Sunday, 30 June 2019

M.A.S.K. Comics interview with Artist, David Pugh


The M.A.S.K. UK Comic didn’t credit writers or artists for their hard work – unlike US Comics whereby there would be a title screen, so you knew who did what.  Through connections made via my blog and other M.A.S.K. sites, I found out from fellow M.A.S.K., and all round comic fan, Darren Gregson, the names of some of the people “behind the M.A.S.K.”, so to speak.

I recently had the opportunity to do an interview with David Pugh.  David’s style of art just brought all my favourite characters, vehicles and Masks to life….

M.A.S.K. Comics – David, welcome to my M.A.S.K. Comics blog.  It’s a pleasure to have you for a chat.
David Pugh – Happy to get the chance to talk to all those readers who enjoyed my work.

M.A.S.K. Comics – Can you tell me a little bit about yourself –your background and interests outside of what we know you for – your fantastic work in Comics?
David Pugh –I retired from comics in February 2011, I was tired of drawing heroes’ adventures and wanted some action of my own. In April 2009 I volunteered for two months as a graphic designer and Computer Arts teacher in the Tibetan refugee community in Dharamsala, India. I’d been a supporter of the FREE TIBET movement since I was eight-years-old and saw the news footage on my grandmother’s black and white television of the young Dalai Lama entering India, on his way to a life in exile. It was followed by a documentary about Tibet and I decided I wanted to go there. I made so many Tibetan friends and received so much gratitude from my very attentive students that I returned in 2010, this time with my daughter helping with the classes and staying for four months. I had planned to return for a further four months in March 2011 but then I heard that the Daily Mirror’s SCORER strip, that I was co-artist on, was to be axed. I decided I’d just buy a one-way ticket.  I spent three months back in Dharamsala but I was offered some creative voluntary work in Rishikesh, where I stayed for a further two months, getting free yoga lessons every morning. When my visa ran out I travelled across Nepal from West to East for three months. I didn’t return to the UK until June 2012. I’ve been continuing travelling pretty much full time ever since. During the course of my travels I began formulating a series of novels inspired by own adventures.

M.A.S.K. Comics – Were there any Comics that had a profound influence on you when you were growing up that helped shape your interest in working as an Artist?
David Pugh – I was ten years old sitting in my doctor’s surgery when I first saw the Eagle comic, featuring DAN DARE-PILOT OF THE FUTURE.  I was mesmerised by the Mekon, I had no colour in my life as we only had a black and white TV with one channel. I couldn’t believe that an artist could draw such realism and detail. My mother snatched the comic away from me, telling me I’d have nightmares if I looked at such things, to which I replied, ‘But Mum, I want nightmares like this!’  I was thrilled to have the opportunity to draw Dan Dare for five years, I couldn’t achieve the perfection of the original studio, well there were five of them working on it which I didn’t realise when I was ten. My mother never did buy me the Eagle but I was very happy that she did buy me Boys’ World and Ranger, the latter having the wonderful TRIGAN EMPIRE by Don Lawrence. It wasn’t until I got to Art College that I was introduced to the mighty world of Marvel comics and the works of Neal Adams, Jim Steranko and the inimitable Jack Kirby. Until then I’d only seen DC comics, which were a bit flat, Marvel was so experimental with inspiring layouts.

M.A.S.K. Comics – What was your path into mainstream Comics?
David Pugh – 1976 I was working as an Artist/ Visualiser in a Thomson regional newspapers Creative Services studio on the edge of the Brecon Beacons.  One of the editors of their fifteen titles knew I like comics and asked me if I’d like to write and draw a comic strip for the children’s page. They gave me an eight inch by three column space which was the proportion of an A4 page. The strip was called LOOKING GLASS LIBRARY, where two children and their dog find that they can enter the pages of classic books. I took them inside ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA, FRANKENSTEIN and the Welsh epic the MABINOGION, amongst others. 1979 the company brought out a freesheet called the GLAMORGAN STAR and gave me a half page. I came up with a Judge Dredd inspired character, CAPTAIN CLASSIFIED-STAR RANGER, he was supposed to help sell classified advertising but he went on his own way. As I had been published for several years it qualified me to join the SOCIETY OF STRIP ILLUSTRATORS, Dave Gibbons, David Lloyd and Alan Moore being members at the time. We had a monthly newsletter where we could showcase our work. Pat Mills liked one of my Captain Classified strips and offered me SLAINE in 2000AD. The rest is history as they say.

M.A.S.K. Comics –I’ve read that your favourite character is Loner from Wildcat – what is it about that character that appeals to you so much?
David PughI was delighted to be offered Loner as my character, the cool black hero was especially designed by Ian Kennedy with me in mind.  I had perfected a black and white style which I felt had enough texture to not need colour and I enjoyed the challenge of creating a handsome and tough black guy.  I was listening to a lot of West African music, so my Loner became a cross between Jimi Hendrix and Senegalese singer Baba Maal.  Drawing Loner was the happiest year of my comics career; the man helped me reach a new standard of illustration.  I was honoured when Kev Hopgood, who became Iron Man artist at Marvel, told me that he thought that I had created the most convincing black character in British comics.

M.A.S.K. Comics – I believe that there is a Graphic Novel of Loner coming out – is this a collection of stories from Wildcat or is it all new?
David Pugh – It’s a collection of the whole run from Rebellion, including the late Eric Bradbury’s work.  They didn’t realise that I still had all the original pages; they used the 1988/89 process film, I hope it will reproduce well.

M.A.S.K. Comics – How much would it mean to you to bring this character back and would you like to further develop him?
David Pugh – I don’t draw anymore, I’m getting more delight from the writing; it allows me to take my creativity to a higher level.  I was offered six pages in the SLAINE thirtieth anniversary book but I don’t enjoy looking back, so I turned the offer down; much to the consternation of some of my artist friends, who thought it would have boosted my career.  I was in India at the time and walking down a very different path.  Most of my contemporaries thought I was crazy as getting high profile comics work was getting harder to find and they believed I could have relaunched my career.  I am relaunching my career but as a novelist, a painter with words.

M.A.S.K. Comics – Your son-in-law is a Filmmaker – how would you feel if he approached you and told you he wanted to turn Loner into a Movie of TV Series?
David Pugh – It takes a lot of money and connections to produce a movie or TV series and of course Rebellion hold the copyright and Ian Kennedy and Barrie Tomlinson created the character.  I just took him to a higher level and think I gave him a strong personality.

M.A.S.K. Comics – We are in an age of 80’s properties coming back and making their way onto the big screen.  However, many of these, such as Transformers and G. I. Joe, aren’t true to their 80’s counterparts that my generation grew up to love and want to share with our children.  Do you think that Loner would have to adapt to work in 2019 and beyond and would that perhaps feel like a betrayal to what you love about that character?
David Pugh – Betrayal, not at all, I believe that in the right hands a good script writer can improve a character.  Loner was created very much out of time, so I don’t think the work has dated and wouldn’t require updating.  I’m sure the readers of the collection will realise that it was created thirty years ago.

M.A.S.K. Comics – Wildcat was one of the many comics from the same stable as Roy of the Rovers, The Eagle, Judge Dredd, 2000 A.D., etc.  Wildcat is also the name of one of my favourite vehicles from M.A.S.K. which brings us nicely onto my favourite all time comic.  How were you brought onboard to the M.A.S.K. Comic?
David Pugh – I had been sacked on SLAINE to put it bluntly, I took two weeks off after the second series and came back to find I had been replaced.  What hurt was that nobody told me this, it was down to Mike Collins, my replacement to pull the rug from under my feet at a Birmingham comic convention.  Pat Mills has since apologised for this but it meant that I was hanging around waiting for the odd FUTURE SHOCK, one of which I wrote.  I did an eight page story, THE MAN WHO COULDN’T DIE for the 2000AD SUMMER SPECIAL 1985.  Barrie Tomlinson, the group editor loved it and invited me to join the MASK team from issue one.  The big bonus for me, as well as being sent all the toys was that I was working with Pete Milligan’s scripts, though as in traditional British comics fashion, neither of us were credited.

M.A.S.K. Comics – M.A.S.K. started as a fortnightly comic during its first year, then, I assume due to overwhelming popularity, a weekly incarnation.  How far in advance did you get the scripts to work on before print date?
David Pugh – It was usually six weeks ahead, so not much maneuverability for missing deadlines. I wasn’t comfortable drawing more than three pages a week but I’ve never once missed a deadline.



M.A.S.K. Comics – For any of our American friends reading this, UK Comics are completely different from US Comics in that M.A.S.K. had 5 stories per issue – some only a single issue long and some serialised through for several weeks.  You worked on the serialised stories, were you given the full script in advance or only a week at a time?
David Pugh – The full script was sent to me, though I confess that I didn’t always read it through.  Like the reader I appreciated the anticipation of what would be happening next!

M.A.S.K. Comics – The process from getting the script in your hands – I take it you then had to do a basic storyboard or did you just know what had to be done and crack on with it?
David Pugh –No storyboard, I just did a thumbnail sketch of the layout as I went along but that wasn’t submitted for approval, only the pencils went to the company who were hired to keep an eye on the continuity between the toys and the artwork.

M.A.S.K. Comics – Many of the Comics you worked on were the sole property of the comic.  M.A.S.K. was the property of Kenner Parker, entrusted to IPC/Fleetway.  What are the differences in producing a comic such as this?  Do have to go back to Kenner to approve the stories and artwork before publication?
David Pugh – Kenner Parker hired a company called Copyright Promotions, so my pencils went to them.  Later I worked with this same company when I drew a series of SONIC THE HEDGEHOG adventure books.  I don’t think there was one artist among them; they just worked to style sheets.  I’m sure the MASK readers remember that I drew the vehicles for maximum impact.  Kenner Parker messaged Barrie to say that I drew the vehicles so well that there was no need for me to submit further pencils for approval.  That speeded up my production of pages.



M.A.S.K. Comics – For reference, I assume you were given all of the toys to help get them right?
David Pugh – That was the best bit especially as I had two young children at the time, they loved playing with them and were very careful. Having the toys brought realism to the strip, giving the pages a more cinematic edge and improved the action.

M.A.S.K. Comics – Your artwork really defined the characters and brought them to life – in the same way the Voice Actors did in the Cartoons.  (I would read the comics in my head in the voices created on screen.)  Did you ever have a say in the development of the characters or their individual stories?
David Pugh – No, I just interpreted the script and was happy working on Pete Milligan’s wacky ideas.  He became very famous during the three years I worked on MASK and went on to work in American comics.  Barrie Tomlinson wrote the final stories of my run; I think the reader probably noticed the change in direction.  Barrie allowed me to concentrate on big images, thereby giving the pages maximum impact.

M.A.S.K. Comics – Despite the main focus being M.A.S.K. vs V.E.N.OM., there were many ancillary characters – normally a catalyst if you will for the story.  One that springs to mind who entered the comics at issue number 5 is Kamikaze.  What processes do you go through to come up with these original characters.
David Pugh – Kamikaze was written by Pete Milligan, all he asked in the script was for me to create a huge, cyborg like super sumo wrestler.  Kenner Parker never intervened in the ancillary characters but I seem to remember them complaining that there wasn’t enough emphasis on the vehicles in the UNDER THE VOLCANO story and too many original inventions and villainous characters.



M.A.S.K. Comics – So, do these characters remain the property of the writer and artist?  Or the publisher or Kenner?
David Pugh – They remain the copyright of the publisher, I just retained the right to sell the original artwork.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to claim all the M.A.S.K. pages when IPC/EGMONT were clearing their warehouse.  I was possibly the only M.A.S.K. artist to make the effort to go to the storage unit but I had years of work to collect.  I managed to retrieve all my LONER work but left M.A.S.K. until last.  I started at issue one and my wife at the last story but we ran out of time as the unit closed at 5pm, so we never met up. Unfortunately that meant that I only have a few pages of FUNNSVILLE and UNDER THE VOLCANO, which were my favourite stories, as I designed a lot of original stuff for the both stories, good villains too.

M.A.S.K. Comics – Did you have a favourite character?
David Pugh – I had a soft spot for Miles Mayhem and Vanessa was quite hot!  On the good guys side I liked drawing Hondo MacLean, could be why I got the job drawing Loner.  I did like his 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air, a really cool car.



M.A.S.K. Comics – A favourite Mask?
David Pugh – Following on from the last question, Hondo’s blaster.  I would have loved drawing the X-Men so Hondo’s mask was as close to Cyclops as I was going to get.  Also, I preferred masks that didn’t totally obscure the character’s face. Brad Turner’s mask did have more expression than most with the right lighting though.


M.A.S.K. Comics – The Cartoon and the American DC version of M.A.S.K. somewhat simplified the designs of the vehicles.  Your vision, on the other hand, was more accurate.  Did you take great pleasure in making these vehicles look real?
David Pugh – The three years I spent on MASK improved my drawing skills so much.  I suspended the vehicles from my angle poise lamp to get the right dynamics.  I have to acknowledge the toy designers for putting so much realism into the vehicles that I believed that they were real.  I always had a problem with Transformers, they looked cool but I found them soulless.  I’m amazed by how successful the movies have become, MASK could easily compete with the FAST AND FURIOUS franchise.

M.A.S.K. Comics – One of the reasons I think your artwork stands out is that it wasn’t coloured – it was as you had drawn in pencils/pens.  It had more of an impact – would you like to have seen your vision coloured?
David Pugh – I was attempting a style that didn’t need colour and I was furious when they introduced spot colouring on some of the pages, particularly when most of it was off register. I contacted Barrie when I saw the first piece of this unimaginative block colour, but it took weeks for him to get Fleetway/Egmont’s art department to stop doing it.  It felt like someone had graffitied over my artwork.  I didn’t do any colour work until I worked on Loner and then it was only covers and posters.  The late Sandy James did an excellent job on the MASK centrespreads and covers, I never understood why Sandy suddenly fell out of fashion, he’d been a mainstay of British comics for so many years.  His was a sad story and demonstrated how competitive the comics business can be.  Towards the end of his career Sandy was supplementing his income by sketching in Glasgow market.  What an unbelievable shame after all those breath-taking MASK covers.



M.A.S.K. Comics – The covers and the centre page spreads where a mainstay of the comic and really drew kids, like me, into picking up M.A.S.K. in the newsagents.  To hear what you’ve just said saddens me greatly.  Did you work closely with Sandy?  I assume as sometimes the covers were a snapshot of the story inside you would have to at least liaise with him?
David Pugh – I met Sandy on a few occasions and I helped him find some new work on the adventure books I was working on for Ladybird Books.  Sandy did several SONIC THE HEDGEHOG illustrated books for them but his heart wasn’t in it.  He wanted to get back to drawing action adventure like Johnny Cougar, which he’s probably best remembered for.  As to your question the answer is no; Sandy was shown photocopies of scenes from the interior that Barrie Tomlinson thought would make good covers.  Sandy was left to it but still his pencils had to go to Copyright Promotions for approval.  I don’t think they were qualified to suggest improvements; those covers and centrespreads couldn’t be improved on, they were wonderful.  My son wallpapered all the centrespreads as a frieze on his bedroom wall, unfortunately I only bought one copy of the comic, so I don’t have any complete issues. When I worked on 2000AD I received copies in the post every week, even after I crossed the corridor to Boys’ Adventure comics.

Sandy's Cover
M.A.S.K. Comics – The UK Comic differed somewhat from its US counterpart and the DIC Cartoon.  In the other incarnations of M.A.S.K. we see that all the agents have a life outside of M.A.S.K. – Dusty is a Pizza Chef; Brad a Rock Musician; Bruce is a Toy Designer; Alex owns a pet store, etc.  The agents are called up as and when required

We don’t see that (very often) in the UK Comic – would you know if there is a reason?  I assumed with only 4/5 pages per story per issue would’ve been restrictive or DIC had the rights to that background story.
David Pugh – You’ve hit the nail on the head, we only had room for the action and that’s what I wanted to draw and I hope what you readers wanted to see.  There were too many talking heads on the cartoon show and the colours were a bit lurid.  We had more action in our comic than the cartoon show, they could have done better but 3D computer modelling was still very limited.  I learned 3D STUDIO MAX for my work on SCORER.  I built the entire Dave Storry house in the program and just dropped the drawn characters in situ.

M.A.S.K. Comics – I know that you have a special place in your heart for Loner – but what about M.A.S.K.?
David Pugh – As I mentioned MASK helped me take my drawing and inking to a much higher standard and I have to thank Barrie Tomlinson for giving me the freedom to create the dynamic layouts which became a trademark of my style.  I also enjoyed drawing some of the exotic locations that Pete Milligan set the stories.I was already getting a thirst for real adventure, so the settings were an important part of my storytelling.



M.A.S.K. Comics – When I was a teen, M.A.S.K. had a profound influence on me – I studied Art & Design and Technical Drawing as I wanted to be a Toy Designer and work on the M.A.S.K. Toy Line.  I even sent some of my designs to Kenner but was surprised to receive a response from Tonka.

It would be a few decades later I’d find out that Kenner Parker was sold to Tonka and eventually bought by over by Hasbro.  Were you aware of any of the changes going on with M.A.S.K.?
David Pugh – As I mentioned earlier, Copyright Promotions were the company I dealt with and I reached such a high standard in my art that my work no longer went to them for approval.  The staff there were mostly young women with no art training, they were more like continuity people on a film production.  I used to have a copy of the MASK style bible they worked to but it was mostly front on, side and back view and sometimes a three-quarter perspective.  I think the folder was designed for the cartoon show as there was a lot of emphasis on matching colour.

M.A.S.K. Comics – Ohhh…  a M.A.S.K. bible?  Is that something you still have?  Something you could share with us?
David Pugh – Unfortunately not, when I left on my world travels in February 2011, I sold my comic collection as a job lot and the M.A.S.K. bible went with it.  It was in a red plastic covered A4, full coloured landscape ring binder folder to which they would send me updates.  It had the M.A.S.K. logo printed in black on the cover was a nice collector’s item; I should have sold it on eBay!

M.A.S.K. Comics – Recently, Hasbro have attempted to bring back M.A.S.K. by “updating it”.  The essence of what made M.A.S.K. is missing completely.  If you were asked, would you love to work on M.A.S.K. again?
David Pugh – To the great disappointment of all the readers who loved my comic artwork, I’ve moved on to a new career in which I’m getting a deeper satisfaction, painting with words.  I don’t have the connection to pencil and brush that I used to have.  Drawing was so much part of my life that my middle finger actually changed shape to accommodate the pencil. It’s now returned to an ordinary finger!


M.A.S.K. Comics – M.A.S.K. was just one chapter in your history, tell me about your current project?  I believe you are now an author of a trilogy.
David Pugh – Yes, three books about retired and disillusioned comic artist, Jeffrey Dharma.  Each book is set seven years apart, the first book sees Jeffrey go on a solo journey of self-discovery in India.  He wants to walk the Hindu path of Vanaprastha, the time of life when you give up on responsibility, which I’m still pretty much doing.  However when Jeffrey discovers a small Jagannath beach temple in India and is told by the young priest that he is the earthly embodiment of Jagannath’s brother Balabhadra the god of the white races, Jagannath representing the black people, his life takes a new direction.  Through a series of bizarre twists of fate, Remus Jallow an African palm-tapper and his wife’s former lover becomes Jagannath’s new incarnation.  The two of them need to find their Oriental sister Subhadra, so that the three can connect in a highly sexual union and form a holy trinity to bring peace and love to the universe.  This part of the storyline is in direct opposition to a violent battle that is taking place in West Africa, where Jeffrey’s wife, Sylvia is at war with a very evil people trafficker and drug dealer, Bob Jatta.  Bob is on his own journey of self-discovery and hopes to transcend death to become the nemeses of all humankind; but that’s book two! You can see me talk about book one DHARMA SUTRA on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wc9RNEdv-So&feature=youtu.be

M.A.S.K. Comics – When will we see this series in the shops?
David Pugh – DHARMA SUTRA is scheduled for release on 28 June 2019 but there is some opposition to me writing as Jeffrey Dharma, which was my intention. To quote… "After some careful consideration, we would like to suggest that you change your pen name.  I understand that you would like to link the name to the book title, “Dharma Sutra”.  However, as you know, Jeffrey Dahmer was a notorious serial killer and sex offender who engaged in rape, murder, dismemberment, necrophilia and cannibalism.  I realise that you have spelt Dharma differently, but from a marketing perspective, especially given the genre of the book, we think your pen name is in poor taste.  This will almost certainly have a negative impact on the marketing of your book.  Therefore, we suggest that you to reconsider it.  Bookshop space is highly competitive to get onto as it is and we would not like to give buyers any reason to reject the book based on negative connotations linked to your choice of pen name."  I knew this, Jeffrey Dahmer is mentioned on page two but I don’t think the marketing woman read that far!  So, I guess it’ll be coming out under my own name but the decision is still under discussion as the book has been through several editors over two years and no one saw a problem.



M.A.S.K. Comics – From what I’ve read, your son-in-law had asked you about a pilot for a TV Series that sparked this adventure off, how did that all come about and did he have any input?
David Pugh – Michael Traverzo, my son-in-law asked me if I had an idea for a US TV pilot, what I actually came up with has become Book Three, JEFFREY DHARMA-ZODIAC MAN.  Jeffrey has developed the ability to interrogate the murder victim and get the name of the killer by connecting with the pineal gland in the brain.  This gland is the source of our dreams and the generator of DMT which eases death, the much quoted “White Light”.  The pineal gland takes forty nine days to develop in the human and forty-nine days to die; curiously this is the exact number of days that the Tibetan Book of the Dead tells us is the time that the soul chooses its new parents.  

Michael found it a bit out of his comfort zone, so I started writing Jeffrey’s background story less than a year later.  Dharma Sutra had been kicking around my head for several years and finally all the pieces came together in May 2016.  I had been friends with a Gambian palm tapper for about thirteen years and we travelled around West Africa together.  When travelling in Pushkar, India I came across a sahdu, a dread-locked holy man who looked the twin of my African friend and I thought he would be perfectly at home living as a sahdu smoking ganja all day.  This became one of the story lines for book one, along with Jeffrey’s quest for enlightenment through having lots of sex. 

The second chakra is the source of creativity and sexual desire, Remus Jallow the palm tapper finds this an inspiring concept.  As I touched on, following an encounter in a Jagannath beach temple in Puri, Orissa the pair discover that they havebeen chosen to be the earthly representatives of Jagannath, god of the black races and his brother Balabhadra, the lord of the white people.  The two need to find an Oriental woman to become the embodiment of the “yellow” races, their sister Subhadra.  When she is found the three partake in a ritual of cosmic love in an ancient cave temple in the Broken Hills of Orissa.  They find the enlightenment they seek and embark on a mission of spreading universal love.  This half of the story is in stark contrast to the war that Sylvia, Jeffrey’s wife finds herself caught up in and enlists a former lover, a Botswana hit man to take on the drug and people trafficking empire of the sadistic Bob Jatta, Remus’ boyhood friend.

M.A.S.K. Comics – You seem to be extremely creative; will we have more solo projects from you?
David Pugh –In the course of writing book three I created Aurum, the Gold World, where people with strong egos drop out of the Samsara, the cycle of rebirth to continue to live an eternity of self-indulgence and creativity.  Aurum is the location of Leonard Cohen’s Tower of Song, where all the great song writers go when they die.  Radio one DJ John Peel has an office in the building.  Jeffrey and his colleagues briefly encounter Jimi Hendrix, on his way to play in the Red House over Yonder.  Aurum is made of solid gold and has a latticework of fairy mine-shafts which link it to every period of human time.  Along these tunnels stolen children have been brought for thousands of years and exchanged for gold.  I’m thinking it might be a great place for a series of short stories featuring famous historical characters.  Wild Bill Hickok and tiger conservationist, Jim Corbett become allies of Jeffrey when he invites them to join him on a rescue mission.  It was fun allowing the two of them to speak in their own voice.

M.A.S.K. Comics  You are also involved in Charity Work, I believe, what can you tell me about that?
David Pugh – During my time volunteering in Dharamsala I discovered that many of my Tibetan refugee colleagues had family in other parts of India but couldn’t afford the time off or the bus fair to visit.  I’d been helping my Gambian palm tapper friend, Lucas for years to visit his family in Guinea Bissau, the country was so poor that his father had migrated to the Gambia to look for work when Lucas was a young boy.  I’d also been giving money to the Nepalese waiters in my favourite bar, the Gem in Delhi’s Paharganj district, so they could take a week’s holiday to visit their wives in Nepal. 

When I stopped working in early 2011 my first thought was how to continue helping like this with no income coming in?  The idea come to me that I could continue giving bus fare to these friends if I sold my artwork.  I set up a web-page explaining that from then on any art I sold would go directly into my Bus Fare account, so by buying my work they’d be helping to bring some moments of happiness to poor families.  All went well, despite some of my Tibetan friends asking not to be featured on the web-page and seen to be accepting charity. 

Of course people who donate money like to see the faces of people they are helping.  The Africans had no such worries so I began concentrating on a program to encourage people to join Lucas on his home visits and experience what it was like to stay in a jungle.  I had found it an enlightening experience but most people wanted a hotel with a swimming pool.  I made the mistake of involving a rich Canadian-Gambian on the program, not knowing he was a gangster, he said that people would more likely sign up if they had the comfort of a luxury 4x4 rather than the local transport I had planned using. 

Senegal had introduced a visa which made it complicated to cross the country into Guinea Bissau, so I suggested that maybe we could take tourists to the rarely visited Niokolo Koba National Park in Senegal.  The result was that this man who became the inspiration for my villain Bob Jatta, took all the remaining funds by threatening to abandon my wife and I on a remote stretch near the Senegalese border.  Today we have only one Bus Fare beneficiary a family here in Si Thep, Thailand, where I’m currently based.  I met a brother and sister who had made the nine hour bus ride to Pattaya to work in the bars and clearly hated it.  At first I gave them money to take the time off and visit their mother but the brother suggested that if I could give them money to regenerate their land they could grow fruit and vegetables to sell and keep pigs and chickens.  There was little Bus Fare money left so I topped it up with my own savings and now the siblings have been able to return home to look after their mother and have been able to buy a second-hand 4x4 to deliver their produce but that’s pretty much the end of my Bus Fare plans.

M.A.S.K. Comics David, Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to have this Q&A.  I appreciate you were having to make a big decision on the pen name for your book.


Well, there we have it.  After 3 decades of being an avid fan of M.A.S.K. comics, I've finally had contact with one of the artists of the best comic ever made.  

If you have enjoyed David's Art and reading this blog, I'm sure that you would also enjoy reading his first novel in the trilogy now available to buy.

Please feel free to share this blog with all of your M.A.S.K. friends.  Remember you can comment below or visit the M.A.S.K. Comics Facebook Page for more conversation.


#assembleMASK #MASKcomics #DIC
#MASKcrusade #DavidPugh 


Saturday, 24 March 2018

Meet Matt Trakker's Alter Ego, Doug Stone


If you are a fan of M.A.S.K., then you'll no doubt know the name, Doug Stone.  From M.A.S.K. leader, Matt Trakker through to V.E.N.O.M.'s "Yes Man", Nash Gorey, Doug voiced his way through all 75 episodes.

Doug's talents don't stop there, if you head over to IMDB you will see his full list of credits that are FAR too many to mention.  If you are a hardcore gamer, you will be more familiar with Doug's voice talents as Psycho Mantis in the Metal Gear Solid Games.

As a father, my eldest son and I loved his performance as Lawrence in (Thunder and) The House of Magic - we own it on Blu Ray 3D.  This particular role mirrors Doug's personal life as his character, Lawrence, takes care of Thunder, a cat that he takes in off the street - Doug does a lot of charity work at the Kitty Bungalow - Charm School for Wayward Cats.

I woke up this morning to the news that Doug is going to be in attendance at the Ontario Collectors Con.  Doug doesn't normally attend conventions like this, so, this is an opportunity not to be missed by fans.

On the 15th of April 2018, you will find Doug at the Hilton Mississauga/Meadowvale – 6750 Mississauga Road, Mississauga, Ontario.  Unfortunately, Canada is bit far (and expensive) for me to travel from Scotland, but I hope that many M.A.S.K. fans will be able to make it.


Although, I'll not be there in body, I'll be there in spirit.  Hopefully, Doug may share some images that he'll allow me to share with you all.

Good Luck, Doug!

Please remember to like, share and comment - M.A.S.K. Comics Facebook Page.

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Saturday, 17 March 2018

Megaforce - a distant relation to M.A.S.K.?

Back in the day, I recorded a movie off of the TV - Megaforce!  I watched this movie over and over - it was brilliant.

Fast forward  a couple of decades and I decided to see it was available to buy on DVD - and to my surprise and delight - it was.  Ordered from Ebay brand new, still sealed.


Megaforce is a team of International Team of Specialists who are called in to action wherever and whenever to resolve disputes.  They have the most up-to-date weaponry, donated to them by countries all over the world, at their disposal.  Along with Professor "The Egg" Eggstrum's inventions.

The vehicles used on their mission are weaponised Dune Buggies and Motorbikes with a mobile command unit overseeing the mission.  They also have a mission control centre back in America.

Other vehicles are seen when we see a tour of their base.

Overall, it is a great movie, however, there are some bits that I'm not keen on - mainly the love interest between the Megaforce Commander and the female Major - very cheesy and almost ruins the movie.

Made in 1982, it came out before M.A.S.K. but there are some commonalities between the two.

During it's inception, M.A.S.K. was potentially going to be called M.A.S.K. Force -


- As can be seen in the images above.  As much as I like the concept art for M.A.S.K. Force, I'm glad they settled on the shorter name of M.A.S.K.  Both teams are made up of International Specialists.

The Leader of Mega Force is called Ace Hunter - linking him to two of our beloved M.A.S.K. characters - Ace Riker being one.  The less obvious link for some fans is M.A.S.K. Leader, Matt "Hunter" Trakker.




The character of Suki is played by Evan Kim..





... Suki is very much like the character of Bruce Sato...

The character of Zac....



...With his hat, personal stereo and headphones isn't dissimilar to Buddie Hawks...



The Texan of the group, who reminds me of Dusty Hayes, is aptly named Dallas ....



So far, you are possibly thinking that these are very tenuous links - and you might be right.  I'm maybe looking for a link when one may not be there.  Megaforce and M.A.S.K. were two of my childhood favourites - and still are.

The next character seals the deal, though, as possibly the most convincing argument that there may have been a link between the two, or perhaps, the creators of M.A.S.K. were as big fans of Megaforce as I am.

Meet, Lopez....




The similarities in looks are uncanny to Julio Lopez of M.A.S.K. fame....



From the dark hair and moustache, to a similar coloured outfit - Lopez from Megaforce is so much like Julio Lopez.  From IMDB we find that the actor who plays Lopez is called J. Victor Lopez - does the J. stand for Julio....?



His connection to Megaforce doesn't end there.  Julio's Firefly vehicle is fairly similar to Dune Buggy style vehicles featured in Megaforce (NB - Lopez rides a Motorbike, not one of these).


Unfortunately, the vehicles are limited to only changing colour from Black for night time use to the camouflage seen above.  There is only one vehicle that has the ability to convert in a similar way to a M.A.S.K. vehicle - or, should I say, a V.E.N.O.M. vehicle.

 Ace Hunter's motorcycle is a prototype that can turn into a Jet Cycle, not unlike Floyd Malloy's Vampire...


Ok, I'm going to be honest here and say that Vampire is WAY much cooler than the Megaforce Bike but I still think that the idea may have made it's way into M.A.S.K. culture from Megaforce.

One last vehicle is a plain ordinary Ford Bronco....


Cliff Dagger's Jackhammer was also a Ford Bronco.

So, what do you think?  Similar or am I just clutching at straws?

#assembleMASK #MASKcrusade #DIC
#MASKcomics

Sunday, 23 April 2017

IDW's Revolution #4 & #5 - a M.A.S.K. Comics Review

I've eventually gotten round to reading Revolution #5.  The more observant of you will have realised I've not yet written a review of Revolution #4 - there was very little that I could say about that issue that I've not already said about previous issues, so I thought I'd combine #4 & #5.

Starting off with the covers for #4 - there are 8 in total.  Overkill, yet again.  How much money does IDW want from each of their readers?

Anyway,the regular cover features Jazz, Arcee and Snake Eyes - nothing really special about it.  Subscription Cover A has some dude - even after reading the comic I'm still not sure who he's meant to be - with some teeth round about him - awful; just awful.

Subscription Cover B has various characters from the various properties all walking/running quite merrily to the right - this is a full wraparound cover and I think is meant to join on with the other issues.  It's ok.

Subscription Cover C is red and black with a Micornauts character in silhouette.  Ok, but not relevant to M.A.S.K. so not interested.  Subscription Cover D - another one of the toy figure carded box style with Arcee and Snake Eyes - probably the best cover of the lot.

Retailer Incentive Cover A - has Snake Eyes fighting off Micronauts.  This is very "computerised" in it's design and I'm not overly fond of it.

Retailer Incentive Cover B - another red/black cover with Optimus Prime - on a par with Subscription Cover D.

Retailer Incentive Cover C - what the actual....  designed for 5 year olds....  Awful!

When we get into the comic itself, M.A.S.K. doesn't make much of an appearance in it.  Miles Mayhem is seen to be pivotal to the story line and we, yet again, have Matt Trakker whinging like a 5 year old child as it's becoming apparent that he and Miles Mayhem have different agendas.

As expected, with the Revolution 5 part series is linked to the other Revolution comics there are references all over the place that refer to other comics in the series.

This "suggestive selling" is pretty poor.  If you want to make a 5 part series - make a 5 part series and don't go on off shoots in a poor attempt to sell more of your comics.  Few of us are interested.

Moving onto #5 - the best thing I could say about it is - thank fuck it's finished!

Again, we have another 8 covers.....  This time I bought more of the comics as there was more "M.A.S.K." featured on them.

The Regular Cover features various characters including Matt Trakker and Miles Mayhem wearing Spectrum and Viper respectively.  It's an ok cover, as it's the original versions of the characters and not the new and unimproved versions.

Subscription Cover A has the same dude as on Issue #4.  Don't really get it...

Subscription Cover B is another of the walking to the right wraparound covers - has Matt Trakker and Bruno Sheppard on it.  Again, not a bad cover.

Subscription Cover C has the original Viper Mask floating above a decapitated body.  I'm guessing it's meant to be artistic - just looks terrible.

Subscription Cover D is another of the Toy Box Covers with Miles Mayhem on it along with Baron Karza.  Not as good as some of the other issues covers, but ok.

Retailer Incentive Cover A looks like another computer designed cover - has Viper on the front - again, I'm not a big fan of it.

Retailer Incentive Cover B - from the thumb print image in the inside back cover of the comics I have, I can't actually make out what/who is meant to be on this.

And, finally, we have Retailer Incentive Cover C.  Another one for the 5 year olds.  Has Matt Trakker and Bruce Sato on it.  Which is pointless as Bruce Sato isn't even in the comic.

M.A.S.K. plays more of a role in this issue and it's the first time that all of the properties are in the comics as part of the same action.  Up until now, the first four issues only really cover parts of stories featuring some of the characters from some of the properties.  It was very disjointed as they all seemed to be doing their own thing and had their own story lines.

Issue 5 brought them together - but was still an extremely disjointed story and I was left scratching my head so many times as the story just didn't sit right or make any sense whatsoever.

When the news about the new M.A.S.K. Comic first filtered out - I set an expectation bar of what I wanted to see and what I hoped to see.  As more and more information started filtering through - including the news of throwing all of the properties into the mix and see what happens, the bar of expectation got lower and lower.

Despite my bar of expectation being so low, some how, IDW managed to Limbo right under that bar without event touching it.

As a M.A.S.K. fan, I'm sorry, but this whole Revolution Series was a mistake.  We now have M.A.S.K. vehicles that look nothing like the originals nor modern vehicles - they are simply Cybertronian Clone vehicles.

I have nothing against Transformers, but they are two separate and unique entities and should remain so.  M.A.S.K. was popular because it was believable - we've seen James Bond Movies, it's easy to accept a car that can turn into a submarine or a motor bike that can turn into a chopper.

Mixing M.A.S.K. with aliens and giving them futuristic looking alien tech - that's so far removed from M.A.S.K. that it doesn't work.

I'm afraid that,overall, the Revolution Series didn't do justice to any of the properties and reading it I actually felt embarrassed to call myself a M.A.S.K. fan.  If this is what IDW have done in the Cartoon, I had to see what goddamn monstrosity Paramount are going to make for the big screen.

What are your thoughts?  Please leave a comment below or over and my M.A.S.K. Comics Facebook Page.

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#MASKcrusade

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

100k Page Views - Thank you

I've been looking over my page stats the past few days as I was getting close to a milestone.  Tonight, I've reached a tremendous milestone -


100k Page Views!!

Thank you very much for all of your support over the past few years.



When I first started my blog back in 2012, I didn't think I'd ever reach as many of you.  I've managed to get to know some of you via my M.A.S.K. Comics Facebook Page and it's been great to chat.  Please feel free to contact me via the comments below, over on Facebook or even via e-mail.

I've even gotten to know some of the Voice Actors from the M.A.S.K. Cartoon Series.

I look forward to the next 100k Page Views.

Thank you,

W. Scott Crawford.

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#MASKcrusade

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Another Cover - more mistakes....

A new cover was recently posted over on the M.A.S.K. PNA Facebook Page.  There is no head mast, so I can't say which issue this will feature on - if at all - and can't confirm the artist's name as can't quite make out the signature.

However, Tommy Lee Edwards (TLE) has taken credit for it, so I can assume he drew it.  I'm not going to share it as I have not sought out permission to do so.

We have Vanessa squat down on the roof of what, at first sight, appears to be Manta with Sly Rax, sporting a "Flock of Seagulls-esque" hairstyle, leaning against the door.  There is a shape behind in the familiar colours of Piranha,

The art is great and one of the comments on the page likens it to a scene from Miami Vice.  It's only when you look closer that you start to see the flaws.

Ok, I can let Rax's hair style slide and I can only question why Vanessa is squat down on the roof...

The first mistake I noticed is the decals on the side of the car.  Below is an image of the toy from the 80's - 



If you check the image over at the M.A.S.K. PNA Facebook Page you can compare the difference.  We're used to there being issues with the decals on the vehicles in the past - one of the memorable ones being Outlaw.  In the Cartoon and the DC Comics, Outlaw's decals were simplified.  Understandable for the cartoon with the number of frames that had to be drawn, but just downright lazy in the DC Comic.

Yes, ok, it kept some semblance of consistency having both the same but I would've preferred the comic to have had the Snake Oil Livery of the toy.

Even on the toy box, the art for the Cab of the tanker were wrong - with a small image of the toy beside it showing the correct decal placement.

Getting back to my original point re this new cover, why are the decals wrong and why does it matter?  Manta is a Nissan 300ZX.  The decals on the side of her subtlety read the initials "ZX".  Simple; effective!

On the new comic image, we now have "XZ" written on it.  Not sure why and it doesn't really work.  There could be legal reasons for the change, who knows.  The original box for Manta does have the Trademark "TM" symbol beside the wording "Nissan 300ZX".

The new IDW comics are a confusing mixture of the new M.A.S.K.: Mobile Armored Strike Kommand and the, now, classic M.A.S.K.  Thrown into the mix is something which is neither.

TLE's image of "Manta" is so impressive that it has many M.A.S.K. fans fooled into thinking it's the real deal.

However, TLE has drawn "Manta" as a Datsun 280ZX.  If you are unsure of the difference please see my Blog Post from 25/04/2015.  It's overly confusing to say the least.  We now have new, old and, well, whatever!

Now, I'm not dissing TLE's artwork - I think his cover is amazing - but does it fit with the rest of the comic?  If you were a new reader, unfamiliar with M.A.S.K. would you really know what's going on?  I'm a long term fan, and I can't understand it.

If TLE's vision of Manta was the same one as on the inside of the comic, I'd be cool with that.  His version is better than what I've seen of the new Manta.  Maybe we should start a campaign to have TLE redesign all of the vehicles.

Please share your thoughts below or over at my M.A.S.K. Comics Facebook Page.

Scott.


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