Friday, January 8, 2010

Are You Ready For Monster Patrol?

I've mentioned about a million times that I'm the midst of working on quite a few projects these days, one of which involved a seemingly one-off appearance by an oddball team of creatures called Monster Patrol.

The Monster Patrol was conceived by me years ago after the first Creepsville series went to temporary rest in cancelation land. For those few of you who never saw it, Creepsville was my homage to cheesy, low budget horror films... particularly the rubber suit monster types. Monster Patrol went one step further in my manic desire to draw monsters, this time having them as the central characters in the comic.

I had a goofy idea. Suppose you took a handful of those great old monsters drawn by Jack Kirby for Marvel in the late 50s - early 60s and I made them the good guys... fighting crime. I thought of the fun of drawing a story with a huge monster tip toeing through city streets chasing bad guys. I started designing them, getting an idea of what types of creatures would make up this group.

The breakdown was a 4 creature team led by a scientist named Dr. Malone along with a robot woman named Martha. If you noticed that Dr. Malone shares the same surname as the family in Creepsville, there's a reason for that... which will be revealed sooner or later.

Without giving too much away, the monsters are Dr. Bigfoot, Neptus (a sea monster), Kona (a living statue of the Easter Island variety) and Xarkorr (a giant space invader). I set to work creating an origin story of this team when along came Chris Ecker.

Chris Ecker was one of my co-workers at the late HERO Illustrated magazine, but I already knew him from years of working in the comics retail biz... I owned a comic store and Chris was working at Moondogs. When I got the gig of editor at HERO, one of the best moves that Sendai Publications ever did was to hire Chris. At that time, Chris was also one of the creators (with Gary Carlson) and creative forces on a comic published by Image, called Big Bang Comics. Big Bang spun stories told in retro style, for example the Knight Watchman drawn in an uncanny Dick Sprang style of the great, old Batman comics. It says Tom King drew it, but I've gotta give Chris his credit for drawing some gorgeous work. Somehow or other, Chris gave me the greenlight to do a homage to those great old Brave and the Bold DC team-up comics of the 60s that would appear in a future Big Bang.

I created a 9 page story (including a fake cover) for a series called The Free and the Brave. Rather than doing a Batman riff, I used an oddball character I had laying around called Johnny Ruckus; a co-creation with a very talented guy named Ron Murphy of Tor Love Betty fame (published by Fantagraphics under their Eros Comics imprint). A future blog will cover Johnny more in depth, but basically he was a take on the 60s Captain Action toy line. I think of him as sort of a boy scout-like Superman with no powers.

Even though I had been working on the Monster Patrol origin story, here was an opportunity to debut the team. I decided to not to tell how they came to be, but drop in hints from the bigger story in a seeming one-shot comic story. This was just the established team, operating more like DC Comics' Metal Men than anything King Kirby created. Published in Big Bang Comics #16, the story also teased at the end that the Patrol would be back next year... which didn't happen.

I get the feeling that a lot of people weren't sure what to make of the story. It was deliberately humorous in style, whereas most of the Big Bang comics were played straight. One review of the story flattered me greatly saying something like the comic was "more Kurtzman than Kirby." That reviewer really seemed to like it, though the cover of that issue doesn't even hint at the story inside.

Let's jump way ahead to today. What you have here is that story presented for the first time in full color. Though it's intended to be a part of a larger project (Secret Project #2), I decided some time ago to reprint the whole story right here. Click on the images below to see the larger versions.

I hope you enjoy it. I had a lot of fun drawing it way back when and more fun now coloring it. Oh, and click on the images to see the larger versions.

Oh, and I promise that this time, there is more Monster Patrol fun ahead. I am hard at work coloring the Patrol's origin story and will be posting it here... one page at a time, sort of like my Agents of Peril strip.

Enjoy the story, and as Neptus says, "GROWWF!"

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