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Ghostwerks by Rufus Coleman
Summer 2003      


story extras

More on the Ghostwerks crew

"The North Texas Adventure"

web links

Ghostwerks' official site

other features

Summer Camp-er

Preserving a Culture

Come Away With Me



Mario Cauley

Mario CauleyThere are a lot of similarities between Mario Cauley ('99) and his comic contribution to Ghostwerks #1, Darius Davidson. Dare for short.

For the Ghostwerks company, Cauley is the accountant, the businessman and the pragmatist — he doesn't really seem like the creative sort. But he wrote the comic Dare.

The Darius character has no super powers, special gadgets or even a cool costume — he's not a superhero. But he does heroic things.

"More than anything I'm just a fan of comics," Cauley says. "Samax, Khalid and the rest of the guys are the really eccentric, creative ones."

Like Cauley, Dare isn't one to seek out the limelight, but he is the one to count on when things get bad. Darius is a young teen-age boy with a few smarts and whole lot of fearlessness. The closest thing he has to a superpower is an uncanny ability to attract trouble. When we first meet him, he is trying to catch a cab to the museum for class. He ends up strapped between the city district attorney, his wife and a bomb.

He's just an average person thrust into extraordinary situations — not too different from Cauley. When the Ghostwerks crew is together, Cauley isn't the one who stands out. But without his role, there'd be no Ghostwerks. He also finds himself in the extraordinary situation of getting to go from fan to comic writer.

Much like his creation, Cauley sees what he does as just part of the job. Darius is heroic only because it's necessary — no glitz, no fame, no glamour.

Corance Davis

Corance DavisYou can put aside the intense characterizations, the cool plot concepts and the clever lines — all Corance Davis ('99) wants to do in his comic Champion of Children is blow stuff up.

"It's a must," he says. Davis is the central writer for the series.

"I love anime and manga (Japanese cartoons and comics), and the one consistent theme is an undefeatable bad guy and blowing up a lot of stuff."

It sounds a little strange, but Japanese comics and cartoons have had an immense influence on American entertainment. For instance, the Matrix movies are based on Japanese comic concepts and have their own manga-based series. Even major comic companies like Marvel have manga series and versions of their characters.

Davis says the characters in these series risk and lose more than those in traditional American comics.

"These writers get the idea that their characters have to risk something in order to be interesting," he adds.

And all this is coming from a man who, prior to working on the Champion comic, spent most of his time reading literature classics.

"Before reading things like The Killing Joke (a Batman classic) by Alan Moore, I always thought comics were badly written," Davis says. "But then I learned that comics can be cool, using literary devices and complex characters — plus they blow stuff up."

Michael Lagocki

Michael LagockiEnvision a world of pacifist bears and avenging rabbits, and maybe you'll get a small glance into Michael Lagocki's ('99) mind.

Of all the Ghostwerks characters, Lagocki's represent some of the most unique: Toho the Pacifist and Test Subject A. These characters are featured in Ghostwerks #1, a collection of stories from everyone on the team.

Toho is a gigantic polar bear who looks as if he should be plastered on the side of a red Coke can. By some unexplained twist, Toho ends up on another planet in an arena forced to do battle with aliens.

Unfortunately, as you can guess by his name, Toho the Pacifist practices strict non-violence. He often conjures up images of Ghandi, John Lennon and Martin Luther King Jr. in the face of conflict.

Test Subject A, who is unhindered by any notions of pacifism, is a lab rabbit who willed himself to be human. He takes a very direct, heroic approach to life by rescuing fellow test subjects everywhere by any means necessary. As if he were an avenging icon for PETA, he burns down every test lab he can find.

"Like a lot of the guys, I've been drawing comics since I was a kid," Lagocki says. "I've got dozens and dozens of scrapbooks full of ideas — but this has been a chance to put out the ideas that may not be so easily received."

Samax Randolph

Samax RandolphFor Samax Randolph ('99), the most important element of his art is authenticity — being yourself and most of all being human.

However, when it comes to black characters in comic books, he says they're anything but authentic.

"So often when I pick up a comic with a black character in it I wonder, ‘Do these writers know anyone who is black?'" says Randolph, who is one of three artists behind Champion of Children. He says high-top haircuts from the '80s, misused slang and stereotypical caricatures point to characters created as a cursory nod at minorities.

"And most companies are satisfied with that," Randolph says. "In a lot of cases companies are afraid to try something different or new."

He says black readers of comic books are conditioned not to expect to see characters like themselves.

"Part of the whole premise of Ghostwerks is that we're catering to an underserved market," he says. "The indie comics are bringing fresh new ideas and authentic characters, black or otherwise, to the comic industry."

Khalid Robertson

Khalid RobertsonKhalid Robertson ('97) is quiet and thoughtful. He'd say he was just brooding, but that kind of melancholy doesn't match the heart of the characters he creates as an artist of the comic Champion of Children.

Nor does it fit the attitude of someone who cites his artistic inspirations as the Powerpuff Girls show and the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip. As he puts it, "I never got over that cartoon bug."

"I got into comics after reading the Dark Knight Returns (a Batman classic in the comic book industry)," he says. "Batman as a dark and brooding character resonated with me, because I was dark and brooding.

"Later on I realized you don't have to be moody to be good."

In fact, Robertson sees the humor of the comic as its best selling point. In his eyes, Champion of Children is more about him and his brother. Like Little Mad Skillz, the hero of this comic, and her brother, Jr. Raw, Robertson has spent a lot of time fighting with his sibling.

"The problem with siblings is that they know you well enough to know just what rubs you the wrong way," he says. "They bring out the worst in you, but then your family will always be the first to defend you — a lot of that comes out in the comic."

In between saving the world and fending off supervillains, he says, the brother and sister superheroes spend a lot of time "getting on each other's nerves."

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