Monday, July 18, 2011

The Return of The Zebra (and Friends)

Editor’s Note: In the upcoming first issue of Popbox Entertainment’s The Agency, fans of the Golden Age will be see publisher Clayton Neal is reintroducing the public to some interesting Public Domain characters (as seen in this preview image from Issue One.)

Preview from The Agency Issue 1

I asked Clayton to explain why he choose the Golden Age characters he did and here is Part One of his reply. - Jim

The answer is different for each one, yet it boils down to the same thing. Let me take them in the order of amount of appearances they actually had back in the golden age of comics!

The Zebra (Harvey Comics, 28 appearances)

He is actually considered to be one of the weakest characters in the vast public domain files. Even I was surprised that he had the most appearances than the other chosen heroes. It has been stated that a zebra in the wild will only fight when he is pinned by a predator. However, if you were to read his origin, that is basically what happened to John Doyle, and why he became the Zebra in the first place. Truth is, I loved the concept, and the character since I was a little kid. When I found out that the character was in the public domain, I had to have him!

Nightmare (Hillman 14 appearances)

I am using this guy because I had envisioned a hero who wore one of those old skeleton Halloween costumes. I came across this guy, and thought I could blend the two characters. I loved the concept of him, although I am not too sure about bringing back Sleepy, his sidekick.

Micro-Face (Hillman, 10 appearances)

OK when I saw this guy I laughed at both the mask, and the name. But I re read his stories several times, and thought about what the possibilities would be if somebody (Like our Dr. Insainnus) amplified his powers into something maybe out of the movie “Love Potion #9”! You can see the results in The Agency: Prelude to A Nightmare” #1!

Check back next week for more of my favorite public domain heroes. Until then, enjoy this issue of Green Hornet comics. It doesn't have the Green Hornet story, but it does feature the origin of the Zebra.

- Clayton

End Note from Jim: The images of Nightmare and Micro-Face were taken from the Public Domain Superheroes Wikia which is a fantastic community of people working together to compile the most comprehensive resources of Public Domain Superheroes you will ever find. Check it out!


cash_gorman said...

I see a couple of my favorite GA albeit obscure characters: Micro-Face, Nightmare, and Zippo! I've used a couple in stories myself.

Of course, part of the reason I love them is that the first GA comic that I owned that wasn't a reprint was an issue of CLUE COMICS, the home of those stalwarts though Boy King was the cover star. I was struck by the creativity and quality of those stories. Micro-face had a noir feel to him with artwork and a story that wasn't too dissimilar to Eisner without as much self-awareness. Nightmare's story struck me to be along the lines of Batman and Robin or Sandman and Sandy type stories, complete with a group of villains that wore thematic costumes and committed related crimes (in this case, centering around baseball). Zippo was a hero that could only exist in the golden-age and seemed almost a working class Kirby type character (where Kirby would create godlings who traveled about on skis and surfboards, Zippo was a normal man with motorized wheels attached to his feet). The cover star, Boy King dressed like a storybook king and had his incredibly large homunculus Giant and fought an honest to gosh Nazi supervillain called the Crane (he had mechanical stretching arms plus a robotic tyranasaurus). I've read a bunch more golden-age comics since then, but few really capture the magic found in the heroes of Clue Comics. Leading to me to even create a supergroup around them while I was in college called "Clue, Inc." I went as far as drawing a splash page with a bloody outstretched hand laying on the floor, a broken pearl necklace sprawled across the palm. No clue where that artwork is now.

GACN said...

Very cool to see this project! Nightmare is one of my favorite Golden Age characters and it is always good to see these type efforts.

GAC-UK has posted about this, so we'll be looking forward to additional news on this -- such as where to purchase it! :-)

Roygbiv666 said...

"Grim Reaper"? I'm in. Is this an online comic?

Popbox Entertainment said...

Thank you all for your comments!

Cash...I am glad that we could bring back a few of your favorites. I really wanted to use the Boy King, but he was being established over at Dynamite Entertainmet at the time. I am sorry, but I had to laugh when you said that Zippo was a kind of hero that could only exist in the Golden Age. I really brought him back because an artist I was working with said the same thing. You may be surprised wiht what we have planned for him and the rest of the public domain guys we have "adopted". I wish you could find that artwork of yours, I would really like to see it!

GACN: I like Nightmare too. It would have been great if I could have kept him as an "as is" hero. I really didn't want to "update" the heroes, but rather enhance them for the upcoming story, and make them a little more original so we didn't have a whole bunch of Batman-type heroes running around.

Rovgbi (I hope I got that right):

No, it's not an online comic. The Agency: Prelude to a Nightmare is published by the Popbox Entertainment half of Phoenix Fire Studios (, who has just released a magazine/comic called Dragon Rider by writer/artist Jorge Castillia.

The Agency is in its final edits, and will be shipped to our printer within the next week or so. Jim and I will keep you all posted on the release.

Now I have a question for you guys! Popbox is designed to thrive on the wants of the readership. So what public domain hero...not currently in use, would you like to see brought back?

T^hink about it, and if you have a favorite that you think is being ignored, then please let me know at:

Again, thank you for your comments!


Popbox Entertainment said...

OOps, looks like I have to make a correction to my last comment.

When I said that The Agency isn't going to be a webcomic, I mentioned that we were going into print. What I forgot to mention is that a digital version will be available through out account. We are also looking at different ways to get digital versions out there.

Sorry about that little bit of confusion on my part!



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