Sunday, February 24, 2013

Dart Revisited

I (Jozef) recently received a Facebook post from a comics reader that started a conversation about the comics miniseries Dart, which Black Mermaid Productions worked on and which Image Comics published in the mid 1990s. 

The series revolved around Erik Larsen's famous female vigilante hero Dart who became the leader of Freak Force and used darts as her weapon of choice. Erik gave us a specific brief – he wanted a challenge on her name and indentify within the context of the story, as well as a bar-room brawl scene where she wards off her attackers by using the aforementioned darts. Everything else was up for grabs. 

The first story we pitched was sort of like a cross between Alias and Nikita (well before they came out on television), which featured Dart as a spy who was going to use her darts to assassinate a major baddie while he was performing in an opera or ballet under great security protocols (we're going to have to find the original source material to remember all the details). We do know that Dart wore her darts as fancy disguised earrings with her beautiful evening dress, which is why she sets off the metal detector but looked so innocuous that the guards let her through). 

Erik asked us to re-pitch because the first story didn't completely fit the brief and we came up with an alternative story which featured a team of fashionista superheroes called Blood Chic who help Dart resolve the issue of commercial identify theft and fight off the supervillains called Vogue Attack .

The series sold very well and we made the Wizard Top 100 but the story was met with a mixed response by Dart and die-hard superhero genre fans – some loved it and others disliked it intensely. And we get it! The story wasn't a spoof on superheroes as the dangers were very real, but our heroes didn't exactly stop the world from being destroyed – only a shopping mall with lots of innocent people so the stakes weren't as high as a Superman or Spiderman story. Our own characters were also a little out there, although we really wanted to honour Dart and Erik so we worked hard to get her psychological profile right through a series of flashbacks.

However, what was significant about the story – at least from our point of view – was that it introduced Deathgaze one of the first gay superheroes in comics of the day who unfortunately remains forgotten (that's him in the top cover at the extreme left hand side). The series also featured one of our signature mermaids but that's another story.  We invented backstories with a twist for each of the characters. We don't really know whether we will ever do anything with them in the future, as we want to focus on Elf~Fin, Mermist Seas and another property dear to our hearts. However, we think it's noteworthy to mention that gay superhero characters have only recently come out of the comics closet so to speak and have now been embraced by comics publishers and readers alike, which is pretty marvellous! (As an aside, we also featured a gay couple – Marron and Paffa – in WaveDancers).

To get back to the initial topic of conversation in the introduction to this blog post, we've been given permission to publish the abridged  Facebook conversation here by Stephane. We think it may be of interest to you. We've also published the Dart cover with all the girls he refers to in the conversation (Dart, who is copyright and trademark to Erik Larsen, is the centre figure with the blond hair and silver outfit).

February 2
Hi Jozef
Thanks for accepting my invite. The Dart comics you made is one of my favorite, I love how over-the-top gay and girly it is, completely different from the usual Image comics hehehe
February 3
Hi Stéphane,
I'm glad you liked it in this way. So, what in Dart would you say was over-the-top gay and girly, I'm curious.
Thanks Stéphane.

February 3
Hehe I hope you didn't take it in a wrong way
Well to answer your question, I loved your comics cover at the 1st sight because it looked so different from the other Image comics at that time, super colorful and the characters are super feminine like in a girl toy line.
Your women have plenty of girly details, detailed makeup and the outfits sure are very different from usual superheroes. And the men in the group, well... They sure don't look like your usual male superhero either! They look like girls toys too, but much more gay and sexy lol I totally loved your approach for sure!
I didn't see more about you at that time, without internet and everything.
But I was talking about your Dart comics to a friend yesterday, so that's how I searched and found you on facebook. I have yet to see your more recent work, but Elf-Fin sure looks amazing

Just a bit of nostalgia to give you an insight into our comics publishing history. We're really pleased that these stories are still conversation starters to this day.

PS Another piece of trivia about Dart is that the story featured several lines of dolls and toys. About ten years later, Jozef brought out his own line of fashion dolls. You can see them here on his Deviant Art page.

1 comment:

Dollphane said...

Hi Jozef, I'm glad our conversation has been the occasion to remember your work on this great comics ;)