Sunday, April 28, 2013



In keeping with the thru-line for this month’s blog posts, of showcasing gifts (either from me to you, or from others to me) this entry will reveal secret presents that I (sorta) helped deliver to everyone who reads many of Marvel’s mystical comics over the past decade or so.
Now, bear in mind, none of these are anything more than minor, humble offerings. Still, while being hardly worth mentioning, I needed something in the vein of “gifts” for the blog post, so here we are.

Every now and again, I have – either via intentional communication, or others’ “referencing” of my images – influenced stories and artwork from a few writers & artists at mighty Marvel. Then, those influential tidbits would be presented therein the creator’s work and thus would I be a silent gifter (a “Secret Sanctum” as it were… get it?... “Secret Santa : Secret Sanctum”?... uh… nevermind…) to comics readers.

While this has happened on more occasions (that I am either omitting intentionally, have forgotten or am unaware) I shall reveal three such instances – each with their own level of success.


The first such incident occurred back in late-2005 or early-2006, when after purchasing unpublished comic scripts (in particular issues of “What If?” which feature Doctor Strange, of course) from famed author Steve Englehart, we had several more email correspondences, wherein he was revealing his then-next work for Marvel; ‘STRANGE WESTERNS; starring the BLACK RIDER’ one-shot which was part of Marvel’s then-resurgence attempt for their western characters.

Mr. Englehart was telling me of how since the tale dealt with the “before he was Ancient” Ancient One, teaming up with the Black Rider (and subsequently other era-appropriate heroes) that he wanted to form them into an ersatz 1800’s-era team of Avengers.

I pointed out, that if the Ancient One were to be a part of it, it would make more sense that he take the “Doctor Strange” role and have an 1800’s era team of DEFENDERS.
That idea struck him as a much better angle to pursue, and if the one-shot were picked up for further publication options (mini-series’, long-term series’, and/or specials, etc…) that my angle would be the way he would like to proceed.

Sadly, while good, the Black Rider never got past that oneshot (a fate shared with the other western heroes of that ‘Marvel Westerns’ attempt), and so, my mental fruit died on the vine


The next occasion that I shall share met with far more success.


I truly have NO idea how I began corresponding with author/artist/designer David Sexton back in late-2006 or early-2007. Perhaps an exchange on a message board that led to further email exchanges? Suffice it to say that somehow, we did.

In those conversations, Mr. Sexton told of his large-scale project for Marvel which was a one-shot and mini-series called ‘Marvel Tarot’, and how it was to also feature a newly designed tarot consisting of Marvel’s mystic heroes.

The basic premise being that Ian McNee (last seen in a back-up tale in ‘Marvel Fanfare’ # 6) would have a tarot deck that would portray all these various Marvel mystics.
I suggested that why not just have him use such a deck that already existed? Doctor Strange had just such an enchanted deck which he used to choose “Secret Defenders” in the title of the same name.

Mr. Sexton thought that was a fabulous idea and a wonderful stroke of serendipity, and thus he proceeded with that concept for the final publications.

However, he probably didn’t know that Marvel has a “sliding timeline” (that all the events from Fantastic Four # 1 until “now” occurred in a 10 to 12 year span of time – vs – the actual years of publication) and had Ian McNee state, in comic, that he had that deck of cards in his possession for 10 YEARS – which is how long it had been since ‘Secret Defenders’ was published. Now, of course, it’s a minor quibble, and one that maybe no one but me noticed, but it caused the nerd-centric portion of my brain (read: 99.999%) to stop dead.

It took me some time to get over “epic fail” of my not being sure to detail that aspect of how things work, but at the time:

  1. I was fairly sure everyone knew about the “sliding timeline”.(More about it [HERE])
  2. Even if he didn’t know, an “editor” would catch it.
  3. I was not wanting to be a pest or seem like a fanboy, and so kept my correspondence to a minimum.

Still, it was a cool idea, which kept a piece of valuable mystical eclectica in the canonical zeitgeist – for a short while, at least.

Sadly, while ‘Marvel Tarot’ was a success in every aspect of its rejuvenation of the various magical properties that Marvel has in its catalogue, somehow it, and all its tantalizing teases of projects and storylines to come, was quickly forgotten.


But then there are times when you can influence someone’s work without having any idea that you are doing so.


This next, and most recent incident occurred without my awareness – until I opened the pages of the comic in question.

If you were to do an internet search for images of Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Window, you’d most likely come across any number of my own uploaded images at or near the top (as I’ve uploaded several for this very blog, either any of my assorted illustrations of same, my avatar which I use for “gravatar” and other message board ID, or even the tiny favicon that is used and visible next to the URL for the blog). Now, look at the top of the side-column in my blog, you’ll see an old pic of a leather bound book with the “Window sigil” emblazoned on it, sitting on a table next to a skull, crystal orb, an ornate “Eye of Agamotto” and some custom-made jewelry; including a ring and a medallion with the same window sigil on them. 

The sigil is how I’ve drawn it for decades. (In fact that photo was taken in the mid 1990’s and the book itself was crafted in the late 1980’s.) As far as I can recall, no one has drawn it quite exactly that way, although obviously there have been very similar variations – as each artist has his or her own version. I, too, have other variations that I use – depending on the usage – but for a stand-alone graphic image, that’s the way I’ve tended to roll.

Well, imagine my shock and surprise when I opened up both ‘Deadpool’ “NOW” # 2 & 3 and see my drawing of the window in the comic. Well, not MY drawing, but artist Tony Moore’s reproduction of it as a shadow on the bookcase behind Doctor Strange.

There are two viable deductions for how he came to use my own rendition:

  1. He did an internet search for Doctor Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum Window and saw one of my pics.
  2. Co-Writer, Brian Posehn offered a visual reference taken from action figure customizer, "Sillof"' with whom Posehn’s friend/fellow comedian and geek emeritus Patton Oswalt hepped him to, since Oswalt is a fan of the customizer’s work. Sillof’s own customized diorama of the Sanctum Sanctorum also used my own design (I think he had asked me if it was ok to do so – I know I get requests like that from time to time, and don’t recall if his was one of the “official” uses or not), and so if the pics of Sillof’s custom Sanctum were offered to Posehn, who then in turn passed them to Deadpool artist Tony Moore, then that’s how it may have ended up being the design of choice. *Whew!*

But, for any naysayers, I will –through the magic of internet animation – show you that the two designs line up perfectly.

And there ya go… you’re welcome.

OK, fine… as I said at the onset, neither of these are giant event-changing ideas, like giving Wolverine bone claws and naming him after the bullying father of his childhood friend (ohhhh…. The whole thing makes my head hurt) – or that Professor X had a secret third team of X-Men that he sacrificed trying to save the original team before he would then recruit yet another (ugh… who thought of THAT?)…uh… or that Iron Man would have ALWAYS been Kang’s traitorous mind-thrall who’d then die off and his teen-age self would come to the present to take over the role (WTF?!?)… or that the young-boy Stephen Strange would be tormented by demons sent to him by a jealous Baron Mordo, since the Ancient One had said that the boy was destined to be “the chosen one” (GAH!!!)… or that WONG would be a pupil of the Ancient One too and be the one to call upon the Vishanti while Strange was a bumbling idiot (AARGH!!!)… y’know what?
MY little contributions are BETTER than those because, while tiny and innocuous, they helped BUILD upon the stories and didn’t destroy, derail or degrade the properties.

You’re welcome.

(Now, if anyone has any interest, I’ve long had a great idea how Man-Thing can give birth to his human self and raise the now-infant Ted Sallis in the Nexus, which would then lead to… 
*Seriously, see it [HERE])


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