In 2009, the individual that I regarded as a father figure killed someone. It was devastating to watch someone who had such a great and positive influence on me during my childhood, lose his way, fall from grace and betray the very ideals that made him so dear to me. I’m talking about Optimus Prime from Transformers.
[Flashback to the eighties]
Growing up I was what was called a “latchkey kid” which was, the term for a kid who spent a lot of time home alone because his/her parent(s) had to be elsewhere most times—usually work. So, the television was my babysitter.
Luckily, I grew up in the 80’s when just about everything a young, impressionable mind could tuned into on was positive; light-hearted, family sitcoms like the Cosby Show, Full House, Different Strokes; cartoons featuring noble and heroic figures like: Duke from G.I. JOE, He-Man from Masters of the Universe and, my personal favorite, Optimus Prime from Transformers.
That building-sized, alien robot instilled in me a core value system that was incorruptible.
Peer Pressure: “Wanna try some drugs!?”
Me: Hmm…WWOPD? (What Would Optimus Prime Do) “Absolutely Not!”
[Back to 2009]
Optimus Prime giving into anger and killing the villains in Transformers 3: Revenge of the Fallen, really hit home. It opened my eyes, made me look around and recognize the entertainment industry’s gravitation towards dark, violent themes in stories—he wasn’t the only one who had metamorphosed into a darker, edgier version. What happened to all our childhood heroes?
In 2010, I decided it was time to seriously pursue publication of my superhero series, Servants of the Secret Cause. I had been developing it since 2003, a labor of love that I worked on when the muses gave me a little something, my baby that I planned to work and rework until it fit my impossible-to-attain concept of a masterpiece. I thought all those kids nowadays who, as I was a latchkey kid, are in a similar situation because they are spending a lot of time on absorbing what comes via computer, cellphone and ipad could benefit from it. Servants of the Secret Cause is a modern retelling of the classic, hero saga. A group of young heroes who are trying to make a positive impact in the modern world. Theirs is an ongoing struggle against everyday crime, terrorism, natural and manmade disasters and, the one thing that will take all of their power to defeat: hopelessness.
My goal was to hire an art team, produce the premiere 2-part adventure and self-publish it. For 2 ½ years I would encounter 4 types of artists: interested but already working on a series; interested but wants to be paid as much as Jack Kirby per page; pretend to be interested just to get your money to pay utility bills then, disappear after drawing 5 pages leaving you dead-in-the-water; pretend to be interested just to get your money to pay utility bills then, disappear without doing a single panel.
Then, I finally found the ones to get the job done. They were onboard for the long haul. Enter a new problem: money was running out. I didn’t have the money to produce a book. I had no financial favors left to call in, nothing left to sell on EBay or to sacrifice (the car and apartment were surrendered over a year ago) and the job had laid me off. With the last dollars to my name I paid an, out-of-work film production guy to do a video then, I assembled what art assets I possessed and went to Kickstarter.
In its first week, the project has made far less than the love-a-thon friends fantasized would take place.
As far as my thoughts: Is it the lack of social exposure leading in to the project launch? Admittedly, I am an introvert type who rather focus on developing material at the sacrifice of social networking.
Or, is it the world no longer interested in “too good” character portrayals? Although I am an eternal optimist that refuses to believe that people can become too jaded to appreciate the brighter side of things, the thought does cross my mind. My kickstarter maybe a sort of cultural litmus test.
Whether it succeeds or not, I will continue to seek publication. I’ve received too much benefit from bright-themed entertainment to abandon it in its time of need.
Secret Cause—a term that originates in books by the comic company, Dream-Engineer Comics, to describe the cause of helping those around oneself. It is said to be secret because it lies hidden from the eyes of most men clouded by the apparent causes such as pleasure and gain.
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