From the late 1930s until 1984, almost all comic books were in color. Then came a black & white title from a couple of unknowns named Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. The comic, originally planned as a one-shot, had the unlikely title of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
You've probably heard of them. Even if you don't follow comics.
The Ninja Turtles were still very much in the comic fans' consciousness in early 1986, when this story appeared. I don't remember if it was solely my idea, or if the idea developed between Ken Carson and myself, but issue #102 of Insect Man teased the reader for several pages. It certainly seemed like we were going to have an unauthorized appearance by the TMNT in a story called "The Nexus." (And as far as "unauthorized" stuff goes, it didn't hurt that Nexus was the title of a popular comic series in the 1980s.)
Issue #102 may very well be my favorite of all the Insect Man issues I wrote. I've said two or three times in this overlong "Insect Asides" series that Ken Carson's art improved with every issue, so this issue was better than the one before it, which was better than the one before that, which was better than the one before that, etc. etc. etc.
Since losing his right arm (and thus, his livelihood as a commercial artist), Greg Nile has let himself go to seed, but the ringing of a phone with a rotary dial brings a call that reminds Greg he has an appointment of sorts.
Some quick notes: Greg Nile and his lovely wife Denise lived at 409 Wilson Avenue in Cirrus City,
Massachusetts. "409" was a Beach Boys song written by Brian Wilson, Mike Love, and Gary Usher.
I don't recall why I picked "Calico Circle" for the Masons' street address, but "714" was the badge
number of Dragnet's Sgt. Joe Friday. "Hava Beer and "Hack Cigarettes" were Ken Carson's creations.
Rex "Insect Man" Mason shows up at his parents' home, and the four silhouettes are shown again. But Rex is not the one they are waiting for, or so the caption tells us.
And I can't remember why Ken and I decided Rex should start growing a moustache...
Isn't Ken's rendition of Rex Nile's 1965 Mustang gorgeous?
Rex's parents are named Richard and Betty. I named them after two characters I loved when I was at the learning-to-read age, Dick "Robin" Grayson, Batman's sidekick, and Betty Kane, the "Bat-Girl" introduced in 1961's Batman #139. Betty was (temporarily) removed from continuity by the time Barbara "Batgirl" Gordon arrived in 1966 (in Detective Comics #359, cover-dated January 1967)
The 1961 Bat-Girl and the 1966 Batgirl!
Scythe is copyright © Holly Basiner and Frank Hunt, remember? But Ken and I really loved using her!
Five? Five?!? Oh, crap, looks like these aren't the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles after all! Then... Who are they?
Officially, the five ninjas shown above were called the "Baby-Faced Ninjas," but the behind-the-scenes name that Ken and I used was the "Cabbage Patch Ninjas," thanks to the Cabbage Patch Kids craze of the 1980s. IIRC, it was Ken's idea to model their outfits on Shang-Chi (from Marvel's Master of Kung-Fu series), the Green Hornet's partner Kato, Marvel's Elektra, and the yin-yang symbol.
Gotta love this Ken Carson touch!
Again, the exact reason fails me, but I think Ken and I were trying to permanently
get rid of Insect Man's wrist bands. But later artists ignored that. And as for
"David M. Lynch, Script & Layouts"? Layouts? Me? I don't even remember doing those!
The next two issues were slated to contain, at long last, the stand-alone stories that Chris Coleman and WW. Bird had contributed months ago. But as I revealed in an earlier chapter, I had become rather... territorial... about characters which were, in all fairness, not mine. So, how did I handle that?
Heh. See you next week...
Thanks for your time.
Insect Man, Insect Man's Weird Tales, and all related characters and titles are copyright © Paul B. Howley.