Thursday, September 6, 2007
I’m not very good at finishing what I start. Since high school, I’ve created quite a few concepts that I knew would make great comics only to put them aside the second the “next big thing” came along. Either I wasn’t happy with my writing or not confident in my drawing. Or I didn’t have the right drawing tools. Or a way to publish it. Whatever. I always had an excuse.
One of the many ideas in my revolving door of a head was a planned 12-issue series called ENCHANTED. I feel safe in putting this on the internet because I’m very likely not ever going to do anything with it and want to finally get the damn thing off my chest.
When I was just starting college, I started going with Mike and his friend Paul on his weekly trips to B&D comics in Roanoke, Virginia. It was a fifty-mile trip but there were plenty of books to read on the way back. Mike bought nearly everything that came out and had a strange “rule” about me not buying the same comics he did. So, when WATCHMEN came out in 1987, I was not allowed to buy it. So I read Mike’s copies on the trip back. I was instantly captivated. I didn’t understand the idea of “deconstruction of superheroes” that all the espresso-sippers were blathering on about. All I knew was this was a damn good story. And I knew that Moore had based his superheroes on the old Charlton characters. At the time, I was going through a nostalgic phase and was re-reading my beloved Harvey comics featuring Richie Rich, Hot Stuff and Casper. Hmmm. Watchmen... Harvey Comics...
ENCHANTED was born on one of those many trips to Roanoke. I cheerfully told Mike about my idea: What would happen if the Harvey characters grew up and existed in the “real” world? I thought he’d tell me I was an idiot. Instead, he got very excited. (In fact, of all the concepts I ever told Mike about, this one was the one he liked most and always encouraged me to complete.) He told me it was a great idea and I absolutely HAD to do something with it. The only problem was I didn’t own the characters! I knew I would have to change, or at least alter, the names. Casper became “Kasper”. Cadbury became “Hershey”. Wendy became “Winifred.” My favorite character, Hot Stuff, became “Epok” and sported a tattoo on his arm that said “Hot Stuff.” And so on. I conceived of back stories for all the major characters including Lotta, Dot, Spooky, Gloria, Jackie Jokers, Sad Sack...all with slightly altered names.
I knew that I wanted to set my version of the Enchanted Forest along the banks of the James River in Virginia. Virginia has a very New England feel to it in some places and I was big on Stephen King at the time. My big “idea” was that these characters would team up and come into conflict with the Army, led by General Sachs (see?). But I was having a hard time coming up with a reason. It was Mike that solved that problem. He said, “Maybe Richie Rich wants to develop the Enchanted Forest.” And suddenly my entire story fell into place.
In my story, Richie Rich (I struggled with his name...Riche?...Reich?...Richard Rich, Jr?) became a sort of cross between Lex Luthor and Greg Stillson of THE DEAD ZONE. In order to get his development going, he bribes and blackmails officials and then, confident of the outcome, jumps the gun and begins surveying the land before the papers are even signed. This tips off our hero, Kasper, who is a tragic figure, trapped on our plane as a ghost despite the efforts of his friend Winifred, whom he loves. She is married to Lucas, a werewolf (an elf in an early draft) who can’t stand the sad little ghost who’s always dropping in at the most inopportune moments. Kasper sounds the alarm and our story begins.
I won't bore you with details but it was the most complete story I'd ever written. I had the beginning, middle and end all worked out along with some nice (I thought) set pieces including a scene in which an angry, frustrated Epok attacks Richie, nearly kills Hershey (who's more of a bodyguard than a butler) and burns down the Rich mansion. I also decided to cut out the General Sachs part and instead have RichCorp be a sort of OCP-style mega-corporation with its own security/police force. It was going to be epic.
But, like everything else I've started, I lost interest as soon as I'd written it down and moved on to the next project. (Called SAMHAIN, which I'll write about later.) I came back to it again and again, tinkering with character designs (below) and rewriting scripts. About ten years ago, before the Heroes Convention, I felt I needed a pin-up to fill out my portfolio I was planning on showing to some of the pros. So the night before, I stayed up all night drawing the picture at the top of this post. I wasn't all that happy with the result. All the hair looks plastic, almost helmet-like and the elf in background was very rushed (at 4:00 in the morning!) But I kind of liked the attitude and Richie Rich ended up looking like Mike for some reason. That was purely unintentional.
I wish I'd ended up doing something with this idea. It could've been cool. But then again, it also could've gotten me sued.
Posted by Matt Wieringo at 7:51 PM