The Bad Art and Storytelling of My Childhood Comics

We all start somewhere.

Long before O Negative was a figment in my imagination, before Cole and Sam and Lindy took up any mental real estate, there was Blaze and Nuke Blastro.

But let’s step back a moment. Like I said in an earlier post, I was always a storyteller of sorts, even in childhood. Most of the time, it took the form of imaginative play. My friend and I used to explore the wooded area beyond his backyard with our toy light sabers, imagining we were Jedi stranded on a remote planet. Sometimes, though, my storytelling took the form of comic books.

And sometimes my mom saved those comic books.

For me to discover later.

This is a post about those comics. Get ready, because it’s a ride.

I had a childhood fascination with fire. If a person could shoot fire from their hands, I thought it was the coolest thing on the planet. My favorite Pokémon was Charizard. I drew him too:    

Exploding volcanos. Check. Fire breathing. Check. My Charizard was named Flamer in-game. Didn’t know that had other connotations at the time.

Anyway, my characters often took on a fire motif. They were also amalgamations of characteristics I perceived to be strong: large and muscular, tough, maybe had scars on their faces from previous battles. They were straight-talkers. If I was older and understood more, I would say they drank hard drinks for men who want to get drunk fast. That was the kind of characters in my imagination.

Take, for instance, Nuke Blastro.

Nuke Blastro has one night to set it straight. I don’t know what he needs to set straight or why he only has one night to do it, but, by God, he will do it.

When he isn’t wearing a Mexican wrestling mask

or blowing up people’s homes (that they put a lot of hard work into and have been faithfully paying their mortgages on—THANKS Nuke Blastro)

and fighting the Borg (apparently), he’s probably training and lifting weights and practicing how he can use his Nuke Blastro powers to beat down the bad guys. That’s the kind of superhero I was interested in. Violence and destruction. Kicking ass and taking names.

Sadly, I never drew the full comic for Nuke Blastro (again, I would love to know what he needed to set straight), but I have part of the story of Blaze, published by Why Comics Why.

“Why oh why did I read this” is what you might say by the end of this.

Introducing BLAZE:

Blaze is a rough and tumble cop who has a thigh gap and wears tight, black skinny jeans. He has a smoking gun which he uses to end the bad guy’s life with no respect for due process. His arms are double the size of his legs and he’s got a skull tattoo, which lets you know he’s a tough guy. This issue: **It’s** a pure inferno of crime crackdown. I don’t know what that means, but it means someone’s getting punched, kicked, shot and BLAZED (not from marijuana—from Blaze’s FISTS).

The cold opening.

We open on the exterior of the New York Factory of Weapon and Metal Making of New York. Or NYFWMMNY for short. The owners wanted to make sure you knew where the metal and weapons were being made. New York, in case you missed it.

Anyway, a guard stands outside the factory in an overcoat. He won’t make it through the night.

A man with a shotgun appears and yells, “Come on!” Guns pop out from behind the bushes and trees. And BANG. The guard is dead.

Gripping.

Our bad guy has an access card to the facility. Not sure how he got it—probably off the guard he just shot. Now even though he has the access card in hand, our villain kicks the door down. A completely superfluous step, which is why the employees inside are asking, “What? Huh? Why would he do that? He has the key card already.”

Our villain starts shooting. Because that’s what villains do in my childhood mind.

Look at the expression on this guy’s face. Incredulous. “Really? I come in to manufacture weapons at my job at the NYFWMMNY and this is what I get?”

Our villain takes hostages and explains that nobody will know he was at the NYFWMMNY. Not EVEN BLAZE.

There’s an important storytelling lesson to be learned here, dear reader. 1) Your villain must have a soul patch. 2) Your villain must have a facial scar. 3) Your villain must hate Blaze.

Meanwhile at a local bar in NY…

Blaze is in a fight. With some drunkies. On a crime crackdown case. What’s the crime Blaze is cracking down on? We’ll see.

A drunkie decides he wants to attack Blaze from behind with a baseball bat. But Blaze isn’t having it. He uses a searing fireball to dispatch his opponent. Later, this drunkie sues the city for excessive force after three-fourths of his chest suffers third-degree burns.

Blaze then gets the guy to confess: “Ok, did you rob the bank? Did you kill the clerk? Did you use a 12-gauge shotgun?” The man replys, “Yes, yes, yes.” Which probably won’t stand up in court. Any defense attorney would argue to the jury, “Wouldn’t you confess too if you just got hit in the chest with a fireball?”

Also, did anyone notice this sign? I need to find this bar and visit.

The police finally arrive. And kick down the door. Apparently, childhood Paul thought kicking doors down was THE COOLEST.

There’s another important story lesson here. When the cop asks Blaze who he is, Blaze replies, “That’s for me to know, and you to never find out,” before disappearing into a pillar of fire. It’s important to keep some mystery for your reader. Can’t give too much away too quickly. Also, it’s important to hook your reader and keep them reading, which is why I wrote “What next…” at the bottom. “Wow” indeed.

What’s next? Well, that will have to be for another blog post. Standby for part two where we learn almost nothing about Blaze or the villain or the hostage situation at the NYFWMMNY because childhood Paul is a terrible storyteller. It’ll be worth it, though.


What I’m reading now:

Artemis by Andy Weir

Confessions of a Funeral Director: How the Business of Death Saved My Life by Caleb Wilde

Blood Profits: How American Consumers Unwittingly Fund Terrorists by Vanessa Neumann

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