“I probably have one of the most unique positions in the whole world: I grew up with Terry Freedom. No, I didn’t see the rise of communism, live through World War I, experience the Great Depression, or see the birth of the new era. I watched as my father took a character that he had created in his early adulthood and transform him into the character you are about to experience. I saw Terry Freedom before he had an aviator helmet. I even saw Terry before he had his one tooth. When I entered high school, Terry Freedom entered the world and I went with him.“
That is a quote from the beginning of my first graphic novel, Escape in a Dirigible. It never dawned on me that when my father, Myke, first released The Mask Conspiracy, I would want to do comic book stories all the time.
When The Mask Conspiracy was released in 1991, the comic book industry was just finishing it’s love affair with black and white underground comics. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had been a hit for quite some time and other small press publishers were following suit trying to become a “hit” or the next best thing. Whether TNMT was a fluke (it’s popularity most stemmed from the title alone), its’ popularity was a blend of its’ creator’s favorite comic works of Marvel Comics and martial arts: Notable Frank Miller’s Daredevil. The Mask Conspiracy was very much a blend of similar formula of combining pulp writing with big-foot style cartooning. My father labeled his creation, Terry Freedom, a blend of Lester Dent’s Doc Savage with the art style of E.C. Segar and his art assistant Bud Sagendorf’s Popeye. He was a reporter who “Saved the World” in the 1930’s and he looked like he originated from that time period.
Selling ads to local business to help fund the eighty paged graphic novel, he set out to print his opus. Print he did, but it didn’t stop there.
As Myke set out to market his new printed graphic novel at book signings and comic book conventions, he realized there were a lot of people coming up to him asking him how he went about self publishing. The idea of Ink and Feathers Comic Publisher’s Guide came about and was released in 1993. It featured interviews from local cartoonists, advice on how to get your work out there and even how to put together your own comic book .
Even after spending several years during his off hours writing, penciling, inking, and convincing my mother to letter this whole book, he still felt he could do another. In 1997, The Crystal Skull Files was released as a follow up to the first Terry Freedom adventure. Ink and Feathers Comics was slowly becoming a publishing company.
Between all that time, I was attending high school and eventually made it into college. Still not deciding what I would like to do with my life, I dabbled in cartoon work for fun, occasionally getting some work published in school newspapers, doing shirt designs, and some fan work for friends and family. Myke and fellow cartoonist, Jim Ridings attempted a collaboration after the release of The Crystal Skull Files to no avail. A few pages were produced but the story was never continued. However, the first collaboration wouldn’t be with another cartoonist but his own son, me.
I came up with a short story based on part of Terry’s history that was briefly mentioned in the first graphic novel about a WW1 adventure where Terry and his sidekick steal a dirigible and escape across enemy lines. I typed it up and handed it to my father to start illustrating. He did one page and then told me, “You know what? You should draw this.” “Whaat?! Are you kidding me?”, I probably responded. However, I did it anyway and in 2003, Ink and Feathers ending up having two publication come out at the same time, Escape in a Dirigible and Myke’s first novel, The Teddy Bear Conspiracies. (Are we seeing a theme here?)
It would be nice to say that the rest is history. However, history is still being made. As the years have progressed, teddy bear characters (creatures that look like teddy bear but are really aliens) , a space adventurer (the incompetent Blitz Howser) , and even now a female host (Candida Vanus) have joined the IF Comics universe expanding its story telling.
Someday, I would like to write a more comprehensive history but I will leave that for when I am making millions of dollars and selling movie rights to overpriced execs. In the meantime, here’s a look into the various publications that have the seal of Ink and Feathers Comics:
To get your hands on some these publications and more, visit the newest release from Ink and Feathers Comics, ASININE! . As comic conventions are a thing of the past, these will be the only way to get sign copies until the foreseeable future.
Hope you enjoyed this brief look into IF Comics publishing history and hopefully there will be more to come.
Independent comic book reviews are coming for this new year along with follow up to my experiences with self publishing through crowdfunding sites.