Monday, April 25, 2011

Lost & Foundish: Tongue Boy™ Comic Covers (1995-1998)

If you recognize any of the following drawings then I tip my hat to you, sir/ma'am... we have known each other a LONG time now.

Back in my middle school days I drew comics that I'd sell to friends and other students for fifty cents each.  It wasn't a very self-sustaining business model (I think I made about $0.02 profit for every comic sold) but it was fun to do until I started liking girls,.
I started it all in 1994 when I drew my first comic book called Stomach Man #1.  The whole story was that a mad scientist was trying to create super organs and inevitably wound up creating a whole army of evil humanoid organs, except for Stomach Man.  It was his job to stop them from advancing their evil super organ agenda.  Unfortunately that didn't last for more than an issue, and that's where Tongue Boy came in.  Up until that point I had been drawing an alter-ego version of myself since the second grade, a spikey-haired kid named Marcus (I never had hair quite like his...).  With Tongue Boy all I did was replace his hands with enormous tongues and slapped a poorly self-made costume on him.
I was influenced by many of the irreverent and weird cartoons of the time such as Ren & Stimpy, The Simpsons, Batman: TAS & most notably of all, The Tick, which aired Saturday mornings a few months after I started work on TB.  Tongue Boy didn't really have powers in that he basically just had big useless tongues for hands.  If they offered any sort of benefit, the tongues acted like big wet bludgeoning objects in which to stop thieves with.  There were lots of weird supporting characters as well, but more on that later.

Tongue Boy #1-2 (1995)
When you're young you do stupid things.  In my case, I went back and changed the cover of my first Tongue Boy comic book years after it was initially drawn.  I didn't even alter it from a photocopy!  I just put white-out directly on the original issue I had drawn and made sure it was changed forever.  It's actually very close to it's original, but I wanted the shading on Tongue Boy to match with his design in later issues.  But still stupid.
Anyway, the first issue dealt with Tongue Boy's origins (his dad accidentally used radioactive waste on a cow tongue sandwich as opposed to mayonaise) and his first victory over evil, in this case being a tiny parasite wielding a telekenetic remote control.  I'm honestly not sure if it makes sense as a story -- I'd have to go back and read them and it has been some YEARS.
The second issue of Tongue Boy revolved around Marcus finally getting to meet his childhood television idols, only to find that they've been horribly disfigured due to an accident involving (yup) toxic waste.  Desperate for work, these "Mutated Men" (pretty creative so far I know, try to keep up) begin to do work for Perry T. Parasite, brother of the parasite killed in the first book.  Unlike his brother, Perry is huge and obtained his large stature due to the overuse of parasite steroids... or something like that.  The issue ends on a cliffhanger when Tongue Boy is saved by a new hero...

Tongue Boy #3 (1996 double-issue!)
... that new "hero" was Marcus' best friend Lancy dressed up in his saliva suit going under the alias of "Drool Lad." I thought it fit the theme.  While I started out thinking Drool Lad would make for a good sidekick, he was too smart & independent of a character to get swept to the sidelines.  In the end Drool Lad became his own hero, and usually the one that would save Tongue Boy in the big fights.  While I'm still proud of how I tried to develop my characters at the time, I definitely sucked in the plot department.  After a reasonably coherent three-comic story arc, I had Perry T. Parasite succumb to the claws of a randomly introduced stray cat and subsequently all remaining parties went their separate ways.  You may remember this very same plot device being used later on in the 2007 blockbuster, Spider-Man 3.


Tongue Boy #4-5 (1996, '97)
One problem with producing small comic books out of folded standard copy paper is that you don't get a lot of room to move the story along.  These two comics made up a two-part story that introduced one of my favorite characters, Chia "Rambo" Pet.  Back in my middle school days I wanted to make a cool character that could be anything that I wanted him to be.  Maybe he wasn't particularly 'cool', but I liked Chia "Rambo" Pet a lot.  I had been drawing him since I started Tongue Boy back in '94 and introduced him as a mysterious mercenary-type character that was out to assassinate the father of the new girl at school.  One thing leads to another and Chia "Rambo" Pet attempts to blow up the whole city to destroy Tongue Boy & the gang (is it any coincidence that Independence Day came out in 1996 and I looooved it? answer: no) but after some fighting and lesson-learning, everything gets resolved.   
Not sure how that part went.  Again, it's been awhile. 


Tongue Boy #6-7 (1997, '98)
More often than not, writing Tongue Boy was a way for me to sort out all that dumb teenager stuff going on at that time in my life.  The crime-fighting superhero aspect of the comic always took second chair to whatever was going on in Marcus' personal life.  In 1997 I took a trip to France with my family and worked that into the story arc for the remainder of Tongue Boy series' run.  In this exciting chapter, the Earth has been peppered with missiles sent from Mars that contain a mysterious poison gas.  This gas manifests itself into large "cloud lawyers"... similar to the bad guy in that crappy Fern Gully movie we all may or may not remember.  They were kind of a stupid villain... I think more than anything they just helped me facilitate storytelling based around mass destruction & they didn't do anything remotely lawyer-related beyond wearing ties.  You have to keep in mind that not only was this pre-9/11 but also the best years in America to watch stuff blow up on movie screens.  Michael Bay anyone?  Looking back now I realize that even I couldn't escape those influences... cities just liked getting blowed up.


Tongue Boy #8-9

These comics were both never released.  Tongue Boy #8 probably had about a page left of inking to do and #9 was left unfinished.  These were both miles beyond the comics that had been released before them in terms of storytelling & layout, but by this time in my life I was moving from Madison, WI down to Phoenix for what turned out to be only a yearlong excursion.  That turned out to be one of those "growing up" years of my life (hair gel, shaving, etc), and although I never gave up drawing I did stop making comics on a regular basis.  We'll see if I ever get a chance to revisit these characters, they were a very important part of my life.

If I ever get more time I'll try to dig these comics up and scan the pages in... but that's probably on the lower end of my 'if list.'

1 comment:

Wayne said...

'Sawesome! Endlessly (until it ends) entertaining is watching the progression of a budding artist from suck to less suck. I've got a couple of junior-high hard cover (cause I was cool like that) self made illustrated stories that are brimming with stolen ideas from Resident Evil to a particularly influential Shark Week. Horrid stuff that should never be subjected to anyone, and every one of my stories involved someone dying at the end. I was anti-happy ending and perhaps overly influenced by Mortal Kombat. That said, show me more, damn you!