Sunday, May 28, 2023

Moar Monsters

I'm working on something of an update for Hack'D & Slash'D, and figured I'd layer in the bestiary I've been working on into the core rules. I'd like to have an illustration each page (so every fourth monster or so would be illustrated). I just started doodling and quickly had three monsters done... I like working in this style. With the Eye Tyrant, I actually did this really, really loose first drawing, and it ended up being really organic looking. I made a copy of the line drawings of the minotaur and eye before I finished them, but for the skelly I just kept drawing. 


Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Freedom's Four

I had to take a sick day today, because I could not talk this morning my throat was so sore. I'm feeling a bit better now, but it gave me some time to just sit and play with some Doc Stalwart stuff... and boy did I make some progress. I've solved the problem with how to release supplements - I'm going to go in 25-issue arcs (I think), focusing on the key characters and concepts that emerged (so there will ultimately be about eleven of these). The first volume of this series covers the Golden Age of Doc Stalwart's comics. I came up with his allies today, and drew them up. This is a classic looking Golden Age team if I've ever seen one... from the left, we have Heartland, Doc Stalwart, Condorian, and the Bronze Beacon.

Stalwart Kid Designs

Since I went back and revised Doc's Golden Age costume, I also had to modify the Stalwart Kid's Golden Age costume... so, I present to you Stalwart Kid I (the Golden Age version, Chet Stalwart) and Stalwart Kid II (a young Nate Stalwart before he became the Silver Age Doc Stalwart). I hope that's confusing - becuase comics history is confusing as all get out.

Monday, May 15, 2023

Golden Age Doc Stalwart

I decided to retrofit my retrofit, and gave Doc a new color scheme for his 'Golden Age' variation - and I freaking LOVE it. This feels like so classic, and I love the idea that it spawned a 'get off my lawn' sort of split among the fandom about the 'best' Doc Stalwart costume design. This feels more old school, but also slightly more iconic, than the version I've been using. I love everything about this.

THIS is a guy that punches Nazis. Right in the face.


Sunday, May 14, 2023

The Complicated History of the Stalwart Kid

The Complicated History of the Stalwart Kid

By Dr. Mike Desing

Originally published in the Comics Inquirer #317, August 1997

(“The Doc Stalwart Issue”)

Throughout the history of Doc Stalwart’s comic adventures, many characters have seen sudden changes, revisions, or outright retcons in the chase for a unified continuity. For no character has this process been more jarring, or more problematic at times, than that of the original Golden Age Stalwart Kid, Chesterfield “Chet” Stalwart. 

First of all, it is important to distinguish this Stalwart Kid (the Stalwart Kid of Alter Earth 1 - often called Stalwart Kid I) from the Silver Age Stalwart Kid (the younger version of Nathaniel Stalwart, who grew up to later become Doc Stalwart - often referred to as Stalwart Kid II - and a backstory mainstay throughout the Silver Age), or from the later clone of Doc Stalwart who became a hero on his own (Stalwart Kid III). 

The original “Chet Stalwart” version of the Stalwart Kid first appeared in the Astounding Doc Stalwart #4 in April, 1937. The nephew of Doc Stalwart, he accidentally found a piece of Meteor X (the same meteor that had given Doc his powers), and quickly assumed a place at his uncle’s side, fighting crime. He appeared in almost every issue thereafter, as Doc’s faithful sidekick.

The end of Doc’s Golden Age series appeared to be the end of this character. However, Lord Synchronous, the Master of Time (who first appeared in Mighty Doc Stalwart #111, the beginning of the “Doc of Two Worlds” storyline) revealed that there was another Doc Stalwart (Doc Stalwart I), who had a sidekick named the Stalwart Kid, but that this Stalwart Kid had “died at the hands of Lord Synchronous the Time Master”. This appeared to finalize the fate of the original Golden Age Stalwart Kid.   

However, it was later revealed (Mighty Doc Stalwart #163) that the Stalwart Kid I of the Golden Age world of Doc Stalwart (referred for the first time here as “Alter Earth 1”), had actually survived. It was soon revealed that Lord Synchronous the Time Master, who was attempting to merge alternate timelines into one, was actually the original Stalwart Kid, Chesterfield Stalwart. This was one of the biggest surprises in Doc Stalwart history, and ended up being a very divisive choice among the fandom. The letters column for the next year contained letters from outraged fans that Doc’s own nephew would have been the one to turn on him in such a way. Lord Synchronous went on to become one of Doc’s most persistent villains, and the fact that this was a nephew of his own from an alternate timeline only increased the stakes in their various battles.

However, the smaller controversy of this reveal paled in comparison to what would happen in 1992. In Mighty Doc Stalwart #307, during “The Great Time Conundrum” storyline, it was revealed that Lord Synchronous had been gay the entire time, and his attraction to Doc Stalwart was what had caused him to turn to evil. This decision was met with immediate, and universal, derision. 

To much of the mainstream, that a gay character appeared in comics was still largely unfathomable. This caused Doc Stalwart to receive national attention, much of it negative. In some states, his comic series was temporarily banned. However, those who supported gay rights were even more outraged. The National Foundation of Gay Rights issued the following statement: “while we are heartened by efforts to bring gay characters into the mainstream of our culture, we are shocked and saddened by the thoughtless way this has been done in this instance. To suggest that a gay character would be motivated by being gay to commit atrocities does significant harm to our work for acceptance. Furthermore, to have this character be the nephew to the character he is attracted to is a level of inferred incest that is difficult to fathom. That anyone thought this was a good idea is beyond the pale”.

While New Stalwart Press issued an immediate apology, and made significant financial contributions to the NFGR, the damage was done. This ultimately became one of the darkest marks on the history of the series, and one of the greatest mis-steps in comics publishing history. While Lord Synchronous continued to appear thereafter, all references to his sexuality were notable by their absence.

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Formatting Options

As I work on the Official Handbook of the Stalwart Age, I have several options for how to organize and publish this resource. My three options at present are the 'big book', the 'supplements', and the 'newsletter'.

In all cases, this will have character stat blocks, some new rules, overviews of Doc Stalwart comics and stories, and extra world-building stuff (for example, more information on various locations). 

The big-book approach would (attempt to) be comprehensive. I'm thinking maybe 32 pages, with 50+ character profiles, several Doc issue overviews, and every major location. This one would end up being my summer project (which I'm fine with).

The supplement approach would be maybe 12 pages each... and I'd do maybe 3 of these over time. These are more manageable in the short term (I could have the first one done in a few weeks), but I'm not sure how they'd be themed... I was thinking in terms of points in the story (the first hundred issues of Doc Stalwart, then issues 101-200, then issues 201-250...) I kind of like this approach (maybe the most of my three options) because it's sizeable releases, but could also include different versions of a variety of characters. There could be different 'versions' of Doc depending on where we are in the story. This might be the most fun to tinker with. I could even break it out further into 50-issue arcs, giving me 5 total books to do (so far)... if it's a comprehensive book, I'd have to know what happened in every issue of the series for all time. That's a bit much, but chewing on it 50 issues at a time might be doable. Plus, it's a one-sentence summary of each one, so I can leave plenty of options for later coming back and adding more layers.

The newsletter approach would be maybe 4-6 pages, with ten characters and a few add-ons each issue. This gives me more time and space to develop things, although it would be much more scattershot. I'm thinking of this as the Marvel Phile approach: maybe take one character or storyline and really focus on it, fleshing out the main characters, supporting characters, and key issues. This might mean I have an issue on Simian Prime, which would include his major appearances, his Simian Seven Apes, an overview of Simian City, and maybe some of his inventions. The Stalwart Phile? Alternately, I could use the supplement idea, but handle this in 10-issue chunks... but comics don't always neatly break into ten-issue chunks of story, but I could always bend the real world rules to fit my comic narrative reality. Hmmm.

I am no closer to a solution.


Saturday, May 6, 2023

The Elusive Improved Stat Block

Creating the perfect stat block is something that continues to elude me. I worked a bit on stat blocks for Stalwart Age when I first released it, and then made some modifications when I did Shards. In general, the Shards block looks cleaner. Throughout, I had replaced semicolons with vertical slashes (not sure if those have a specific name), and they gave the whole thing a sleeker look. I also re-formatted from columns to across the page, so a wider rather than taller stat block. Finally, in this example, I went back to the original drawing and added a few bolder lines that make the image pop better. Below are my before and after stat blocks for Bronze Beacon. It's still in progress, and might see more adjustments, but it's coming along... Edit: After getting some feedback from Mary, I came up with option #3, which might be a bit stronger...