Boxer wasn't going to happen for Marvel US, I'd been
talking to an old friend and colleague, Richard Burton, about
doing some scripting work for his current comic, Battle
Action Force. The old IPC comic Battle had been enhanced by adding the licensed characters from the
toy range Action Force (in the US known as GI Joe). One particular
character caught my eye, the ninja Storm Shadow. I figured I
could make something out of this neglected character - and besides,
ninjas were dead popular around 1986.
While there is some historical doubt that ninjas actually existed,
at least in the organised way they have been portrayed in the
media over the last twenty-odd years - I have to admit that the
concept is endlessly fascinating.
Yet despite my interest and modest knowledge of the subject,
the Storm Shadow story wasn't all plain sailing. Though I had
the excellent Spanish artist Vanyo on the story, I'd tried to
spice up the action with the American trick of a splash page.
The idea was that is
Storm Shadow is a martial artist, the best way to depict martial
arts is by using large impact frames and rapid-cut, "stop-motion"
sequences. However, Richard's managing editor was an old-school
IPC editorial type called Barrie Tomlinson. You can see his
credit on the Striker
in The Sun
. He felt that a scripter
who asked for a single frame splash page was some kind of shirker.
As far as he was concerned a comic page should have six frames.
Anything less was just short-changing the company. A little
while after I handed that script in (I think I was actually
in the office being interviewed by 2000AD
Managing Editor Gil Page
for the 2000AD
Deputy Editor job) Richard introduced me to Barrie Tomlinson.
"Ah, yes," he said. "You're that scripter we
had all the problems with." Plainly a man who views his
glass as being half empty.
And though the "Assassin" story I wrote for that late-86
issue of Battle Action Force
my first and last Storm Shadow story, I would return to the
subject of ninjas a few years later. But that's a story for