn heroic sort and doing something mean to him which ended up giving him superpowers is just staggering. You'd think they'd stop doing it, it never works out.)

I wanted to make the dreadful thing look as professional as possible, so I created a company name for the cover -- Redline Comics. I don't know why I called it that; it had nothing to do with the concept of things going broke, but rather, with the idea of an engine working at some kind of overdrive speed... past the red line, as it were. But that was what I had on top of the cover, instead of the Marvel Comics Group tag I was so obviously ripping off, at least, graphically.

Anyway, CODENAME: FURY (very nearly FIGHTING FISTS OF FURY, but at the last minute I, probably wisely, demurred) was an appalling thing indeed, but for some reason it impressed a classmate and fellow comics fan of mine who drew somewhat better and wrote somewhat worse than I did. And this guy, Jim Marek, proposed that we collaborate on a project together.

So, I sat down and wrote a script (literally wrote, by hand, on lined notebook paper) for a character called the Red Tiger. I had no idea what the Red Tiger looked like, but my artistic collaborator, whom I never quite got to the point of actually being friends with, took the script and drew up the first issue.

Jake (as Mr. Marek preferred to be called by his friends, and even, I guess, by me) and I went on to collaborate on one more title, REBEL, FIGHTER FOR FREEDOM FROM THE FAR FLUNG FUTURE, before our partnership lapsed. I no longer have either comic, of which there was only ever one issue (literally, one issue) which I somehow wound up with. But it's worth noting that the Red Tiger, such as he is visually, was entirely the creation of James Marek. (That's not a knock. While the red trunks over tights, crimson wifebeater, and odd mask concealing much of the face but leaving the lower nose, mouth, jaw, and hair revealed was savagely iconic of the 1970s, still, it's a look I love, and I especially like the tiger stripes on the headband, gloves, boots, and belt... it lends itself to an iconic look in silhouette, rather like Batman's cape and chest symbol.)

I don't think Jake did his best work on our collaborations, and certainly my scripts were weak, to say the very least. But 30 years later (for all I know, to the day) I've finished a new version of RED TIGER #1. Alas, my only collaborator on the title's current incarnation is myself, and my artwork at the age of 47 is far, far worse than Jim Marek's was at the age of 16... and I doubt my scripting is much improved over the past 30 years, either.

But, for what it's worth, here it is. The art is horrible, the concept is stupid, and the script is... well, I can't judge my own writing, but it's probably pretty fucking bad, too. But there it is. Do with it as you will.

As a final note, I had to call the new blog where this thing is posted Redline Comics because both redtiger.blogspot.com and theredtiger.blogspot.com are taken. What the hell is THAT about?

-- D.A. Madigan, December 3, 2008

POSTSCRIPT -- December 4, 2008

And already the reviews are pouring in. From my Talking Points Memo blog:

Dude. You gotta work these into your blogs. Just drop a nice circa 70's panel into a blog on something else. Let 'em work.

Made me smile. Donno whether's good or bad, just enjoyed it. that's all.


-- Quinn Esq

I enjoyed the comic as well. I used to read 'The Sandman' comics written by Neil Gaiman and yours had some of that same dark energy. I liked your illustrations.

-- miguelitoh2o

And finally:

Of course I checked it out, and it looks like fun. You're right that the art's a tad weak, but that's not really the point, now is it? It's the fun of creation.

-- Steve Englehart

A comparison to Sandman ain't too shabby, and hey, "Stainless" Steve Englehart said my artwork was a tad weak. Life don' ged much betta dan dis!

The fun of creation. Yes, indeed.