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Official Article

Childhood Comic Creations

Many kids I grew up with could just passively watch cartoons, listen to music or see movies and let the experience end there. While some would go so far as the sketch images of their favorite heroes from books or magazines, that just wasn't my style. My time of trying to draw a decent picture of Mickey Mouse or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ended in 1st grade.  If I really loved a character or show, I used that as inspiration to create a new fictional universe of my own. 


This was especially true when I got into comic books around 5th grade in 1992. A couple neighbor kids and I came up with the plan of starting our own comics line and so I started furiously sketching out ideas in a little spiral bound notebook. My first creations were far from original, but I loved them just the same.

Night Blade


Clad in a leather jacket and what was in actuality a Wolverine mask, Night Blade had no real backstory. His secret identity was Kevin McTyrne and his arch-enemy was The Psychotic, but that's as far as I got into developing his persona. Despite this I did eventually write a short screenplay for Night Blade The Movie and tried to get my friend, Devin to take the leading role, which he declined. Night Blade may have been my first creation, but he was far from the last.

The Night Stalker


Night Stalker (seeing a trend in the naming here?) was a mystical, masked crimefighter who was basically Marvel's Cloak (sans Dagger) in a Phantom of the Opera mask. I didn't develop his backstory until years later, making his alter-ego the modern day ancestor of a Salem Witch Warlock who possessed our hero's body to get revenge on the descendents of those townspeople who burned him at the stake. Our hero eventually re-gains control of his body and uses these mystical powers for good. There's even a prequel story about the Pastor/Witch Hunter who killed the original Salem witches, but I won't bore you with all that jazz.


The Bumbling Bee


This goofy hero was a parody of Spider-Man by way of The Tick and Buzz-Off from Masters of the Universe. The Bumbling Bee was a normal guy who got stung by a radioactive bee, then clumsily tried to save people who didn't want his help. His arch enemy was The Swatter, a villain with, you guessed it, fly swatters for hands. Eventually TBB went on a space adventure, came back with a living black costume, which eventually bonded with The Swatter to form SPLAT!, a Venom analog. A total rip-off, but I am most fond of this little series as it was my first real attempt at working with panels and plot structure.


Burrito Boy and The Ice Cream Man


Two classmates that read my Bumbling Bee comics had an idea for their own team of heroes, whose alter egos would be the kids who imagined them. Really all they had were the names so I just drew up a Ninja Turtle looking guy wrapped into a tortilla with one leg that was literally a wooden board nailed to the costume and thus was born, Burrito Boy. He fought alongside a Good Humor ice cream man with ice blast powers. Oh and they were adamant that the duo would have a sidekick named PIG, who was just a pig that followed them around. I really feel like this was the kind of wacky 90's cartoon idea that could have played really well on FOX Kids next to Eek! The Cat or possibly a more irreverent version on Cartoon Network.

Trion Squad 1


One night in 8th grade I had a dream that during P.E. class my body was magically covered in rock-like armor and the next day I drew up this guy I called "Ultimate Granite". I guess he was a cross between The Thing and a semi-obscure Image character called Deathblow. I decided he needed a team to fight evil with so I first came up with Illusion Man, who could project holographic images from his armor that also shot out a hallucinogenic gas to confuse the bad guys. Then there was Cy-Sect who could cybernetically talk to bugs just like Ant-Man and his outfit was literally just Masked Rider/Kamen Rider.


I decided to take this group a little bit farther than just sketches and inspired by the Homemade Heroes feature in Wizard magazine modified existing figures into my own creations. I think Ultimate Granite was Strong Guy from the Toy Biz X-Men line with some clay on his head & hand. Illusion Man was Black Dragon from the 90's G.I. Joe Extreme line with a new paint job and Cy-Sect was actually just an unmodified a Masked Rider figure (yeah, minimal effort there). I even made a little 5 minute pitch film featuring these modified toys for Kids WB with the family camcorder, which understandably I never sent in. (Read this article for more on the villain of that piece).

The Trojan


The truth is that I was constantly creating new characters, but you only feel legitimate if you get published, right? So in 1997 I made my plans to submit a comic strip for our school newspaper featuring a hero named after our mascot, The Trojan. Though I was rejected during my sophomore year, by the time I was a junior I had more sway and notoriety as the voice of the weekly announcements and so The Trojan got the go ahead from our student editorial staff.


My favorite moments were his transformations, but mostly I just pit him against evil versions of rival school's mascots, who I turned into villainous robots or invading alien warriors. I even named his mild-mannered alter-ego, Jeff Meloni, after my two best friends. The Trojan ran for 4 consecutive adventures before being retired so I could focus more on my burgeoning rock n' roll career in a garage band. But I will always count him as my most successful creation. Speaking of my musical career...

Hoju Koolander


When we formed my high school band, I was convinced we need a gimmick like the band KISS. Literally like the band KISS. So I came up with a make-up and costume design that I thought would make a real impact on stage. May I present to you the super heroic heavy metal rocker version of my online persona (feel free to laugh). As you can imagine, it was rejected completely by my bandmates, so I decided to make a protoype costume and give them the full effect to win their favor.


Again, I failed. I even ditched the shoulder pads and tried to re-introduce the idea a few months later, but it was just a non-starter. I eventually adapted the character design into a joint comic endeavor with a cool girl named Katie that we called Hoju Koolander and The Scarlett Rose. It was a mixed gender team-up book, kind of like Vision and The Scarlet Witch or Dark Horse's Monkeyman & O'Brien. We would take turns drawing our characters into panels during science class and it came out pretty well. Despite our artistic union, I was never able to transform the endeavor into a romantic affair. Ah well, I got some action on the page at least.


I still love creating original characters, though most of them end up in goofy movies I make with my friends and family. Check out my YouTube page to get a glimpse of "masterpieces" like The Adventures of Poncho Paulo or Rakeman, The Midnight Gardener. I hope someday soon I can encourage my kids to come up with their own characters and see what their imaginations bring to life.

Follow me on Twitter @hojukoolander for daily retro nonsense.

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Superman Posted on Oct 04, 2017 at 04:48 PM

I think it's totally cool that you managed to get published in the school newspaper, even if it did take some convincing before you managed to get in there. A superhero version of your school mascot battling supervillain versions of rival school mascots? Everybody at that school should have gone for that idea.

NLogan Posted on Oct 03, 2017 at 09:08 PM

I can't believe a costume with a codpiece didn't win over your band mates.

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