Monday 22 May 2017

Dreams CAN come true, yes?

Ouch, yes? Full page action from the
Soulman Inc Sketchbook (2009).
It's no secret that two of my all-time favourite characters in comics are the Incredible Hulk and Death's Head. By the time Death's Head got his own comic back in the late 80s', he had transitioned from the Transformers Universe (where he made his debut) to the Marvel Universe (via, of all people... the 7th Doctor!). This meant that the Freelance Peacekeeping Agent crossed paths with the likes of the Fantastic Four and Iron Man 2020, and then guest-starred in Walt Simonson's Fantastic Four run, and an issue of She-Hulk (written by Simon Furman, and drawn by Bryan Hitch... both familiar with the character for obvious reasons, yes?). This led to me drawing my own stories featuring Death's Head in what was my dream-battle: fighting the Incredible Hulk. I always hoped that this was something that would happen... but when the original was destroyed, and replaced by Death's Head II, it seemed very unlikely that it would ever take place (note: Death's Head II DID fight the Hulk in an issue of Battle-Tide II... but it wasn't the same, as DH was a completely different character by then).

Who's that in the background? Artist is obsessed,
yes? From Spectacular Spider-Man (UK) no. 115.

Fast forward to the 2010s (the tensies?!). I was now a professional comic artist... living the dream, and drawing my favourite Marvel heroes! I got my start at Panini Comics in 2003, who had taken over the reigns of Marvel UK. This led to a run on their SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN ADVENTURES book, where I got to draw Spidey teaming up with the likes of the Fantastic Four, X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, Doctor Strange and also the Incredible Hulk! At this time, the character of Death's Head was in limbo... and hadn't seen print since the mid 90's. This led to me constantly nagging my editors (apologies to Ed Hammond and Brady Webb!) to let me draw Death's Head into a Spider-Man comic. At the time, the powers that be didn't feel they could make that happen (despite Ed and Brady being HUUUGE fans of Death's Head!), so I had to be content with sneaking the time-travelling Freelance Peacekeeper into a couple of issues in background cameos. However, this did lead to me producing artwork for the 2 Death's Head collections from Panini... which made me an official Death's Head artist. Finally, yes?

I still needed to scratch that Hulk vs DH itch though, so I drew up my own story, which was part of my Soulman Inc Sketchbook back in 2009. This featured Death's Head, as he appeared in his own title versus the classic, savage Incredible Hulk... in a black and white strip which was my love-letter to the old 70's Marvel UK comics. It even featured a cameo of the 4th Doctor and K9! This proved to be popular enough, and got some great feedback from fans and fellow pros alike. Roll on two years, where I had an email that would make everything worthwhile. Ed Hammond had contacted me to draw a strip for Marvel Heroes issue 33. It was to be a Hulk story where ol' Greenskin would be in battle with... the original, one and only, in his debut Green costume/armour/Freelance Peacekeeping gear -- DEATH'S HEAD! This was a dream come true for several reasons... as not only was it a battle I had wanted to see, and of course DRAW, but also it was finally the return of Death's Head, in his original form, to the world of Marvel UK and more importantly, comics! Mission accomplished, yes?

So there you have it. If you are reading this, and you have a dream that you'd someday like to make happen... remember this story. I was told in school that I was wasting my time in regards to wanting to draw comics... and look what I've accomplished since then! 

If I can do it... you can too, yes? 

Drawn back in 1989! Check out that dynamic last panel!
It's official, yes? From Marvel Heroes no. 33
(and reprinted in the 2015 Marvel Heroes Annual).