<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> Nat Gertler - The lost work


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The Lost Gertler comics

Over the years, I've been involved in a number of comics projects that have, for some reason or another, not come to fruition. This has been quite a pain in the neck, since it has included most of my chances to have my own series. Occassionally, seemingly dead projects can return to life in some other form (as seen with 1968 Plus Or Minus 25 Years, which ended up becoming Big Bang 8), but for the most part, these books are dead. I present them here both for the people who are curious about my career and for those who might want a little dose of reality about the comics publishing business.

Bad Dudes: A planned on-going series based on the video game Bad Dudes Vs. Dragon Ninja. This ended up being much beter than it sounds; taking the weird things that arise from the way video games were made (both heroes looking the same except for the clothes, villains being repeated, and the like), I devised a storyline combining ancient organizations with modern cloning, with lots and lots of action. What happened: Pioneer Comics went out of business before even securing the license.

Sludge fill-in: In order to even up their schedule, Malibu hired me to write a fill-in issue for the series Sludge, created by Steve Gerber. The tale featured Sludge facing a character that everyone else felt was a superhero, but who had a hidden dark side. What happened: I wrote and rewrote the script, but by the time it was finished, Malibu had been bought out by Marvel and the series was drawn quickly to a close. This was never illustrated, and the purchased story lines a file drawer somewhere.

"The Littlest Lantern": This story for Green Lantern Corps Quarterly dealt with a storyteller traveling the world of Mosaic. It was my only sale to DC Comics. What happened: Before the tale could get illustrated, DC decided to kill of the Green Lanterns, cancelling the Quarterly.

Intruder miniseries: When TSR was publishing Steven Grant's Intruder as a series of miniseries, they needed a related miniseries to fill in for several months. Alex Krislov and I were tapped for this, and we came up with something that used the Intruder concept (folks traveling between varying Earths) without using any of the characters. It was a raucus miniseries concept linking folks from several fictional realms, including Alice's Wonderland. Plot this was wonderful--whenever one of us would create a plot situation with an odd piece needed, the other would find something that beautiful fit the hole. What happened: The last issue of the Intruder II miniseries ended up being the last comic that TSR published. This book was never scripted, and no money changed hands.

Hamilton horror stories: I wrote 6 stories for the Hamilton horror line, only 4 of which saw print. The remaining two featured a tale about the dead rising to unexpected results, and a humorous tale of alien abduction. What happened: the line (Grave Tales, Maggots, and Dread of Night) was cancelled. The first story, which had been slated to be illoed by Batton Lash, was paid for but never drawn. The other was never paid for.

Parody books: When I was doing books for Parody Press, there were a number of comics that got written and drawn but were never released. These include: a parody of Milestone Comics (and the fine folks at Milestone gave me previews of their books, which were most impressive) focusing on the attacks on Milestone coming from the people behind the short-lived imprint Ania, illustrated by Skyler Owens; Misery Inc., a parody of the first issue of 1963, with a cover by Mark Lewis and interiors by I-don't-recall, which featured bringing the characters face to face with modern Image-style characters (much like Moore had planned for the never-released 1963 Annual); TyRex Dinosaur, Hunter/Rye and the Foodstuff Force, a double-sided book of Valiant parodies with art by Joe Paradise and I-forget; and the short "X-L Man-O-Girth" story illustrated by Rob Davis. What happened: Orders too low to print. I've never gotten to see the art to most of these, and since pay was strictly percentage of sales, I saw no money. Some of this material was resolicited in thick volumes which also got insufficient orders.

Steel Spandex CD-ROM; A CD-ROM-based comic with light interactivity which would effect the viewpoint of the story, but not the continuity itself. This was a humorous space opera. What happened: Changes in the CD-ROM business caused Visionary Media to pull out of this deal, despite having a contract. The script was began but not completed. Currently, I am reformatting this as a proposal for print comics, and artist John Heebink is joining in on the effort.

Once in a Blue Moon: Not actually a comic, but part of a series of illustrated novellas about Zen Intergalactic Ninja, featuring a weaponless Zen facing the galaxy's deadliest assassins. What happened: Plummeting sales on Zen-related comics brought this series to an end with the issue before Entity could issue this.

What You Will: An updating of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night as a Prohibition-era gangster sex farce, which would have been issue four of Il-Lust-Rated Clas-Sex from Comics Zone. After helping the Zone people out with a couple of fill-in stories on the series, I had ended up being offered it as a regular gig, which I had accepted only if I could stretch it from beyond the odd format they had presented (where the writer was being told to do a straight version of classic work, with sex added, while the artist was told it was a parody... uggh!) This legitimate reprocessing of the work would have been my first issue in true control of the situation. What happened: Sales brought the series to an end with issue 3.

Comics Wars: A humorous miniseries taking a look at the competition between comic book companies at the time (1993), with the conflicts being shown as physical battles between their characters. Art for this would be by then-unknown John Stinsman, now known for his work on Avengelyne and Vampirella. There was even to be a special remarque edition, where John would have made small alterations to the cover by hand on individual copies. What happened: Orders were high enough to have printed the first issue, but with the normal issue-to-issue drop-off, sales would not be high enough to print the second. John and I decided we did not want to stick the public with an unfinished miniseries, so we axed the whole thing. A script and a piece of promotional art exist; no income was made.

Stock Car Comics Yearbook 1994: This would have been a 92-page graphic album covering the entire 1994 NASCAR Winston Cup racing season, with each race summarized and other major stories thrown in. Don Heck was illustrating. The major market would have been a mail order limited hardcover, with a general edition released through other means. The original plan included me being flown to the last race of the season, finishing the script on the site. What happened: With 80-some pages written (most but not all of which were paid for, at a low page rate), orders on the edition for the comics shop came in. Apparently, Marks Comics/Vortex Comics had been expecting to use money from the direct market orders to finance printing, and they had not realized how low orders for some books had reached in '94. I am given to understand that about 20 pages had been drawn, including 4 inked. Unfortunately, I have never gotten to see these pages, my only chance to work with the late, talented Mr. Heck.

Richard Petty Biography: After the Vortex NASCAR comics line had published two issues of biographical material on racing superstar Richard Petty, they tapped me to continue the project. This was to be in two phases. The first would be writing a third biographical issue (and if you think it's easy to find a third volume worth of compeling material after his life had been strip-mined for the first two, let me tell you it isn't!), and the second would be writing bridging material to bring the three issues of material together and expand on them, to turn it into a graphic novel. This novel would be available in a limited hardcover edition of less than 500 copies, signed by Petty and available only through the Petty museum. What happened: The third Petty issue was released (as an issue of Legends of NASCAR) but never paid for, except for a pile of comics which I accepted as partial payment. The line came to an end then, however, and despite the guaranteed sale of the hardcovers, the bridging material was never written and the novel version never released.

Marvel Superheroes Ads: For the ad campaign for the home version of the Marvel Superheroes video game, the ad agency contacted artist John Heebink, who brought me aboard to create two-page humorous ads featuring battles amongst the Marvel characters. I wrote up two versions, allowing the ad agency to pick which one they wanted. What happened: the agency apparently chose a different direction for the campaign. The work was paid for.