First Comics News: Austin Hough, I actually, initially, viewed your new and upcoming comic book The Masters on Facebook, before I talked to you, and even before my pal (and owner of First Comics News.com) even asked me to conduct this interview. This project looked EXCITING to me, including that colour Pablo Marcos illustration of this NEW version of the Golden Age 1940’s Black Owl superhero, even then!
Austin Hough: Thank you for the kind words. Getting Pablo is a dream come true. And his contribution to the project exceeded everybody’s expectations. That guy’s still got “it”!
1st: by Fly-Man, do you mean the late Sam Glanzman’s character of the same name, a golden age, little known comics superhero?
Austin: Indeed it is. Originally this story was written as a Batman/Brave and the Bold story, which I was going to pitch to DC Comics through my dear friend and DC cartoonist, Art Baltazar.
But when all the changes happened at DC in the Spring of 2020, I decided to replace all of the DC superheroes with re-imagined Golden Age public domain superheroes, and self-publish under the name Power Comics, Inc., my homage to Power Records of the 1970s.
1st: I loved all those Power Records Comics of the 1970s. I was a teenager back then, and while I was never lucky enough to acquire all of them, I still own several of them!
Austin, I think that this is a great idea, and one I’d very much like to buy and read when it does come out!
Austin: The Kickstarter went LIVE December 10, 2021, to coincide with the opening day of C2E2 which Power Comics attended.
1st: Are you able to tell our readers, in advance, who these other guest artists are, aside from Pablo Marcos – whose illustrative art style is spectacular and innovative, and exciting to look at?
Who will be illustrating various chapters of The Masters comic book series?
If you are not able to disclose that in advance, that is okay.
1st: By the way, Austin, I have read the write-up on this entire project (which, to our readers, I have cut and pasted, to the very bottom of this interview, so that they, too, will have a good overview, as well, as to what this exciting comics series is about!)
I am already greatly psyched (excited) for this project, right off the bat!!!
And, that Pablo Marcos illustration of the NEW version of the Golden Age 1940’s Black Bat, has something to do with that, also-!
Austin: Our current Kickstarter is for The Masters Issue #1, and the artists participating in this issue, along with the “add-ons” available, are: Steven Butler, Bart Sears, Mark Pennington, Pat Broderick, Geof Isherwood, Al Milgrom, Ron Wilson, Joe Rubinstein, Alex Saviuk, Val Mayerik, Mike Gustovich, Andrew Pepoy, Art Baltazar, Darryl Young, and Luke Daab. Future issues and Kickstarters will feature Ramona Fradon, Mike Grell, Joe Staton, Butch Guice, Ed Benes, Alan Weiss, Tom Grummett, Chuck Patton, and Jimmy Palmiotti, just to name a few.
1st: There are a lot of BIG names in the industry there, Austin, as I’m sure you are aware; this is awesome!
Let’s see: in no particular order, Steven Butler, Bart Sears, Pat Broderick, Geof Isherwood, Al Milgrom, Ron Wilson, Joe Rubinstein, Alex Saviuk, Val Mayerik, Mike Gustovich, Andrew Pepoy, Ramona Fradon, Mike Grell,
Joe Staton, Butch Guice, Alan Weiss, Tom Grummett, and Jimmy Palmiotti!
Some of these others may be big names in the industry as well, of course, but the list I provided are the ones that I am familiar with. I am also very familiar with the comics work of Ramona Fradon, Mike Grell, Joe Staton, Butch Guice, Alan Weiss, Tom Grummett, Chuck Patton, and Jimmy Palmiotti.
Geof Isherwood is a Canadian, like me, by the way.
I remember reading (Canadian) comics stories published with Geof Isherwood, his wonderful artwork, as far back as the early 1970s! And I still have them!
1st: It sounds like your company will be putting out – presumably – in addition to everything else that is listed below, at the bottom of the interview, plastic action figures of all these characters, named below.
Is that right? If this is really going to happen, that is very exciting and wonderful!
Austin: That is correct. Eight-inch scale, Mego-style action figures will be available with each Kickstarter campaign.
My hobby of 25 years is custom-action-figure making in the Mego style.
I am one of the most prolific custom Mego action figure creators in the world, with over 650 customs made. And when I originally thought of The Masters as individual characters, I envisioned them as action figures, first. I pretty much did things a little backward for the comic book industry, by creating the toy line, first.
1st: Austin, do you have any photos that you can share of any of these action figures in the works or preliminaries of them, or is it too soon, at this stage? It sounds exciting, in any event!
Austin: Yes. They are all featured on The Masters Kickstarter, AND on all our social media (Facebook and Instagram.)
1st: Since there will be an issue # 0 (zero), it sounds like The Masters, counting that zero issue, will be six issues in total?
Austin: As of now, Issue #0 will only be available in the trade paperback and hardcover, coming in December of 2022.
1st: Will the eventually collected trade paperback, which, I’m guessing, will also include the # 0 (zero) issue, will this also include all cover variations or not?
Either way, the entire project, and everything it encompasses if it all comes together is going to be tremendously exciting!
Austin: The trades will contain everything from the five-issue series, all alternate covers including Kickstarter pin-ups, Issue #0, and all Who’s Who in the Power Comics Universe pages.
1st: Oh my God, that’s wonderful!
Besides yourself, who else was the brainchild behind this whole project?
Austin: The idea was solely mine, but I leaned heavily on two of my best friends, Matt Jaycox of Chicago, and Scott Pierce of Cincinnati, for advice and input.
1st: I find it quite interesting that each of the supervillains in this series, were each inspired by several famous 20th-century artists!
Wow. How on Earth did you come up with THAT idea?
Austin: About 20 years ago, I had this idea for an Adam West Batman TV show villain, inspired by Salvador Dali, who had a palette of magic paints.
He could use these paints to help him escape any situation.
So, rob a bank, paint a picture, and jump into that picture, and make your escape.
I mean, what bank security guard in their right mind would jump in after him, right?
A world of flaming giraffes and melting clocks?
No way! And I shall name him Sir Real Ordeal!
Austin: But, as quickly as I imagined him, I forgot about him.
That is, until around 2019, when out of the recesses of my mind, he came to me, again.
I created the action figure, and I loved him so much that I wanted to create more like him.
I sat down and made a list of all of my favorite artists, and narrowed it down to those who I thought would be most visually stimulating as comic book villains, and I chose: Ansel Adams, Keith Haring, Rene Magritte, and Toulouse Lautrec. And, The Masters were born!
1st: I’m a fan of the Golden Age 1940’s Black Owl, but I am even more intrigued by the idea of reviving the golden age superhero, Airman.
Who, by the way, played a role in the Malibu Comics title The Protectors, in the 1990s.
I enjoyed that series quite a bit!
Arrow, of course, (also) appeared in the 1990’s malibu Comics’ The Protectors, including lots of other revived Public Domain heroes from the 1940s.
1st: My next question is, how did you arrive at WHICH particular golden age, Public Domain heroes to use, in The Masters, which of course, is the title of this upcoming comics series?
Austin: I contacted my friend Darrin Wiltshire of Temporal Comics, who I consider a public domain superhero historian, and I asked him to help me find suitable replacements for the DC Comics characters Batman, Green Arrow, Hawkman, The Elongated Man, The Atom, and Red Tornado.
(Remember, I wrote this as a Brave and the Bold story, so I had Batman as the main protagonist, with a guest superhero in each chapter, fighting a different villain.)
We agreed upon Black Owl, Arrow, Airman, Plymo the rubber man, Fly-Man, and Twister.
1st: I am a big fan of the late Jim Aparo, who, as you said, illustrated innumerable DC Comics’ issues of The Brave and The Bold. He also, of course, illustrated several issues of Charlton’s (Lee Falk’s) jungle superhero The Phantom (‘The Ghost Who Walks’), numerous issues of Green Lantern, created E-Man for Charlton Comics, and, of course, so many other things!
I have almost all of them, except for some of the very earliest of issues, of the series The Brave and The Bold.
I rather liked the team-up format of heroes, in that series, and the very idea of such team-ups, including some rather peculiar team-ups in several issues, which made for some rather interesting storylines and stories!
And so, your series The Masters is something that I am greatly looking forward to reading when it comes out!
I also loved Jim Aparo’s Adventure Comics’ title issues, many of which featured Aquaman, and several featuring The Spectre, as well.
1st: Were you a big Jim Aparo fan, back in the day? And if so, why?
Austin: Jim Aparo is, in my opinion, the quintessential DC Comics artist, and my personal favorite Batman artist.
So, Yes, you can say I am a big fan.
1st: Anything else you can tell us about this series?
Austin: We are hopeful the success of The Masters will help launch other titles from Power Comics. We already have commitments from all of the chapter artists who reimagined the Golden Age heroes to contribute to each of their own individual titles.
There is a villain in The Masters who is expected to get his own title, and we have been fielding numerous submissions from creators focusing on horror, mystery and suspense, sci-fi, religion, and adult humor.
The future looks bright for Power Comics.
FYI: this new Kickstarter is only for issue 1 of The Masters. Check it out here to see exactly what I’m doing and my schedule for future issues/Kickstarters: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/themasters/the-masters-1-a-classic-super-hero-vs-super-villain-comic