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December 3, 2009

Unsung Characters of Comicdom: The Thespian

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you mixed a Kabuki warrior, a lucha libre wrestler, and a Victorian musketeer? Well, neither have I, but The Thespian nipped any future curiosities I might have in the bud. He’s an amalgam of all these archetypes, mingled with the time-old tradition of masks and their supernatural properties.

The Thespian

The Thespian

Codename/ Alias: The Thespian
Secret Identity: Adam Toshima
Powers: Forged by a link between Adam’s innate psychic abilities and the Cloak of Dionysus, The Thespian’s mask is the core of all his powers. It gives him precognitive abilities that allow him to predict horrendous acts of evil before they occur. He’s also an expert swordsman and is well versed in hand-to-hand combat.
Weaknesses: Without the constant consumption of human souls, the mask will wither into mortality and lose all of its mystical attributes. Because Adam and the mask are symbiotic beings, without the mask, Adam is powerless. Though the mask can devour the souls of the wearer’s choosing, bad guy’s souls are usually shallow, and in turn, they’re not very filling. Therefore it takes a lot of corrupt souls to keep the mask powerful. Which means Adam is a tool in the mask’s relentless and exhausting hunt for the spirits of the damned.
Most memorable quote: “I am called The Thespian! Remember that name whilst I dance on your chest.”

Origin: Adam Toshima was born with telekinetic and empathic powers. As a youth, he suffered third degree burns that left him severely deformed. His parents later abandoned him for unknown reasons, and he was found by a traveling circus’ ringmaster, Professor Light. He kept the boy, and used him as free labor. In addition, he took advantage of Adam’s malformation, putting him in a sideshow attraction and billing him as a freak. Soon the boy realized that the professor was in possession of a magical cloak called the Cloak of Dionysus, which endowed him with the ability to morph into anyone or anything. He used it’s mystical powers to steal from the residents of the various towns that the carnival would visit. In time, Adam began to catch on to the professor’s charade, and he followed him to a tent where he was robbing a young widow. He stood idly by until Prof. Light decided to rape the girl. Adam stepped into action and grabbed the cloak in an attempt to pull the professor away from her. He succeeded, and simultaneously ripped off a portion of the cloak into his hands. The girl escapes, and Adam is struck to the ground by the professor. Holding on to the ripped piece of fabric, Adam runs into the wilderness and hides out for a bit. Convinced he has nowhere to go, he returns to the circus. Upon arriving at the camp, he finds all the tents have been set ablaze by the evil Prof. Light. All of the animals and people that Adam had considered family were now dead. He fell to the ground and began to weep bitterly while holding the portion of the cloak’s fabric to his chest. The cloth began to sense the boys mental powers, and merged with him to become the masked vigilante known as The Thespian.

The Lemming

The Lemming

Antagonists: Because of the mask’s ability to search out evil, The Thespian’s crusades are not limited to human intervention. Unseen forces of darkness leave an energy imprint that makes the mask writhe with agony. The only way to sooth it’s pain is to seek out its source and destroy it.

Supernatural Enemies: The Lemming is an anthropomorphic rat creature, who is the spiritual manifestation of humankind’s morbid self-doubt. It finds people in their darkest hour, and persuades them to commit suicide. Every time someone takes their own life, it grows more powerful. One of the most disturbing things about this demonic being, is the amount of pleasure it takes in destroying human life. He actually laughs as he convinces an elderly man to blow his own brains out while his grandson is in the next room. At one point, he contently bathes in the bloody bath water of a girl who had slit her wrists in the tub by his suggestion.

Another metaphysical threat is the remaining fabric from the Cloak of Dionysus. It has separated from Prof. Light and become a completely self-aware entity that has manifested into a black gelatinous mass of eyes, teeth, and tentacles. Never being employed by the forces of good, the cloak is driven by the tormented souls of an innumerable amount of innocent men and women. Now a physical manifestation of absolute evil energy, its only motivation is to obtain the missing piece of the cloak and destroy it’s possessor, Adam Toshima.

Human Enemies: The Thespian fights evil in its various human forms, but Adam limits the mask’s consumption of souls to the most malicious dregs of society. For example, on one of his nightly rounds, The Thespian is called to the apartment of a creepy old man who has employed the service of a young male prostitute. Before The Thespian can arrive, the man has dressed the boy in women’s clothing and a wig. He begins to yell at him, calling him his ex-wife’s name before brutally beating him. This is the man’s ritual. Night after night, he brings young boys to his apartment, dresses them up in his ex-wife’s clothes, and brutally murders them. Luckily, The Thespian is on the prowl, and his intuitions have made him aware of the man’s horrendous intentions. As he enters the apartment, the mask becomes a protoplasmic goo, and consumes the old man’s soul leaving him a withered shell.

The Thespian #1 is a dark tale of tortured souls, suicide, and demented human behavior. Each scene is delivered with the tact of a graphic and suspenseful horror flick.  The pencils are weak, and I’m not a fan of the use of digital coloring , but Steve Kendrick’s writing really carries the book. Cesar Feliciano is a strong artist, but he only provided the inks for the comic. So his artistic potential was not fully realized within this issue. The result is a consistent story with sub-par aesthetics. I personally prefer good writing over flashy art, so my criticisms are minimal. The Thespian encompasses a wide variety of concepts, and it delivers on all of them. It’s an adult comic, with dark themes. So, if your into that kind of thing, it’s definitely worth adding to your collection. Good luck finding it though. Dark Moon Productions (the comic’s publisher) is now defunct, and all parties involved have slipped into obscurity (except Cesar).

Josh Jones
josh@comicattack.net

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7 Comments


  1. Kristin

    The origin sounds a little…Phantom of the Opera. Which is probably done on purpose.
    Nice work on using Dionysus, though it would be nice if the mask was a little more Grecian looking.
    Anyway, this sounds really, really dark, which is pretty different.



  2. Sound ineresting


  3. InfiniteSpeech

    a lemming is his nemesis? Besides that, Thespian is one of the more interesting of the Unsung group of characters


  4. Wendy

    Sgt. Kabuki Man vs Mr Lemmiwinks…(in Bangkok?)



  5. Woah, this sounds like one dark book. How many issues did the series run?

    Usually the guys you cover here are pretty zanny and goofy, but this guy sounds bad ass! And The Lemming is a sick #@$%.



  6. @Andy The publisher eluded to a second issue in a letter to fans at the end of Thespian #1, but I can’t find any evidence that it ever happened. Which is a shame because the first issue ends with a pretty tense cliffhanger. Actually, other than the comic that I own, I couldn’t find any additional information about The Thespian, Dark Moon Productions, or any of their other titles.


  7. Jon

    I was an artist at Dark Moon. The second issue of Thespian was drawn, as was the third, I think. But beyond the first issue, nothing ever saw print. Mark Masztal took over the art chores which really brought Steve’s story into focus. A few of these pages of were published in Dark Moon Prophecy, a free sample book for retailers.

    http://www.milehighcomics.com/cgi-bin/backissue.cgi?action=list&title=21861901446&snumber=1

    Steve has since passed away due to a number of health concerns, but he was a great writer.



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