Well there we were with lots of books, all being worked on at the same time and me living in amongst it all and I do mean living and late summer was giving way to early autumn, although the weather remained scorching.
Many nights saw creators working through the night at the office and catching a nod between times on the couch or the floor. I remember there were times when some of us didn’t leave the office for days, except to catch some air on the veranda or to go for a walk on the sidewalks of New York.
One morning Janet came over and asked if I would help her out with some of the colours on an issue of Plasm, issue four, so I left Dark Dominion and painted some of the pages on David Lapham’s book.
Oclair despite being a relatively quick artist had fallen a little behind on his War Dancer graphic novel and I was asked by Janet, if I would jump in to help out on this too. The late, legendary Dave Cockrum was drawing the Plasm graphic novel, Home for the Holidays, so once again I was working alongside an artist whom I had the greatest respect for. This was followed by Janet asking if I would paint War Dancer issue two, to give her chance to catch up on other things around the office, as well as all the comic book covers she was painting for them over all the various artists on the books.
So that meant I now had Dark Dominion, an issue of War Dancer and part of a graphic novel to paint as well as various bits and pieces on the regular Plasm comic book. Over time there I would be asked to ink some stuff on Dark Dominion and to pencil some stuff too. This would be followed by paint jobs and ink jobs on various covers helping out on painting Charlemagne amongst a whole slew of other things. To say I was busy there is an understatement.
A day or so later Alan Weiss would mention to me that he was looking forward to seeing how I would handle the second War Dancer issue, especially the sunset scenes he had drawn for them. I tell you guys, I just couldn’t wait to start them.
Below: War Dancer Issue #2 Pages 1 & 6 respectively:
One of the things I remember, which could have had a sour note for one of the creative team was an incident between Oclair and his Agent. This occurred one early evening when we were about to order food. I was beginning to feel hungry and there were about six of us there at the time, still working away. I asked the other guys, Rob, Bob, Joe, and Charles what they fancied ordering. We decided on Chinese and I turned to Oclair and asked if he liked Chinese food, he said he did or at least in sign language and mime we did.
Then he said he had no money, his agent had it. So I said Jim pays for our food after six. He repeated that his agent paid for him. Eventually I convinced him that he was just like the rest of us there working after six and was able to have Defiant pay for food, as long as we kept it reasonable.
He smiled and ordered with the rest of us then, making signs and sounds of fish, cows, sheep, chickens, until we arrived at something he liked best. Thank goodness the sounds animals make is universal otherwise we would have been stuck drawing carrots or something. The rest of the guys laughed at us both as they saw us trying to communicate and doing it quite well despite our differences in language.
Below: Warriors of Plasm Issue #4 Pages 18 & 21 respectively:
As we worked, waiting for the food to arrive, it somehow came around to the question of how much we were earning at Defiant. Oclair had indicated through our, by now, fully patented system of communication that he wondered what I was on rate wise, so I told. A broad smile was on his face as he indicated he was more or less the same and thought it was good.
There was something about how he did so however, that made me say something to Rob. I felt Oclair was looking at the rate I gave him as being the one for an entire book, whereas, in actual fact, I was meaning the per-page rate. I tried to clear this up and he still didn’t seem to get it. So I got a page and wrote on a piece of paper the page rate and indicated that was for the page, I repeated this a couple of times and his eyes widened.
He repeated what I had just done and I nodded that he was correct. He then took a full comic off the drawing board and indicated that was all he was getting from his agent for an entire book. By now all the office was huddled around the two of us. He walked over to me and gave me the biggest hug ever and looking me squarely in the eyes smiled and said with a very Brazilian accent, but much better than mine, “Thank you”. I think he was almost crying, the emotions were running so deep.
He took out a piece of paper and wrote San Paulo on it, which was where his family had their home. Then he sketched out a quick drawing of his family and then what kind of house they lived in and then he drew another house and told us, with one issue’s money he could buy an house like a mansion and that his family would be so happy, as he was going to return home a very rich man. I wish I had kept that little sketch, but like lots of things in life you don’t give them a second thought, until later.
We soon learnt that his agent had been keeping any money provided for the trip and giving him only money, as and when it arose and was lined up to make a massive amount of money with Oclair, merely getting what pittance was left.
The gesture that he was going to fire him the next day was quite obvious to us all and we knew something really great had just taken place. Oclair used to have this way of clicking his fingers, by flicking his wrist quickly to create this finger clicking noise and although he tended to do it to signify success he was doing it over and over this particular evening.
The food arrived and we all tucked into our Chinese meal. Again, Oclair looked over to me winked and smiled a big cheeky grin, it was obvious he was now a very happy man and the home-sickness was not as pronounced as before as he had already spoken to his family and told them all about it and then said they wanted to meet me as I was an hero. I remember feeling slightly embarrassed, but extremely happy to have been of service to a fellow professional like this.
Below: Warriors of Plasm Issue -Home for the Holidays graphic novel Pages 17, 33 & 35 respectively:
The next day I went into Janet, as I had told Oclair I would and said I thought we needed a real interpreter and explained the situation to her. Before long I was doing so again in Deborah’s office along with Janet. Both where horrified and knew full well that Jim would be equally horrified too. An interpreter was found after Joe who could speak Spanish, after everyone thought it was a similar language, turned around saying, jokingly, he thought I could get more understanding out a conversation, as the languages were actually so different.
Oclair turned up at the office with his agent in tow, who very soon disappeared. He came out of the office and there was a cheer around the office as Oclair raised his eyes in triumph, shook Jim’s hand and then Deborah’s and Janet and Joe’s. He then walked over to me and again gave me such a huge hug and then the office cheered again. Justice had been served.
I then began to hear talk in the office, around this time regarding a Marvel lawsuit against Jim, which laid claim to the name Plasmer a new character, which to this day I have only seen pictures of on the Internet, when reading articles written about the lawsuit. Marvel claimed that Plasm the first of the defiant comic books to be published had too similar a name and demanded Jim change it. Rather than fight it in court, Jim (which is just the kind of guy he is) decided to simply change the name of the book to Warriors of Plasm, which of course neither sounds nor looks like Marvel’s character.
This still wasn’t good enough and Jim spent an inordinate amount of time, money and energy fighting the case in court. I still feel that with the market share he had created at Valiant, which in Marvel’s eyes stole a section of the comic buying market shelf space from them was enough to cause Marvel concern when he started Defiant. He had done it once and could do so again, so they sued.
Yet despite all this Jim was still the consummate gentleman all throughout my time at Defiant. He looked after us all there and we became one big happy family, but our leader was at corporate war with a much bigger fish, with much better and more far-reaching resources than this new start-up company. All Jim had was his integrity and what money he had at the time to fight the far richer Marvel company, that and his honour.
Below: More photos from the Defiant Bullpen:
Defiant CEO - "Big" Jim Shooter
Editor-In-Chief - Deborah Purcell
Editor - Ed Polgardy and Art Editor - Janet Jackson
Editor - Ed Polgardy - takes a break
Editor - Debbie Fix
Graphic Designer - Peter Luchik & Production Assistant - Paul Williams
Colourist: Ben Yung
Production Assistant - Rob Laquinta on the Defiant Couch
Production Assistant - Rob Laquinta on the Defiant Couch again
Letterer - George Roberts on the Defiant Couch
Letterer - George Roberts on the Defiant Couch
The Two New York Cops - Great guys
Their Utility belts
The Group of New York Cops
I often wonder what happened to Oclair. I had a telephone number, but when I rang it, upon my eventual return to the UK in 1994, the voice on the other end of the line could not understand me when I asked for Oclair. Maybe he bought his big mansion house back home, but whatever, I hope we get a chance to meet once more in the future and continually look on the on-line networks in the hope of re-establishing contact with him one day.
Now I had an apartment and Charles was still on unlimited hiatus and in his hotel, so I was asked if it would be okay for him to stay with me for a while. I was over the moon, someone to speak to, back at the apartment whenever I was there. So Charles, like me, packed his belongings and we moved him into the apartment until such time as he was able to find his own, which to be honest wasn’t that long away.
I remember the first morning with us both there. We each had separate rooms, but shared the kitchenette and bathroom/washroom. We set off for the office and as it was yet another glorious day in NYC we decided to walk in and grab a bite to eat on the way in. Just around the block there was a wonderful café/deli type place, small but very well stocked that did great Danishes and Bagels and Croissants.
When Charles, who has a wonderful Californian accent, said he was going to order a coffee and a croissant on the way in I didn’t catch what it was he was going to get. That was down to the different pronunciations though. He was going to ask for a “cresahnt”, whereas I would have asked for a “quoissahnt”. Funny really as this happened quite a lot during my stay there with all the other guys too, the obvious be tomato. Incredible really, the same language but then again not. The in-joke I used was always the same, “Look guys you are wrong, we invented the language – look I am English. You guys just use American.”
Charles and I had some great fun during his stay with me. One day we both needed some reference of the NYC Cops, both uniform and vehicle wise. So as we walked along the streets of Manhattan we looked for likely candidates and it was decided that, I, being the token Brit here should do the asking, so I did.
I have to say what followed was marvellous, I don’t know the names of the guys you will see in the photographs above, but they were so accommodating to us both with the taking of the photographs. So much so that they were both going to take the belts off to show us, but I said we only needed to actually see them. They were both brilliant and spent a good ten minutes or so, actually discussing our time in NYC. We asked where we could get photos of their cars and stuff and they moved to the side and there just beyond the next block we could see Police vehicles galore, so off we went to take those too.
Lots more things were to be seen and happen during my time there…
But I’ll share that in my next Blog.
Until next time have fun!
June 30th 2009