And now for something completely different from the ‘Childhood Files’: FUTURE WARS! As a kid, almost every kind of genre caught my fancy when it came to comics. Above all, I loved the superhero fare– but I also loved to dream up concepts for fantasy and science fiction stories as well. One of those science fiction ‘concepts’ I called FUTURE WARS. The story revolved around scientists working some sort of mojo to create an ant/human hybrid– or something like that. They manipulated/evolved ants into humanoid creatures, at any rate. WHY they would want to do this is beyond me now, but I must have had a rationale for it then. Of course, after spawning thousands of these new creatures, naturally the ant creatures decide to take over our world and subjugate humanity. After all, what good ‘monster of science’ story doesn’t have the ‘monster’ eventually trying to overthrow its master…? And so, humanity fights back, and thus begins the FUTURE WARS (sheesh– what a silly title_). Looking at it now– what I came up with is a variation on PLANET OF THE APES, really. Oh, well— so much for originality.

My folks were amazingly encouraging about my desire to pursue an art career. I’ve read so many stories from comic book artists about their beginnings in the field that revolve around how their parents were fearful of their ability to make a living doing what they loved. The exact opposite was true of my own parents. And when I drew this FUTURE WARS picture all those years ago– for some reason, my dad fixated on this idea, and thought it was something that I HAD to pursue! He constantly encouraged me to work up a complete story with this idea and begin submitting it to magazines like HEAVY METAL. He was always doing that– bringing home comic magazines (lots of those old black and white EERIE and CREEPY rip-offs the names of which escape me at the moment) and tossing them down to me as I lay on the floor of the living room, drawing. “You’re a hell of a lot better than these artists, Mike– you really aught to send them a submission.” he’d say. He was of course WRONG– even as bad as those artists were, they were still leagues ahead of my meager 13 year old ‘skills’– but it was stunning and sweet that he’d be so utterly encouraging like that. I never DID do anything with FUTURE WARS– but my dad instituted a running joke over the years that always began “Hey– do you know what would make for a great comic….?” And I’d always fall for it and say “No– what?” “Well, it’s this story about these ants, see– and these scientists evolve them into humanoids….” And I’d realize the joke and go “AWWWWW, Dad….!”

I’d fall for it every time. I think the last time he did that was just a couple of years ago.




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