TOYS IN THE ATTIC
Twenty years ago, as a young editor at Marvel Comics in London, I commissioned a comic book series with the unlikely title, THE SLEEZE BROTHERS.
THE SLEEZE BROTHERS were created by two likely lads named John Carnell and Andy Lanning. To cut a long story short, after commissioning all six scripts for the series, and overseeing the pencilling, inking and lettering for the first three issues or so, I left the SLEEZE at Marvel and left for foreign shores, settling eventually in sunny California.
THE SLEEZE BROTHERS went ahead under the care of Dan Abnett, but after the sixth issue was published, it was abandoned in favour of other titles and directions, including KNIGHTS OF PENDRAGON and the STRIP anthology. Thanks to the good graces of Epic Comics' Archie Goodwin, THE SLEEZE BROTHERS had been published as an Epic Comic and, as such, was technically owned by the creators... as soon as five years elapsed after the publication of the last issue.
To cut another long story short, after the publication by Marvel's Epic imprint in New York of a SLEEZE BROTHERS one shot, and a short in an EPIC anthology book, the rights reverted to John and Andy and are now in the care of FOOF Productions, helmed by another Andy, Andy Banks and John Carnell hisself.
John Carnell, who regular readers of this blog will remember introduced me to the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin, and I have remained close friends throughout the last twenty years and have spoken often about the idea of returning THE SLEEZE BROTHERS to their former, uh, sleaziness... and in just a few months they will be making their digitally re-mastered debut in the back pages of my monthly Image Comics title, ELEPHANTMEN. Featuring new colour by Gregory BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN Wright and new digital lettering by Yours BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE Truly, our intent is to drag THE SLEEZE BROTHERS kicking and screaming into the 21st Century.
But that's all by-the-by... I wrote to Andy Lanning a little earlier this year and it so happened that he'd been sorting through boxes in his attic and discovered a box of artwork I'd left with him for safekeeping nearly twenty years ago!
I'd quite forgotten some of the pieces I'd collected from the many talented artists I worked with at Marvel UK over the years, so when I opened Andy's Fedex package a week or so after we talked, a flood of memories came rushing in...
This piece was the cover to DRAGON'S CLAWS #2. Geoff Senior was at the peak of his game and the art he was creating for DRAGON'S CLAWS was undoubtedly amongst his best work. I prised this piece off him because it's just A Great Cover!
This shot of Death's Head was also intended as a cover to DRAGON'S CLAWS -- issue #5, in fact -- but was considered to be a little too passive for an action comic, and was replaced with a shot of Death's Head clocking Dragon on the jaw.
These next two pages, which also feature Death's Head, are actually from DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE #135. As editor of both DEATH'S HEAD, the DOCTOR WHO comic strip and TRANSFORMERS I was always eager to create the sense of a shared universe, and there was also the problem of transferring Death's Head, who was as tall as the Transformers he was created to hunt down, to the world of Dragon and his Claws, who inhabited a world six thousand years in the future and were a whole lot shorter. Enter the Doctor and his time machine, the TARDIS, and one of the Master's matter compression eliminators...
Seeing all these bits and pieces after twenty years is a little bit like finding photos of yourself with a mullet or a ponytail (I won't tell you which one I had in the 80's!)... it's hard to believe so much time has passed and even harder to discern whether or not the art or stories have any relevance today as anything other than curiosity pieces.
Marvel UK has already collected together the DEATH'S HEAD stories and are planning a DRAGON'S CLAWS collection for later this year... and DOCTOR WHO Collected Comics editor Clayton Hickman assures me that the seventh Doctor stories I edited while listening to A-Ha and Tanita Tikaram in Arundel House will be collected any time now... all I ask of you when you read them is that you kindly remember that a lot of people had ponytails back in those distant days, and no one laughed or pointed out that we looked like complete pillocks.