Blah Blah Blog – A Not-So-Excellent Comic

A post from my old Marvel blog, this one part of a series on Bad Comics I Wrote.

A Not So Excellent Comic

April 28, 2007 | 1:00 AM | By Tom_Brevoort | In General

Continuing on through our odyssey of BAD COMICS I WROTE, we come to BILL & TED’S EXCELLENT COMIC BOOK #8.

The BILL & TED comic book was based on the successful BILL & TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE film (and its less-successful sequel, BILL & TED’S BOGUS JOURNEY). And for a licensed property comic, it was genuinely funny and well done, thanks to the efforts of Evan Dorkin, who both wrote and illustrated the other 11 issues in the run. Evan treated the series like any of his other creator-owned projects, and as a result it had a greater sense of heart and commitment than most of the other tie-in comics of its type. It was a critical success, if never a huge seller.

This issue, #8, the one I wrote, is considered the dog of the run.

Because Evan was both writer and artist on the series, it was a difficult chore for him to keep up with the demands of a monthly schedule, and so, assuming that life would intervene sooner or later and he’d slip, editor Evan Skolnick commissioned a fill-in from me.

I couldn’t match the manic energy that Dorkin brought to the series, but I did like the first movie–a very smart film about very dumb characters. So my approach was to take the set-up of the first film and invert it. Whereas in the movie, Bill and Ted must collect historical figures from throughout time in order to pass their history exam, my story concerned a kid from the future, where Bill and Ted are famous, who travels back to the 20th Century in order to collect them for his own history report.

In the initial premise, Bob, the kid from the future, was going to be a bit more malevolent–his plan was going to be to bring Bill and Ted to the future and never return them to the past. Thus, they’d never do all of the things they were famous for doing, and thus his incorrect history test answers would subsequently become correct. A bit of time-travel slight-of-hand that only works when you’re playing in a universe with the sort of elastic logic-structures as Bill & Ted. However, people felt that this concept was too difficult to grasp (“But if they never go back, then doesn’t the future change?”) and so we simplified the story a bit, making Bob a bit of a boob, but not an out-and-out villain.

The problem came when the book went to the licensor for approval. I couldn’t match Dorkin’s natural wit, so most of the bits of business I’d peppered the story with revolved around the sort of contemporary pop culture that the characters had expressed a fondness for in the movie, Unfortunately, after the entire book was lettered and colored, the licensor got cold feet about mentioning any aspect of pop culture–band names, names of products, whatever–that they didn’t have the rights to. So late was everything by that point that the editor wound up having to take out all of those references without telling me about it beforehand–and as a result, there are sequences that no longer have a punch line to them, or even really make much sense.

Nice Evan Dorkin cover, though.

More later.

Tom B

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