One of the earliest stories I did was a Daredevil piece called “Two Hemispheres, One World” sent to Marvel and other publishers as an unsolicited submission in 1988. I don’t think anyone wrote back, but Diana Schutz – then of Comico – did mention it in one of her editorials as a cautionary tale on how not to get work from Comico. From my thinking it was a way to show my skills with a character familiar to most in comics.
Download the Daredevil PDF. You’ll enjoy it more if you read the blog post first.
I met an editor in 1989 at the San Diego Comicon and she told me my work was not good at all. I showed her all my stuff dating back to high school. It wasn’t good, and it was my error of inexperience to think quantity would make up for quality. The editor couldn’t offer any advice, except for relating the story that they knew another artist who decided they were too attached to their early work, and threw it out to move forward from there.
Christ, I didn’t know any better at 22, and at that age I was easily led and attached too much importance to what other people thought of me. So I went home after the convention and chucked almost every comic piece I had done up to that point. And that included “Two Hemispheres.” The fact you’re able to see this work is because a different editor returned what photocopies of my work he had some years later.
I am of mixed feelings about doing what I did. Yes, I tend to get too attached to my body of work and by purging the past I was completely focussed on what came next. That was important to my development. At the same time, the past is memory, and I value my memory being clear and accurate. By having the older stuff, I’m able to show it to others and they can take away whatever it has to offer, and I can tag it as done and filed. I’ve come to the point where I understand the importance of archive to know where you come from and to remember what drove you to do what you did, and at the same time to not be held back by the old work, to know that you have moved forward since then. There is room for it all in your life.
“Two Hemispheres” was written and drawn in the months leading up to San Diego in 1988, so most likely the winter and spring of ’88, and was my response to the recent Frank Miller-David Mazzuchelli “Born Again” storyline.
I came to Miller quite late. I had not been a fan of his initial run on Daredevil. Instead, I was – if you’ll excuse the unintentional pun – marveling at Doug Moench and Bill Sienkiewicz’s Moon Knight that was running at the same time. As a bronze age comics devotée, to me Sienkiewicz was the heir apparent to the Neal Adams lineage. By comparison, the crude figures of Frank Miller and Klaus Janson looked amateurish to my narrow young mind.
What opened the door for Miller for me was Ronin. I devoured that thing. The story was different. Miller’s inks were different. Lynn Varley’s colours were different. It just amazed me.
That made me want to go back and read his Daredevil run, but that was hard to do in the years before trade paperbacks. The back issues went for 30, 40 and 50 dollars apiece. As a student, I didn’t have the money for that. It wasn’t until my last year in art college (’86/’87) that I met a guy who had the run and I read it. Holy crap. This was what I wanted to do. The storytelling techniques, the atmosphere, the colouring, the lettering. Even the figure drawing, which was about action and mood and carving things out emotionally, not literally. Maybe I didn’t need the drawing facility of an Adams or a Sienkiewicz to do comics.
By the time Miller teamed up with Mazzuchelli for the “Born Again” storyline in 1986, I was definitely interested in anything Miller was doing, and the themes Miller and Mazzuchelli were exploring were quite mature and brought a new depth to Daredevil. Taking the Hollywood dreams of Karen Page, Matt Murdoch’s former secretary, and having her fall to the bottom as a porn star and heroin addict, she becomes the catalyst for a confrontation between Matt and the Kingpin that sees Murdoch nearly destroyed and taken right back to basics.
In my young adult years, I was fascinated with the seamier side of life. What the heck did I know then, thinking that exploring the darker side of life would somehow give me an understanding of how the world really works? It certainly didn’t, but that perspective certainly was a part of “Two Hemispheres.”
If you’re reading this before you read the story, it will help you understand what I was trying to do. If you’re reading this after, I apologise for the confusion and frustration you may have felt as you tried to figure out what the heck I was saying. So here it is, laid out nice and simple.
Bullseye – who had previously been in a coma – is revived, but beyond his usual mental imbalance, he believes he is his enemy Matthew Murdoch – Daredevil. It is he we follow through most of the story, as he recounts the emotional high spots in Murdoch’s recent life. He’s descending further into madness and obsession and through first seeing Karen Page on screen in an adult theatre, then by picking up a hooker that reminds him of her, the tension climbs and his malevolence is revealed, peeling away the Murdoch delusion and leaving only Bullseye.
Murdoch himself is shown to be still working in the diner where “Born Again” left him, and he’s pretty well adjusted. He appears at the end to just hit the point home that we haven’t been following him for most of the story.
Nick Fury appears as a quick subplot that would have played out with him rooting out the evil within SHIELD in subsequent issues with Daredevil’s help. Marvel did their own version of it in Nick Fury vs. SHIELD, but even though I bought it, it never really satisfied me as a reader.
I wasn’t afraid to depict ideas of objectification and degradation, and to diverge from traditional ideas of how to present costumed heroes. I believed then, and I believe now, that we shouldn’t flinch in trying to represent truth in our stories. In 1988, mainstream comics were beginning to open up in terms of maturity of subject matter, though in retrospect even if I had drawn it better and had made my storytelling perfect, this story wouldn’t have stood a chance of getting published. In an era where the relative innocence of implied pillowing drawn by Colleen Doran caused an uproar, showing the strangulation murder of a prostitute by a psychopath would have been… well, we’ll never know, will we?
This was the first full-length story I had written and drawn. It was certainly an uneven effort. I think the basic structure still works, but I was doing bits of symbolic storytelling, ‘flashes’ that were meant to give you insight while quickly moving things along, but it would only reward the most invested readers. In other words, it made sense to me because I wrote it, but I wasn’t guiding the reader well. I don’t think we should spoon feed readers like we sometimes do, but they needed more help than I was giving.
My early work was marred by very poor drawing. I’ve always said that drawing was the hardest thing I ever learned to do. No one thought I would make it as an artist. My father told me I was mediocre. When my instructors asked me to not return to art school it was mostly because I was immature and disruptive, but they also said I would not make it because I didn’t have the skills.
I kept with it because it was the only thing that was me. It was the only thing I had for myself. Everyone was telling me to do something else. I was intellectually smart, but the world frightened me, and I wanted to stay in the world I was creating for myself. It may have sucked, but it was mine. It would take me years longer than it should have because of poor work ethic, but the drawing did improve to the point where people could hire me. It’s still not the strongest thing I offer.
In “Two Hemispheres,” you’ve got me where I’m putting a lot more effort into the drawing 60 to 70 per cent of the time. There are a couple of nice panels in there, but most of it is overworked or not considered enough. I’d balance it out in later stories, but this is where I started to get really serious. The large size of the project (for me at the time) was what I needed to immerse myself. Thankfully, every time I put pencil to paper back then, I got back twice what I put into it.
I used a number of different storytelling techniques, and I preferred the experimental over the traditional in my early pieces. Repeated panels, breaking sentences into words over multiple panels, and the decorative use of architecture and signage came out of people like Walt Simonson’s Manhunter and Todd McFarlane’s Infinity Inc. The marquee light that becomes the projector is a drawn version of a film transition.
Up next : The never-before-seen (at least by you) The Brave & The Bold with Batman and Three up against a darker Riddler.