More Than Meets the Eye 

File this under "kick to the head".

During a chat last week, a bunch of us long-time small press creators were bemoaning the various trials and tribulations we've been through in our sordid careers. It primarily centered on how much work we'd done in the past and never gotten paid for (yes, cartoonists actually do get paid for their talents). A lot of us do love our craft, and are more than willing to do almost anything to see our stuff in print.

So I started running a long list of stuff I'd done with the first publisher I ever worked with, Blackthorne Publishing. After 4 years of free-lancing, I was owed well over $4000 for work I'd done with signed contracts. Signed contracts which apparently hold no sway when a company files for bankruptcy. By the time 40 of us creators were informed of their impending doom, I was told that it wasn't even worth the price of a stamp to file for recompense, the list of creditors was that long.

Ah, such is the life of a struggling cartoonist.

Anyway, one of the books I'd done was a 3-D comic of Transformers. It was a dream project of mine. I watched the show religiously (this was during their first incarnation, around 1985) and had quite the collection amassed. I even saw the movie twice, once with the entire theatre empty save for my presence.

I got curious during our chat, and decided to Google for any mention of anything I'd done for Blackthorne. I mean, sometimes it's amazing to see where you're listed throughout the internet. So imagine my surprise when I came across this review for the Transformers 3-D comic.

I was shocked. Not only was it a mention of the very comic I was talking about, it was a positive review of the very same. The reviewer got so many of the subtlties I was trying to throw in, and even appreciated the cartoony style I worked with. No, my name isn't listed in the credits (the licensed titles Blackthorne often "forgot" to mention who worked on the book), but I'm taking steps to get that corrected. I've contacted the webmaster -- who's already gotten back to me -- and I've been asked to do an interview about the story.

It's been 18 years since I did that story. I had intended to do a three part sory arc, but refused to work further until I got paid. Which never happened. Which meant the story never saw completion. Now I have to pick my brain and stir up what few memories remain about the plot.

But who cares!?! Not only does this come at the crest of a wave of celebrations for the Transformers' 20th Anniversary, but Thing 1 has just gotten into collecting they toys. He can now brag to his friends that his Daddy wrote and drew a comic about some of his favorite toys.

This is almost better than getting paid for the book. Well, almost . . .

I just finished my first comic book work in years. which has left me feeling quite good about my abilities. The story made my letterer laugh outloud. Then I find out than an ancient book I thought had been relegated to the relative obscurity of comic book lore is actually remembered with fondness by those who enjoy Transformers.

For once, I am actually looking forward to working on my next story.

Doc "Optimus Illustrator" Absurd



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