Thursday, March 16, 2017

Plot, Script, Comic: Megaton Man #11 Complete!

Maybe the earliest surviving example of my evolving working method is the plot and partial script of Megaton Man #11 (published as Return of Megaton Man #1 in July 1988 only after a needlessly bruising exchange with my publisher), dating from January 1987 (thirty years ago).

In the first ten issues of the series, I worked more or less in a "Marvel method," based on the way it was imagined Stan Lee worked with his artists: developing a loose plot, then breakdowns of pencils, then final script.

Back and front covers to Return of Megaton Man #1 (Kitchen Sink Press, July 1988)

After my own fashion, and after experimenting wildly with Border Worlds (which seemed to veer wildly between writing the script first one issue then working out the visuals first the next), I settled on a plot-script routine that was still very much homemade and ad hoc.

As noted on the typescript, the plot envisioned a single 64-issue. This material was subsequently expanded into three 24-page issues, which I envisioned as Megaton Man #11, #12, and #13.

Between the plotting stage and the scripting stage, I seem to have either created thumbnail sketches of the page layouts, or actually sketched out the panels roughly (called "breakdowns") on the pages of Bristol board themselves. This seems likely because the typewritten script features only dialogue, with no scene summaries or descriptions (or even directions such as "close-up," "long shot," etc.).


At this point (page 14), the script ends. The remainder may be lost, or I may have never typed one. It is entirely possible that I may have just written the dialogue directly on the art boards. By the end of the issue, I may have felt "warmed up" enough to winged it. Or not!

One hand-written fragment of script remains, the big entrance of Yarn Man and Kozmik Kat, who arrive in Ann Arbor as a curtain-closer for the issue. It was written on plain bond (typewriting paper), like the rest of the plot and script, but appears to have been hand-trimmed with scissors.

 No other script fragment remains. (Note: the Spirit T-shirt design on the inside back cover was suggested by me.)

 What is evident about these materials is that they clearly demonstrate that I took the time away from Megaton Man to totally rethink the strip, in the hopes of putting any ongoing narrative on a more sound footing. The emphasis on character over action (or slapstick humor), and on a rational basis for the unfolding events, speaks for itself. This makes the publisher's characterization of my hiatus from the strip as a betrayal that deserved punishment, instead of a necessary creative recharge, all the more sad and demoralizing.

The Return of Megaton Man mini-series ran three issues. In the following installment, Megaton Man Meets the Uncategorizable X+Thems #1, I seem to have used a completely different method, breaking down the story in half-size thumbnail sketches I enlarged on a photocopier, light-tabled (traced) onto Bristol board, lettered, and inked. I will scan those soon and post here!

Thank you for enjoying the Megaton Man blog!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Bad Guy and the Gamble Universe!

One of the more interesting character odysseys in the Megaverse has been that of Bart Gamble, the all-purpose villain known as Bad Guy! Quickly evolving into a combination of Marvel's Kingpin, a notorious New York real-estate developer, and a generic gangster, Bad Guy has bedeviled the Man of Molecules in fight scenes, land grabs, underworld schemes, android takeovers, comics publishing, and other evildoings! You name it -- Bad Guy is probably behind it.

Bad Guy first appeared without origin or secret identity in a two-page fight scene that turned into a dream sequence involving World War III in Megaton Man #3 (Kitchen Sink Press, April 1985).

The opening splash page for Megaton Man #3, wonderfully colored by Ray Fehrenbach.

Batholomew Gamble (named, finally) next appeared in Megaton Man #6 (October 1985), having “served nearly five years of [his] ten-lifetime sentence—for countless murders, robberies hijacks, and world takeover attempts as the Mega-criminal Bad Guy.” He is dressed as inmate #613123 at Megatropolis State Penitentiary.

Spread from Megaton Man #6.

Because he was a “model inmate,” he was forgiven “seven-eighths lifetimes” of his sentence. He recalls his last battle with Megaton Man in Radioactive Tales #326 as a “Fiasco.”

Gamble is described by the liberal bleeding-heart Green Mellow thus: “Bad Guy has had a very lucrative career in crime… he’s managed to sock a lot dough away in investments in all sorts of capitalist enterprises. He plans to tear down this entire neighborhood to build a munitions plant to handle big Pentagon contracts! Churches, homes, schools, businesses…a whole world swept away for the sake of corporate tax write-offs and weapons in outer space!” (page 4).

In the following issue (#7, December 1985), Bad Guy appears in a limousine with another elegant gal, apparently a real-estate developer and arms merchant, tied in with the nefarious Arms of Krupp. (At the time, a certain New York real-estate developer was beginning to make headlines--wonder whatever became of him?)

Spread from Megaton Man #7.

He appears only in civilian clothes until his next appearance (Megaton Man #9, April 1986), when he has been drafted to become the "Presidential Hero" Good Guy at the landing of the Partyers from Mars in Central Park.

Tier from Megaton Man #9.

After flattening Manhattan in a fight scene in Megaton Man #10 (June 1986), Bad Guy is raptured into heaven by Mars, God of War while Megaton Man loses his powers, becoming Civilian Trent Phloog. It is promised that a "parody" of a certain New York real-estate developer will rebuild Manhattan.

From Megaton Man #10.

When next they meet (Return of Megaton Man #2, August 1988), Megaton Man learns that he is under contract to Bad Guy and the Gamble Comics Corporation, and a bullpen of insufferable, self-indulgent, pretentious creators!

From Return of Megaton Man #2.

In Return of Megaton Man #3 (September 1988), a labor revolt ensues, led by a writer (who will much later in the Megaton Man narrative be identified as Bad Guy's son Paul Nabisco, creator of Gower Goose).

From Return of Megaton Man #3.

From Return of Megaton Man #3.

After another thrashing, Bad Guy again decides to retire from Megavillainy, but not before signing the Original Golden Age Megaton Man to a binding contract.

From Return of Megaton Man #3.

Bad Guy teams the revamped Original Golden Age Megaton Man with the Uncategorizable X+Thems in Megaton Man vs. the Uncategorizable X+Thems #1 (April 1989). When that team falls apart, Bad Guy introduces a juiced-up Yarn Man teamed up with the Y+Thems.

Bad Guy continued to bedevil Megaton Man (and Paul Nabisco and Gower Goose) in the Megaton Man Weekly Serial (from the late 1990s) and subsequent adventures as the leader of an army of android replicas, including that of the See-Thru Girl. He continues to play a role in current Megaton Man continuity that is being prepared for publication, including The Return to Megatropolis graphic novel. Who knows? With his background in New York real estate, he may even make a bid for the White House! See other posts on this blog for the further exploits of Bart Gamble!

Read the Secret Origin of Ms. Megaton Man!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Okay, So I Ripped Off J.K. Rowling: It's Table-Turning Time!

The "Time Turner," a time-traveling device that figures so prominently in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999) and the current Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, was the obvious inspiration for the "Time Turntable," a contraption that first appeared in Megaton Man #1 (1984) and later used as a dimension-hopping device for the Man of Molecules in The Savage Dragon vs. The Savage Megaton Man #1 (1993), admits satirist Don Simpson.

The first appearance of the Time Turntable: Megaton Man #1 (Kitchen Sink Press, December 1984), by Don Simpson.

"Fans are totally right," the cartoonist confesses. "I traveled fifteen years into the future and swiped the idea for the Time Turntable from Jo Rowling, just as I swiped the idea for Megaton Man from Ben Edlund's The Tick -- two or three years ahead of time. No detail is too insignificant to escape the notice of discerning comic book fans!"

Megaton Man uses the Time Turntable to hop dimensions over to the Image Universe in The Savage Dragon vs. The Savage Megaton Man #1 (Image Comics, 1993) by Erik Larsen and Don Simpson.

Despite the discovery of Simpson's blatant "homage," the creator reveals that the Time Turntable still figures prominently in the just-complete Megaton Man graphic novel, Return to Megatropolis, and will play a significant role in the new prose work-in-progress, Megaton Meltdown. "I expect the chronology police to be on my tail even more when I introduce the Time Turnstyle into the narrative," says the cartoonist.

No timetable for publication was divulged.

(Just kidding, JKR fans! See what Don Simpson really thinks of HP and the wonderfully inventive, brilliantly orchestrated Prisoner of Azkaban here!)

See also: Alan Moore Ripped Me Off! | I Ripped Off Alan Moore!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Random Chromology II: New Megaton Man GN Coloring Continues!

More pages from the all-new graphic novel Megaton Man: Return to Megatropolis, as they roll off the ol' digital drawing board!

The group in Ann Arbor decides to return to Megatropolis in the wake of unthinkable terrorist attacks!

Our heroes run into problems over New York City!

Megaton Man draws fire away from the Q-Mobile!

Megaton Man, Yarn Man, and X-Ray Boy survey Ground Zero with a wobbly Colonel Turtle!

Even the MQ HQ is fraught with security issues!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Random Chromology: New Megaton Man Coloring!

New colored pages from the graphic novel in progress, Megaton Man: Return to Megatropolis!

Megaton Man and extended family, long exiled to the Midwest, return to New York City in the wake of unthinkable attacks.

Original inked line art for the bottom tier.

Screen shot of Photoshop coloring in progress. Note that smoke and background are still black; they will be knocked to a brown and purple-grey to give the illusion of receding into the distance.

Flying over Ground Zero, the group ponders what has taken place.

Much later, back at the old Megatropolis Quartet headquarters, terror alert systems get a bit out of control!

Megaton Man needs some to get away and think...

...and naturally turns to Lady Liberty!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Completing the Concordance: Frenzied and Fanatical Footnoting for Megaton Man!

The Simpson Scholarship of Steve Replogle
Megaton Man completist Steve Replogle recently contacted me requesting information on compiling a complete and exhaustive list of every single Megaton Man comic book appearance of the past three decades, so as to organize his own collection. Then he proceeded to compile his own concordance! Herewith are Steve's labors so far, cut and pasted from actual emails! Can you help Steve (and me) with any missing data?! Comment below so that the Complete and Exhaustive List of Megaton Man Comic Book Appearance can live forever online! -- Don Simpson.

Dear Don,
I was lucky enough to be have the very first Megaton Man issue recommended to me by my comic shop guy, lo those many moons ago - and I continue to be a great fan of your work. I am very excited to see your new Border Worlds and Megaton Man material come to fruition.

In anticipation, I have begun currently reorganizing my collection. Sooooo.... I am wondering if there a listing or concordance of the various Megaton Man/Fiascoverse titles, giving their proper and correct order. Is it mostly chronological? I will refer to each comic's indicia, of course, and maybe also use - if you think that is correct. Just wondering if there are other resources out there.
Thanks, and bets of luck -
Steve Replogle

Steve Replogle
Hey Don,

I have found the information I was looking for, mostly from your blog. This is what I have:

1. Megaton Man (Kitchen Sink, November 1984-June 1986), 10 issues
2. The Return of Megaton Man (Kitchen Sink, July-September 1988), 3 issues
3. Megaton Man Meets the Uncategorizable X+Thems" #1 (Kitchen Sink, April 1989)
4. Yarn Man #1 (Kitchen Sink, October 1989)
5. Bizarre Heroes #1 (Kitchen Sink, May 1990)
6. Pteranoman #1 (Kitchen Sink, August 1990)
7. Savage Dragon vs. The Savage Megaton Man #1 (Image, March 1993)
8. The normalman/Megaton Man Special (Image, June 1994)
9. Don Simpson's Bizarre Heroes #0–8 (Fiasco Comics, May-December 1994) and then Bizarre Heroes #9–17 (Fiasco Comics, February 1995-July, 1996) The final two issues (#16 and #17) are alternately titled Megaton Man vs. Forbidden Frankenstein #1 and Megaton Man #0
10. Megaton Man: Hardcopy #1 & 2 (Image, 1999)
11. Megaton Man: Bombshell #1 (Image, 1999)

Further appearances:
Megaton Man Daily Reruns (some episodes reprinted or repurposed into Hardcopy and Bombshell)
Asylum (reprinted and purposed)
Megaton Man blog: The Atomic Aftermath (and more)
Red Anvil Comics' War of the Independents #1 (2013) and #4 (2014)
CBLDF Liberty Annual 2010 ("Megaton Man and the Liberty Alliance in: ''Columbia Rising!''")

And there have been other cameo appearances, too - I think I remember a cameo in 1963 #6.
Well, it will take me a while to catalog or properly list or weed through the "further appearances." In the meantime, thanks!

Hi Steve,
Yes, I think except for a few stray pin-ups and previews (Spirit #8), you have the main works. The Weekly Serials that weren't reprinted in the three Image issues (Hardcopy and Bombshell) ran in the Savage Dragon, something like the #50s through the #80s. Toward the end I skipped a few issues here and there.
I've been working on more so save some space in your collection.
Thanks for this list; I should probably post it, if you don't mind.

Hi again, Don -
Here as promised (or kind of promised) are the rest of my notes on Megaton Man's publishing history. As you'll see, there are lots of gaps and missing bits. Maybe this will help you, or maybe you already have your own much-more-complete chronology somewhere. I hope so.

I guess I am showing my own regressive Marvel genes by sifting through this information with such fan-boy enthusiasm! It takes me back to the days when I was trying to figure out what happened before (and after) Captain America guest-starred in Daredevil #43. Your Fiascoverse is really fun in this way, with all the various #1 issues, crossovers, back-up appearances, and online episodes.

Well, if you do have your own "master list," I'd love to see it! But not as much as the new Megaton Man pages you're working on - that's the real stuff.
Best wishes,

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Further Frenzied and Fanatical Footnoting for Megaton Man

The Megaton Man Weekly Serial is now only available as "Don Simpson's Megaton Man Daily Reruns" at It offers an Archives page that lists episodes 1 - 103 with titles, but not later episodes.

Publication dates given below are from the

1. Hardcopy #1, February 1999
Contains online episodes 1 - 55

2. Hardcopy #2, April 1999 
Pages 1 - 9: online episodes 56 - 71
Pages 10 - 12: three new (or possibly new?) pages related to Gower Goose's radio show
Pages 13 - 22a: online episodes 72 - 89
Pages 22b - 28: new episodes (or at least not listed in the current "Daily Reruns" archive)

3. Bombshell #1, July 1999
All new episodes (or at least, these are not listed in the current "Daily Reruns" archive)

4. Savage Dragon Back-ups (Erik Larsen, Image Comics)  lists the following issues of Savage Dragon as having Megaton Man back-ups: 52, 54, 55, 58, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 73, 80, 86, 87. But wait! This incorrectly excludes at least some Megaton Man appearances. I know for sure that it's missing at least SD 56, 76, 77, 78, 79.

I've verified a few of the episode numbers for the back-ups listed below, but most are not listed at "Daily Reruns" archive. I haven't found any online resources either, so I just had to go by what I found after poking around at my local comic shop! Oh, the irony! Anyway, that's how I also found out the CBDB had made some mistakes.

Finally, I've added the "next issue tag lines" given at the end (or fourth episode) of almost every SD excerpt I could find, because it seems that may be related to the title of the one of the next issue's episodes.

Okay, then...

(Possibly SD 49 or 51?) (Episodes 90 - 93... or are these possibly not reprinted anywhere?)
SD 52, August 1998 - (presumably episodes 94, 95, 96, 97?)
SD 54, October 1998 - (presumably episodes 98, 99, 100, 101?)
SD 55, November 1998 - Episodes 102, 103 (and presumably 104, 105?)
SD 56, December 1998 - not noted by CBDB, but verified at my local comic shop!
SD 58, February 1999 
SD 60, April 1999
SD 61, May 1999 
SD 62, June 1999 
SD 63, June 1999 
SD 64, July 1999 
SD 65, August 1999 - (Next issue tag: Batter Up!)
SD 66, August 1999 
SD 67, September 1999 
SD 73, March 2000 
SD 76, June 2000 - this issue not noted by CBDB
SD 77, July 2000 - (Next issue tag: Bombs Away!) - this issue not noted by CBDB
SD 78, August 2000 - (Next issue tag: Wings of Desire) - this issue not noted by CBDB
SD 79, September 2000 - (Next issue tag: The Ol' Switcheroo!) - this issue not noted by CBDB
SD 80, October 2000 - (Next issue tag: Unmasked, Unleashed!)
SD 86, April 2001 - (Next issue tag : Megs Cops Out)
SD 87, May 2001 - ?

5. Asylum
(These excerpts re-present material from Megaton Man: Bombshell #1)
Issue #7 (August 1996)  - "Megaton Man vs. Unleash"
Issue #8 (September 1996) - "Megaton Man vs. Bombshell" 
Issue #11 (Jan/Feb 1997) - "After Megaton Man"

6. The CBLDF Presents Liberty Annual, October 2010
Megaton Man and the Liberty Alliance in: ''Columbia Rising!''

7. One-Pagers

These were originally printed in "Hero, Illustrated," a magazine about comics . I'm not sure how many MM appearances there were, but three were reprinted in "The Apocalypse Affliction."
A. The Blue Web
B. YarnBlood
C. No title (MM relaxing by the pool with Stella and Yarn Man)
Anyone with further info, please comment! I'm too busy drawing new stuff! Best, Don