Putting together Fight Comics is one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done. I wrangled together a bunch of creative people and told stories that had been in my head for a while. It’s good to get stories out of your head… it helps make room for new ones.
The stories in here are from my comics past, pre-Fight Comics. The first two were published in anthologies, and the last one was the fruit of a wonderful series of gatherings from the Dystopian Writer’s Group. I was proud to have those first stories published, but now it feels like it’s time to bring the stories back home.
I call it ‘Warm Up Sessions’ because these stories helped me develop my skills. (Not that I’m done, yet!) RUSH was probably the first thing I’d ever had actually published, and Exhilaration Instinct was the first autobiographical story I’d ever told. 1985 – Enemy is Friend was the first time I’d ever really flexed an idea around a set of characters. A lot of what Fight Comics became, had to do with what I learned doing these stories.
RUSH: The Greatest Adventure
Created for Happy Harbor’s anthology, Tales From the Harbor Volume One, this was the first story I had a chance to do with Nick Johnson. That relationship has been fruitful both professionally and personally, with Nick being a good friend to this day. So too for Fiona Staples, who probably doesn’t need an introduction to the comics community here. Needless to say, we were thankful for her lettering on this story, and her friendship from then to now!
RUSH comes being inspired by old Doc Savage pulps, about adventurers who try to save the world. My idea was that Nikolas Rushman is actually grappling with real-world problems, like environmental abuses, sustainability, and economic imbalance. We only scratched the surface of it in this story, and I felt the need to introduce a malevolent mystery near the end, there, but I still like the idea. I plan to come back to it.
This was done for Gord Cummings’ anthology Children are Cruel, working with Vincent Smith. We’d socialized quite a bit before this story, in the local Calgary Comics community, and so I really wanted to do a story with him. Vince is exactly the right kind of crazy when it comes to storytelling. I hope we have a chance to do another project together.
The funny thing is, this story is about the moment when I realized that sport martial arts were too formal and rigid for me. I spent the following years doing MMA-style stuff before it became the entertainment industry it is now. But I’ve started to drift back. I’m thinking about joining a very formal martial arts club! All things come around…
1985 – Enemy is Friend
The Dystopian Writer’s Group started from a post on the Maple Ink Comics webforum, where I speculated about doing sequels to famous works of literature. An off-the-cuff comment about Winston’s fate in Orwell’s 1984 led to many drinks and discussion at Ming, a bar on 17th Avenue in Calgary, where we started telling stories that speculated on sequels to works like 1984, Brave New World, and A Clockwork Orange. The twist here is that it’s all set in the real 1985, and the CIA is Big Brother.
Talented and always engaging James Davidge took the latter two stories, focusing on John the Savage from Brave New World, but making Clockwork Orange’s Alex his son. I had Alex pop up in my story… so these two could be read together. Chase down James’ own anthology, My Modern Panic to get his story!
Extreme gratitude to letterer (and damn good writer) Ryan Ferrier for getting this story lettered with very short notice.
Artist Richard Grzela is new to me, but he came along exactly when I needed an artist for this story earlier this year. He stepped up to the plate, and gave it an wonderfully extreme sensibility. His version of Winston makes me feel even sorrier for him. At least until… well, I’ll let you read the story.
And thanks to you, for buying a copy!
All stories written by Jason Mehmel
RUSH – The Greatest Adventure
Art by Nick Johnson
Letters by Fiona Staples
Art & Letters by Vincent Smith
1985 – Enemy is Friend
Art by Richard Grzela
Letters by Ryan Ferrier