High School Knights

View Larger
More art from the late 1970s, this time by me.
Above are The Phenomenals, a superhero team Scott and I created—I can still remember that among them are Striker, Cirrus, Thrombor, Kinetika, Starflare, Kilgore (the bad guy), Zero and…um, I don’t remember who the others were. Scott created some of them, including Thrombor the Human Superball, Zero and the guy with the diamond-shaped goggles whose name I can’t remember, and I created most of the others, I think.
This was drawn in 1977, it says here. I really liked Jim Starlin’s elaborate montages, does it show?
View Larger
And this is Falstaff, who I’m pretty sure was a character Scott created—a kind of a “holy fool” who charged into dangerous situations without much strategy or sense, but had a “luck” power that would have him do just the right thing, usually by mistake. This is probably from 1978 or 1979, and you can see that I liked Neal Adams’s work at least as much as I liked Jim Starlin’s. This was the part of doing the art that I liked—figures and costumes and explosions. And hey, look, I drew in my own Zip-a-tone, by hand! When I tried to get serious about drawing backgrounds, like curbs and fire hydrants and building foundations, I rapidly discovered that I wanted to tell stories far more than I wanted to draw illustrations.

Once More With Feeling

Back when we were in high school, Scott McCloud and I made some comics together. One was a 60-page epic knockabout confrontation among Marvel superheroes in our hometown, called The Battle of Lexington, which destroyed our school and a number of area landmarks. That’s the project that, more than any other, let us figure out what making comics was about, and how to approach telling a story visually. The other major project we worked on together was a benefit comic, Pow Biff Pops, done to help raise money for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. I wrote it, and Scott did layouts for the artist, our friend Chris Bing, now an award-winning children’s-book illustrator. That one was actually published and sold, and even done as a slideshow at the Pops opening-day concert the year we did it.
But that’s not all we did. This, Once More With Feeling, was a story we did in 1978, the summer after graduating from high school and before starting college. We had decided, as I recall, that Jim Starlin’s recurring champion-of-life characters were all far too grim and serious to be champions of something as energetic and fulsome as life, so we set out to show the world how it should be done, a champion-of-life-versus-champion-of-death story that actually had a lively, upbeat guy championing life.
I wrote it, Scott drew it, and I lettered it—with a Pilot Razorpoint pen, as I recall, at my parents’ dining-room table. I don’t remember the process of writing it, but boy, do I remember lettering it. You can see why Scott adopted a very simple, clean ink line after this—all that crosshatching must have been a hellacious amount of work. I’ll also throw in here that Scott has always insisted that he liked my lettering on this story, and I should have done more. I have always insisted that what he really liked about it was that he didn’t have to do it himself for once. Looking at it all these years later, I agree with my younger self. But then, Scott may still like it—who knows?
To see the first page larger—along with the rest of the first eight pages—click here:
The whole thing was 24 pages long, I think. Maybe we’ll find a place to show off the whole thing, someday.


Something from the file cabinet.
This is early Scott McCloud artwork, an illustration he did in the very early 1980s, before either of us had broken in to the comics business. It was, if I’m remembering correctly, for an article I did for one of New Media/Irjax’s magazines, either Comics Feature or LoC. The article was discussing Henry Kuttner’s novel Mutant, and the ways it may have inspired the creation of the X-Men. There was a sidebar, done at the editor’s request, discussing the then-popular Clan of the Cave Bear series by Jean M. Auel, riffing off an oft-asked question in the original run of X-Men: “What did the last Neanderthal say to the first Cro-Magnon?”
This was our answer.
[If you’d like to see it larger, with all the age-staining brought into great focus for your edification and amusement, click here.]
I have a bunch of this stuff—early artwork by me, Scott, our pal Adam Philips (now in Marketing at DC Comics) and more, and I’ll throw some up here from time to time. I asked Scott for the original to this back when he did it, and have kept it all these years because I’ve always liked the matter-of-fact expressions on these fellows’ faces.