I believe it was Tom Grummett, who was a friend of a friend, who introduced me to Ron Fortier during one of the San Diego Comicons I attended. Ron told me about Dave Darrigo, of Wordsmith fame, and his young publishing company Special Studio. Dave is a Canadian and was based in Brantford, Ontario. Ron was helping Dave find an artist for a story for the premiere issue of Black Scorpion. The Black Scorpion was a black version of the Green Hornet. Not that the Green Hornet was green, but you know that, right?
Download the Black Scorpion 1 PDF. You’ll enjoy it more if you read the blog post first.
During my time working for Malibu, the offer to pencil the Black Scorpion story came in. At the same time, Tom Mason at Malibu felt that he could take the chance on me to do a three-issue mini series of my own after drawing a couple of short stories and inking The Men in Black : Book II.
Malibu had some success with licensed properties, and they offered me full art duties on an adaptation of a horror film they had bought the rights to. I forget what it was, but it was pretty much an excuse for excessive violence. I really felt uncomfortable contemplating drawing it. Explicit sex, no problem, but gratuitous violence wasn’t cool with me and I didn’t want my name attached to it.
With the offer from Special Studio on the table, and it being the pulpish heroic stuff I very much enjoyed doing, I decided to pass on the mini series from Malibu.
There were other factors as well. The memory of being overwhelmed working on The Eradicators, doing full art while holding down a full-time day job, was pretty clear in my mind, and Tom was clear about needing to keep deadlines. Fair enough. But the pay was pretty low from what I can recall and I couldn’t see the upside of doing work that didn’t jazz me for little compensation.
Today, I might have handled it differently, seeing that doing well on that mini series could have led to bigger things, but I rarely thought beyond the next thing. So I called Tom and turned down the job. It took him aback because I told him it was the material I had a real problem with. He said, uh, well I suppose we could try and find something else for you. I could have been a great deal more gracious about it. But I gave a pretty flat no, I’m going to go and do this. And that was how it ended. Really, it’s a wonder I ever got work with my attitude. To be clear, I think I made the right decision to do the Black Scorpion story, but I burned a bridge with my lack of diplomatic skills.
Focussing solely on the pencilling for this story changed my approach. I often left small details out when I knew I was going to ink the stuff myself. But an inker generally needs pretty clear drawings to work with. I upped the amount of detail to generally good effect. I was still not designing black areas well, and I broke a few limbs unintentionally, but I certainly did love drawing this story. It took me longer to draw this than previous stories because of the higher level of detail and I missed my deadline by a bit. Thankfully, Dave liked the work and he was more than accommodating. I’ve always appreciated his consideration.
The inker, Jim Scott, wasn’t as happy with that. By coincidence, he lived in Calgary as well. On top of making him wait, I was more than a little demanding with how he inked some of the panels. Again, could have handled that better. Overall, he did a pretty good job with what he had to work with.
The scans are from the comic. I still have a couple of the original pages. Dave bought a few, and some were sold at convention appearances.
This story brought me to the attention of Alpha Productions. Ron Fortier was working with them, and an offer to pencil a three-issue mini series came some time after doing Black Scorpion. But before we get to that post and bring to a close this period of my comics work, we’ll look at a couple of submissions that were done to try to get work from DC Comics.
“Double Take” appeared in Black Scorpion #1, April 1991, with a cover by the amazing Peter Grau.
Up next : Submission packages to DC.