Self Praise for the writer of Lucius Hammer!
About 8 months have passed since I have unleashed Lucius Hammer to the masses. I have been so busy trying to score cartoon deals, video game licenses, and other creative compromises that I have begun to lose track of what the hell I was doing any of this for in the first place. It's the book, man. The "Book" or "Comic Book" is the thing! If we don't have the book then we have nothing. It is also true that people have had a chance to react to my book over the past few months and the reviews have been mixed but encouraging. Very few people really get what I am creating at this juncture but as I build momentum it will be obvious and that's when it's all going to get out of hand. A lot of folks have compared Lucius to Superman (he is like Superman to a degree but he can't be that much like him because he's black!) and some folks think that this is a spoofy riff on seventies blaxploitation heroes like Black Dynamite (Not at all, Black Dynamite is more like Austin Powers in black face, Lucius Hammer is a black superhero.) Anyway, I thought it would be interesting for you readers and myself, the writer, to look back and review my own issue. The book starts out just like I imagined it would. John Henry to me is that seminal African American literary figure that is emblazoned in my childhood memory of trips to the school library on Wednesdays. My first page bursts out proudly with a triumphant shot of John Henry, hammer in hand on some mountaintop, and the narration of course provided by Lucius proclaims that the famous steel drivin' man is his biological father. I instinctively did this because of my love for this tall tale American Myth and also because I want Lucius to have some mystery and romance tied to his origin. I think it gives his whole background kind of this mytho-historical lean it needs to capture the imagination of readers and my own interest. I want to write about this character because I know there is so much there to work with and explore. Also it will give me an excuse to do a John Henry comic book some time down the road. After this we roll into what I refer to as my miniature legend pages. Here is where I took a lot of influence from the first Superman and Batman Comic books...I wanted Lucius to have a simple, yet grand origin story that had some elbow room for interpretation. In fact I would say this first story is a mélange of tall tale, autobiography and standard superheroic origin. I also felt that not many black superheroes had been treated to a fancy dancy origin like this one before so I went for the full on Smallville kind of story and dove headlong into man of many adventures storyline. We could have illustrated his strengths as a youngster better, in fact I have a revised script where I show him tussling with bears and diving to the bottom of lakes to grab catfish that I hope Christian will consider doing for the deluxe graphic trade…but I still love the flow of the first issue. The funeral and death of his mother is visually moving and poignant I think from a standpoint that most black characters in comics don’t have parents that play such a significant role as Lucius’ does in his life. His adventures out west evoke images of Buffalo Soldiers and black cowboys. His involvement in prohibition definitely will warrant a story or two about the numbers game which was called policy and South Side Chicago. Still another period I am fascinated with in history is the time of the Negro Baseball leagues and I wanted to plug Lucius into that era so that I could tell a superhero as an athlete story. Then the World War 2 stuff is going to be a blast. I kept picturing a young Jim Brown playing Lucius Hammer in a Dirty Dozen style army flick. Some folks have claimed that they thought Lucius Hammer was going to be something else. Maybe a parody, a comedic take on seventies heroes, more of a blaxploitation thing played strictly for laughs and afro jokes. No…some of that will be there. The sixties and seventies are the period in which Lucius makes a global impact as a superhero so a lot of images will be of him with the black power fro kickin but this is the study of a superhero in time…a black one. There are many things to consider and talk about with regard to black superheroes and Lucius is the nucleus of this secret history of “black masks”. I had written a fairly cool series of action panels showing Lucius in a ticker tape parade, coming home from the WWII, in his dress uniform. I also planned for you to see a complete page displaying the Harlem Knights, a group of organized but illegal black capes, who seemed to appear around the end of the Harlem Renaissance. But things happen…Christian and I are both working full time gigs during the day, of course we wanted to give you the ultimate comic book experience but there are just so many hours in a day. Christian made some changes that initially I didn’t like. Looking back now, I see his brilliance and his economy of images; the exact placement of word bubbles and captions boxes…the subtle silhouettes that speak volumes in one panel. The training page where Lucius decides to develop himself as a superhero after witnessing the Harlem Shadow is an example of powerful, basic panels that suggest a major character arc over the span of four panels. This is definitely the kind of book I read as a kid and the kind I’m eager to recapture for so many people out there who have been bitten by the grim and gritty bug. This comic book is fun. It’s not rocket science. It ain’t Shakespeare or Dark Knight. But it’s fun and that’s what I set out to do.
Labels: Lucius Hammer Review