Even though we’re taking a small break as we gear up for Chapter 19 (still tentatively titled “The Man Who Sold the World”), last week I did used the SuperFogeys Fanpage on Facebook to do a little retrospective on the “00″ strip–100, 200, 300 and so on. We drop all kinds of cool little stuff like that on the Fanpage. It’s worth a like, trust me.
Anyway, I thought maybe everybody would like to see the retrospective, so here it is again, this time with just a few additional comments.
Reaching 100 strips was a big, big deal. I’d created my own comics before, but never at this level and frequency. I knew I had to do something to really grab people’s attention because, generally, you get more eyeballs on these milestone strips. I’d been moving SF more and more towards serial stories and away from the gag stuff for a while, but this was the big splash–the reveal at the true identity of the villain who’d been haunting the strip for a little while.
[SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THOSE WHO HAVEN'T READ PAST 100--REALLY JUST CONSIDER THIS WHOLE POST FULL OF SPOILERS]
I’d know from almost the very beginning that the Third Man and Dr. Klein were actually Jerry. 100 was both a real reveal and a red herring at the same time. By revealing that the Third Man was Dr. Klein, it satisfied curiosity enough that they never considered Jerry as a possible third identity. I took my sweet time getting to that bigger reveal, but no one ever noticed that Jerry was never in the same room as his other identities. All by design. I dropped so many clues and no one ever picked up on them because they thought the mystery was already solved. Still my favorite trick I ever pulled with the storytelling.
Looking back, do you think it still works?
At the time, Dr. Rocket’s death at the end of Chapter 5 was a big, BIG deal. This strip reversed it without taking away the fact of a killing and an actual death having occurred. Still, it was gruesome and shocking and seemed to be pretty permanent. What ended up being actually permanent was the shift to a more serious story. All bets were kind of off if a moment like that could happen in a comic strip that had previously not been terribly violent (save for the odd shooting here and there).
And yet there’s still this guy, Death MD, which is a character I haven’t used enough in subsequent chapters. He’s a lot of fun to write, that’s for dang sure.
With the reveal that Dr. Rocket had been hanging out in Cuba with Fidel Castro, what became readily apparent was that we’d never really seen Dr. Rocket at all, just a goofy facsimile that was in reality the mind-controlled shapeshifter Herman. The real Dr. Rocket is a much more haunted and complex individual (not that you can tell in this particular strip). Sometimes, I miss the old Dr. Rocket.
Dr. Rocket (the real one) had been back for a while, but he had been basically cold towards his archenemy, Captain Spectacular. That’s what archenemies tend to do. But Cap and Doc began their lives as friends and finally, with the reveal that Doc was dying from cancer, that friendship resumed. It’s a (mostly) silent, somber moment and not at all typical of the big reveals and big goings-on of the other “00s.”
Looking back, I really like that the younger Cap and Doc got to be there. They’re basically flabbergasted at a simple hug. The younger Cap is kind of judgy, kind of self-righteous. What I wanted to say here was that the older Cap, while still knowing right from wrong and holding onto his ideals for the most part, does not judge. He’s there for his friend, period.
This strip is significant in another way: it marked my swan song as the regular artist on the strip. There’s not a lot of flash here, but I consider the wordless interaction between Doc and Cap as one of my finest moments as an artist.
400 is a real line in the sand. The story would change drastically from this point forward as the Invasion storyline took hold for the next 150+strips. Going into it, Star Maiden’s whereabouts were unknown, but we did know a bunch of aliens were on their way to Earth to seek revenge on Dr. Rocket. Star Maiden joining up with them–as Dark Maiden–was a big moment.
This is Marc’s first “00″ and he stepped up big time. Even though this was 200 strips ago, the art holds up in spectacular fashion. And anytime Marc gets to draw Zurida is a good thing.
This one was HUGE when it landed in more ways than just size. It featured the return of the long-dead Money Man AND it was a rare artistic collaboration between me and Marc. He penciled and colored, but those are my inks. Don’t know if anyone noticed at all, but the fusing of the two styles gives this one a slightly different look from every other strip.
Astute readers noticed right away that Money Man has four fingers and a thumb, as opposed to the usual three and a thumb the characters have sported so far. One of the complaints I got from early readers over and over again had to do with the finger count. And, as the more story got more serious, the less okay with it readers seemed to be. Mickey Mouse has three fingers, not guys who squash other guys’ heads like a zit. Money Man’s appearance is the first (indirect) in-story comment on this. To all of you who complained: you’re right. It shouldn’t be.
The implications of the revelations in this strip are only just now starting to be dealt with. What’s hinted at here is bigger than anything we’ve done so far. There’s something rotten at the core of the SF universe, and you’re about to find out what that is.
It’s probably too early to really “look back” at this one, but what the heck, right? Swifty had been gone from the story for a long time at this point (though not as long, I’m sure, if you just read it straight through without having to wait several days between installments), so the fact that he was back was exciting. It was probably pretty cruel, then, that I immediately ripped him right away again, to go to this alternate dimension.
There’s a lot about Earth-Avalon I’m really excited for you guys to discover. One of things that’s the most fun about alternate reality stories is seeing how your favorite characters are different and why. We’re definitely going to be exploring that, but that’s really just half the mystery. The other half has to do with the relationship between Earth-Avalon and the SuperFogeys world. We’re trying to do something with this that I’ve never really seen before and I’m excited to see what you guys make of it when that bomb drops. It’s bit of a risk, like everything else we try to do, but I’m hoping you’ll give it a chance to play out once you see it.
What do you think makes a great “00?” 601 posts next Monday!