Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

Question of the Week: What’s your pitch for an ongoing series starring your favorite ‘obscure’ character?

“Obscure” is in the eye of the beholder, of course, but you know what I’m talking about! No Batman pitches, please!

I apologize for the lack of Questions recently – I’m trying to keep up with posting Greg’s stuff, plus real-world stuff keeps interfering, so I just haven’t been keeping up. I won’t promise anything, but I will post a Question whenever I have the time to do it! Today, I want to know what your pitch for an ongoing (at least 12 issues, but let’s just say 24, even though “obscure” characters’ ongoings wouldn’t last that long, but this is a fantasy, so we’ll just assume all of these sell) starring an “obscure” character. That can mean what you want, but for me it at least has to be a character that’s never had an ongoing or even a mini-series with them as the main character. Characters from teams are ok, as long as it’s not, you know, a major X-Man (Marrow would be ok, in other words, but why anyone would ever want to write a Marrow ongoing is beyond me) or one of the Fantastic Four or … look, you know what “obscure” means, people!

Anyway, I would pitch a series starring Looker, because Looker is awesome. I know she’s not too, too obscure, but she’s obscure enough, and she’s never had even a mini-series in which she’s the star and even in the Outsiders, she’s never been the main character. So there! First, I would dispense with the vampire stuff. Vampires are boring, and for my pitch, it wouldn’t work anyway. See, I would write a Looker series with Lia as a somewhat older character – mid-30s, in other words – whose time has passed a bit in the modeling world (yes, I know models are now working for many years, but this is the DCU, and they still like them young!) and who’s dealing with that. She runs her own agency but she’s still trying to work, and she’s still co-hosting that talk show she co-hosted for a while, but all of this is viewed through the prism of her getting older and becoming insecure about that and worrying about the future. She’s still married, but she’s worried about that, too. She is in contact with her family, and she’s under some pressure – some of it real, some of it imagined – to have children, which Lia does not want. Essentially, this is a soap opera/romance comic template with some superheroics thrown in – Looker doesn’t fight bad guys all the time, but occasionally she has to. In superhero comics, nobody ages and everyone always looks great, and this series would examine both of those things and how it affects Lia. Given that a large part of her story is about her beauty, she would naturally feel some pressure to keep that up, and given that people judge her surface, she would feel pressure to prove them wrong. I don’t know what bad guys she would fight – Looker doesn’t really have a rogues’ gallery – but I could think of something. And she’d live in Los Angeles, too, or at least somewhere in the West. Why not Phoenix, even? Someplace that is glitzy and bright and not necessarily fictional. I mean, she could live in a fictional version of Los Angeles, I suppose, but why not L.A.?

So that’s my pitch. I have a few others, but some are too not-obscure (you’d read my Riddler, P.I. series, wouldn’t you? Or my Rogue/Dazzler/Psylocke series, whichever one Marvel approves?) and some are not terribly fully formed (I would KILL on a Silver Sable series, damn it!). I have thought a bit about Looker, and you know it’s going to happen sooner or later!!!!

Hit me with yours, people! The obscurer, the better!


  1. Jeff Nettleton

    Drag performer Richard Stanton, puts together a super heroine persona for a new show. While putting the finishing touches on his costume, at home, he gets a call, that a friend is in the hospital, the victim of a bigoted attack. Stanton goes to see his friend and learns that he was attacked outside the club, for reasons unknown; but the club has been mentioned in speeches by a moral crusader. Stanton, a veteran of the armed forces, decides to look into what is going on, as there have been other incidents. He does some sniffing around the offices of the crusade, while in male dress. He spots a couple of men who match the description of the attackers. He starts asking questions about the organization, but one of the “volunteers” gets suspicious. Stanton leaves and the two men are sent to follow him. They spot him stop in at the club for a short time and then leave. They ambush him near his apartment , but he is able to fight them off long enough that someone calls the police and the attackers run. The police are dismissive of Stanton’s account and no eyewitnesses are willing to give a statement. Stanton decides to take things in his own hands. He picks up the costume he has finished and tries it on. It gives him a feeling of power every time he puts on the costume and mask. His movements are surer, he is more confident. It is his real alter ego. He strips away the showier elements and pares it down to essentials. He adds some protective elements but doesn’t change anything about the feminine nature of it. When he is ready, he goes back to the crusade HQ and spots the two attackers leaving. Stanton follows the two men as they enter a park, following a gay couple. They start to harass the couple, then get violent and suddenly a female figure crashes in and starts laying into the attackers. We cut to a police car responding to a call and they enter the park to find the two attackers, cuffed together around a light pole, their clothing ripped away and make-up smeared on their swollen faces and a note taped to the pole that says “Compliments of Madame Fatal.” The gay couple is treated by paramedics, who also received a call and they give a statement, telling of a female avenger who kicked their butts while taunting the attackers about their homophobic and trans-phobic attacks. A journalist receives a packet that contains evidence that the moral crusade has been targeting gay and trans people for violence.

    The battle has just begun.

  2. Jeff Nettleton

    ps I actually had the idea, back in the early90s, after reading a Peter David column, in CBG. He remarked about a show he was at, where a volunteer turned up, in costume as the Michelle Pfeiffer Catwoman. The volunteer was a drag performer, but was maintaining character, as Catwoman, not doing a stage performance. People loved the costume and asked to take pictures and the DC booth was ecstatic with it. Then, someone realized it was a man and then the DC booth was suddenly agitated. The con organizers approached the volunteer and asked them to leave, at DC’s request. The volunteer didn’t want to cause problems and left. David remarked that no one had a problem until they learned the person cos-playing (before that was a term used widely) was male. There had been no complaints and parents had taken photos of themselves and their kids with the person, with no issue. Only someone at the DC booth had a problem, but only because it was a cross-dressed costume. There were other attendees dressed in DC-based costumes, from comics and movies, with no issue raised. David mused what would have happened if the person had turned around and bought a ticket and remained. DC would have been on pretty thin legal ice. He posted a picture of the volunteer, in costume and at first glance, you would never catch that it was a man, in the suit.

    After reading the column, I had this scenario enter my head, where a drag performer went to a show or party, in a super heroine costume and got involved in foiling a mugging or gay bashing attack. They beat up the attackers and find the experience thrilling and then feel a compulsion to go out again, in the costume and watch for other gay bashers/muggers, around an area where there had been incidents. It seemed to be, that if done with some sensitivity, you could cover a lot of material and even have some high stakes if the hero is discovered as male, at a vulnerable moment. Think of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, crossed with Batman (or Batgirl), crossed with Boys Don’t Cry.

    1. Greg Burgas

      I mean, I would read that, but you came up with your own character, which is not the assignment!!!! 🙂

      I can both believe and not believe DC would do that. Even given the time it happened, I still find it amazing that they would be that silly about it. Who the heck was it hurting?!?!?

          1. Jeff Nettleton

            How have you not heard of the cross-dressing hero of the 40s? Richard Stanton, an actor, who was in a love triangle with a criminal, for the affections of a woman. She chooses Stanton and they marry and have a daughter, but she dies. The criminal kidnaps the kid, for revenge. The cops aren’t able to turn up any leads. Statnton disguises himself as an elderly woman, to throw the crooks of the scent. He uses a cane as a weapon.

            James Robinson, as usual, was the only person who seemed to have an interest; but mostly to do a couple of jokes of questionable taste. The character is part of a crowd shot, in The Golden Age, when the mystery men are signing a loyalty oath. You see The Gambler try to hit on her, with a pair of other ex-villains smirking, because they know the truth. The second use was a throwaway line in JSA, after Wesley Dodd dies and they have his funeral in a cemetery/memorial park, for super heroes. There is a narration that the only attendees to the funeral of Madame Fatal was the touring company of La Cage Aux Foiles.

            The original was not a cross-dresser, in day-to-day life, but just an actor with a great talent for assuming roles, ala Lon Chaney. It wasn’t an uncommon gimmick for someone to hide out disguised as the opposite gender, in the period. Captain America also had a story where he tours Europe, disguised as a prim older woman, who is the nanny for Bucky, who is dressed like a schoolboy (out of the late 1800s)

    2. Peter

      Your Madam Fatale would be kind of brilliant, especially given current culture war issues! I do think it would be a fine line to tread, though, in some respects. If the Vertigo banner still existed I can see Teddy Kristiansen or someone like that doing it pretty well. With DC house styles these days, it would be weird to see how (inadvertently?) sexualized the character would become…

  3. I have one that I’ve played with for a long time, and about three paragraphs in, I realized I should just make it a post. So prepare yourself for a new installment of “Pointless Fanboy Speculation!” As soon as I have time…..

  4. Edo Bosnar

    Monark Starstalker. He appeared in a flash of brilliance in a single issue of Marvel Premiere (#32) and then never again (that I know of). I wish that someone back then had seen the value of giving Chaykin the opportunity of doing more stories featuring the character – if nothing else as a series of back-ups in another book or even b&w magazine.
    Heck, although Chaykin is in a really different place creatively than he was back then, I still think it would be cool to see what he would do with the character now.

    Otherwise, another pet idea of mine for an ongoing series involves Ultra Boy and several other Legionnaires in a spin-off – but I’m not sure any of them really count as obscure characters.

      1. Edo Bosnar

        I did see that, probably that very same Bleeding Cool post. And I kind of recall thinking to myself at the time, “why don’t they have him do a special or mini or something?”

  5. Your stipulation of having no previous series or mini-series rules out my pitch for ELONGATED & WIFE.

    I’d like to see a MAN-OF-BATS series, though it should be written by someone other than me. A Batman of the Rez who has to deal with social ills, gangsters, the supernatural (derived from Lakota folklore), and probably a plot by, oh, let’s say the Duke of Oil to run a pipeline through Native land. Meanwhile he works as a doctor and has to navigate a tumultuous relationship with his son/sidekick.

    Over at Marvel, I always thought D-MAN would make a great series. Reading the Wiki on him is wild, because every appearance gives him a new status quo. He’s a gay, schizophrenic, formerly homeless superpowered wrestler/security guard/mechanic/soldier. He’s turned evil, he’s died and come back to life multiple times. He has one of Lockjaw’s siblings as a pet. I want to know what THAT guy’s like. I’d like to see him as the defender of the unhoused and downtrodden, who watches over and helps those who society has exiled or overlooked. This would bring him into conflict with police, capitalists, politicians, gangsters, mad scientists, etc. The hard-luck social justice warrior. You could take it in a bunch of directions as his busy past catches up with him, or his restless spirit drives him to new adventures. Some kind of super-powered MMA circuit would be an avenue to explore (and let me bring back the Battling Bantam– who is currently dead, but if that didn’t stop D-Man…). If they’d let me, I’d include NFL SuperPro– just in his civilian identity, having retired from crimefighting, and down-on-his-luck.

    1. Greg Burgas

      You should contact Ty Templeton about that Ralph Dibny pitch. Maybe DC would listen to him, because it’s always sounded keen to me!

      Man, that D-Man series … I would love something like that!

    2. Peter

      I hope Kyle Starks gets some success with the big two (I might have to buy his Peacemaker series to support him) because I know he has a D-Man miniseries in him.

  6. Peter

    My long-standing dream for a miniseries is a 6-issue Roger Willis solo adventure. He was the guy who appeared in Walt Simonson’s Thor run as the guardian of the Casket of Ancient Winters and was just a cool, competent normal guy caught up in a world of gods and monsters. I have always thought that he should be brought back as Marvel’s answer to Johm Conatantine, a very blue-collar doyen through the supernatural comic book universe.

    I was going to say that I don’t believe he has ever appeared since Simonson’s run ended, but I just looked it up and Al Ewing apparently used him in the last issue of his Loki series! That sneaky Ewing. I might have to see if I can read that issue and see what ol Rog’s status is these days.

  7. jccalhoun

    I don’t know what it says about me but a lot of my ideas are basically: it is a mystery who the main character really is. Martian Manhunter is a detective who can shape shift so he goes undercover but we don’t know which character is him. Same with the original Black Orchid.

    Another character I would like tackle is Charlie Vicker – the other, other, other Green Lantern from Earth. He appeared a few times: He was an actor in a GL show and got Galaxy Quested into a situation and then got turned into a real GL where he was assigned a sector without any humanoid life forms. After Jordan destroyed the GL Corp he joined the Darkstars and then got refrigeratered to prove how tough a bad guy was. It didn’t have any followup so it would be easy to say he survived. I would like to see him come back and be like “no one bothered to check if I was dead? You didn’t even try to find my body?”

    1. Dang, I didn’t realize Charley had gotten killed. The last thing I remember, he was using his theatrical skills to fight for justice without the power ring.
      I would love to see a series with the original Black Orchid. I hated Gaiman giving her an origin — she’s a character who’s more interesting without one.

  8. mike loughlin

    A few years ago, Rob Liefeld ran a contest- pitch a story starring one of his characters, and the winner will have an 8-page back-up story drawn by Liefeld in an upcoming comic. No idea if the contest amounted to anything, but I pitched:

    PSILENCE- Youngblood is the world’s best and most popular super-hero team. Prospective candidates are put through the Bloodpool program to see if they have what it takes to make the team. The Bloodpool program is more than that however; there’s a “special” wing of superhumans who are not viable as public superheroes, but the American government doesn’t want to let its assets go to waste.

    Monica Caine, code named “Psilence,”is an extremely powerful telekinetic and telepath. She is also autistic and non-verbal. Monica has her own subsection of the Bloodpool’s “special” wing devoted to her. Her challenging behaviors and high power level have made her difficult to manage. Bloodpool management assigns a caregiver to help her named Chelsea Mann. She gets to know Monica and sees that the Bloodpool is not the right place for her. Eventually, Chelsea and Monica escape… but what now?

    Never heard back from the Rob, alas. Given how deadline-conscious he is, I’ll be looking out for my rejection letter sometime in 2036.

  9. John King

    Too many characters think of have either already had a series or don’t deserve one (just imagine a series for “Cheeks, the toy wonder”).

    I don’t know if she is sufficiently obscure but my preference would be Shadow Lass of the Legion of Superheroes in her role as champion of Talok VIII – she has a suitable personality and skillset to carry a series and her role could provide a variety of challenges including combat and political intrigue.
    I’m thinking of the original version (I haven’t got a grasp on the Bendis version) though if I need to go more obscure then maybe the “Threeboot” variant (or the “Superboy’s Legion” version).

    Other possibilities I was wondering about include a couple of characters who have had stories started but abandoned
    Wayfinder (Sword in the Star) could easily have a series picking up from the second episode leading to the scene in the Micronauts and beyond
    Celestine/Angelus could have a series following on from the pilot season story looking into her origins and her “family” and maybe explaining her last name – first seen on her gravestone (though I don’t know how long such a series could last) (while Angelus had a mini-series that wasn’t Celestine so she qualifies)

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