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.