This is one of my favourite pieces of my inking, and I’ve always been disappointed that it will never see print. The page was pencilled by Neil Edwards, you might have seen his work on Fantastic Four, he’s a great guy, and we worked together on several issues of Marvel Heroes for Panini here in the UK.
I don’t think I’ve ever told the story behind this piece online before, and I’m still not going to name certain names, but, you know, sometimes it’s good to talk about some of the negative things that go on behind the scenes in the comic industry.
Several years ago I received a phone call from someone within the industry that I knew. I had, in fact, worked with them before, and while that hadn’t been an entirely positive experience, I’m generally willing to give people a second chance, especially when they seem to be being open and honest with me. So, this guy calls me up and he tells me that he’s acquired the rights to Dan Dare. Now, this was just after Virgin Comics had gone under, who’d been putting out a Dan Dare comic by Garth Ennis and my good friend Gary Erskine (who, ironically, had replaced me as inker on Marvel Heroes). So, I knew the rights were going begging, and I knew that the guy who I was speaking to also had the rights to another major, classic science fiction character and was already publishing a reportedly successful comic featuring that character. He told me that he wanted Neil Edwards and myself to be the art team on the book, but that was pending approval by the people he’d licensed the property from, so could we produce a piece of artwork featuring the character, just to prove that we were up to the task. There’d be no payment for that, of course, but this was just a formality…they were bound to agree with his choice of art team after seeing the awesome piece of artwork that we produced. Neil had already agreed at this point, and as I’d been inking him already on Marvel Heroes, I naturally agreed too.
The result of this was the above picture of Dan Dare, which I bloody love. I think Neil really knocked it out of the park, and I know I raised my game on the inks. Through our short Marvel Heroes run I only really felt that I’d begun to click with his pencils on our final story together (which featured Spider-Man, you can see the inked pages in my dA inking gallery). With this piece it felt like we finally really clicked, and I was looking forward to working together more.
Time went by and I heard nothing. Eventually I saw an announcement that IDW had acquired the rights to Dan Dare and would be reprinting the Ennis & Erskine run from Virgin Comics. I was not a happy bunny…
It turned out that the guy who called me up (who shall remain nameless) hadn’t had the rights at all, but was merely trying to acquire the rights himself. He wanted this piece of art to show to the rights holders in an effort to persuade them to give him the rights. However, rather than commission the piece and PAY FOR IT as would be the correct and proper thing to do, he instead simply claimed that he had already secured the rights, and that this piece was just needed to secure our place as the ongoing creative team, which would have been work for hire and a regular pay cheque.
So, that is the story of behind this lovely piece of art. I hope you enjoy looking at it, as to me it will always represent a hard learned lesson. Don’t trust people, they’re lying buggers.