The Global Gazette was conceived of as a Showcase-style book. I had a lot of ideas over the years and I wanted to get all of them out there.
metrOwerks appeared in the second issue and was my take on the high-adventure comic strip. If Three was my response to the super-hero comics I read growing up, metrOwerks drew upon newspaper adventure strips, Tintin, science fiction, and European comics I had first read in Heavy Metal magazine. I like to think of it as Time Tunnel meets a twisted version of the Green Lantern Corps.
Download The Global Gazette 2 PDF. You’ll enjoy it more if you read the blog post first.
In many ways it has the potential to be a more mature and layered concept than Three. It’s also the one I wrote half a dozen scripts for, and even though they’d need some updating now, they’re some of the better writing I’ve done. They were begun in the late Eighties and they’re markedly different from the costumed hero stuff.
The plane-folding manual was one of the earliest pieces for it, and was written in 1988 when I was reading the Seth books by Jane Roberts. It was a bit of goofy geometry concepts combined with new-age metaphysics. I have no idea where it really came from. I know I wrote it, but I produced nothing like it before or since. 1988 was a starving year for me, so perhaps it was due to being malnourished.
metrOwerks was well received by the readers, with a number of people commenting on the realistic downbeat opening making an interesting contrast with the lighter story that followed.
The logo was one of the best I’ve done. In some ways I miss hand-drawing logos because it was an exacting form of illustration, but doing the work in Illustrator over an initial rough sketch allows for creating a lot of variations in a short period of time.
Unfortunately, this is the only story that was produced. It came down to a choice between whether to continue with Three or metrOwerks. After doing a few issues of the Gazette, I realised I only had so much time and energy for comics. Both concepts, if done right, were quite large, and I wouldn’t be doing either book a service by dividing my energies.
The other consideration was the scope of metrOwerks. This opening story was self contained. How I wrote the succeeding stories was much bigger, as in a cast of thousands with a lot of historical research (harder then, would be easier now). You’d need to have very-involved art to do that justice, like the work of British artists Frank Bellamy (Dan Dare) or Don Lawrence (The Trigan Empire), or that amazing Roman toy soldier ad by Russ Heath that ran for decades in American comics.
To my credit, I realised that would take more artistic maturity than I had then. I always thought I would build Three first, and then metrOwerks would be the later work, like Alex Raymond on Flash Gordon before he moved on to his masterpiece Rip Kirby. Not that I’m saying I compare to Raymond, you understand. So that’s why you’re not seeing those unproduced scripts here.
By producing and distributing the Gazette, I began to make contacts, some local, most of them in other cities and countries. It led me to a group of small press publishers called The United Fanzine Organization (UFO). I joined between producing the metrOwerks issue of the Gazette, and the Captain Africa special that followed it. We swapped comics with each other, and contributed reviews and pieces of interest through the group zine Tetragrammaton Fragments. My section was called “Rag’n'Rave.” Overall, it was a good experience with my work being generally well received.
During the production of the first two issues of the Gazette, I started up the Big Mini-Comics List. I took the info I was collecting about other people’s publications and created a directory of comics and began sending it out with the comics I was mailing.
Now, I had internet access, but the majority of small press creators did not. So everything then was produce, photocopy, mail, wait, read, respond. The BMCL did a good job in connecting creators to each other, as well as publicising a lot of small press books.
Taking the BMCL online was the next logical step. No printing, regular updates, and an immediate response. Except I got a little obsessive with it towards the end of the Gazettes. Between that and the rest of the new world on the internet, it increasingly disrupted my traditional workflow as I’m sure it did a lot of other people’s. I’d eventually adapt, passing the BMCL to others, but by then I had lost the steam of producing books, and my focus would continue to be drawn away in 1997 with the purchase of my first Mac. More on that in an upcoming post.