Monday, December 23, 2013

See you in the funny pages!

King Features asked me to hold off on announcing this news until a week from the first strip appearing, but now that we're there, I can share what I've been hinting at on my Facebook page for over a month -- as of Dec. 30, I'll be taking over the art chores on the long-running continuity strip, Rex Morgan M.D. 

Graham Nolan, who began drawing the strip in 2000, has decided to move on, and King Features offered me the gig. I accepted, making me the second artist to concurrently draw The Phantom Sunday strip and the daily/Sunday Rex Morgan feature (Graham being the first, of course).

The strip began in 1948, written by Nick Dallis and drawn by the team of Marvin Bradley (figures) and Frank Edgington (backgrounds). When Dallis retired in 1990, Woody Wilson took over the writing and continues scripting the strip today. Other artists who have drawn Rex include Frank Springer, Fred DaSilva, Tony DiPreta and (uncredited) Fran Matera, Alex Kotzky and Andre Le Blanc.  That's quite a line-up, and I'm pleased to be included in such heady company.

This may come as a surprise to fans of my comic books, who'd expect me to be doing something more along the lines of previous work -- crime, detective, super-hero, horror, etc.  And while I certainly love working in those genres, I'm enjoying spending a good chunk of my work week drawing ordinary people in ordinary situations -- concentrating on the character "acting," and making the drawing seem realistic and natural. And of course, I'm continuing to draw the Sunday Phantom strips, so I get a good share of masked hero adventure, still. This now makes me a full-time newspaper strip cartoonist -- something I've wanted since I was a kid, reading the "funnies" every day -- one of those being Rex, which ran in my hometown paper.

I'm actually creating two versions of the daily strips. One strictly in line, for the web, and papers that print them in color (King is coloring the daily strips while I color the Sunday) -- but I'm also doing a gray toned version for papers that are sticking to the traditional black and white dailies. I'll share some of those toned strips here, once they run in the papers. Original art collectors will be sorry to hear I'm doing the strip entirely digitally (in Manga Studio) -- so there will be no physical originals for my Rex strips. It's the only way I can keep up with the schedule -- and I suspect there would not be as much of a market for Rex Morgan original art, as there is for my Phantom pages -- which I will continue to create with actual ink on actual paper! Manga Studio makes adding the gray tones incredibly easy -- no more cutting "Zip" -- a real pain to do by hand.

As a seven days a week feature, I won't be showing them all here -- but you can follow the Rex Morgan strip at the new Comics Kingdom website -- which is now ad supported and free for readers to browse. You can read The Phantom there as well, and it's possible I may stop showing all those strips here as well, since they will be regularly available at Comics Kingdom -- and you can even search back through strips as far as a decade ago. My first Rex daily will appear Dec. 30 (my wife's birthday) -- with my first Sunday on Jan. 12 (the day after my birthday!).

I'l have more to say about Rex Morgan later -- but for now, I need to get to work drawing the strip! See you in the funny pages!


David P. Geister said...

This is great news. Congratulations!!

john said...

Sorry to see Nolan leave but great you are the next artist in line to work their magic on Rex and family. I enjoy a good story strip and this is one of the best.

The Fourth said...

I must say that I like the way King looks "inside" to its talent first for new jobs, as opposed to looking for some new, unknown but cheaper and less talented artist for the sake of going cheap. You are commended, Terry, for maintaining the high quality work you've done with the Phantom, which in turn has earned you King's confidence to the point you are now a "go-to" guy.