Shown above is Ed Hannigan's rough design for the cover of the first issue of the Wild Dog
mini-series. You didn't know he designed that, did you? Ed did a lot of uncredited design work for DC over the years -- and all four of the Wild Dog
mini-series covers are from his designs. A very (extremely!) belated "thank you" to Ed!
Max Allan Collins and I created Wild Dog for DC Comics some twenty-two years ago. We produced a four-issue mini-series, a one-shot special, and several serialized stories in the ill-fated Action Comics Weekly. That was it. Wild Dog had a short and sweet life. Hugely popular in the Quad Cities area where the series was set, it never quite caught on big enough with the rest of the country to continue. Still, DC maintains ownership of the feature, squeezing WD into some company-wide crossover every few years -- for just a panel or two.
Several years after the initial run, Max and I pitched a revival to DC -- specifically to (much missed) editor Archie Goodwin. We had some good talks and I did a few drawings - but eventually we decided DC wanted so many changes to the core concept that it wasn't working for us anymore, and we went on to other things. We never did work on anything for Archie, darn it.
But despite his short time on the shelf, Wild Dog still has a (pardon me for saying it) rabid following. When I (very) recently dipped into my "keeper" art files to sell some original comic art I'd held onto for years, it was the Wild Dog art, more than anything that caused a stir.
So, spurred by that interest, I started digging through my files for anything else Wild Dog
related. I found the material posted here -- most of which I'd forgotten I had.
Wild Dog began as "Machine," a name rejected by DC because of its similarity to "Machine Man," a Jack Kirby feature at Marvel. It seems we may have also considered calling him "Commando" for about two or three minutes....
After rejecting "Mad Dog," we settled on "Red Dog" as the character's name and proceded to put together a package to sell the series to DC.
A detail of the cover page for the 16 page series pitch written by Max Allan Collins. The pitch ends with a suggestion that Max write the feature and I ink it over pencils by some classic silver age artist. Thankfully, we all decided I should pencil the thing!
The first drawings of the cartoon dog mascot for Red Dog/Wild Dog's shirt.
Here's the evolution of the "pitch art" used to sell the series. He's still "Red Dog" here. I left the shirt blank on the second piece and made a stack of photocopies of it, on which I drew different versions of what would become the dog mascot design.
Logo concepts provided by DC. I'm sorry to admit I've forgotten which talented letterer designed these.
Rough concept sketches for covers -- done when the feature was still being called Red Dog. The first of these ended up being drawn -- but rejected by DC. Eventually it was used as an Amazing Heroes cover.
"Red Dog" became "Wild Dog" after discovering a GI Joe action figure had already used the Red Dog name. If we ever wanted action figures of the character, we'd need a name that hadn't already been used. Never did get those action figures, darn it.
Preliminary roughs for a few Action Comics Weekly pages and photocopies of pencils for an ACW page and two of the mini-series covers are shown below.
I hope you enjoyed seeing some of this long-hidden material. Who knows if Wild Dog will ever return -- but I'm grateful that after all these years, his fans still remember the series fondly. Stay wild, kids!