Monday, January 27, 2003

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Back in 1983, DC released a comic series that was, quite frankly, unlike anything I'd ever read before and captivated me completely with its fascinating cast of characters and its experimental storytelling style. Its name was Thriller, and it lasted 12 issues before it died a year later. The first seven were done by its creators, Robert Loren Fleming and Trevor Von Eeden, but unfortunately they weren't able to sustain their collaboration and both were gone by issue nine. The reasons for the fiasco that the book became are numerous, and for years I wondered exactly what had happened. In those pre-internet days, access to the behind-the-scenes goings-on at the major comics companies was very limited. "Creative differences" was the only answer we were given, and for almost twenty years that had to suffice.

Years later, when I became aware of the Internet and all the various venues available to write, spotlight and discuss comics, I got the germ of an idea: since there was little or no mention of Thriller the comic series on the Web, then it would be up to me to create a site. And in 2001, I finally found a software program that I could use to do so, called Freeway. I didn't know how to write HTML code (still don't, even though I've learned a LOT from maintaining this blog page), but it worked a lot like QuarkXPress, which I am intimately familiar with. So I set to work, but I knew that if I was to do this right then I would have to try to speak to the creators themselves, Fleming and Von Eeden. Maybe then I would at least find out why they had stopped working on the book. I managed to track down Fleming through the comics store at which he shops, and he was gracious enough to phone me on several occassions and spend a lot of time discussing his brainchild with me. Von Eeden took a little more time, but through a couple of channels including Comic Book Artist magazine editor Jon B. Cooke I was finally able to send him a letter, telling him of my by-then published site and inviting him to check it out and comment. After a few months had gone by, I had pretty much resigned myself to never hearing from him; but then my patience was rewarded when he called me at home and informed me that not only had he received my letter, but he intended to write a critique of every issue he had worked on...and invited me to call him back and discuss it when I had read it! Of course, he's a busy man, and it has taken him a couple of more months to get it finished-he has even phoned me a few more times in the meantime to apologize for the delay! I finally received it today, and I'm utterly amazed and somewhat speechless...the man has taken the time from his busy schedule to not only write a 12 page, hand written (on both sides!) critique/commentary, but has sent me several pages of copies of his recent work. And in response to a joking suggestion of mine that he could do a couple of doodles in the margin, a blatant attempt to get some original art, he sent along what you see above- an 8 1/2 x 11 original pencilled and inked drawing of the main cast of characters. Like I said, I'm completely flabbergasted and feeling a bit like Wayne and Garth- "I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy!"

I haven't heard his response to what I've written on my site as of yet; I'm hoping that many of the statements I made, based on assumptions from the information I did have aren't so far off base that he takes offense. I don't think I crossed too many lines...guess we'll see. I also have a feeling I might have to go back and re-do a few commentaries, now that I have some more info. *Sigh*. Anyway, it's been an exciting last couple of hours as I've read the letter, and I wanted to pass along a little of it to all of you.