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Thursday June 17, 2010 4:11 am

Ultraverse: Checking In With The Founders

Networked

To create the , Chris Ulm convinced seven comic book creators to meet him and Malibu’s editorial staff in Scottsdale, Arizona back in September 1992. Malibu Comics’ Ultraverse flew into print in June 1993, led by those seven: Mike W. Barr, Steve Englehart, Steve Gerber, James Hudnall, Gerard Jones, James Robinson and Len Strazewski.

Majician 51What began with Prime, Hardcase and The Strangers culminated a couple of years later after bought Malibu and the comic book market crashed on itself. The UV was shuttered and now exists as a part of the Disney Empire, along with Jose Carioca, Miley Cyrus and Gyro Gearloose. Since then, the 7 Founders have remained actively creative and here’s what they have going on in 2010.

Steve Englehart (creator of The Night Man and The Strangers) is fortunate enough to have two novels out right now. The first is a re-issue of his classic The Point Man and the second is its sequel, The Long Man. About The Point Man, Steve says, “This book was intended to sum up everything I knew about heroes and about magick - stuff that I couldn’t put in code-approved comics. The Point Man revolves around Max August, and a truth in the real world of 1980, that the Russians - the West’s arch-enemies of the period - had been doing parapsychological experiments since the 1950s, with an eye toward using low-level magic in espionage. My idea was, what if they had succeeded? How would the world of espionage, and the world in general, be affected if one side had those extra resources? But then again, who said only one side did?”

Len Strazewski (co-creator of Prime and Prototype) is the Acting Chair of the Journalism Department at Columbia College Chicago but he still keeps his fingers dipped in the four-color ink. With artist Scott Larson he has a story in Femforce #152 (on sale now). It features, says Len, “beautiful cop of the future Stormy Tempest escaping from a 21st century prison.”

Additionally, illustrated by his old Trollords pal Paul Fricke, Len has a story – “Pippi Van Wrinkes” - in July’s Fractured Fables hardcover from Jim Valentino’s Shadowline imprint at Image Comics. He tells me he’s also working “on some occulty adventure comics that I will eventually self-publish.”

James Hudnall (creator of Hardcase and The Solution) is a judge for this year’s Eisner Awards so he’s busy reading lots of comics. He currently writes two weekly web strips. One called Obama Nation with artist Batton Lash (Supernatural Law) is at Andrew Brietbart’s Big Hollywood every Sunday. The other, Useful Idiots, is illustrated by Val Mayerik and pops up every Friday at Breitbart’s Big Journalism.

If you don’t want to click around over there, you can also find both strips over at Hudnall’s site.

James Robinson (creator of Firearm) continues to write for DC, most recently the much-talked about Justice League: Cry For Justice and its sequel Justice League: The Rise of Arsenal. He’s been nominated for a 2010 Eisner in the Best Writer category for Cry For Justice. Robinson is planning a series starring The Shade, a character closely identified with his Starman series.

Gerard Jones (co-creator of Prime, creator of Freex, writer of UltraForce) is the author of the comics history Men Of Tomorrow (he’s currently putting the finishing touches on a rewrite of the screenplay). He’s also got a graphic novel coming out this summer, illustrated by his frequent collaborator Mark Badger called Networked: Carabella On The Run. It’ll be published by NBM and released through IDW. This is from the solicitation copy: “Carabella thinks she’s escaping the oppression of her own world, but instead she’s exposing the earth to an invasion so soft and friendly that everyone welcomes it — until Carabella herself sees what’s happening and tries to make someone, anyone see that our websites and our cell phones are being used to steal first the privacy and then the freedom of everyone on earth.” Publisher’s Weekly has a bunch of preview pages that look gorgeous. It’s great to see Badger’s work again.

Mike W. Barr (creator of Mantra) reports that “I’ve been writing for Bongo’s Simpsons comics lately - including one of this year’s Christmas issues - with a great deal of satisfaction.” He’s also writing the prose adventures of pulp hero The Green Lama for Moonstone Books.  But the thing that’s got him really excited is “my science fiction/fantasy novel, Majician/51, from the Invisible College Press, a story about a guy who works at Area 51 and finally discovers too many of its secrets.” You can find a taste of it over at the Invisible College Press website.

Sadly, Steve Gerber, creator of Howard the Duck and Omega The Unknown, writer of The Defenders and for the Ultraverse, creator of Sludge and co-writer of The Exiles, passed away in 2008. However, in September, Marvel will be reviving his Duck yet again in a new one-shot to be written by Stuart Moore and illustrated by Mark Brooks. Interested Gerberites should check out existing collections of his work: The Howard The Duck Omnibus, Essential Defenders and Omega The Unknown.

So now that you know, go check this stuff out.

[Artwork: cover to Networked by Mark Badger (top); cover to Mike W. Barr’s Majician/51 (bottom)]

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