Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Torg lives!

It seems a lot of folks who loved Mike are reading this for now even if they aren’t posting. I just want to tell you all (or y’all if you’re below the Mason-Dixon line like we are) that those thank you notes are forthcoming. We’ve been busy, as you can imagine, with all the stuff you know about, some you don’t and going back to work hasn’t helped. Advertising has never seemed so boring and pointless as it does right now. But a job’s a job and I need this one.

(Yes, I know. I have time to post here but not to sign thank-you notes? I need this for therapy, man!)

Now, it’s time I lightened this blog up a little. When I was looking though Mike’s things, I came across something that made me smile.

Back in the summer of 1999, I and some friends put together a self-published anthology comic called TALES FROM BEYOND THE STARS. We each contributed a 4-to-5 page story. The only rule was that it had to be science fiction but even that rule was flexible.

For my contribution, I turned to a blast from the past. In high school, I’d done a stop-motion claymation film with a buddy on 8mm film. We’d seen a documentary on STAR WARS and saw that George Lucas had started that way. So TORG was born. He was a space-pilot with big round eyes and horns and simplistic features and armor that would be easy to manipulate. I modelled the characters with old red and green clay that had been sitting around in our storage shed/club house for years and my buddy and I got down to business, using action figures as extras and painting backdrops on cardboard boxes. (Kind of like a low-rent ROBOT CHICKEN.) We were so clever. Except we didn’t realize that you needed a tripod to lock down the camera. Foolishly, I’d pose my characters, pick up the camera, snap a frame, put the camera down, move the character a fraction of an inch, snap a frame...and so on. When we got the film back from the lab, the picture was so jittery, it looked like that old Bigfoot film.

I’d always loved the idea of TORG, though and so when I needed an idea for our anthology, I went back to him, creating a simple back story and, to keep it short enough for my page allowance, I painted the characters with broad strokes and came up with an O’Henry punchline for the cliffhanger. To give Torg someone to play off and talk to, I gave him a robot sidekick, a la C3PO and named him Bixby. In retrospect, I always believed Bixby was an original idea but IMDB lists FUTURAMA as coming out in March of 1999, and I was instantly taken with the show. So, I can only assume my Bixby character was a reaction to Bender. Oh well. Nothing new under the sun, I guess.

Anyway, I found a copy of the book in Mike’s stuff and I was really touched that he kept it. Later, I realized that Mike kept everything. But I’m going to choose to believe that he liked it anyway. Even if it was buried in a box of old correspondence.

So, without further ado, meet Torg:


Christian D. Leaf said...

I remember you showing me these way back with the X-Men pages you'd done for Marvel Try-Out. Nice indie look and feel to 'em. Old school 'TMNT' or 'Goobledygook' to a little more exact.

I've toyed with putting some of the old stuff up, too, but always chicken out. (Maybe even Robot Chicken out.) Now that you've taken the first step perhaps I'll follow suit. Kudos and a tip of the hat to you, Mafus.

And, yeah, advertising is the pits right now. Blah.

Heywood Jablomie said...

I thought this was really cool. I have to second that it reminded me of TMNT or Gobbledygook, mixed with a series done by Larry Elmore called SnarfQuest. If you've never read it, try it out, it was really fun.


Craig Zablo said...

That was fun!

Pablo said...

Thanks for that

todd said...


awesome stuff!
(i can't believe you keep telling me you can't draw...!)
it's lots of fun and, though you're seeing all kindsa comparisons, i thought it was really original! the only thing that caught me was the (un?)intentional homage to john byrne's dragon man waking up in captain america 242(?) at the time, my favorite artist on one of marvel's coolest characters. (i still have a cool dragon man pitch for marvel--if they ever wanna do something cool again...)
great stuff! let's see more!
why not take another look at that tomorrow kids treatment...?
later, tater~

craig rousseau said...

hey, matt-
that's some sweet stuff, sir! love the layouts (especially the second page)...


Matt Wieringo said...

Thanks, everybody.

Parker said...

Matt, that was some excellent work! Good storytelling, especially.