Do you need to fully know your character in order to plot your book?
Well, the important thing for me was to get the old stories that have been lying around for a couple decades, and which establish D-Gruppe, out in print first. The whole Revenge Of The Ice Queen followed by the Zeitgeist saga established a great deal and led into two main books: The Trial and, of course, The Return of the Gods: Twilight of the Super Heroes.
The Trial was originally published in the mid-1990s in four parts though it had been intended to serialise it before in the comic project JAG 2000 (long story). In this story, which I am NOT going to go into details of because it is currently being re-lettered (originally hand lettered but that is too poor a quality to offer readers today), the D-Gruppe members are seen inter-acting with the UK heroes and, in fact, the UK heroes travel to Germany to help D-Gruppe and heroes first glimpsed in the Zeit Geist story.
But important changes to BT characters took place in this story -how did Wavell get that huge facial scar we see in Return? How did Tech-Man get replaced by Rachel Flynn? Even the ending links all the D-Gruppe storylines to Return.
The Trial should be out as a graphic novel in December of this year (2013).
Hopefully, the very -very- long delayed appearance of Task Force Germany will have taken place before then. The first story should have appeared in 1994 but there were delays -initially Art Wetherell was to draw the book but had to opt out and a couple other artists stepped in but there were problems.
Back in 1982 I was sending project proposals, character sketches and so on to Marvel Comics. At that point i saw working for my all time favourite comic as the star to aim for. What a dim-wit! Anyway, I wanted to develop the silent character, The Attacker, and I thought Marvel might go for a comic in which everything was visual -no caption boxes, speech balloons, etc.. The character was shortish and wore a skin-tight black costume with large white eye-holes.
I was a little shocked when I saw the black costumed Spider-man emerge a couple years later. But that’s comics. The other character I tried to convince Epic Comics (part of Marvel) was really “great” -the creator owned line had started up in 1982 so I got straight to it. Marvel had rejected The Attacker -“no comic fan is going to buy a comic where you never find out the characters real identity and there is no text!” but -BUT- surely a Lutheran priest (later changed to Catholic) that has some kind of strange, all-black creature linked to him would be a winner?
Considering what they were publishing I thought to feedback of “too dark” was just ridiculous. A year or so later came…Venom.
So the character who started out as German, had to be changed to an American reverted back to German. But there is a problem. If someone is the artist of a book and they have asked to work on your script -your characters- all and good. But, oh no, artists can be an odd lot.
“Yeah, I see him as a Nazi who was in charge of a concentration camp and was sent to Hell and he now hunts and kills Nazies(sic)” was how one artist saw it. He even re-wrote everything to conform to his idea.
My response? “NO! You have the character details and you can choreograph action scenes freely BUT the story and the character ARE the story and the character”
And the response? “I can’t see it going anywhere the way you’ve written it. If we go with my idea I think this would be a sure hit!”
We parted company. Never heard of the man again.
Then another approached me having seen my sketch and idea on a German comic forum -for the life of me I cannot recall what forum but I did get about a lot! “Love the script!” he wrote.
A month later I got pages through and a letter. “I think this works better than your idea. I see him as a Catholic priest, a paedophile who was also a drunk and embezzler. To cleanse his soul he makes a deal with lucifer….”
Then the pages of a character that looked exactly like Venom. This was not the look I had wanted or explained. Neither was there a scene anywhere in my script showing a terrified little girl on a bed as the priest disrobed!! I explained what the whole idea of the character was and that the whole story of the priest-amorph came out over the planned four issues in a big climax in Koln Cathedral.
“But that’s lame”, I was told, “the way I see it you have got to show people this guy is a ****** ****! Then you build on that. I can’t see it work your way.”
We parted company. I ought to point out that not only did the artist want to re-write everything and change character appearances and names but he also wanted that “Nazi element. Everyone knows Germans were Nazis!”
This is something I have come across over and over again in the last couple decades. I allways allow artists freedom to draw action scenes so long as the result fits in with the actual story/script -unless they really do need that action written for them. But I can think off-hand of fifteen artists I’ve worked with who have decided to re-write (badly) and make changes. Where are they now?
Leere (emptyness/blankness/void) was another problem. I tried explaining that the character is not an invisible man and neither is he wearing a mask like the old Charlton Question character. You can see a vague “something” where the head is. But you could also see slightly through him. Clothes are the only solid texture on him/it/her.
There are several characters like this in Black Tower -a link I wanted to explore by now. Characters such as Nemesis (a Belgian character) and No Face from The Paranormals (published in Tales Of Terror 3.
“The Days Of Darkness” story should have been told by now but I’m planning and D-Gruppe will quite literally be shaken to the core by what happens.
And there is planned a couple of brief glimpses at the D-Gruppe of a darker Earth Parallel (EP667) -from which readers have already seen a far more different Link character.
All with Ben Dilworth on board so that the original team is back together! Had Bastei actually published D-Gruppe and had that title continued we’d now be over twenty years into continuity! Curse you Bastei!!! :-/
Below, a glimpse of D-Gruppe EP667 courtesy of Ben Dilworth.
Now, this posting is getting rather long but I hope it has shown that D-Gruppe was by no means a
small idea that never developed!
In fact, in 2014 it is planned to go all-out on the German side of Black Tower in a final “Do or Die” push so keep watching these pages.
All images, characters, designs (except the stealth aircraft!) are (c) 2013 Terry Hooper-Scharf and Black Tower Comics & Books