Once again Michael T. Gilbert has dug into his personal files, reached across the ether and made me an offer I can't refuse:
I just remembered another unpublished DC short story. It was originally supposed to be a three-page section of Keith Giffen's 1992's very funny AMBUSH BUG: NOTHING SPECIAL. However it turned out to be too hot to print!
At the time I wrote this, the 1989 ARKHAM ASYLUM graphic novel was still making waves. Old-school Luddite that I am, I pretty much hated the whole package. When Keith Giffen invited me to contribute to his comic, (which included a roast of editor Julie Schwartz), I jumped on it and decided to do a send-off of Vertigo. In the decades since, I've found a number of their titles that I really admire, but my initial reaction was that the line was depressing, negative and pretentious. I also felt that fully-painted comics like Dave McKean's ARKHAM ASYLUM and Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz's ELEKTRA:: ASSASSIN, beautiful as they were, were just hard to read.
Interestingly, ARKHAM ASYLUM illustrator Dave McKean later came to a similar conclusion, saying "overpainted, lavish illustrations in every panel just didn’t work. It hampers the storytelling."
Anyway, my idea was to do a Vertigo version of Harvey's classic kiddie comic, Richie Rich. Unfortunately after I handed it in, despite protests by my editor and Keith, some higher-ups at DC nixed my three-pager. They claimed there were worried about a possible Harvey lawsuit. Personally, I've long suspected that my Vertigo parody hit a little too close to home, but I'll let you decide.
On a technical level, I drew hand-separated color for the Rich E. Rich section, followed by full color art for the Ambush Bug part. It would have been very striking, and I always felt bad that the strip never saw print.
I guess the joke was on me!
© 2011 by DC Comics
[all text and artwork is presented for not-for-profit historical purposes only and no further use is allowed or implied]