Monday, September 24, 2007

Tombstone


It’s 1:00 a.m. and here I am at work, spending another loooong evening waiting for other people to finish their work so I can do mine. To pass the time, as I often do, I started sketching. And, as often happens, I got part of the figure done before I even knew what I wanted to draw. I’ve been thinking a lot about Mike lately (obviously) and especially a lot about our childhood, growing up together. Not surprisingly, a lot of my memories of Mike are of him drawing with me usually by his side, imitating him. We were both usually pretty territorial about our creations and I, at least, got a little competitive about it. I tried to come up with more characters than he did as if that would prove something. Unfortunately, less is more, and Mike’s characters had a certain life to them that I couldn’t match.

As I mentioned, we were territorial about our stuff but, on one rare occasion, we decided to put our heads together. The result was this loser. Around the time we came up with this guy, I was in a weird phase where my characters were less derivative of the mainstream stuff and, well, a little off the wall. (One example was a couple of aliens trapped on earth called Tangerine and FirmJaw. FirmJaw was the gal.) The fella in this sketch was named “Tombstone.” This was well before the character of the same name showed up in Marvel’s Spider-Man comics.

Tombstone was an odd bird. He was a scrawny kid who lived in the scary part of town (New York?) and spent his days and nights cruising the streets on roller skates looking for people to rescue. Hearing a scream, he would swoop in and beat the bad guys senseless (usually fighting dirty), cracking wise the whole time. Trouble is, Tombstone wasn’t exactly a hero. In the first (and only) story we did, Tombstone rescues a little old lady on her way to the market from a group of muggers. They’ve taken her purse and pushed her to the ground. Poking eyes and kicking groins, Tombstone makes short, comical work of the baddies and hands the lady back her purse. She starts to thank him and he tells her there’s no need. Justice is his true reward. Well, justice...and the five $20 bills he’s just taken from her purse as his fee. As he laughs and greedily counts the money, the old lady chases him down the street, swinging her purse and hurling curses at him.

It was pretty dumb, really, so I don’t feel bad taking credit for most of the idea behind Tombstone. If I remember correctly, Mike drew the story and I wrote the script and designed his look. I also remember Mike and I laughing uproariously as we discussed the story beforehand, bouncing ideas off each other like a couple of pros. We thought Tombie was destined for comic book greatness but, alas, that first story was all we ever did with him. And, unfortunately, I haven’t seen the artwork in years. It’s not in my stuff and I haven’t seen it in Mike’s. That makes me very sad because it was the only time I ever recall the two of us working together like that.

Well, except for that X-rated Avengers West Coast story I drew once, but I’m NEVER posting that.

14 comments:

Leaf said...

I like how you're mirroring what Mike had done with revisiting his old characters. It's an excellent way of keeping in touch with his spirit and carrying it on. Kudos, my friend.

The roller-skates are boss.

todd said...

matt--

ah, for a minute there i thought that tombstone was going to be an extension of yourself, a "what if i really did become a superhero" kinda thing. but then he skated off with the old lady's cash and that ain't you.
in my little twon, my thoughts of superherodom were that i'd become a combination of batman and spider-man dressed as a scarecrow. almost did it too. but the hay got too itchy.

can't wait to see the x-rated west coast avengers!
sweeeet!

todd

Adam Hutch said...

These peeks at characters you (and Mike created) when you were kids is great. I wish I still had some of the characters I wrote up when I was a kid. The main one that I remember was a team called "The Cadre." It was a huuge Youngblood rip-off. Ahhhh the wonders of being in Junior High in 1992.

Matt Wieringo said...

Leaf, it wasn't my intention to copy Mike in that regard but, once I started, it was so much fun it's hard to stop. Now I know why Mike posted so many of them. Memory Lane is a fun place. Besides, he had so many great characters. I only have a few more generic characters other than the 3 or 4 perennial "projects" I fart around with but you know about those.

Oh, and I was wrong about Tombstone being our only collaboration. I forgot all about the Wolf character that was featured in his Modern Masters book.

McGill said...

I just gotta say this is cool shnit!
I remember all the "creations" when I started getting into comics (collecting them...been wanting to be a pro for a while...but in due time).
Had this guy named FENDER...
His powers miraculously(sp?) came to him while being hit in the face by a possessed 57 Chevy. The front fender (see where I'm going?) wrapped around his face giving him some odd powers (cannot remember them for heck). He couldn't remove it due to the possession or whatever so he shaped it into a mask...looked like some aqua-creature,,,he took the fins from the car as well as his weapons...crazy shnit!

Gotta say, I love this blog!

Matt Wieringo said...

McGill, Fender wins. That is, without a doubt, the most original idea for a superhero I've ever heard! You HAVE to do something with that.

todd said...

mcgill!
ditto what he said!
i agree! i would go crazy for a book like that!
awesome!!
ya gotta get that out!

todd

McGill said...

You guys pulling my leg?
Crud, I made that up when I was a freshman (when I got into comics). If you saw the art I had drawn for it, you would think differently...Crap! wish I knew where that old stuff was...

Brian said...

You guys are great.

As a kid, I always thought I had the next Superman in me, but whenever I sat down in front of a blank page . . . nothing.

I ended up just drawing established characters, mostly freehand copies of whatever Neal Adams was drawing at the time. I did come up with one story that was an Avengers one shot and that I had forgotten about until reading this post. The main villain, a guy who had secretly trained most of the villains the Avengers faced in the past, a guy I called, "The Teacher," was picking off the Avengers one by one. The big twist ending was that Captain America, The Teacher's first victim - nah, nah, beat you to it Marvel - actually survived the attack and was working behind the scenes with the rest of the Avengers to stop The Teacher.

That story is long gone at this point.

Matt Wieringo said...

You beat Marvel to it in more ways than one. Didn't they later do a story similar to that with the Taskmaster?

Chris Gardner said...

Hi Matt! This is a great blog sir! I was always a regular at Mike's blog and I'm finding that yours makes me feel the same way his did, like family looking in. I'm happily stopping by every day and I just haven't written, I think I will from now on. I always loved reading about the daily goings on at Mike's and I'm loving it here, I hope you'll always post these goodies. And by the way, your artwork is really nice, you've got some great talent that I'll bet would absolutely explode if you pushed it full on, it's in the blood as they say. A very Kerry Gammill feel to Tombstone here, I LOVE Kerry Gammill. Great stuff Matt, thanks for letting us check it out.

Matt Wieringo said...

Chris, thanks. That's is a huge compliment. This blog started out as a creative outlet for me because my job is so creatively dry and boring. My buddy Leaf has a cool blog where he posts his work and I thought that was a good way to motivate myself to draw and write more. Just for fun.

Since Mike passed away, some of his visitors have migrated here and the tempation would be to copy Mike (like I always did growing up) and try to be more like him to fill the void. (I'm a little scared the childhood stuff has been a subconscious attempt to do that.) But that's just not possible. Mike was such a wonderful guy and his artwork was so beautiful and charming and his job so interesting, I just can't compete. So I'm just going to keep going the way I was before when it was just me and Leaf and hope folks continue to like it.

As for Mike's blog, I sure do miss it. I still find myself going there from time to time to see what he's posted on a particular day only to remember what happened. I miss him so much and it really helps to have even a small part of that group from Mike's blog come over here to say hi once in a while. So, please do keep posting, even if it's to tell me something I drew sucks.

Rich Faber said...

Matt,

Just this morning, I almost did the same thing, looking for some new post on Mike's blog. I do that at least a couple of times a week, so ingrained was the habit to check his blog. Sorry it's happening to you too; it's always tough when I remember the reality, so I can't even imagine how hard that must be for you.

As for the posts of your childhood artwork, I hope you continue to do that. For one thing, your commentary is really funny, so I imagine it must be a lift for you to write it. For another, I find your descriptions of the work, and especially your self-critiques very entertaining. I have a bunch of my old work around, and I don't think I'd be as brave as you to post it for all to see.

Anyway, I just wanted to say hey, and let you know that what you're doing here is cool!

Oh, and I'm sending the posters (and some other goodies) your way in a few days!

Best,
Rich

Brian said...

Matt,

Not sure about the Taskmaster story as I really haven't followed the Avengers in ages, but if anyone - Todd - remembers, I'd love to hear some details of the story as well as when it came out.