It would not take much arm twisting to get me to admit that BIG BANG COMICS #24 is my own personal favorite issue that we ever produced. It is the fake history of a fake comic book company and creators in a fake comics industry. And yet – – there is some actual truth in it, at least as far as referencing some of the artists and writers that contributed to Big Bang over the years.
Like everything we did over the years, the whole idea of Big Bang was to make comic books a fun experience again. In the 1970s, a new generation of creators who had grown up on the industry seemed to want to prove that “comics weren’t just for kids anymore.” By the time Chris Ecker, Ed DeGeorge and myself started Big Bang in the early 1990s, comic books had grown up and weren’t aimed or marketed at kids. Action figures and movie tie-in toys were, but not most of the comic books themselves.
In 1991 or so, Chris Ecker told me that he was tired of art directors telling him that he drew like an “old guy” so we set out to do an old style story. My old Crusader character from Megaton Comics quickly morphed into the Protector and then into the Night Watchman.
I think Chris’ intention was a Daredevil style story but his sketches reminded me of Shelly Moldoff and Bob Kane, so we added a “K” to Night and the Knight Watchman was born, and we proceeded to try to create an homage to the creators of Batman. The next time around we updated Ultiman (also from Megaton) and did an homage to Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
The stories ran as back-ups in my Berzerker comic book from Caliber Press, and the reaction from fans was great. We started getting drawings from other artists showing the characters from different eras with the art inspired by later artists and Big Bang was born.
Big Bang Comics was something of a hodge-podge. Every issue featured different characters from different eras (Golden Age, Silver Age, Bronze Age). While we did map out a history of the main characters, Big Bang #24 and the History of Big Bang Comics Part 1 was the first time we really spelled it out for the readers.
I grew up during the 1960s and was mostly a DC Comics guy. There were a lot of Annuals back then, reprinting stories from the 1950s and earlier, but the history of comic books didn’t become real for me until I read Jim Steranko’s History of Comics and Jules Feiffer’s The Great Comic Book Heroes.
We used Steranko’s Histories as a template and created the History of Big Bang Comics Part 1, using newly done art in addition to covers and sketches that had been done over the years by the Big Bang Gang of artists. For the most part we made it all up, although we did base our fake creators on many of the real guys. One of my own favorite conceits is that our Ultiman creators Ziegler & Schuler ended up owning Big Bang instead of being kicked out as Siegel & Shuster had been.
It should be noted that some of the information in the Dr. Weird chapter is the truth. The character had been created by Howard Keltner and appeared in the Star-Studded fanzine during the 1960s. Shortly before he passed away, Howard sold the character to me and Ed DeGeorge to keep it going.
Probably the coolest thing about this issue was that we got an introduction from Jim Steranko himself, detailing his own revised “eras” of comic book history. It was nice to know that he enjoyed what we were doing, and even better to let people know we weren’t just ripping him off.
Throughout Big Bang’s days, working with classic creators like Steranko, Shelly Moldoff, Mart Nodell, Rich Buckler, Dave Cockrum and others was wonderful.
I’m not going to go into too much detail about the characters and chapters here. That said, there is an introductory chapter on the publishing company of Big Bang, and then individual chapters on Ultiman, Knight Watchman & Kid Galahad, The Badge, Thunder Girl and Dr. Weird.
Back issues for most Big Bang’s are available for purchase for $3 at our back issue store:
And I should mention that the gorgeous front cover was penciled by Joe Cooper (who also did the Dr. Weird page below) and inked by John Livesay. The Badge page was by Joe Zierman with inks by John Russell. The Thunder Girl painting was done by Shawn Van Briesen. The Ultiman covers were by Tony Manginelli, and Ultiman himself by John Thompson.
Big Bang Comics and all related characters are © and TM Gary Carlson and Chris Ecker. Dr. Weird was created by Howard Keltner and is © and TM Gary Carlson and Edward DeGeorge.