In a world without super powers, it takes a hero to dare it all
The character who would become Three was a mixture of Batman and Deathstroke, the Terminator. His first name was The Freaker. I’m not much into super powers unless it involves a green ring, but give me a guy who puts on a mask and swings from building to building fighting the good fight any day.
The first story was published in the high school newspaper in 1982, and I took the character to the Alberta College of Art with me in 1984, having it published for a few episodes in the SAIT newspaper, The Emery Weal under the title The Dark Knight. During that time, I became heavily influenced by Frank Miller’s work. I devoured Ronin, idolised The Dark Knight and caught up with his Daredevil work through back issues.
With DC’s The Dark Knight becoming one of the biggest works of the Eighties, and my growing awareness of trademark law, it was appropriate for me to find another name for my character. Somehow, going back to The Freaker wasn’t going to cut it, so I eventually decided upon Three, which is my lucky number. It’s an oddball name, but late-Eighties comics were very much into deconstruction and I didn’t want a traditional comic book character name.
Two other comic series of the period deeply affected my work, though it would be a few years before I responded to them. Being a diehard DC Comics reader, I knew who lived on which Earth, what was an imaginary story and what was a continuity story. While I loved Crisis on Infinite Earths as a story, I despised what happened to the DC Universe in its wake. Crisis wiped away much of the DC Universe’s history. In the short term, DC attracted a larger readership because they no longer had what was to them the burden of continuity, but to fans like myself, it felt like we had been abandoned and we were the ones who bought consistently over decades.
The other series, Watchmen, was a positive experience. Here was a way to deconstruct the super hero mythos, show respect for what we believed heroes to be and change everything we knew about them. Every time I re-read that series I come away inspired, even though the conclusion is downbeat.
As the Eighties ended, I got work with a few black & white independents. It didn’t amount to much, and by the end of that period I wanted to do my own stories. In 1994, I pulled out my work and reexamined it. I had a number of pages from a The Brave & The Bold submission I sent to DC a few years earlier. Batman and Three teamed up to fight the Riddler. I couldn’t publish that, but I liked the tone of the story and the banter between Three and his ghost girlfriend Nuit Blanche. That was a good start.
By 1994, Image Comics and a host of imitators had put so much gleam on comics you couldn’t see if there was a story in there. I wanted to give Three a deeper world than that. Not a traditional team book, but a solid cast that was more about their interrelationships with each another. Drawing upon the iconography of the Golden and Silver ages, the Historical Society was added to the story.
Between 1995 and 2000 I did two Three stories and a number of other pieces. In 2000, I made a significant career change and began working as a graphic designer.