I first tried to break into comics when I was still living in Los Angeles and fresh out of USC film school. At the time I was reading scripts for Tri-Star Pictures (the job sounds better if you refer to it as a Script Analyst) until an unexpected writer’s strike took place. I had to start taking temp jobs to make money and at that point I started thinking, “You know, my childhood vision of a career in comics doesn’t seem like such a bad thing after all”. I did a few jobs for an independent publisher (who will remain nameless so you can’t look up the work) because I wasn’t good enough to work for the big boys. However, often perseverance is more important than talent and I eventually landed a gig at Marvel.
I completely tanked the job (again, it will remain nameless) but finally I found a sympathetic editor in Renee Whitterstaeter and landed a semi-regular gig writing and drawing parody stories for Marvel’s “What The…?!”. I was in the door! I may have been chronicling the adventures of Forbush Man but I was in! The next logical step was to convince Renee to let me do a cover. She was sympathetic but not stupid! So I had to devise a plan. That plan was the flip book. Now I am not saying I invented the flip book (although in my mind I may have) but if I didn’t I was one of the first to exploit it. I suggested to Renee to let me do the back cover of an issue of “What The…?” as a flip book cover. So you would flip the book and my back cover would be the cover and my story would be flipped also and be the lead story. Genius!
So with issue #14, I penciled and inked and colored my very first (back) cover to a comic. I parodied an old detective magazine and called it “Tin Head Detective Stories” featuring Forbush Man. You see, Forbush Man had a pot on his head, get it? (Renee actually came up with the title). Unfortunately I don’t have the original art to this piece anymore but here is the printed color version of it. (It is hard to believe someone actually bought this from me but it must be true)
Two issues later I convinced Renee to let me do it again (I’m sure I was increasing sales). This time I really went back to my roots (Old EC horror comics) and came up with this. It appeared on the back of issue #16 of “What The…?!” The three inset characters on the side bar are Tom DeFalco (former E-I-C at Marvel), Renee and the Old Hog is actually one of the logo’s for the art studio I was working for at the time (shameless plug, I know). The story that accompanied this back cover was probably my favorite that I did, “Are You Man Enough to Enter the HOUSE OF MISERY?” One good thing about doing Forbush Man stories – I was able to visti a lot of my favorite genres.
I do still have the original art for this so here it is along with the printed color version.
I will admit that every time I went to a department store or convenience store and saw one of these issues in a spinner rack, I would flip the book over so my cover was showing!
Finally, when issue #18 rolled around, I did a Star Trek parody story and talked Renee into letting me do the actual cover. So here is my actual first front cover to a comic book! I sold the original to this one, too. What a chump mercenary I am….