Friday, March 28, 2008
There wasn’t a whole lot in the way of entertainment for kids where I grew up. My family lived on a 12-acre wooded lot at the top of a steep hill at the end of a mile-long dirt road. There wasn’t really anybody my age on the road that wasn’t a delinquent or a bully so I didn’t really have anyone to play with. I remember I had one friend named Mitch and we’d spend long summer days riding our bikes up and down the road but his family moved away fairly quickly. This was back in the days before cable TV, home video and the XBox. So unless I wanted to ride by myself or draw or explore the woods, I was out of luck. Except for one thing. Dad had an immense collection of comics and magazines of all kinds. He kept them stored in paper shopping sacks (I have a post planned for that) from the move from Germany and eventually they made their way into our hot little hands. It was like living in a comic shop. Imagine waking up one day in a house filled with thousands of comics you’d never read before. We were in heaven.
Dad had a little bit of everything. DC, Harvey, Marvel, Gold Key, Charlton. My tastes were simple. Harvey Comics, Spidey Super Stories, Marvel Team-Up, the old Marvel westerns and monster books. Mike was older and had more mature tastes. He liked the cosmic or fantasy or horror stuff. Some of his favorites books were the issues of Warren’s EERIE Magazine featuring the character Hunter.
Hunter was a half-human, half-demon hybrid that had dedicated his life to destroying the demons populating his post-apocalyptic homeland. The character's real name was Demian Hunter. Get it? Demon Hunter? The stories were written by Richard Margopoulous and drawn by Paul Neary. For years I wondered if he was the same Paul Neary inking Captain America and, later, The Ultimates for Marvel. According to his Wikipedia entry, he is. Though Neary's know primarily as an inker, he did full chores on the Hunter series. Obviously inspired by the Filipino and Spanish artists working on Warren's books, his artwork was delicate and intricate featuring lots of fine lines and zip-a-tone. It was a little exotic for my young palette but Mike took to it right away. He even created a character called Eliminator-1 based on Hunter's look and the name of another Warren character, a robot called Exterminator-1.
Later on, when I was older and looking for something different to read, I remembered Hunter and started reading all the Warren magazines. They were just wonderful. Especially the Hunter stuff. Recently, Mike's longtime friend Paul Rogers was in Richmond for a con. He happens to own Dominion Comics, the best comic shop in Lynchburg. We met for dinner and he told me Dad had brought in all his old Warren books and gave them to him. I was a little surprised. Dad's been slowly unloading all his old comics on me over the last few years. Mostly stuff Mike and I read to tatters and that I really don't have room for. Mom and Dad have been preparing for their own demise for 20 years and I used to tease them about it. I don't anymore. Anyway, of all the stuff I was getting, what I really wanted was the EERIE and CREEPY stuff. When Paul told me Dad had given it to him I made a face before I could stop myself. Paul noticed and asked what was up. I explained the story about Hunter and he offered to give them to me. I felt greedy but I really loved those books. He assured me he'd take care of it. Within two weeks, Paul had graciously sent me all the Hunter issues (at great expense, I might add) and I've been like a kid in a candy store ever since. So, thank you, Paul. You made my year. I'll make it up to you.
Re-reading the books inspired the drawing up above. I lurk at the John Byrne Forum quite a bit and one of Byrne's phrases that has stuck with me is when he says something "fell out of my pencil." I didn't really understand what he meant by that until now. Though I did lay it out first with blue pencil before tightening it up with graphite, I didn't really think much about it before I drew it. And I did it pretty quickly for me. I'm probably happier with this than I am with any drawing I've posted yet. Well, except maybe for the Herbert the Pervert drawing. I hope you like it too and I hope you'll "hunt" up the issues of EERIE featuring this guy. I think you'll dig 'em. If you can't find them, though, I hear Dark Horse is planning some reprints of the Warren stuff. I can't wait!
Posted by Matt Wieringo at 5:59 PM