Tuesday, June 17, 2008

"He gave up a job...": Chapter 3

From middle school through high school I read -- and bought -- more comics. I drew copies of my favorite covers; I designed characters and costumes and took a cartooning/comics class here and there.
But it was all on the periphery, off in the background. I was being steered to "serious writing" now. My dad gave me "Blame Me on History," the scathing anti-apartheid autobiography of a South-African writer/journalist named Bloke Modisane. See any message in that?

My journalistic tendencies were coming to the front. I nagged our neighbor Mark to let me be an intern at the Pittsburgh Courier. I wrote for a couple of school newspapers. I also voraciously kept a journal, chronicling the events of the day and my feelings about them. And now, I wrote short stories, not comics, about my crew's adventures -- going to parties, hanging in Oakland, fights/near fights, various episodes with the police, etc.

When it was time to go to college, I applied to the journalism schools at Ohio State and Northwestern. Didn't get in, but got accepted at Oberlin, go figure... For grad school, however, I majored in print journalism at Boston University. With my French degree from O.C., it seemed I was moving along on my path as an international journalist/correspondent.

Eventually even my drawing fell into the margins of my notebooks. Comics and art became a hobby, not a serious venture. A word processor crash in 1993 that wiped out my drafts/outlines for my Universe Comics characters seemed to be a sign to finally end my comics creating dreams.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

"He gave up a job...": Chapter 2

What I was reading became what I wrote. Initially, I wanted to be a mystery writer. Why? 'Cause Encyclopedia Brown and the Hardy Boys were my favorite books to read. By the fifth grade I had written several Brown mysteries, come up with my own boy detective, and created Idom the Wonder Worm, who solved mysteries (and looked a lot like Richard Scary's worm character wearing a Sherlock Holmes hat).
Notice the inclusion of "wonder" in the title, a very comic-bookish term. Comic books still had a hold on me. So, it's no shock that my first original comic book superhero team was a group of super powered crime solvers, not necessarily crime fighters, called…The Detecters. Hey, I was young, subtlety was not my forte.
The Detecters remained largely character profiles until the seventh grade when my crew and I decided to do our own comic: we’d write it, draw it, mimeograph it at school – yes, I said mimeo not copy machine; our teachers even gave us some of the carbon paper to draw on – and sell it to our classmates. The selling idea quickly went by the way side and I didn't complete my section in time for the "press run." But going through the process and having a real-life book at the end of it, made the idea of creating comics as real for me as writing the next-great mystery novel. The seeds for the "Modi Comics Group" had been planted, but their germination period would be a long one -- like 9 years.