September 30, 2011
Femforce For All Seasons by Mark Heike
As the weather gets cooler and the month of October approaches, my thoughts turn to Halloween. In the early days of AC Comics, we would annually produce a Halloween Special, a one-shot putting the FF into some sort of scary, seasonally-appropriate story situation. In order to have these books ready in time for a late October release, production work on them had to be done some months ahead of time. When I intially moved down to the Orlando area to take the job as Assistant Editor at AC Comics in the Spring of 1990, one of the first projects I got in on as an in-house part of the staff was that year’s Halloween Special- FEMFORCE: Night Of The Demon. I don’t remember how it came about; I assume that it was because Bill was swamped with a million things to do, and our other writers were all busy on other projects, but somehow I got tapped to write the script. Now, mind you; at this point, I had NEVER written a script for another artist to interpret; the only things I had “written” for comics were stories I myself drew.
Nevertheless, I scrawled out a handwritten script which Bill foolishly approved. The artist selected to bring this deathless piece of prose to life was young John Nadeau, who also happens to be the cover artist for the upcoming FEMFORCE #158, which will be shipping just after the first of the year. In June of 1990, when Night of the Demon was being assigned to him, John was less than a month past his high school graduation- a youthful, serious (at that time, anyway) future
engineering student with a galaxies’ worth of artistic potential but no more than a dozen or so ACTUAL comic book pages drawn to his credit. What he’d done previously was good- very good, and I had high hopes for the result when he left the AC offices, script in hand, to return to his home studio to begin drawing. In later years, John would distinguish himself with stellar work at Acclaim Comics, Marvel, and most notably a long run on the various Dark Horse Star Wars miniseries. But at this point, he was working on his FIRST full-length comic book script ever. Since it was an involved story, with lots of characters and setting changes, we assumed it would take somewhere between 30 and 60 days to complete- we had allowed that much time in the schedule for penciling; we’d be able to letter & ink it & get it to the printers’ in time for an October release on that timetable. Bill and I were a bit nonplussed when John returned to the office, looking a bit burned out and disheveled, with the story completed- IN JUST TEN DAYS!! Rather than having cut corners and turned in rushed work, it was the most detailed and beautiful comic book job I had ever seen penciled- incredible work. The only way John could’ve finished it that quickly was to have gone virtually without sleep for ten days! Bill gave him his check & next assignment, and he and I managed to keep a straight face until John staggered out the door!! We couldn’t believe the amount of work & skill he had put into the story, in such a small amount of time. He didn’t seem to realize that quality of work should’ve- and would’ve taken much, much longer if attempted by another artist. We didn’t want to make too much out of it in front of John, since we didn’t want to RUIN him. Well, eventually John got around a bit more in the comics business, and came to understand what was considered acceptable and what was effort “above and beyond the call of duty”. His work was- and still is- always excellent; he just learned how to work at a pace that would allow him to avoid killing himself with excessive effort. So that was my first foray into scriptwriting; resulting in a finished product that I’m still proud of today. By the way, we’ve just recently reprinted Night of the Demon in the $29.95 FEMFORCE: Rarities TPB volume; but if you’re interested in having a look at this story in particular, I suggest picking up the FF Special back-issue by itself from our web store- it’s a lot cheaper.