Jim Valentino Interview

What brought you to Spectrum Comics?

I believe the editor of the line was Scott Fulop. He kept calling the studio for my then studio mate, Rob Liefeld, whom, as I recall, he wanted to do The Shield. Rob, as I remember, wasn’t all that interested, but we hood-winked Scott into taking a look at a proposal from me.

Were you asked to take on the Fox, or did you decide that’s what you wanted?

No, he was the character I wanted. He was one with the least amount of exposure.

Were you supposed to write or draw it? (or both)

Never got that far, but I would have preferred to do both.

What was the Fox going to look like in this form?

Like he always did. Like the Black Panther–completely black costume, maybe with red eyes, I don’t recall.

What was the story on the Fox that you were going to do(characterization, origin?)

I don’t recall. I do know that I used my notes on the Fox when I created ShadowHawk, so you could say that this was one of ShadowHawk’s origins.

Do you know of any other titles or creators that were involved–or planned involvement–in the Spectrum Comics world?

I recall Len Wein and Kelly Jones were going to do the Hangman and that there was one more title lined up, but I don’t recall what it was.

Why did the line get cancelled?

I’m not sure. I do know that Scott told us that the publishers saw some of Kelly’s pages and freaked. They had no idea what they were getting into and put a quick halt to it when they found out. I don’t know if that’s true, but that’s what we were told.

Did you have any stories drawn (if you were indeed the artist)?  And how many were written?

No, it never got that far. I had some notes–and the beginnings of a series synopses, but that’s it.

What was your first introduction to the MLJ (now ArchieCo) heroes?

The Mighty Comics line of the mid-1960’s. They were a train wreck of a company–they were trying to immitate Marvel, without really understanding what Stan Lee was doing. They were trying to emmulate the BatMan TV show, without understanding the satire behind camp. The artwork was just dreadful–stiff, awkward, uninspired. It was like a B Movie, so bad it was entertaining on a very peverse level.

What kind of research did you have to do on the Fox before getting your basic ideas down?

Research? The characater was a poor man’s Bat Man. All you had to do was take whatever elements you didn’t like about Bat Man and work with them–it just wasn’t all that deep.

Thanks for your help

Don’t know if this works into your article or not, but I was involved just a couple of years ago in another aborted attempt to revive these characters.

Another attempt? Can you elaborate?

Here’s the scoop…I was doing some work on the Sonic titles (Specials, Knuckles, etc…) and had done the Sonic/Image cross-ver (Sonic Super-Special #7) when conversations started between myself, Sonic editor, F. Justin Gabrie and Paul Castiglia about reviving the Mighty Crusaders. The idea was to start the series from scratch, using a BatMan animation style. Paul would write, I would pencil and co-plot (or something along those lines) The team would have included The Fly, Steel Sterling (now a Hulk sized farm boy), a new female Comet (the daughter of the original), Blackjack (whom I thought was lame, but Paul insisted on), the Shield,  and the Jaguar (the later two being the senior members of the team).

The publishers didn’t want to do it, having been bitten every time they entered the super-hero area. I spoke with Justin about the possibility of doing the book therough Image, but he didn’t feel they’d go for it as they were still smarming from the Impact line with DC. So, th whole thing was dropped shortly after I became the publisher of Image. The only thing to come of it was a bunch of one-page Origins that appeared in various Sonic comics (I did the Shield’s). So, yet another stillborn revival.

Was this just in a proposal that was worked up?  Or had the legalaties been done before-hand? (reason for asking is Joe Simon’s co-ownership of the Fly, and his having to be involved with any and every project that has the Fly in it–according to Paul Castiglia)

That’s right! The Fly was NOT included for that reason (told you memory was a bit dim). There was NO written proposal. Again, it had not gone that far. There was a group shot I did in the “animation style”–Paul and I were talking–mostly via e-mail–none of which I’m sorry to say was saved on this end. Like Spectrum before it, this was aborted before it got too far.

By the way, BlackJack has been the character that has had the biggest role in their appearances in Archie’s Weird Mysteries (#3 and 14), so Paul must have a soft-spot for him.

Yeah, he does–HE can’t even say why 🙂

Do you happen to know, off the top of your head, how many, and which of the one-page origins were done/appeared?  No one I’ve talked to seems to know for sure, not even Paul himself!

No, no clue. I’m sure of the Shield and Blackack (I think he got a two-pager!)–I dimly recall the Comet (the original), but I’m not sure–you’d have to check the Sonic books circa 1999, I believe.

Did you have any story plans set up for this new Crusaders lineup?  Or was it just in the planning stages, and nothing really made out of it for a proposal?

I remember roughing out two scenes–the first was when the Comet plunged into our dimension on Steel’s farm (it seems his farm was next to some kind of Nexus–and that would have ecome a story point somewhere down the line) and the other was in the city (NY?) with a giant mechanical spider the group had to bring down.These were just scribled notations in one of my notebooks, nothing really formal. It really had not gotten to the plot stage.

So, did this aborted try for the Crusaders involve any of their actual comic book history?  Or was it where the characters would be the same, but act as if none of the other stuff ever happened, and completely re-introduce them? (ala Impact, but with the regualr names/costumes/powers)

It was a mixed bag. The Shield was the original 1940’s guy, the Comet the original’s daughter, Steel Sterling was new. It really didn’t get far enough where we were considering how to reconcile anything per se as much as introduce. I do know that both Paul and I agreed that Red Circle went wrong with being too continuity conscience and that Impact failed by not having a connection. So we would have probably walked a line between the two. Again, though, you’re talking here aboiut conversations from three or four years ago–not much was written down and nothing was finalized.

Jim Valentino frequents the message boards over at Image Comics.com