Sunday, October 22, 2006

Welcome to the Dark Side

Hi & welcome to the continuing adventures of Col. Mark Medula, The Dynamic Dark Nebula.

The road to this moment has been a long & hard one, sometimes seemingly impossible, but for the faith of a few good, trusting friends, to whom I’m forever grateful.

Up until now comics had only been a hobby & a sideline.

So, how’d it all start?

Back in the ‘60’s when I was about 5 my father always brought home a little something to brighten my day. One day that was a comic book & that’s what started this whole process off. After that I couldn’t get my hands on enough of them, but I didn’t just want to read them, I wanted to write them as well.

So, in between reading the latest adventures of all my favorite Marvel & D.C. characters I’d want to write them as well, but not other people’s characters, my own.

So started the epic journey within my imagination for a truly original idea so my day-dreams began to turn to something fruitful & constructive. All the way through school I’d tinker away with the concept, all the while showing an aptitude in Art & English, particularly in composition.

The Dark Nebula's Dark Secrets

All the cool characters had formal titles like ‘The Lone Ranger’ & ‘The Green Hornet’ – a passing reference led me to research Dark Nebulas & I had my name. as the pace is fast & ever-changing the adjective ‘Dynamic’ suited it perfectly.

I was (& still am) heavily influenced by the writing of Roy Thomas &, later, of Jim Starlin & Chris Claremont.

The portions of the brain, Medulla Oblongata & the Cerebellum gave me the names for the component parts of the Dark Nebula. It was all starting to formulate nicely.

By about 4th form in 1975 I tested out the concept on my English teacher who was knocked out by it, by the time I’d hit my senior year (6th form) Dark Nebula was my major work in art for the higher school certificate – that was back in 1977.
still It was a long way off from perfection.

Sounds of construction & lessons of life:

Off to college I went & with Dark Nebula tucked firmly under my arm he kept popping up in the odd Graphic Design, Printed Textile & Photography assignment. Yes, Photography, at some point I had the (at the time) brilliant notion of getting the suit made & The Dark Nebula made appearances ‘in the sake of art’. we were into ‘happenings’ back then & were also into having fun – alcohol played a big part, as if you didn’t guess. The character even got on t.v. a few times. All the while, more construction work went into streamlining the basic concept & storyline.

At one point I dumped a whole lot of baggage from it, stripped it down to its basic elements & reconstructed from there. I'm talking costume, characters, the lot.

There were some challenges along the way, like a malicious lecturer who didn’t like the idea of me taking what I learned to make comic books, so he was determined to flunk me. I didn’t understand the politics of the situation at the time but not only did I discover that other lecturers thought he was being unreasonable but they later encouraged me back on my path once the situation had been sorted out. One lecturer in particular, Arthur Wicks, insisted I do an ‘underground’ comic about the college. Having learned the hard lessons of campus politics the previous year I wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth.

The project wound up being my first foray into being published (albeit in the college paper) & it turned out to be quite a successful experience - & yes, I got an ‘a’. if I never said it before, thanks Arthur. Oh, & it was in fact The Dark Nebula’s first published appearance, albeit a ‘cameo’.

Houston, we have lift-off:

After completing the diploma of art & having fine-tuned the concept, thoughts went to deciding what was the best forum to introduce The Dark Nebula to the world – he’d already served his apprenticeship.

At the time (early 80’s) there was no Australian comic book industry to speak of. Frankly there hadn’t been one since the advent of television back in the 50’s, with few
exceptions doing extraordinarily well (eg: The Phantom), as well as the odd project that came & went. Still & all I was always about artistic expression not suppression. After toying with the notion of a Sunday comic strip I’d settled on what became ‘The Dynamic Dark Nebula’ Graphic Novel in 1982.

Once I’d released that magazine I gauged the response to it. It was hard to tell at the time but it set a chain of events in motion which continue on in the independent comics scene of Australia today. Others saw what I did & whether they liked it or not it set the bar at the time & I was glad to see others produce their own material – kind of ‘if he can do it, so can i!’

Salad Days, Friends & a Buzz of Creative Energy:

It wasn’t long after the release of the graphic novel that I met Gary Chaloner (in fact it was while the graphic novel was at the printers that we first met). I’d already known Glenn Lumsden who I’d been trading comics with for years. Add David de Vries to the mix who’d introduced his creation ‘The Southern Squadron’ in Oz Comics the year following my Graphic Novel & you had the nucleus for ‘Cyclone’, the anthology title that would make Aussies sit up & take notice of comics in this country.

Cyclone consisted mainly of Gary’s ‘Jackaroo’, Dave’s ‘Southern Squadron’, ‘The Golden Age Southern Cross’ which was a co-creation of Glenn & I, &, naturally, ‘The Dark Nebula’.

Cyclone continued as an anthology for 8 issues before taking on a title change of ‘The Southern Squadron’. The Jackaroo took on its own title, as did ‘The Dark Nebula’.

Dark Nebula had proven successful within certain circles & had established a core-following but was still a pleasurable sideline. Meantime my other creative energies went into my career in radio broadcasting, something I enjoyed for some 21 years.

Back in ’92 I’d finished 8 issues of the Dark Nebula run & was preparing to release the next 4 issues after a short break but that year, at the aussie comic convention ‘Oz-Con’ after laying out plans for Dark Nebula 9 – 12, as well as other aussie comic projects, the rep from one of the major companies stood up & gave their marketing pitch for that coming year which was pretty much ‘we’re going to glut the market with extraneous titles & flood you little guys out’ (at least that was my interpretation of it). When they faced chapter 11 some years later I didn't shed a tear.

It's always darkest before the dawn:

I then had to make a hard decision – should I publish, flush my money down the toilet, set it on fire, or just not publish for the foreseeable future? Hard as it was I withdrew till a better climate arose.

So the Dark Nebula went into hibernation over the following 15 years. During which time the world of broadcasting & family life took precedence. Somewhere in the background the notion of re-release via the internet was tickling the back of my brain.

Rising from the ashes:

Time & tide passes with its ebbs & flows & as other things began to recede nature abhors a vacuum & The Dark Nebula seemed to take up a greater role. 3 years ago I was nearly killed in a car accident which put me out of play for some months. A Radio Announcer with a broken jaw can’t really do a lot. During my healing & rehabilitation I began to lay out the ground-work for what you view. Ironic that my character got its start after his death & only fitting it got its second chance after I got mine.

Critically reviewing the published material I knew the first two adventures were in need of refreshing & Shane Foley was more than obliging in re-interpreting those stories while remaining faithful to the original vision. Maybe one day down the track if there’s sufficient demand to view the original interpretation of the origin I may run it on this website as a period piece or curiosity.

With the leaps & bounds in internet technology the concept of publishing an on-line comic was no longer an onerous one. Broadband makes downloading the images so much easier. Programs like photoshop make computer colouring a snap (& this coming from a person who had difficulty getting his brain around that concept for quite awhile), & the headaches of dealing with printers & distributors are pleasurably eliminated, as is fighting for shelf space.

It’s been a long road to get to where we’re at now &, as I said, I couldn’t get to this point without the aid of the few who’ve helped & supported me over the years. Gary Chaloner, who’s helped me through the challenges I’ve faced since the accident & pretty much put the fire under me to get this project up & running & to you now & Shane Foley, my series artist who’s been extremely patient & understanding over that fallow 15 year period while pursuing his other ambitions, ‘Shakah-Rune’ being one of his chief projects as well as a reconstructed unused Golden Age Superman adventure.

So where do we go from here? Something old, something new. The previously published adventures will take up the first 12 months of web-publication. The first two adventures, 'The Origin' & ‘This Earth Alive’ are all-new interpretations of classic stories followed by the rest of the previously published material, all in colour for the first time.

You’ll be introduced to the art of Shea Anton Pensa, Glenn Lumsden, Jason Paulos &, of course, Shane Foley. Also the
writing of David de Vries as well as myself, Tad Pietrzykowski.

Then strap yourself in for the ride of your life. the adventures continue, as originally planned, with a twist. I’m taking The Dark Nebula places even I didn’t know I was taking him all those years ago. In the months to come you’ll be introduced to the likes of the Grandstander, Chaos, The Southern Squadron &, somewhere down the track, Vondra! You’ll find things move at a cracking pace, hence the ‘Dynamic’ in The Dynamic Dark Nebula.

The beauty of having a rich history behind a character such as this is that at least you won’t have to worry how consistently material will be release, considering the volume of work already there.

Your feedback is always appreciated. It’ll be nice to hear from you, the reader. To that end the ‘letter’s page’ ‘dark secrets’ finds the light of day. It’d be great to post your fan art on the website as well.

I got into all this out of sheer enjoyment of the art-form of comics but looking at the titles I enjoyed so much as a kid I don’t get the same enjoyment today. Not that I’ve outgrown them, the latest issues no longer have the same magic to them. So I’ve decided if I can’t get the same enjoyment out of reading I sure as hell can find it in writing.

So strap yourself in for the ride of your life. It might cost a fortune to follow the adventures of all the major characters of the mainstream comic companies but to follow the adventures of ‘The Dark Nebula’, ‘The Southern Squadron’ & ‘The Golden Age Southern Cross’ it’ll just be the price of your annual subscription of $15 per year & who knows, you might find this more enjoyable.

Anyway that's the intro as originally intended - I'd be interested to hear from long-time fans & new-comers alike to the world of The Dark Nebula. Your feedback is greatly appreciated. Let's hear your Dark Secrets.