Anniversary year: 20 years since my first revival series (Guy with a Hammer Mk. 2)

Last time I wrote about the seven-year run of my ongoing Armen Hammer comic series, and how it came to an unexpected end in 1989. About three years later (on the 10th Anniversary of the first issue, in fact) I attempted a revival of the character.

In late 1992 I found myself with some extra time on my hands, so I decided to reformat the series and attempt to distance the main character from its obvious inspiration (How successful was I? See for yourself here). In a surprisingly short time I re-edited and reprinted the entire 11 issues of the series (along with the Pantheon Comics crossover and the Giant-Size issue), adding 3 new issues and 3-D special in the process. Unfortunately, I was without a decent comic shop or connection to other cartoonists to get the word out about it (when SPCE folded a lot of my small press peers seemed to drop out of the scene, as I did for a time when I spent too much time drawing for classes and clients and not for myself). So once my schedule filled up I left the series hanging once again … though this time I think even fewer people noticed.

Since that time I haven’t really utilized the character except for a 20th Anniversary essay in Larry’s Kitchen #42 (in APA-5 #332) and a story for 2008’s LarryVillains United. But I didn’t entirely abandon the foundation I laid in those early comics, either. Instead of focusing on the title character, I’ve found myself repurposing many of the incidental characters and ideas that I associate with those stories in my later comics— from Minerva Stone to Flamin’ Frank to the “Continuity and Vine” strips … and even in Watusi’s milieu.

While I was working on the 90’s revival I came to realize that the Guy with a Hammer’s story is not an ongoing arc, but rather a novel-like structure with a beginning and an end. Maybe knowing how it all ends has cooled some of my enthusiasm for the character (along with the fact that I have little interest in writing– let along drawing– 80-odd issues of superhero comics). But, for better or worse, the character keeps rearing his block head in my sketch book, and the concept of that story structure develops a little more each time. And since I’ve learned to never say never with this character, chances are good that at some point I’ll revisit him … if only to get his story out of my system.

Maybe I’ll even finish it in time for the 40th anniversary…

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2 Comments to “Anniversary year: 20 years since my first revival series (Guy with a Hammer Mk. 2)”

  1. I have about a dozen “projects” that I work on in my head on and off over the years. Once in a while I get a big breakthrough in some development of one of them and I think I might actually do something with it. But then it gives me an idea for one of the other projects and I think about that for a while. Once in an even more rare while, I actually do something.

    • I know the feeling well. I’m grateful that I’ve developed the habit of keeping an ongoing sketch/workbook process for over 20 years now. If nothing else I’m able to see how ideas developed and be able to refer back to earlier notes on a project, so I don’t have to start from scratch (or from what I remember) each time I get a new idea. For instance, my current Watusi storyline first popped up in my sketchbooks well over three years ago, and is only now seeing the light of day. While the basic conceit of the story was there at the start, I think it’s a richer story because of how I was able to develop additional scenes over time.

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