Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Insect Asides, Part Thirteen ~~ A "Comical Wednesday" Post

That seemingly incongruous mention of "trees falling down" is Ken Carson's inside
reference to Insect Man's origin, and has nothing to do with the legends of King Arthur.

The very last page of Insect Man #105, which I told you about last week, featured the single-page vignette shown above, written and drawn by Ken Carson. Here's where Ken and I -- I say "Ken and I" because, as Ken stated at the bottom of the page, we were by then co-plotting the entire Funnel Effect storyline -- tied in the centuries-old history of the ring which Hur-Bi had given Rex all the way back in 1965's Insect Man #1!

And by the way, the young Tab-Bi is the son of Kur-Bi, a/k/a The Bat, who died in Insect Man #101. Hur-Bi evidently ended up raising young Tab. Tab's mother was never mentioned!

After Insect Man #105 was published in 1986, there was an extended period before another Insect Man story appeared. (This was largely due to various real-world concerns of both Ken Carson and myself, the unpaid contributors to the current Insect Man saga.) In the late 1980s, That's Entertainment began publishing a free newsletter for its customers. The second issue of said newsletter, which was the size of a "real" comic book and printed on newsprint, resumed the long-delayed "Funnel Effect" storyline.

Ken Carson based the above cover to Insect Man #106 on the following sketch of Mary Marvel, drawn by artist Jack Binder in the 1940s or 1950s, but unpublished until Volume Two of Jim Steranko's The Steranko History of Comics in 1972. Please excuse the blurry image. Steranko's book is too big for my scanner, so I had to photograph the page with my cellphone camera!

It had been approximately two years since an Insect Man story had seen print! Therefore, it was decided that all of the Funnel Effect "teasers" from issues #103, 104, and 105 would precede the new material. That way, older readers would be reminded of what had happened, and newer readers who were totally unfamiliar with the story would be told all they needed to know. But before all of that, I even wrote a brief interview where I had "myself" trade questions and quips with Rex "Insect Man" Mason!

The actual first full chapter of The Funnel Effect began with Jake "The Masked Magician" Kellerman communicating telepathically with an unnamed someone whom he (Jake) evidently isn't very fond of. In the background, Rex Mason lies recuperating -- but from what, you may wonder -- in a hospital bed.

As you read today's installment of "Insect Asides," you'll notice that Ken and I were purposely waffling between calling Insect Man "Rex" and "Mike."

Oh, and as for that title, "The Man Who Saved the Universe?" I was really intrigued by the fact that Ken and I were about to tell a story where someone ends up saving all of creation, and yet, his only real power is the ability to change into insects! Now how the hell were we going to manage that?!?

I scripted this one, and for some unknown reason, lettered it as well. Ken Carson penciled and inked it. Jake's story picked up right where #105 ended

I manipulated the story to bring us closer -- Weeks? Months? -- to 1988.

After Jake had been crashing at Rex's apartment for a lengthy amount of time -- time during which Insect Man presumably had other instances of crime-fighting -- Jake caught a frivolous news item on TV which told of a "self-styled messiah" who had taken up residence on Massachusetts' Cape Cod, surrounded by a large group of disciples and acolytes. This philosopher and religious figurehead called himself "Ch'arm." Jake recognized the face of "the devourer", the being which had destroyed an entire alternate universe.

Spurred into action, Jake consulted an ancient tome which he'd received years ago from his order, "The Order of the Protectors". The ancient volume was entitled The Menrosian Chronicles. (At one point, Jake exclaimed "By the sacred Menrosian circlet!" a phrase he apparently picked up from those of the Order of the Protectors.)

Those of you with good memories probably know where all of this is going. Jake did not.

Jake began reading aloud from the book, delivering an incantation which caused the appearance of...

...and his ever-present robotic servant, Greeph! (That's pronounced "grief," of course, as in "Good grief!")

We had fun here. For once, our readers knew more than our story's characters.

Ken's cover to Insect Man #107 paid tribute to Jack Kirby's iconic cover of The Avengers #4, which had reintroduced Captain America to the world in 1964!

Hur-Bi himself got to narrate part of the tale! Hur-Bi, as you probably recall, was a centuries-old alien from the far-off planet Menro-6, an alien who'd spent so much time on Earth, he spoke using a lot of Earthling colloquialisms.

He explained to Rex and Jake that in his youth, hundreds of years earlier, he used to "dimension hop" (as he referred to it).

There was so much to explain, a long-winded b@$t@rd like myself had a field day! (Good thing Ken Carson, and not myself, lettered this chapter!)

Uhhh, yeah. "Demonic" immortals and "angelic" immortals. What Ken and I were actually doing here is re-telling the battle between Lucifer and his renegade angels against God, completely side-stepping the religious aspect to 1. avoid offending anyone's religious beliefs and to 2. give us more freedom in telling the tale, which has many different versions from multiple sources.

It is here that Jake interrupts, explaining how the Spanish monks became the Order of the Protectors, which Jake had joined many years later. He also explained that the former monks had more or less eschewed their religious backgrounds, instead embracing the concept of "true magic." At this point, Hur-Bi grew alarmed.

And here's why...

As I explained in Part Eleven, with Paul Howley in charge, every one of us who submitted stuff for Insect Man or Insect Man's Weird Tales "could do anything we wanted to do... ...except when we couldn't."

Well, Paul is a man of very deep religious beliefs. And when he realized what Jake "The Masked Magician" Kellerman had become, a real magician, he (Paul) interceded. He felt that magic -- any kind of magic, whether black or so-called "white" magic -- was ungodly. (Someday I should ask Paul how he feels about Marvel's Dr. Strange.) He requested Ken and I do something about that.

Ken and I decided that having a "magician" who wouldn't use his magic would seem to be ineffectual against a being such as Ch'arm. This could be fun! We rose to the challenge.

I'll spare you the next segment of the published story, which talks at length about the far-famed Menrosian "circlet" (ring) and how it was given to Rex (Mike?) Mason over twenty years earlier.

Finally, after Hur-Bi had departed...

To Be Continued Next Week! And for those of you growing tired of -- or totally avoiding --this "Insect Asides" series, you may be glad to know that there are only TWO chapters left!

Thanks for your time.

Insect Man, Insect Man's Weird Tales, and all related characters and titles are copyright © Paul B. Howley.


  1. Well, fellow babies, there's light at the end of the tunnel! Only two more chapters of "Insect Asides" after this one!

  2. haha nothing wrong with being long winded sometimes. Greeph is a great name. It is fun to play with religion stories without going into religion itself. Sounds like you rose to the challenge indeed.

    1. My former writing partner Skip used to love the character names I came up with.

      Being thirty years removed from this storyline, I was quite pleased with the results upon re-reading it.

  3. These were so good David !and BTW you love these Insects :)

    1. Well, not only did I enjoy working on Insect Man, but I think it was some of the best stuff I've ever written.

  4. Whoa... Ken's cover to Insect Man #107 looks fantastic. Great facial expression.

    1988... was a good year for me. Lots of sunshine and a young lady so mesmerizing she made me feel like a superhero.

    I think we could all do with a bit of magic. Just a bit.

    1. Ken was always good at making his characters look like they were actually experiencing the emotions called for.

  5. As always, the amount of sheer hard work to produce a comic is staggering.

    And I didn't get the bit about magic being ungodly. What? All religious scriptures of all faiths are full of magical events, or so it seems to me.

    1. Well, I can't speak for Paul, but perhaps there's a perceived difference between "magical" acts as performed by God, or someone God is acting through (as when Moses parted the red Sea, or Jesus raised the dead, etc.) and those that originate solely with man, acting independently? Just guessing.

  6. It's easy to see how your readership loved you and stay enthralled. I want to enter the big coloring contest!

    Enjoy the weekend, Silver.

  7. Another comical post Silver, thanks for sharing. I think life is filled with magical moments and adventures. I believe religion is more about miraculous events. A divine intervention of some sorts. The unexplained has fascinated mankind forever. I like to think outside the box as it expands the mind and ones consciousness.

    I think it would be fun to color in one of the covers.

    But, will he save the cosmos?

    1. Well, it's been thirty years, and we're still here. So I guess he did save the cosmos, haha. The question is, how? And that'll be answered this coming Wednesday!

    2. Haha, The suspense of it alll keeps me coming indeed?

    3. All* I was so excited I added an extra letter

    4. I hate it that whenever I make a typo in a blog comment, I can't edit it later. You have to delete the original and rewrite it to fix it, as I'm sure you know. Or you can mention the error in a follow-up comment, like you just did. That's usually the route I take as well.


I strongly urge you to sign up for follow-up comments, because I (usually) reply to your comment! Comments left for me more than three weeks after a post is published will not appear until I approve them, but they will be answered eventually!

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