No, not the Marvel Comics Feral! Mine came first! Honest!
creator: Ken Meyer Jr.
I have been thinking for awhile about doing something here in Ink Stains on my fanzine work (other than the occasional illustration you see in any given zine), but I didn’t want this to seem like a vanity project…but now the time has come!
Waaaaay back in my early college years, I was publishing as much art as I could through the incredible variety of fanzines available at that time. This was between 1976 and 1982 or so. One of several characters I created (and the only one I really tried to do more than one story of) was called Feral. At that time I was heavily into Frank Miller and the gritty anti-hero motif prevalent at that time. You will see it in some of the pages that follow. Keep in mind I was young, so the stories are filled with over the top angst and cultural references such as the war in Vietnam, punk rock, and mysterious (to me) recreational drugs. Heck, I didn’t even do drugs and I can’t remember all the various events that helped create Feral. Visually, the character looks like a cross between a cat and the Marvel character Kraven, with a little of The Creeper thrown in. In action, he was a bit Daredevil, a bit Wolverine, a bit Spider-Man. Hey, borrow from the best, right? I have many drawings of the character that I have done over the years, as well as a few stories. You can see the pencils of one unfinished story on my website here. It was done a little after some of the pieces you will see in this article, but might be of interest to some of you. By the way, as mentioned at the top, Marvel does have a character called Feral, created by Rob Leifeld. As you can see here, she was created in 1991. Now, as you will see below, in 1987, Rob was being published by Megaton comics, where my character would also appear. Coincidence? You decide! On another note, one of several interviews I have collected on my site was done by the late Shel Dorf, and shows several zines I played a part in, viewable here.
Along with myself and Rob Leifeld, this advertisement/character book from Megaton Comics you see above (I plan to do a column at a later date on Gary Carlson’s enjoyable line of comics) featured artists and creators such as Angel Medina (who did the cover), Frank Fosco, Chris Ecker, Grass Green, Erik Larsen, and Jim Starlin. This wasn’t even the first publication of Feral, either! Below, you can see his first ever appearance, along with other characters of mine – Mister Matter, and The Ankh. This is a fan page within the wonderfully illustrated Canadian comic Captain Canuck. George Freeman did really gorgeous work, as you can see from the cover. You can barely make it out, but that drawing was done in 1979, long before the Marvel character, although he was called Feral Equinox at that time.
Two fellow creators I was corresponding with a lot circa 1980 were Rick McCollum and Earl Geier. You can see a whole Ink Stains devoted to Rick here. Rick created a whole litany of fun characters, one of them being Slaughter, a sort of fan Punisher. Slaughter appears with Feral in a story I did that never saw print (as much as my feeble memory tells me), but now you can see the whole story here. Below I will show the pages that make me cringe the least! If you see a few pencil marks here and there, it’s because I sent it to Rick and Earl for comments. Also, that flying character on the left side of the wrap around cover is Agent Orange, who wouldn’t be seen until the (never made) second issue, thus the final panel blurb “the smell of orange.”
The cover you see above references Salt Lake City, where I was living at the time. KRCL is a community radio station I did a few shows at over a period of about 5 years, and the buildings in the background are well known downtown landmarks. And yes folks, you do see real zip-a-tone used throughout this story! And, by the way, I did everything involved, including the lettering (sorry!). Below you see page 2, with the story title being an homage of sorts to a favorite film of mine, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. You can see a Rotten Tomatoes review of the film here.
The page above not only introduces Slaughter into the story, but references Rick’s character, Rage, as well as Hill St.Blues on the little TV (as well as the “pizza-man” comment)! Eric Robinson is mentioned in the first panel, Eric being a long time friend and artist since high school who I now stay with when I go to the convention in Salt Lake City.
Now, critical thinkers would say, after seeing this page, why should Feral have to fight anyone, if he can magically influence their actions by just looking at them? You would probably be right.
You can see my Frank Miller influence here…although I did not have the skill to use it correctly. Careful what toys you choose to play with, kids!
Drama, folks, drama! Long skinny panels! Lots of zip-a-tone! Big, scary lettering!
Cue long dramatic dolly shot in the last three panels!
I will leave the final page for you to see in the pdf download, along with all the rest of the story. Below you will see the story I did for a Megaton Holiday Special issue, which also featured work by Fosco, Leifeld, S. Clarke Hawbaker, Bill Maus, Howard Keltner, Medina, and Fred Hembeck (along with characters by Erik Larsen and others). The cover (not the most visually festive of presentations) is below, followed by my story.
You can’t tell by the dark coloring and possibly my bad drawing, but Feral unceremoniously falls through a skylight and lands on his tail.
That face you see in panel 4 in the page above was modeled after my late uncle Lee, by the way.
And there you have it, true believers, a taste of the Feral universe! There are other illustrations kicking about here and there, but I only wanted to subject you to so much of my self love festivus! Please feel free to leave some comments behind. I will be back next month with a more normal column, perhaps covering Mark Wheatley’s Nucleus. For now, hope all of you are having a good summer…I hear there is some sun out there somewhere.
Ken Meyer Jr.