BB Chronological Part 10: Big Bang vol. 1, no. 1

BB1_CalAs we were working on the initial Big Bang Comics mini-series, we got some good news and bad news from the publisher, Caliber Press. The good news was that they had signed a deal for the comics to be sold in Walmart and that the interiors would be in color instead of black & white.BB1_OBC

The bad news? The books had to be 32 pages, which meant that Big Bang #1 couldn’t be the 64 pager we had planned on it being. The Golden Age would be divided up into three separate issues and we’d do five issues instead of three. Not so bad at all. And we started to dream in color!MrMask

We decided that our three flagship characters, Knight Watchman, Ultiman and Thunder Girl would each anchor one of the Golden Age issues and then divvied up the remaining characters’ stories. Thus, the Badge, the Beacon and Venus joined the KW in Big Bang Comics #1.

Although credited to Tom King, Chris Ecker actually wrote, penciled and lettered the Knight Watchman story, “The Man Called Mr. Mask,” which was inked by Mike Matthew. In the story, Hal Owen is planting a bomb in the Jolly Joe Novelty Factory as payback for their stealing his super rubber formula. The bomb goes off early, dousing Owen with the formula– transforming him into the rubber-faced Mr. Mask. It’s a fun story, done in a Bob Kane/Dick Sprangish style, with a few nods to the Joker and Two-Face dropped in.

OpTheKopNext up was the one strip that I both wrote and drew for Big Bang. It was a one pager called Op The Kop, a comic strip done in a pseudo George Herriman/Krazy Kat style.

Then came The Badge and his Rookies in “The Shrine of Crime.” The tagline read “by Jack Simmons and Joe Kingler” which was our tribute to Joe Simon & Jack Kirby, the same as Tom King was to Bob Kane. It was actually written by me, with pencils by Mark Lewis and inks by Jeff Meyer.Badge

In the story, the three heroes interrupt some street kids robbing a store and follow the zombie-like gang back to Chinatown. There they foil a Japanese sumo wrestler spy named Buddha, who has been addicting the local youths to opium and forcing them to steal for him.

Venus_First_DrawingThe Badge had two young sidekicks known collectively as his Rookies, a male and a female named Trooper and Bobbie. I lifted the dual sidekick idea from my buddy Richard “Grass” Green who had used the concept in his American Man strip, where junior partners Battle Boy and Cyclone were known as the Boy Marvels. I thought it was a fitting tribute to Grass, who was a huge fan of Jack Kirby’s work.

Venus_flagVenus, the Goddess of Love and Laughter was up next, in “The Babynapping Plot of Madame X” by writer Ed DeGeorge and artist Randy Zimmerman. In it, Madame X is a Nazi spy who kidnaps the nephew of one of Venus’ feuding boyfriends to attract the Goddess’ attention.

MadameXLast up was the one page prose story “The Razor’s Edge” by Bud Hanzel, which introduced the readers to the Beacon. The “Light of Justice” used his power crystal to square off against a saboteur named the Razer. Chris Ecker supplied the illustration (which was signed as Tom King).Beacon

The issue also contained a two page promo for Big Bang titled “From the 30s To The 90s” in which we laid out our plans for the mini-series and what we jokingly (and erroneously) referred to it as the Zirconium Age of Comics, named after artificial simulated diamonds, cubic zirconia.

BB1_KW-GSThere was an ad for the next issue, a Thunder Girl pin-up by Bill Fugate, plus an ad for the upcoming Knight Watchman: Graveyard Shift mini-series that showed a promise of the Modern Age, with art by Ben Torres. The back cover featured five 1940s era covers and our tagline, “Comics Haven’t Been This Fun For 50 Years!”

JrWatchmenThere was also an ad urging readers to join the Junior Watchmen Of America club for only $3 plus shipping. For that low price you would receive a certificate, a mask, secret code and decoder, a small magnifying glass and a letter from the Knight Watchman himself. We sold quite a few kits over the years. The plan was to build a mailing list, but I don’t think we ever really followed up on it.

One last thing: color separations for these first few issues were provided by Murphy Anderson’s Visual Concepts studio. Murphy was a nice guy and it was a thrill to work with such a legend.

Gary Carlson


Big Bang Vol. 1 no. 1 is available for purchase for $3 at our back issue store:



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