Monday, June 14, 2021

Down the Rabbit Hole

How meta can we go?

Because here's the thing. You know what I've always REALLY wanted to do? I've wanted to create my own comic book universe: my own MCU. And, the game is an attempt to do that, to fashion a world that replicates a comic book universe.

But what if I go 'all in' on this concept? What if I create a fictional superhero comic series to go with it? Here's the pitch:

Doc Stalwart appeared in a comic series during the 1930s called "The Thrilling Adventures of Doc Stalwart". This clunky title lasted only 17 issues, as Doc mostly battled normal burglars and petty warlords. Notably, Simian Prime made his first appearance here, although he appeared as "The Simian Overlord" of an unnamed city of gorillas. He proved so popular that battling gorillas (and gorilla-like creatures, gorilla-shaped robots, giant gorillas, and other-planetary gorillas) has become a recurring schtick in his comics since. This was published by The Stalwart Publishing Company, which folded soon after the 17th issue was released. It teased "A new direction" starting in issue 18, but that never appeared. Rumors persist that it was actually completed, and the original creative team of Lee Stanford (writer) and Kirby Jackson (artist) still argue over where the pages went.  

Doc Stalwart's modern adventures started in "The Mighty Doc Stalwart", published in April of 1964, released by New Stalwart Press. The comic has continued publication monthly since then, although it has had several title (and theme) changes in the time since. It survived a few reboots, but continues on even today (today being 1984, by the way). Since it's been published monthly for over 20 years, it recently celebrated its landmark 250th issue. It's kind of a big deal. Kirby Jackson came out of retirement to draw the cover for the landmark issue. Lee Stanford has been more involved, acting alternately as the writer and the editor of the series at various times over its run.

The first 100 issues centered on Doc Stalwart as the hero of the city of Midvale. At first, it was a 'villain of the month' series, with Doc facing off against a wide range of costumed bad guys that became his rogue's gallery. Starting at issue 50, the 24-page Doc adventures were supplemented by "From the World of Doc Stalwart", 8-page featurettes of secondary characters and other heroes in Doc's world. Sometimes, these would also include stories of Doc's childhood, or even of normal characters in Doc's world who were notable in the main storyline.

After the first 100 issues, the comic was rebranded as "Doc Stalwart and the Victory Legion" starting at issue 101, in July 1975. Doc moved to the great city of Meridian, forming a team with several secondary characters who had appeared in the back pages of his book. Over dozens of issues, Doc continually met new heroes, often recruiting them for the Victory Legion. However, he continued to take part in solo adventures as well, but the nature and scope of his adventures expanded considerably. Starting around issue 150, the series took a cosmic turn, as Doc went on several adventures including other dimensions, planets, and realities. He engaged in time travel, met future descendants of himself, and even visited the beginning and end of the world. 

As an 'event' to increase sales, the 200th issue marked "the Death of Doc Stalwart!" This continued on for two years, as the Victory Legion became the center of the book, each issue focusing on a different character. However, sales lagged soon, and fan demand to bring Doc back lead to the 'return of Doc Stalwart' storyline starting in issue 220. 

Starting with Issue 226, Doc helped to establish the Citadel of Tomorrow, moving his adventures there. The 250th issue of Doc Stalwart and the Victory Legion featured a massive battle with cosmic forces. However, the editors and fans agreed that it was time to bring Doc back to his roots, at the center of the series. Starting at issue 251, the series has been re-titled as "The New Adventures of Doc Stalwart", The stories I have released thus far are prose adaptations of issues 251, 252, and 253...

This means that a character's stat block will also include his or her first appearance. I would have to keep a separate spreadsheet going with the various issues of Doc Stalwart, who appeared, and what the basic plot was (and maybe even the fictional creative team that was at the helm - along with all the backstage drama that went into that issue). This would be so much work, and would include tons of stuff nobody would ever see, but it was be a BLAST to work on. 

1 comment:

  1. As I read this over, I think about something George Lucas said about Star Wars that stuck with me - he created a huge backstory that nobody would ever see, but that was okay, because they would still 'feel' it. I think the more I invest in the comic world of Doc Stalwart stories, the more authenticity the things in the game will have by default.