Jeffrey-OC/WIGU-Rowland and I both got ours at the deli counter of weird coincidences involving crudely drawn amphibious superheroes. My immediate thought was this was like an especially shitty or an especially awesome episode of Lost. Maybe it is both.
The year was 1986, and as he tells it, Jeff's 11 year-old mind conceived of a hero named Superfrog (no space).
Flash forward to the year 1990, a time when my 11 year-old mind would independently duplicate this feat, and bring into the world -- again -- a hero named Super Frog (but with a space!)
This cover stirs visions of a an intrepid young lad soldiering through that night sky with a thin, purple magic marker, thrashing in every conceivable direction like a crazed raccoon trying to escape an empty swimming pool. But it looks like he eventually and quite understandably muttered "fuck this" and stomped off to plunder the kitchen for some delicious Slimer-themed Ecto Cooler Hi-C.
You'll note some striking similarities between my and Jeff's work, aside from breadth of ambition. (Amphibition?)
They both dwelt on swampy planets. Though mine was supposed to be Earth, since my story followed a Superman template. I figured he might as well since he shared a prefix with that hero. Jeff's looks like it fits into more of a Star Wars mold, which would make "Amphibia" somewhat akin to Yoda's swampy planet I guess.
Also note that while Jeff's planet was plagued by a "terrorist group called MEGA", my story was published by MEGA comics. This is obviously a word one dare not leave uncapitalized. Also both these frogs had really cool underground lairs.
But I'm afraid that's where the similarities end.
11 year-old Jeff's handwriting is actually better than mine is today, let alone the grisly marks which I pawned off as letters at age 11. You'll also note Jeff could actually string together a pretty decent sentence. "But, Amphibia was not without its evil forces…" Note the fairly sophisticated use of the double negative to take a little something off the sentence for rhetorical purposes. He could have taken the easy route and said "Amphibia had so many evil forces!" Or, "Amphibia had all hella evil forces up ins, yo!" if he wanted to produce a tone of jocular irony. (Although I doubt that sort of irony had been invented yet in 1986.) The point is, he wasn't using language as a blunt instrument to say what he wanted to say.
Whereas I took that blunt instrument, used it to murder a family of four, and hid the bodies in my garage. You will observe this sample.
It's actually hard for me to believe an 11 year-old did this. To me it doesn't look very far beyond the reach of a 6 year-old. Where does one even begin dissecting this?
Ok, the Dr. Claw-style boss wants his henchman with an upsettingly phallic hat to go down to the "science plant". Where they do science. He wants him to steal some science. Fair enough. Then he instructs him to take a "disgise", and we shortly receive a humorous payoff. His disguise is simply a jacket. Ha ha, right?
Maybe. Except that I explicitly remember that I did not intend for this to be a joke. I was serious. That was his serious disguise.
Then at gunpoint, or maybe tube of Ben-Gaypoint, he commands the aardvark fellow to surrender the main project. Like, the main science thing they do. He wants him to hand over the big science thing. But it turns out he "already launched it". He launched all the science they were working on into space, and he is sorry about it. Maybe if the snake with the dick hat got there a little earlier, all that science would still be there.
Then later on in the comic when I got tired of all this storytelling bullshit, I went and drew a map. This was my first hack at a comic, and I don't think I actually even liked comics. All I really wanted to do was design the next Super Mario Bros. game and mail it to some Japanese developers. I actually tried to do this several times, and I just assumed whoever looked at it would be blown away by my ideas while making little hushed noises of polite awe in that distinctly Japanese way.
When I was 11 my teachers thought I was retarded. This isn't some sort of joke to make you laugh. This is actually true. For a while thereafter I resented the accusation. But looking back on this work I'm starting to think they might have been technically right. Whatever the case, I don't know why I ever had the notion that I was artistically inclined before age 11.
But in looking through this archive of relics, it's pretty clear my artistic development took a major leap in the following year. I did this drawing when I was 12. Ok, so it's obviously inspired very heavily by Rob Liefeld's work in the early 90s. Still, looking back on it I think it's probably better than anything Liefeld ever did. I even came up with a kickass signature brand for that year, "DREW92". WHOA, COOL DUDE!!!
Then from there it appears my artwork enjoyed pretty | brisk | strides through the rest of high school. Actually that first image there seems somewhat reminiscent of a Problem Sleuth villain, even though I drew it about 15 years ago.
My and Jeff's stroll down Super Frog lane is reminding me the more things change, the more they stay the same. Don't believe me?
Mob boss villains separated by two decades.
You're eventually supposed to grow out of shit like this, right?
I don't know why I didn't scan the rest of Super Frog. The samples above are from an archive consisting of photos I took about five years ago. I'm not sure what my thinking was at the time.
I'll see if I can dig up the original book and scan all of it. If I do, I'll post it. But I'll be trailing behind Jeff's documentation of his old comic, which I suppose is only fitting. He was always ahead of the curve on this Superfrog/Super[space]Frog business.
Oh, also another guy cropped up who did a Superfrog (Super-Frog, with a dash!) when he was a youngster.
Look, if you are 11 and you are a boy, here's what's up. You're going to be drawing a COMIC. That comic will be about a FROG. That frog is also gonna be SUPER. This is what your DNA will tell you to do, and if you don't do it there's probably something wrong with you. This is what SCIENCE says will happen, and this can be verified, assuming some dumbass doesn't go ahead and launch that science into space first.