Tuesday, November 09, 2004

A pair of queens, with an ace kicker

A few weeks ago, I saw on eBay that Michael Dooney was auctioning a commission opportunity. Although he's a tremendously talented artist who draws (and sculpts too, according to his Web site) everything under the sun, in the comic art world Mike Dooney is celebrated for two things: drawings of cute superwomen, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. (For many years, he has been one of the key artists on TMNT projects, including much of the artwork for TMNT toys and other aftermarket products.)

Not counting myself as a major Turtles aficionado, a commission from Dooney represented for me a chance to acquire an example of his modern-day "good girl" art. So after I won the auction — for an eminently reasonable final bid — I contacted Mike to set up the commission. I made it as easy as I could for him: I sent him a list of seven superheroines I thought would be perfect for the patented Dooney style, and said, "Pick one."

As it turned out, Mike couldn't pick just one. He created preliminary sketches of five of the characters on my list, sent me scans of the sketches, and basically said, "Your turn." Despite the plethora of choices, I quickly pared the possibilities to just two — I already own pinups of Power Girl and the Scarlet Witch with which I'm very pleased, and I've seen a number of Dooney takes on Supergirl owned by other collectors. That left me with two old favorites: Ms. Marvel, one of my favorite characters from the '70s, and Saturn Girl, an original member of the Legion of Super-Heroes. A note from Mike appended to the Ms. Marvel prelim sealed the deal: "I've always wanted to draw her, because she's the only Marvel character with a scarf!" So I asked Mike to interpret Ms. Marvel for my commission.

But the more I looked at the Saturn Girl sketch, the more I liked it. Even though it's the modern version of Imra and not the one I recall from my youth, I nonetheless found myself enchanted with Dooney's take on the character. So I asked Mike if he would be willing to complete the Saturn Girl drawing also, for an additional commission fee. He was.

Both drawings turned out perfectly, especially Ms. Marvel — here seen wearing the original design of her costume, with its ludicrous open abdominal panel. (Considering the popularity of bare midriff fashions these days, Ms. Marvel was ahead of her time. After a few issues, and numerous complaints from female readers, Marvel's staff retooled the costume to cover her navel.)

I was delighted when, after I wrote to thank Mike for two jobs well done, he noted that this is the first time he's ever drawn either of these characters. That condition likely won't last, but may the record reflect that my Dooney Ms. Marvel and my Dooney Saturn Girl were the originals, thank you very much.

Regarding Ms. Marvel: She was one of a spate of female versions of male superheroes Marvel cooked up in the late '70s and early '80s, primarily for the purpose of establishing trademark rights to the names. They had Spider-Woman (who would make another great Dooney commission, if I ever get another chance), She-Hulk, and of course, Ms. Marvel, whose costume and powers were a direct swipe from the Marvel Comics version of Captain Marvel. As the years passed, Ms. Marvel changed not only her costume but her name also — the character has been known more recently as Binary, and now Warbird, and her powers and secret identity are different now. But I still like the original...scarf and all.

3 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Blogger Joel offered these pearls of wisdom...

Back from vacation. I'll be reading your posts shortly.

12:02 AM  
Blogger Joel offered these pearls of wisdom...

What amazes me that there's been so little change on Saturn Girl including her name.

Saturn Girl? The character's had babies already! Sheesh! At least John Byrne had Sue Storm Richards finally change her name from the Invisible Girl to Woman back in the ninties.

8:49 AM  
Blogger SwanShadow offered these pearls of wisdom...

I'm just guessing here, but I think part of that goes back to the original conceit of the Legion concept -- all the Legionnaires were supposed to be teenagers. In fact, back in the Silver Age, characters got kicked out of the Legion when they became adults and/or got married, as happened with Chuck Taine (Bouncing Boy) and Luornu Durgo (Triplicate Girl/Duo Damsel). I don't know whether the rebooted Legion still has that rule, but I notice that most of the "Girls" and "Boys" have new names that eliminate the diminutives (Lightning Lad became Live Wire, Shadow Lass became Umbra, and so on). I'm not sure, though, why Imra isn't "Saturnia" or something by now.

1:52 PM  

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