Armagideon Time

In the days before we were married, the Queen of Animals and I used to spend our Saturdays shopping for geek stuff and ordering horrible takeout food before setting down in her room to watch the latest suburban auteur action flick on Medford public access television.

I don’t know what it was about Medford that bred so many low-budget aspirants to John Woo’s throne, apart from an exceptionally active public access scene and a high karate-school-to-person ratio, but there was no shortage of folks lining up to unleash their DIY action epics upon a bewildered audience of dozens.

None of these efforts met even my most generous definition of “good.” They were dismally lit, poorly choreographed, and set in all-too-familiar locales (typically the tower overlooking the Middlesex Fells, the municipal parking garage, and Medford High School) passed off as post-apocalypse wastelands ruled over by the ubiquitous Friend Who Owned a Complete Set of Tac Gear.

They were exactly what you’d expect from a bunch of young dudes with plenty of time on their hands and a burning desire to show their dedication (if not prowess) towards martial arts and filmmaking.

And I respected them for acting on these dreams, however silly the results may have been.

The same applies to the regional wrestling circuit folks who cobbled together a rough approximation of WWE’s SmackDown (complete professionally shot ads for local businesses) and ran it during a local UHF station’s paid programming block in the wee hours of the weekend. Raw enthusiasm is no substitute for technical proficiency or talent, but there’s a disarming lack of self-consciousness to these projects which is utterly captivating. These folks followed their star, means or consequences be damned.

It is why I have spent quite a bit time of late contemplating the matter of StarGuard

…”the World’s Mightiest Mutant” whose adventures were advertised in the July 1982 issue of Amazing Heroes.

My internet searches for “Cosmic Comics” and “StarGuard” turned up nothing except that the name seems to be really popular with eager tykes harboring dreams of taking the comics world by storm. Perhaps there are issues of StarGuard mouldering in an attic or basement somewhere, their rusting staples discoloring the slightly askew photocopies which contain the story.

In truth, an actual comic would be redundant. That this kid (or kids) felt strongly enough about the project to purchase a full page ad (offering original art!) in one of the scene’s bigger publications is testament enough to the dream StarGuard represents — of impassioned dedication, desire unrestrained by self-doubt, and a profound ignorance of basic figure drawing techniques.

So welcome back from the memory hole, StarGuard. You might be Nobody’s Favorite, but your spirit lives on.

Update: Some additional digging in the Amazing Heroes archive revealed that the mysterious “Lucius” rebranded his empire as “Mystic Comics” and his flagship property as a fantasy-themed offering. The sales pitches were eventually abandoned in favor of what amounted to paid placement fan art, but not before making this incredible offer…

…which warms and breaks my heart in equal measure.

Related posts:

  1. Nobody’s Favorite: A new kind of ick
  2. Nobody’s Favorite: Bored and sorcery
  3. Nobody’s Favorite: Never would you be mine

12 Responses to “Nobody’s Favorite: Not so unreachable”

  1. Jon Morris

    When I visited Meltdown in Los Angeles, I walked out with an armful of vanity press and enthusiastic amateur type productions from their quarter racks, stuff dating anywhere from the early 2000s to the early eighties, with the intention of covering all of them on Gone and Forgotten.

    Thing is, reading these once-tried and never-were comics, I couldn’t help but fall in love with them a great deal, even the most derivative, haphazard or indulgent ones (except for an early Bill Tucci book, I suppose), because good LORD did these guys just have a lot of ENTHUSIASM for what they were doing, all confidence unfettered by proofreading.

    Bless the enthusiastic amateurs, right?

  2. bitterandrew

    Indeed.

  3. Dave Lartigue

    Jon, that’s exactly why I stopped making fun of World of Synnibarr on my blog.

  4. Jon H

    Checked Google Maps, 28 Fleet Walk, Brooklyn appears to be a housing project, which makes this even more poignant.

  5. nik

    This guys’ stuff was a legend. Pretty sure I remember seeing it advertised nonstop in CBG back in the day. I feel like I also remember one of the ads prominently featuring badly-drawn penises as well, but it might’ve been another savant self-publisher’s ad.

  6. Jon Morris

    This book, in particular, was a fave from the haul – I might actually invest in this near-complete run.
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/TALES-from-the-RAVAGED-LANDS-Lot-Magi-Studios-/190509321389

  7. Batzarro

    Ah, to be young and filled with derivative ideas as we used to be…

  8. GE

    “Derivative” is putting it mildly!

    But before you think I’m coming down on this guy: “Cosmic Comics” was, indeed, the intended brand name of my own line of comic books as a little tyke in the X-Cellent Eighties (you can guess what my first few titles completely ripped off…).

    I think there’s something about the anagrammatic twist – and its inherent possibilities in a nifty logo made in Print Shop – that got the attention of all of us aspiring artist/writer types back then! As the decades swam past, I saw at least five other “Cosmic Comics” attempts out there…and one appeared to be totally legit (as opposed to an enthusiastic teen with a shakily inked “homage” to a more popular commercial character). Good times, man.

    Thanks, Andrew, for putting this guy out there. That’s awesome on too many levels (you know, without actually being awesome in terms of quality).

  9. Snark Shark

    looks like it was drawn by a 12 year old!

  10. Adam

    Most towns in eastern Mass seem to have a bizarrely high ratio of karate studios to residents. Watertown, Waltham and Lincoln seem especially bad.

  11. Yelinna

    It does have its merit to see all this effort and enthusiasm, we need more people like Lucius, for sure!. BUT I think if you’re going to ask for money, you can’t offer something so cheaply/low quality made (specially in the Internet Era!). These 1980′s comics are the kind of material you would offer for free in your art class, give your friends some fun, and ask your art teacher for advices, an a lot of practice, before trying something serious.
    Or you can publish them on Internet, so we all can enjoy it. I love extremely bad drawn stuff on my computer, it is freaking fun, it makes me smile :D

  12. rnigma

    I remember Michael Lucius’ “StarGuard” ads that ran incessantly in CBG throughout the ’80s. He certainly wasn’t the only amateur hopeful to advertise there. A teenager named Michael C. Winfield attempted to start an entire range of comics; his “Riverside Comics” included:
    “440,” a streetfighting hero with a classic muscle car.
    ” ‘State,” about a college freshman called Phineas who pledges with the “Alpha Beta Dudes” (Winfield’s research probably consisted of repeat viewings of “Animal House” and “Revenge of the Nerds”).
    “S.E.C.U.R.I.T.Y” (the acronym is unexplained), espionage adventures of a trench-coated, fedora-wearing spy exclaiming “I’ll do what I must!”
    “The Lampshades,” a “video-based comic of today!” about a rock band with great “commarodary.”
    There were a few other titles advertised; whether Winfield actually published any of them, I have no idea, but the art in the ads was quite bad, in spite of the decent if cliched concepts.

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