I’ve read a lot of interviews with comic book creators over the years. Interviews probably make up a good chunk of my education. Most comic book artists mention that they made their own comic book as kids. I’ve always felt a little insecure in my abilities because I can’t say that I’ve got many childhood comics book under my belt. I was the type of kid that copied other comic book artists, drew nice pin-ups of super-heroes, and creating my own characters. I never really drew sequential panels. I never was compelled to staple folded paper in half and fill up the pages with stories. I drew one comic in fourth grade for a creative writing assignment. It was/is barely two pages worth of content. Hopefully I can share it someday.
Having been exposed to superheroes from an early age, I have always considered myself a fan. I started really getting into comic books around fourth grade. I would buy and trade Uncanny X-men, Classic X-men, Amazing Spider-man, G.I. Joe and Batman comics. I probably became an official addict during the time of the “Batman: A Death in Family” series coupled with bat mania sweeping the nation. Tim Burton’s Batman had a profound impact on me. This was back in the days when you would have to wait years for the VHS release. So the following when CBS aired the first commercial for The Flash, I was hooked. The commercial showcased the superheroic antics and bombastic score mixed with big-budget special effects and would be broadcasted for free(!) into my living room.
Following the premier of the first episode, for whatever reason, I HAD to adapt it into book form. Every superhero t-shirt, underoo, wash cloth, action figure, blanket, movie, and comic book had led to this point. The Flash TV show was the tipping point. The dam broke. Watching that premier charged me with this creative impulse to make a book. This is probably the closest thing to a childhood comic I have.
I HAD to make it a reality, but I couldn’t do it alone.
I went to school with my mom for nine years. We lived in the Astoria Park school zone, but my mom taught at Kate Sullivan since I was two. Pretty much my whole life. By the fall of 1990, I was attending next door neighbor Cobb Middle School. Kate Sullivan started at around 8:30ish and Cobb started the day around 9:10ish. I had time to kill in the mornings before my school started. ALL of the aforementioned could be said for the Stephens brothers. Their mom had known my mom for years. They taught together. Both Stephens brothers attended Cobb. Rather than doing homework, we decided to spend our mornings working on this Flash book. Somehow I did manage to get homework done (I considered myself a “decent” student.) A school education paled in comparison to a Flash education. A lot of the writing consisted of me dictating the story to older brother Chuck (he was the best typist by this point.) I really just wanted to draw ( at least 93% of the time.) Sometimes Kevin Stafford would drop by my mom’s classroom in the morning to help. I don’t really remember in what capacity, but I thought adding another name to the credits gave the project some extra heft.
Looking at the book now, I can’t help but see it as an artifact of its time.
The book was written in the back corner of my mom’s classroom on her Apple II. The title page needed something special. Enter: Printshop (Pro/Deluxe?)
There’s a really funny youtube video that walks you through the program here. You can see that we used it to great effect: fancy borders, and a “three-dimensional” “Flash Font” for the title.
The word processing program that we used didn’t have spell check. It didn’t have much of anything. The font choices were limited to “bold” “underlined” “italic” and “shadow.” I’m pretty sure you could change the type size from small, to medium, and large. The pages were printed on a noisy dot matrix printer. All four edges of the paper are rough from the perforation tears. Back then, the noise from the printer was the sound of victory. The machine applauded a job well done. Nowadays it’s just irritating and abrasive.
Creating this Flash book was personal milestone. It is fitting that this month marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the first Flash TV series. October 2015 also represents another milestone and uncharted territory for fans of any Flash T.V. series…the debut of a second season!