And All the King's Men

One of the uses I first imagined for this space was to showcase unknown or unseen aspects of my career. Imagine my surprise as the tables got turned on me by friend and fan Gerry Turnbull when he sent me a scan of "The Greatest Comics Never Seen," from Marvel Vision magazine #16 concerning itself with my "Chess Set That Never Was™". I'd never seen this before and had no idea Marvel ever acknowledged the sets (non) existence. Bazinga!

My tenure at Marvel Licensing was… frustrating… at best. Projects that started great just seemed to whither away, disappear or not pan out in general. A Slurpee cup with the Thing leading the FF into battle springs to mind. The offer sounded great until I learned Sue, Johnny and Reed had been replaced by D-listers and that Ben was hiding beneath helmet and body suit. I argued by the time the cup comes out that scenario would be dead and the FF back to normal, that the average Slurpee user would know just enough to see this wasn't the FF. Voted down, I declined and, a year later, when the cup came out, what to my wondering eyes should appear but, you guessed it, the real FF led into battle by classic, rocky Thing… sigh.

Anyway, back to the story I've yet to really start. Of all the projects I undertook, the Chess Set was my favorite. Who wouldn't want a chess set they themselves designed? For some reason it was an early Marvel timeline. Note the Thing is lumpy, DD is in yellow, the Goblin's broom… Shield is something of an anachronism as the Steranko uniforms come along after the classic versions of the characters had been established. I tried using that as an argument for the classic versions throughout, but lost. I'm still not sure what happened. It was some collectibles company similar to the Franklin Mint and I don't know if they lost interest, went under or what. I just know it never went to production.

The modelers needed a tri-view of each character: front, back and side. I started with Cap and dug him out by hand (and apparently left my math hat at home. 13 stripes indeed.). That was enough to convince me to go photo ref on the others. Enlisting the aid of buddy and fellow artist Todd Waite, I posed for all the guys except the Rooks for which I got Todd to pose. And NO, I won't be posting Polaroid's of us parading in our boxers! Unfortunately, the name of the young lady who posed for Jean and Natasha has been lost to time.

For those interested in such details, these were inked on drafting film rather than paper. An incredibly slick surface (like new leather shoes on smooth ice) it provides excellent flow, no drag and, the ink is completely erase-able. Woo Hoo! On the down side, it absorbs hand oils requiring the use of gloves and can buckle severely if you're not careful. An interesting experiment I'm not likely to repeat.

As extra credit, we'll get the gals from the Big Bang Theory to argue which team is white and which is black.

So, for those of you seeking a way out of the stuff you're supposed to be doing, I present… (da, da, da, dummmmm) The Chess Set That Never Was!

Happy Trails

Smitty

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