Thursday, June 6, 2013

Knight Watchman part 1

Big Bang Comics was originally going to be the backstories or history of the universe of my Megaton comic book from the 1980s. The Megaton characters were a new generation of super heroes. Ultragirl was replacing her father Ultraman, kid sidekick the Sentinel had already replaced the Crusader, Vanguard was newly arrived on Earth from a distant planet and Matt (Megaton) Scott was the new kid on the block, not really replacing anybody but becoming the hero everybody already thought he was. 
The other strips in Megaton #1 were all origin stories too: Ethrian, Berzerker and Wizards of War all took place elsewhere but would have returned to the main continuity. (Ethrian and Berzerker eventually did, more or less, at Image Comics in my Vanguard stories).

I mentioned last time that Big Bang Comics began in 1992 when Chris Ecker told me that he was tired of comic book publishers and art directors telling him that he drew like an “old guy” and that he was going to sit down and draw an old style comic book story and that I was going to write it. We
were at a local one day comic show and Chris wouldn’t let me leave until that damn story was laid out and written. They eventually kicked us out and we went off to one or the other of our houses and kept working on it.

Chris had drawn the Sentinel story in Megaton #1. For this new story we decided to turn back the clock and do a “classic” tale featuring his mentor, the Crusader, who had only appeared in a single flashback panel in that story. However, Chris had drawn him for the full page entry in our who's who Megaton Explosion. (Sidekick Sparky, eventually the Sentinel, was drawn by Gordon Purcell in one of his first published pieces, I believe).

Unfortunately, the Crusader seemed a bit too blah. We redesigned and rechristened him as the Protector. That wasn't right either and so we went with Night Watchman. He had an eyeball on his chest as in “always watching”. Chris signed the first drawing using the pen name Timothy Allen. 

Night Watchman still seemed a bit blah. We debated and finally added a “K” making him the Knight Watchman. Everything seemed to fall in place. Chris’ first professional work in comics had been as an assistant to Rick Fletcher on the Dick Tracy comic strip, where he learned to letter. The early Batman comics seemed heavily influenced by Dick Tracy, so we took our Knight Watchman in that direction. 

We devised a bizarre rogue's gallery. Chester Gould had Flattop, Pruneface, the Mole, the Brow, Itchy and Mumbles. Batman had the best villains: Joker, Catwoman, Two Face, the Riddler, Mr. Freeze, Clayface, Mad Hatter and the Penguin. The Knight Watchman was going to face Mr. Mask, Pink Flamingo, the Little Giant, Paper Doll, Quizmaster, Grandfather Clock, Baron von Fledermaus – the Bat, the Creep, Cheshire Cat and many more.
Because Tim Allen was becoming a major TV star on “Home Improvement”, Chris changed his nom de plume to Tom King. With a nod to Bob Kane, we placed the "Created by" and signature inside of a crown shaped box (fit for a king, naturally).

The eyeball was still part of Knight Watchman's chest logo when that first story, “The Time Crimes of Grandfather Clock” appeared in Berzerker #1 in 1993. By the time Big Bang Comics #1 appeared the next year, his chest shield had been darkened to its familiar form. 

Next time: through history with the Knight Watchman.

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