by Michael Wolff

26 January 2003, Post 68:
"Remember Supercar #0? Sure You Do!"

Goodytane, Brethren!

It has been kindly pointed out to me that I hadn't mentioned Supercar #0 in recent posts, and to that I must plead Ever So Guilty. In defense, M'Lud, I offer mitigating circumstances. I wanted to bring all of you lovely poeple up to speed on the other Misc!MAYHEM titles, enticing you to save whatever cash you have on hand and would, therefore, pick up all the comics and keep me off the street.

Another reason has been due to that little demon known as Timing. We're getting close . . . Very Close . . . to the actual moment when the #0 issue should be on the stands, and it's sort of a juggle to coordinate these posts so that I don't trip over myself when the Moment occurs. I mean, it's going to be a wholly different worlds, isn't it? Up to now we've been operating in the time BC (Before Comic). We've all been Chums.

But now Supercar #0 is on the verge of actually being released (barring fear, fire, flood and the cussedness of Man). Once that happens it'll be a whole different ball game. You'll actually be able to stack all this commentary and promise and teasing and such against Cold Hard Reality.

Small wonder I shiver in my bed.

(That and the seasonal cold.)

OK, but let's go over the situation once again, buttressed by the most recent poop from Mister Kez. Supercar #0 . . . "Silver Trap" . . . will be on the comic store stands by the middle of February. All the legal hassles and wranglings and machinations and sacrifices should finally be out of the way (I hope) and, come Valentine's Day, you should be camped out in front of your local emporium to snatch a copy (or two, or two thousand) of Supercar #0 out of the hands of some grubby little lowlife who's trying to beat your time.

(Of course, if there's more than one copy of the book available at the store, and if the Grubby Little Lowlife has hard geedus with which to purchase said copy, then it might be a friendly gesture to actually let the GLL make the buy. At least you can satisfy yourself with sneering at the GLL and remarking, "*I* actually *know* Michael Wolff! HAR!)

No, doing comic books is not easy. And I'm more than beginning to suspect that, for every one independent effort which gets off the ground, there are probably twenty or more which don't.

And yes, it hasn't hurt to be working on something which already possesses a fan base. But the assets are balanced out by the liabilities such a distinction brings. Especially in dealing with a property such as Supercar, which is part of a stable of properties (i.e. Anderson programs) currently in flux due to increased commercial interest. There's been a virtual sea of licensing arrangements, copyright headaches and negotiations which would not have come into play had Kez and I gone with a wholly original project.

But, if we'd done that, we never would've become involved with you friendly types. So an asset now balances out the liability.

We'll see. Especially in a matter of weeks from now, after all of you have had a chance to examine the fruits of this long labor.

Yeah, 2003 is going to be Something.

What, I don't know . . . but it'll be Something.

Michael Wolff
The Mojocave

19 January 2003, Post 67: "What Now, Doc?"

It's A Quarter To Three...And There's No One At The Bar, But You And Me-eeeee...

And, all inebriated stupor aside, welcome back to Uncle Mikey's spiked spoke on the wheel of Karma. Apologies for me being recently absent, but periodically I have to make contact with my alien masters . . .

Ah, I actually meant to say I have to attend to certain items on my slate.

But absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder, and by that I mean the appreciation I've experienced at reading the very kind comments which many of you recently made in favor of the efforts which Kez and I have put ourselves through on behalf of these comics. Lauren Bacall was right . . . it's all about applause.

For my part I need to point out how a great deal of your praise needs to be directed at Mister Kez. There is no way in heck I would've been able to leap over all the hurdles he's faced . . . or wove through the labyrinths of bureaucracy and business with the ease he's demonstrated. More than likely if we knew then what we knew now . . .

But that's all part and parcel of it, isn't it? This has to be a Labor of Love. No one in their right mind takes on this sort of thing if all they want to do is make money.

But, then again, if all Kez and I were doing was trying to make money, I seriously doubt we'd be receiving as many accolades from so many good people. I'm not going to lie: Money would be nice. But the support and good wishes we've received from all of you have gone a Very Long Way towards eliminating a lot of headaches we've faced.

And it only makes me want to try harder to make sure the end product is as entertaining as possible. Thank you. Thank you very much.

And, speaking of trying harder . . .

Working in Adventure Fiction raises some particular questions that you don't usually encounter in other genres. The one which confronts me more than most . . . and the reason behind this post . . . deals with Motivation.

We presume, for instance, that Mike Mercury is a sensible and rational person. One would hope that Doctor Beaker and Professor Popkiss didn't want to put Supercar in the hands of a flighty nutbar. Not only that but, as a rule, flighty nutbars do not live long enough to qualify as test pilots.

So, in adventure after adventure, we have the sensible and rational Mike Mercury leaping behind the controls of a sophisticated vehicle and voluntarily putting himself into danger. Facing crazed island dictators . . . wandering into ancient tombs . . . shooting down airborne explosive packages . . . skydiving out of runaway balloons . . .

This is sensible? Rational?

Hardly. Not the sort of thing one expects out of a calm-headed test pilot. And Dorothy Gale was just a simple Kansas farm girl who sometimes thought about rainbows. And Bilbo Baggins quite firmly told Gandalf that the residents of Hobbiton had no use for adventures.

In which lies the point, or the secret, to all of this. The best adventures are not sought after . . . the best adventures simply happen! This is what Alfred Hitchcock pointed out in film after film. Roger Thornhill makes a simple gesture in a restaurant and ends up dangling from Mount Rushmore. Melanie Daniels writes down the license plate of a handsome man and has to fight for her life against swarms of attacking birds. Hitchcock seldom had to rely on peppering his stories with two-fisted characters who leaped headlong into disaster. He instinctively knew it was much more thrilling (and oftentimes much more fun) to have ordinary people suddenly finding themselves facing dragons.

Not that I'm accusing Mike of being "ordinary". Test pilots are, by nature, cool and reserved and careful. Courage is what's called for in such a profession, rather than recklessness.

Ah, but aren't coolness and courage just the sort of qualities we wish to see in our heroes?

So we arrive at the genre of Adventure Fiction. The rather ordinary Bilbo Baggins finds himself accompanying some dwarves and a wizard to the Lonely Mountain. Dorothy Gale, the small and meek, is captured by a hurricane and taken to Oz. In both cases these people had to reach into themselves to find untested reserves of will and courage in order to carry the day.

So it could well be with Mike. In the other comics it's not so much of a problem. The agents of SHADO are clearly dedicated to fighting off the alien menace. The officers of the World Space Patrol are equally focused on their job of patrolling the interstellar reaches. Mike is neither facing UFO attacks or invasion by the Subterrains. One suspects that he'd be just as happy putting Supercar through its paces and then kicking back with a little music and some peace and quiet.

But he hears calls for help. He becomes faced with dragons such as Masterspy, or Harper and Judd. He feels the occasional tickle to take Supercar beyond its established limits. Or, more often than not, he ends up stung by whatever bee Doctor Beaker has in his bonnet.

That perhaps is the secret . . . with Bilbo, Dorothy or Mike. Not a character who starts Adventures, but rather a character who Finishes Them.

Michael Wolff
The Mojocave

30 December 2002, The 66th Post: UFO (the comic)

Good Evening, Fellow Inmates!

Completing our mini-series on Misc!MAYHEM projects with a look into the proposed UFO comic book.

As with the Supercar comic, bringing UFO into this format presents an opportunity for change, or at least upgrading the series. And, as with Supercar, the question of course is how much change to apply here.

Off the bat I need to pour some oil upon the water. I want to stem any rising tide of worry or concern which fans of the series might have in regards to our plans. We're all experiencing, as an example, the growing sense of unease surrounding the Thunderbirds movie project which is currently in the works. Perhaps all of this is premature, but I can't help but feel that this film is in the hands of people who not only have little or no knowledge about the source material, but could care less about it.

Allow me to point out that, with our effort, such is Definitely Not the case! Each and every person involved with the comic is not only reasonably familiar with the show, but is a fan as well. In some cases a Severe Fan! We're trying to go the extra effort to make sure that the comic book series identifies as closely as possible with the television episodes.

So. What exactly can the reader of the comic expect?

Well, in discussions with the creative team (as well as some of the fans that I've had a chance to meet in person . . . hello Denise), it's obvious that UFO was a character driven show, and that the central character was Commander Straker. While not wanting to rag on people such as Michael Billington, Vladek Sheybal, Gabrielle Drake and George Sewell, even a casual glance through the episodes will reveal that Ed Bishop quite often carried that show on his shoulders. In the annals of genre television his characterization of Straker stands out as a dramatic classic.

It'd therefore be stupid to relegate Straker to the background. Which won't happen. But the main body of the comic series will take place with a SHADO of the near future. A SHADO which will be very familiar, but which will also reflect the changing times. A SHADO which will definitely involve Commander Straker . . . but an older Straker. A Straker that's seen some changes enter his life. Some ghosts buried, but some ghosts which refuse to go away. The comic book will continue to explore the complexity of Straker's character, and eventually we'll go down roads which the television episodes didn't have a chance to travel.

Which brings us next to the other characters in the series. Ideas and proposals have been bounced back and forth, and it's been felt that, in many cases, there's plenty of room to work with. Meaning (off the top of my head) that Virginia Lake is going to do more than just pout at the instruments (or at Straker, whichever is closest). And our favorite Moonbase operatives will be doing more than simply touching up their makeup while waiting for UFOs to approach.

(Sexist pigs? Not at Misc!MAYHEM. We keep our pork where it belongs . . . well done between two slices of bread!)

So much for the characters. What about everything else?

Visually the "look" of the comic will reflect the changing world of the near-future Earth, as well as an older SHADO. With the help of Anthony Taylor we've had the benefit of being able to work with Mike Trim, who handled design work for the original series, and who is graciously adding his pedigree to our efforts. This, combined with the artwork of Christopher Jones, will translate the style of the television series onto the illustrated page.

In terms of plotting, some interesting possibilities have been discussed. Since the comic isn't burdened by the restrictions of a special effects budget, things could be visualized that could only be hinted at in the episodes. Imagine, for instance, an alien outpost on one of the moons in our solar system.

Imagine exploring the history of the alien invasion of Earth.

Imagine new and recurring characters . . . human and otherwise.

The war between SHADO and the alien invaders is going to continue within the pages of the comic. The invaders will face a SHADO which will feature new faces and machines . . . but still quite capable of defending the Earth. And the humans will find the aliens ready to up the ante and attack not only with their standard weapons, but with new plans and threats.

Speaking personally? I'd advise finding a foxhole. It's going to get hairy.

Michael Wolff
The Mojocave

Supercar TM and 1959 and 2003 Carlton International Media Limited.
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