Life In Four Colors #36
Hangin' With The Captain
Well Amigos, this is it. The last Life In Four Colors column that I do, for now at least. Who knows? One day the column may return. I'm a sucker for a good resurrection story. So it comes to an end with column #36....I'll take that as a very good sign. Those that know me well also know I am very much into the hidden meaning in numbers, especially the number three. The number three is indeed a magic number. Trust me on this for I don't have the time to go into that in great detail and I don't want to bore those not interested to death. Needless to say the #36 is full of promise. An almost perfect opportunity to bring an end to a column that has been part of the Comic Related website for over two years now.
But not the completely perfect way. The perfect way to close out this column is to pay tribute to the true living legend of the Comic Related family. The one. The only. The Captain. Ron Fortier.
Chuck Moore himself gives Ron credit for being the "founder member of the Comic Related Forum" and he's quite serious about that. Chuck claims he was alone in the woods, talking in the dark to anybody that would listen during the earliest stages of the development of this site. And most of the time the only person Chuck seemed to be talking to was ....Chuck. And then one day a voice answered Chuck (that wasn't his own). It was Ron Fortier and Ron asked.... "What the Hell are you doing in my woods and how did you get here?"
Actually I have no idea what the first discussion between these two gentlemen may have been, all I know was in the beginning....there was Ron.
I've been a proud member of the Comic Related family now for over two years and in true fashion the very first conversation I had on the site was with Ron and I do recall what we spoke about. Some one had asked what should be considered the first comic book movie ever made and I replied that for most people it all began with Christopher Reeve and Superman. Ron didn't really agree with that response and jumped into the conversation to put this newcomer calling himself the G-Man into his place.
In the years that followed Ron has become a great friend, an advisor, and a confidant. A person always willing to help me out any way possible and someone who I'm very glad to have gotten to know....and work with.
As I started to learn more and more about this man I couldn't believe the things I discovered. He wrote Terminator: The Burning Earth for NOW Comics. A limited series that featured the first ever published artwork of Alex Ross. Yeah...that Alex Ross (Marvels, Kingdom Come).
How freakin' impressive is that! I mean out of all the thousands upon thousands of comic book writers out there, somebody had to write the story that would end up being the very first story that Alex Ross would ever work on. And it was Ron.
But that wasn't the only thing I discovered. Ever hear of an artist named Paul Pelletier? Yeah that Paul Pelletier (Guardians of the Galaxy, War of Kings). Ron wrote the story that got Paul his very first art gig at Marvel Comics with a back up feature in Incredible Hulk Annual #19.
And I'm not going to lie and I may be the only guy in the world to say this, but I'm a much more bigger fan of Paul Pelletier than I am of Alex Ross, so that second feat impressed me more than the first and after meeting Ron in person for the very first time last year at Pulp Fest 2009 in Columbus Ohio....I now own a copy of this book, signed by the Captain himself.
I also picked issue #4 of Mr. Jigsaw, written by Ron and drawn by an incredible artist named Gary Kato. Ron signed this for me as well. To this day issue #4 remains my personal favorite of the on-going series. I recently read and enjoyed issue #6. The book never fails to entertain and bring a smile to my face, in a way that so many mainstream comics produced today no longer seem capable of doing.
Issue #6 features an incredible cover drawn by guest cover artist Terry Tidwell. It is the second full length story to be featured in the series so far (the first time was issue #4, one of the many reasons why I enjoyed that book so well). Issue #6 of the series allows Ron to use his creation Charlie Grant (a.k.a Mr. Jigsaw, Man of a Thousand Parts, or just Jiggy to his friends) to poke fun at one of the things that irritates Ron the most...reality television. He hates this garbage and it's one of the many things the two of us have in common. Charlie/Jiggy gets talked into holding a contest to pick out a "side kick" which in turn would be aired as a television program. The side kick that wins the honor is Red Dragon (is Ron a Thomas Harris fan...I would think he is but I'm not sure if that's the origin of the name of this character or not).
Who the Red Dragon really is behind the mask comes as no real surprise for anybody reading the book on a regular basis. As a matter of fact many of us were sure to be hoping that something liked this happened sooner or later. But what happens to Red Dragon shortly after becoming Jiggy's crime fighting partner....that did catch me by surprise. And if you want to learn why the crime fighting duo of Mr. Jigsaw and Red Dragon was cut so short you'll have to pick up your very own copy of Mr. Jigsaw to find out. On sell now!
Mr. Jigsaw #6 was not the only comic written by Ron that I have read recently. As sheer dumb luck would have it, during the last few weeks that I was working at Main Street Comics and Games (it was actually a week before the store's one year anniversary party) I was going through a collection of comics that store owner Scott Riley had just purchased and I couldn't believe what I came across.... two copies of Popeye: Borned To The Sea produced by Ocean Comics, which of course Ron also wrote.
I had heard Ron discuss this book in detail with Chuck Moore while being one of the very first guests to be featured on the Comic Related: Related Re-Cap podcast....back when the flagship podcast was in its infancy. The story features the true origin of Popeye the Sailor Man, explains how he got the name "Popeye" and introduces for the very first time Popeye's mother, Roxy.
And I always thought Popeye's mother was the Sea Hag. To hear Popeye's dad tell it, maybe they were one and the same.
A true classic that I thought I would never run across and to make things even better the back cover featured an ad for Mr. Jigsaw, back when Ocean Comics had an interest in the book, this material has since been reprinted in the earlier issues of the Mr. Jigsaw ongoing series.
The coolest part about this find was that there were two copies. One for my collection and one I planned to give to Chuck when he showed up the following week at the Main Street birthday bash, which I did. Now both of us own a copy of this book and neither of us will ever part with it.
Not long after that I was at Pack Rat Comics in Hilliard Ohio and going there their impressive "Back Issue Basement" (more comics than some comic conventions I have attended....all for a buck each! Always!!). While there and flipping my way through the "G"'s looking for a few copies of the original Guardians of the Galaxy series by Marvel that I was missing (and found) I ran across a couple of issues of the NOW Comics produced Green Hornet series.
Guess who wrote them? That' right! Ron.
There were several issues of the series in the box , most of which Ron did write , but I picked up issue # 8 and #9 because it appeared to be a complete two part story, and I was right about that. I loved what I read. A modern version of the Green Hornet which featured a female Kato as a sidekick in a tightly written action story that focused on Green Hornet tracking down a gang of vicious cop killers. Very impressive artwork by artist Jeff Butler, who had a style that reminded me of some very early Ron Lim stuff.
I actually liked this Green Hornet stuff better than the Kevin Smith Green Hornet currently being published by Dynamite Entertainment and yeah I would have said that even if I didn't know Ron.
As I mentioned there was several of these books all written by Ron at the shop and Jamie Colgrove and his wife Teresa (owners and operators of Pack Rat Comics) have decided that they will be donating all of these books as door prizes at Champion City 2010.
Because Ron is a featured guest at the show! And all day long every hour on the hour a door prize will be given away containing at least one issue of this series written by Mr. Fortier. If you win one, bring it over to his table and have it signed. I plan on getting my copies signed.
Ron seems to have a knack for popping up just about everywhere this year. He's appeared at Windy City Con recently, was featured in David O'Leary's "Five Minutes With..." column now featured here on the site, had Mr. Jigsaw #4 picked as one of the Staff's Choice over at Ka-Blam Comics, and even popped up in the New Comic Day web comic.
Speaking of New Comic Day, Ron writes the introduction to New Comic Day: 52 And Then Some. A collected edition of all 52 strips that made up the very first year of the web comic featured here on the site as well as many extra features including a new strip featuring Ron once again. The book will be available as it debuts at Champion City.
Ron has also been nominated for several different Champion City Awards this year (Best Writer, Best On-Going Series: Mr. Jigsaw, Best Collected Trade Paperback: The Adventures of Mr. Jigsaw, and Best Original Graphic Novel: Daughter of Dracula which is also nominated for Best Original Story Concept)
But that's not Ron's only involvement at Champion City. This year's convention takes place on September 11th and Ron will be leading a group prayer for those who wish to attend and honor those that we lost in the terrorist attacks on that day. The prayer vigil will be held at the flag pole with the flag at have mast a half hour before doors open to the public for the convention.
Perhaps one of the things I'm looking forward to the most at this year's Champion City convention is the fact that I get to pick Ron up at the airport the day before the show. It's about a forty minute drive from the airport to Ron's hotel and I imagine by the time the two of us get there we should have enjoyed a very nice conversation and perhaps come up with at least fifty or so story ideas.
Want to spend some time getting to know Ron a little before the show as well? Join him for dinner along with Champion City's other two featured guest of distinction (Tim Seeley and Daniel Liester) at Tumbleweed restaurant Friday September 10 th. The Comic Related family will be there in force as well as all the creators for New Comic Day and various members of Twilight Star Studios, Studio Akumakaze and the loyal customers and friends of Main Street Comics and Games.
Ron will have new and never before released material available at the show including "The Diner" which will appear in the second issue of Tales From The ';Field anthology book produced by local art studio Twilight Star. And "Grass Roots" drawn by local artist and good friend Chris Metzger will be appearing in Visions of the Macabre #2 produced by Studio Akumakaze. Just a couple of more great reasons to drop by the comic convention everybody is talking about! Champion City 2010!!!
But wait a minute. Perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself just a little. Champion City isn't until September. Ron will be at another show ...right here in Ohio even....before that. As a matter a fact a show that's just a few weeks away.
Ron and his good friend Rob Davis (artist on Daughter of Dracula and editor on Mr. Jigsaw) will be appearing at the Columbus Ohio show for the second time in two years. This is a great show. Had a blast there last year with the Captain, my daughter Raichal, and Chuck Moore. Raichal and I have every intention to make it to the show again this year and meet up with good friend Chad Strohl (artist on New Comic Day). This show is jam packed with pulp goodness and this year Ron who heads a company called Airship 27 (you may have heard of it) which specializes in all new stories featuring great pulp and other fantasy characters along the likes of Captain Hazzard, Brother Bones, Sherlock Holmes and some guy named Ravenwood: Stepson of Mystery among many others is nominated for the Munsey Award. An award given to someone who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to further the respect and knowledge of pulp stories and culture.
Raichal, Chad, hopefully Chuck, and myself are wishing the Captain the very best. I'm telling you the guy is having a banner year.
Perhaps one of the things that means the most to Ron is a play entitled "Where Love Takes You" which he wrote about the budding romance between his own mother and father during told against the backdrop of World War II.
Ron wrote this play several years ago and it is due to be acted out once more later this year. I talked Ron into sending me a copy of the script for the play, not being able to actually go see it (but still hoping for a d.v.d. of it once it opens). I'm telling you this story is truly amazing. Epic even. It made me feel as through I was there, as one of the gang growing up in New England, during the Great Depression and the outbreak of the war.
It is a romance. I know a lot of guys are out there cringing right now, but trust me. You'd be surprised at exactly how well Ron pulls you into this story with layers of drama, comedy, and historical significance.
This thing would make a great film. That Ron guy can write just about anything.
And he's not done yet. He has a new web comic in the works. "Price For The Asking" featuring a character called Simon Pryce which Ron and I created together will soon be appearing weekly here on the Comic Related website. I can't tell you how much it means to me to be working with this man on this project which also incorporates the talent of Brain Latimer, Chris Hoskins, Brant Fowler, Blake Wilkie, and Chad Strohl.
There's also been serious talk about a "secret project" with artist Chris Metzger.
See...that's why he's considered a true living legend.
And that my friends....ends this column. Thank you for taking the time to read this and being here for the other 35 columns and the numerous Life In Four Colors special features that has been posted here over the last couple of years. I'm not going to lie, I'm going miss you guys, but you know where you can find me............
..............see you in the funny papers.
Bill Gladman - Bill is a writer and illustrator and currently working on several different projects including the first issue of an ongoing comic book series (Prodigy), an illustrated fantasy novel (The Book of Noheim), and the first of four illustrated science fiction/fantasy novels (Jack the Rabbit, Living Legend of the Purple Plains) as well as a light-hearted on going mini-comic (Three Wise Men). Bill also pens a column for Comic Related and will be doing a mix of regional convention coverage.
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