Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Dark Dominion Part 15...

It was the greatest of times and nice whilst it lasted…

Hi Guys

Well, as remarkable as it may seem, with all the comments I have made towards the British weather throughout this series of Blogs, it was now sunny here in the UK, but then again Spring was now turning to Summer here and I had Dark Dominion to work on, which Jeff G Jones had pencilled and Mike Barreiro had inked. I was really starting to enjoy what Jeff was doing with the book with his Mike Mignola-esque stylisation.

This was followed, as promised by the first pages of War Dancer Issue #4 with Dave Taylor pencilling, which where beautiful and rendered in what was to become Dave’s trademarked European styled line art.

As the work came in though in dribs and drabs the deadlines began getting tighter and tighter and tighter. Then the inevitable happened and I received a phone call from Defiant; there was to be no more work for me.

Jim called me, but I couldn’t really blame him for letting me go. There were the obvious reasons, which stood out a mile foremost of which was the books were still late and as a result were still costing the company thousands of dollars in fines each month at the printers. Then there were the problems with the speculator market collapsing and the industry was on the verge of a great implosion. There was the cost of shipping to me in the UK and then there was the slight delay of a day or so for either party to receive artwork on each side of the Atlantic. Add that to the existing deadline problems and I was the first casualty and that was obvious.

There was a worried edginess about Jim’s tone now and I felt so sorry for the guy. He had treated us all like family and now his empire was fast collapsing around him and it seemed there was little he could do now, but watch it fall.

Speaking to some of the other guys back at the offices it was obvious the days were numbered and the end was nigh on the cards. Rob LaQuinta was really worried, as most of the freelancers were almost never seen around the place any longer.

Then one evening around eight o’clock my time here, Su rang me regarding the Dark Dominion book. She really felt uneasy being asked to take over the book, which everyone felt I had really put my mark on, but I told her not to silly and take the book. It was never going to come over to the UK for me to do, so I would rather she did it than anyone else and I told her to tell Ben to do the same with the other books if necessary.

I had heard a rumour that Jeff had gone in to see Jim and told him he didn’t like my work on the book and that he wanted me off it. He could not understand why my stuff was so bright. I said I had heard nothing about this and said not to worry about rumours, which obviously prevail in these kinds of situations.

I also added that even if Jeff had said these things, and I had no reason to suspect he had, we had only spoken a few times, but always amiably, I really doubted anyone carried that kind of clout to make demands of Jim, especially when he was trying to stave off the wolves from his doors.

The rest of May was not looking good for me work wise and I looked at my position and a way to keep going. The States were no longer hiring Brits, as the implosion grew larger and stronger, enveloping everyone in its path, like a thing from any number of Lee/Kirby blockbusters.

By September the company was gone and the dream had ended. It is so sad to speak of this even now, even though so many years have passed. I hope the journey I have taken you all on with these tales of my time out there in the USA have shown you this very gradual shift of feelings from one of almost Nirvana to one of absolute despair. It was real and the feelings are still as strong today as they were fifteen years ago or sixteen if you look to the start of the cycle of events.

The friendships made back then though, still exist and the comradeship we all shared has stayed with us. Even recently folks with whom I had lost contact with are back speaking to me again and the view is always the same, as it says on my subheading with this Blog, “It was the greatest of times and nice whilst it lasted.”

One of the things, which I have seen discussed on forums up and down the Internet and which I have spoken to folks about and have corrected when necessary is that all outstanding payments were duly paid and most artworks were returned too. The only things for me personally were a page of Dark Dominion issue 1, which went missing, along with my cover to issue #6 and the complete pages to issue #6 too. As far as I am aware, pretty much everything else was shipped back to me, despite the awful time the guys were having back there.

My next worry was where the next work was going to come from and more so when the work was going to return, as weeks turned into months and I spent most of that time producing sample after sample, after sample, to no avail. I was sending stuff to Marvel and DC and 2000AD and Games Workshop here, as Marvel UK was no longer originating stuff anymore, following the implosion in the States.

During September with no income for now four months something had to give and I chose to lose my pride and joy, the new car, as no work seemed forthcoming. It was a painful thing to do, but something that was done out of necessity. I was lucky the company I bought it off the previous Christmas, heard why I was selling it and paid me back exactly what I had paid for it, especially in light of the low mileage, as I had spent most of the year to that point in the US. My Dad was changing his car and so he gave me his old one, so I at least had transport, which was a superb help at the time.

I continued to send off samples to Marvel and DC, et al, only to hear the same old same old…it’s really great Tim, but still not quite what we are after. You are nearly there and this went on until November, when I awoke one morning looked out the window and decided enough was enough, I could now publish three graphic novels with all the samples and I could keep doing them for free until I lost everything.

Below: Pages from War Dancer Issue #4:


War Dancer Issue #4 Page 1
War Dancer Issue #4 Page 20, 21 DPS
War Dancer Issue #4 Page 23, 24 DPS
War Dancer Issue #4 Page 26
War Dancer Issue #4 Page 29
War Dancer Issue #4 Page 30
War Dancer Issue #4 Page 31

I decided I was not willing to take that chance any longer, so called my best friend, Paul and asked him if he would like to do the comic we had always dreamed of doing for real. He asked what kind of comic and we decided there and then, it would be a gothic horror and pretty soon after Dark Crusade was born.

It took me around two weeks to finally rid myself of the shackles put on me by the constraints of the sample making machinations of the big two, but eventually I found myself once more and proceeded to work on the pencils and then inks and then painted covers for the four part mini-epic, which could lead on to more stories around the fictitious northern town of Blackcaster. It also signalled the end of my producing any sample pages for companies unless I was paid to do so.

With the first issue complete I then approached Ed Polgardy, whom I had tracked to Tekno comics in Boca Rotan in Florida. Ed was pleased to hear from me and pretty much offered me computer colouring on the spot. The computer I had just bought, however, was not powerful enough to do that kind of thing and besides, it was all new to me and back then I had no experience of the workings of a PC, let alone computer colouring wizardry.

So it was that I found out there was no work for me at Tekno, so I continued to soldier on regardless, but I was becoming increasingly aware that my wife was really starting to worry.

Many people in the industry and I am speaking of a number of high profile names left the business forever. One guy I heard of had started a job in a video store and too many to think of were out of work suddenly and in a lot of cases, irrevocably. I had been looking at starting work at a local computer circuitry company, although I really had no great desire to do so, but needs must and all that, when I was invited to the SF club in Preston which were held every second Tuesday of the month and hosted by my good buddy here in the UK Bryan Talbot. I rang John Ridgway and asked if he was also going to be going along too. He told me he would and I arranged to take over the finished pages of Dark Crusade issue# 1.

Bryan saw me showing Dark Crusade to John, whilst in the room above the pub, which played host to the group, after the guest speakers and the auction had taken place. John really seemed to like the new direction I had taken, which was more of a return to my roots, rather than a change of direction really, if I am truthful about it all. Looking over John’s shoulder, Bryan paid me some very nice compliments and told me about a new book he was writing for Ed Polgardy at Tekno Comics.

Then three days later I received a Friday morning telephone call from Ed Poldardy asking me if I would like to work on the new book written by Bryan, who wanted me to ink his Phage Shadowdeath book over Dave Pugh’s pencils. Amazing isn’t it, the thing about who you know. I would have expected to be given this shot anyhow from Ed, having worked with him for so long at Defiant, but it never occurred to Ed that I may want to ink, or indeed pencil, despite telling him as much over the phone earlier. Which just goes to prove that sometimes those closest to you, just see things as they think they are in the world they work in, not necessarily as they actually are and we have all done this to some degree in our lives.

This meant I didn’t have to think of work outside of comics, which was great. Ed sent through some test spread pages, which in turn had been sent over from Dave for me to ink. It was to be a marriage of styles made in heaven. I am often quoted as saying there is only one thing you can do with Dave’s pencils and that is to ruin them. I have never, even up to this day received such finished and full pencils, which are beautiful in their own right.

Sadly Tekno comics too fell foul of the comics implosion, although this would not be my last work in American comics and I would work on other books, such as; Captain Action, Chameleon Cat, Raven Chronicles, The Searchers and other independent comics too.

Over the first few months of leaving the States I managed to stay in partial contact with Joe and Janet and for a while with others, before I finally lost contact with Rob, Su, and Ben.

I have now recently regained contact with Rob, Dave Hillman, Greg and Grey and who added to Charles, Joe, and Janet, pretty much make up the core group with a small number of missing personnel. The latest addition to my fun-filled group of “Folks Defiant is Zack Lynch, with whom I am long overdue a chat.

Since I initially wrote this particular Blog, Defiant1, who runs the fantastic message boards, the
Comics Discussion Forum, which you can access through my website links section, as well as by clicking on the link above, gave me a lead which enabled me to track down Su McTeigue last week. I would like to say a great big, heartfelt thanks to the guy, for doing what may have been a simple thing for him, but an enormous thing for me. Thanks once again, mate!!!

Hopefully others like Ben, Big Jim Shooter himself, Bob, Oclair, Pete, Brady, and the rest of the guys from back then in the offices, will also be back in touch one day soon, or at least that is my hope.

It would be nice to think that the Dark Dominion book could resurface some day and I would love the chance to work on it again, especially with a chance to now draw it, but with it languishing in publisher’s limbo, somehow I doubt it will, unless it happens beyond the imaginary limits, as Jim said before.

I decided I couldn't leave this series of Blogs without giving you guys a little something extra and I have done that in the form of a quick colour sketch, which I have just done of Michael Alexander who for me is always at his best as Glimmer. I hope you like it.
I would just like to thank all those that have taken the trouble to either contact me via email or by commenting here throughout this series of Blogs.

I hope you have found them as entertaining to read them, as I have to write them.

Remember, they are my memories of my time back then, as an Englishman in New York, or a younger man with his dream of working in comics in the USA, a dream, which I had had since being about eight years old, and seeing it fully realised.

Writing this series of Blogs has reminded me of the times, back as a kid, when only my parents believed in me enough to realise I had the potential to realise that dream too. I hope this serves as proof that you can make your dreams come true, if you are determined enough.

To the Guys at Defiant, who made my stay there in New York despite being away from my, then young family, the pleasant one I hope I have proved it was by writing about it all. I wish you all every happiness and continued success, wherever you may now be and I also hope that if you haven’t already that you get back on touch with me.

And for all those fans of comics and especially the Defiant ones, who took the time and trouble to write back then, as fans, and since, in response to these Blogs. Thank you guys, you are the reason I am able to continue to live my dreams. Your support means the world to me and my next dream is that you will share my new stories that take place in a place I have come to know as, Worlds End.

There are a few more memories of my Defiant days, which have come to mind and I may eventually share these with you as well, but for now I guess some shorter Blogs are forthcoming from me for a while, to give me time to catch up and you guys to have a breather.

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…
August 11th 2009


Magnus said...

Thank you for this series of blogs. I am looking forward to reading whatever you will write in the future.


Tim Perkins said...

Hi Magnus,

Thank you for continuing to read and support this Blog.

I hope the future ones entertain you as much as you tell me the Defiant ones have done.


inkdestroyedmybrush said...

nice finish tim. as i've said before, very intersting to see things through your viewpoint from back in the day. even working along side of you, we always saw things through slightly different eyes, even though i agree with many of your conclusions.

and unlike the new yorkers, I want it on record that i could hold my pints when going to the pub. This is a point of honor here.

Tim Perkins said...

Hi Charles,

Thanks for dropping by.

Glad you like the wrap up here.

As I have mentioned earlier, during the course of these Blogs and due to speaking to guys, who, like you, I worked alongside back then, other memories have returned, so I may at some point write a finale of sorts, which I may entitle the "The Return of the Forgotten Memories".

Yes, it is amazing how we see things differently, isn't it? I am always explaining this, in the context of seeing things like an artist, with my students. The example I use is a traumatic experience like witnessing an explosion and then having the survivors interviewed, where no two interviewees would have the same take on the event.

The main thing I always try to stress to folks and I have done that, hopefully within the series of Defiant Blogs and certainly in some of the comments here and on forums up and down and in replies to emails on the subject that Jim Shooter, showed me how comics could and should be run, as far as treatment of the creatives within its employ.

It's such a shame that the market changed when it did and the deadlines could not be met by folks on the books. These things were a big part of what killed off Defiant. I have always said and I been asked the same question again recently; Yes, I would drop everything to work with Jim again.

Anyhow, since you asked and for the sake of scientific research I will go on record as saying, you were the best of the American guys, with holding down your drink, with Zack Lynch being another contender...

I guess I was a little advantaged though, through drinking real ale on occasion here in the UK, which can be very strong.

BTW: Love your recent pencils on the splash for Hourglass, beautiful, mate!!!


JayJayJackson said...

Wow! I can't believe you have such a clear memory of that time. It was so long ago. I do remember the fun times we had. Going around to the city sights and our trip to the Brandywine. I miss that. And of all the books we did I mostly miss Dark Dominion. I loved that book. I think the concept was so cool and so different. It was so sad for us when Defiant died. We tried so hard.

Tim Perkins said...

Hi JayJay,

Everyone keeps saying the same thing to me, but it had such a profound effect on me, I guess the memories just got embedded in my psyche.

I enjoyed every minute of my time. Do you remember our chats in your office about all sorts of things, family, the meaning of life and other profound stuff?!

Dark Dominion is obviously a close thing for me, but I have to agree that, for me, the entire concept was just so very, very COOL!

It was indeed a very sad thing when Defiant closed its doors for the final time, but the fact so many of us are still in touch and so close is living testament to the wonderful thing Jim had created back then.

At the back of my mind I still hope Jim gets a chance to revive Dark Dominion one day and I would love to pick things up where we left off again.

Oh well who knows, stranger things have happened...

Especially beyond the imaginary limits...

Thanks for dropping by.

BTW: I love your latest concept with the new T-Shirts!!!


J.C. Vaughn said...

Tim, what an incredible blog series! Though we didn't meet at Defiant (I was a freelancer and only did PR at that point), I still think about what might have been!

I will drop your link to Clark Smith and see if I he has Brady's contact info. Post-Defiant I worked with Brady when I first started out at Gemstone Publishing.

Tim Perkins said...

Hi JC,

Thanks for dropping by and for the very kind words too.

This series of Blogs have gained so much attention and accolades that I really feel the writing and then sharing of them is something I am so glad I decided to do.

Thank you for offering to put me back in touch with Brady, that is so kind of you.

Please ask Clark to get in touch also when you speak to him next, as he was always one of the guys with a big smile on his face during my time there and I would love to hear what he has been up to since.

It's like I have said many times over the last few months, since the series started, I would love to hear from everyone from back then and up to press there seems to be a regular influx of folks re-establishing themselves with me, which is fantastic!

Please keep in touch.

Best Wishes,

JayJayJackson said...

Tim, I remember working with you as a colorist better than I remember working with almost anyone else, ever. I think it was because I always felt we were on the same mission... To get the best possible job done. I never felt like you let your ego get in the way of doing the job well. It's an almost unique situation. With rare exceptions, artists tend to be touchy and insecure and I tend to be a bit too focused on the work to deal with personalities. Not a great flaw for someone who has to manage artists. lol.

It certainly helped that you were one of the most multi-talented people I've ever worked with, but your roll-up-the-sleeves and get the job done attitude made you our "glimmer" of hope. We would have kept you forever if we could have and dragged your whole family along to the states. lol. I think we did feel bad about keeping you away from them so long, but most all of us were single and I'm not sure we truly understood. Sorry we put you through so much. But Joe and I enjoyed your company and still miss you!

And one more thing... since I've been reading you blogs about Bentley and Defiant I'm so impressed with your writing as well. It's so clear and heartfelt. I love it. Keep it up!

Tim Perkins said...

Hi Janet,

Wow, your comments here are overwhelming and some of the kindest anyone has ever given me. Thanks so much for the many complimentary things you say in them, it really means the world to me, especially coming from someone who's talents you know I have always admired.

I knew you guys all wanted me out there permanently when I was given the offer of getting a Green Card off Jim and Winston and had circumstances at the time been a little different back home with Margaret's father's health I would have snapped up the chance, without hesitation.

You guys even went so far as to show me real estate papers with lots of houses in, around the Upstate New York and Connecticut areas, which made me feel so welcome there.

Please don't ever feel you need to apologise, I know you guys felt bad all along, but the experiences and friendships gained over my time in NYC far outweigh any feelings of homesickness, which only really kicked in fully after the short Christmas break back home here in the UK. Even that though was soon under control, as we fought to get the books out.

I miss you guys enormously as well and have since I left you on the sidewalk beneath Defiant Towers back in '94.

We will all get together again and very soon I hope, when I return to New York with my first graphic novel under my belt. I can't wait to see you all again.

Thanks for the kind words about my writing as well. I first started to write more for other folks, not just for my amusement, back in 2000, when I left comics for while and joined and helped set up Morpheus Animations.

Since then I have written stuff for comics, animation, books, and other stuff too.

I wasn't sure whether to write a Blog, when folks were asking me why I hadn't got one, until I saw one of my UK comics buddies, Lew Stringer's, which always had a positive tone, when so many others were negative, which always put me off the idea.

Now I feel my Blog is a way of speaking directly to people, which we don't do on the Website, as that is more about the products and services than about my thoughts.

Wow I still can't get over your very complimentary comments here. I am really touched that our time together meant so much to you too.

My life has been ever the richer for meeting you and Jim that Sunday, just before I was to return home after the Glasgow Convention.

Serendipity - what a wonderful concept and I, for one, am glad it happened for me that day.

You have really made my day here. My next Blog is about your favourite UK Yorkie Terror...Bentley and his first trip to the seaside last week. Lots of photos for you to see.

Best Wishes,

J.C. Vaughn said...


I dropped Clark a line with a link to your blog, and he suggested I might find Brady on Facebook, which I did. We'll see if/when he responds to that and I'll make sure then that he gets the link, too.

Tim Perkins said...

Hi Jeff,

Thanks so much for doing this for me.

Best Wishes,

Anonymous said...

Hey Tim,

I haven't been getting to the blogs in a timely manner, so I don't comment when I'm late.
Did stop by today & noticed you had posted yesterday, so I decided to say, "hello".

Enjoyed reading the tales of life in the industry and as usual dug the Hot Wheels stuff from several posts ago.


Tim Perkins said...

Hi Emilio,

Thanks for dropping by and the kind words, as always.

You are always welcome here, even if you think you are late and you wish to add a comment, please feel free to do so.

Folks all over do that all the time.

Glad you liked the recent Hot Wheels stuff too.

There are a couple of Hot Wheels Blogs coming up over the next few weeks (the first on Tuesday 18th August) and the second one in particular has a bit of a surprise in it...I'll say no more.

There's a new one with my little dog Bentley due tomorrow evening and another one, which may interest you, showing my production methods producing a digitally painted cover, on Sunday.

Thanks again for dropping in here.

As I say, you are always more than welcome.