Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A beloved comic book series and a fundraising update

Starman is my favorite all-time comic book. The character has been around since the late 1930's, debuting shortly after Superman and Batman. But that was Ted Knight, the first Starman. The recent series started in 1994 and ran into 2000. 80 issues. And it featured Jack Knight, the son of the original Starman, Ted. Jack is the reluctant hero, who only assumes the mantle of hero when his brother David is killed. His growing into the role of Starman in his own way is a fascinating journey. When he is not being the superhero, he runs a collectibles shop and hangs out with his dad, who has retired from superheroing to pursue his science.

The entire series was written by James Robinson, who did the screenplay for the movie "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" among others. His writing is excellent and entertainingly quirky. An example, two killers holding hostages discussing which of the Raymond Chandler Philip Marlowe films is the best. The entire 80 issues is like a novel. There are seeds of very important themes in the first issues that come to fruition during the last issues. At the end of the last issue, Robinson thanked the loyal fans for allowing him to "tell and finish his story". Robinson is currently back in comics doing the current Superman arc about Kryptonians released when the bottle of Kandor is finally enlarged. The entire series highlights aesthetics, discussions of collectibles, art, film that are a treasure. As much as I am happy that Mr Robinson is back in comics and doing Superman, I hope one day he'll return to Starman, or at least bring him somehow into the Superman world.

Jack's relationship with his father is a crucial part of the series. His father is able to pass on his experience as Starman to Jack. In one of the early issues, he tells Jack there is no need to go looking for the weirdness. That it will find him. And it does . Repeatedly. Father-son relationships can be very complex. And I saw some of my relationship with my own father in Jack Knight's relationship to his. In another one of the early episodes Ted the father reveals the reason he named his son Jack was that it was a heroes name. It brought tears to my eyes. I had lost my father to cancer in '94 shortly before the series came out. And I found out at the funeral that he had named me after Jackie Robinson. A coincidence.

Another coincidence. Emma Peel of the Avengers has the maiden name Knight. I hoped maybe in the future it might be revealed that the Jack Knight starman and Mr Peel might be related and even have an adventure together. Another coincidence.
The sound editor for the color Emma Peel episodes was named Jack Knight.

For a more detailed history of the series, there is a pretty complete wikopedia entry
Jack Knight-Starman .

I have quite a lot of the Starman collectibles. A pin, a watch, several t-shirts, a poster, some action figures of Jack, his father, and the Shade. Which brings me to one of the most entertaining characters in the series. The Shade is an immortal who weilds a dark shadow energy. He can create constructs out of it much like Green lantern can with his ring. But the Shade's power comes from darkness. He lives in Starman's Opal City. He is neither purely hero or villain . Although as the series evolves he becomes more heroic. Recently Robinson did a one shot Starman issues, an issue 81 for Starman collectors, as a part of the Blackest Night story arc currently going in DC comics. And it was a wonderful and nostalgic return to Opal City for Starman fans. And it featured the Shade.

It seems when I am about to move Starman comes up. In 1995 I was moving from a place with friends in Campbell. I had bought the first couple of Starman issues and then did not collect the next issues. I wound up going all over to comic book shops and completing the collection. And now during my current move, I discovered that they have issued the series in hardcover Omnibus form. So I am collecting the hardcovers. The entire series is available in graphic novel form. Which is a lot cheaper than the hardcover editions. But I am a collector so I'm getting the Omnibus editions. The most recent comes out tomorrow. And I'll pick it up at Atlantis Fantasy World when I am in Santa Cruz Saturday. I have the entire run in comic book form, as well as in graphic novels, and now the hardcover. And I keep on hoping that Mr Robinson will someday return to Jack Knight and the Shade.

Fundraiser update: We've collected over $1,000. So I have been able to pay the pre-op visits off. So $3,000 to go. Remember for donations of $20 or more a free dvd of my music. See fundraider dvd
. Thank you.


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