THE STORY OF
The long and tortured road it has taken
to bring heroic, space-faring waterfowl
to a waiting world.
by Mike Jones, Jr.
Necessity Births Invention
Way back in the late eighties, I was in graduate school at Louisiana Tech University in the graphic design program. One of my most enjoyable experiences there was being a teaching assistant in a cartooning class taught by then Tech photography professor and comics connoisseur Dan Younger. The culmination of the class was the actual printing of a 32 page black and white comic book with a color cover entitled Burn This Comic. Most people took the title literally, and so few of the original 1000 copies exist today. Each member of the class contributed pages and I was allotted 4 pages as my contribution. Needing an idea quickly, I started with the pun of “Dr. DeCoy” and progressed from there in a fevered frenzy of creation until Star Quack was born. This story was a much-abbreviated version of “None Are So (Duck) Blind” from Star Quack #1. This was in early 1988 when there weren’t many Star Trek parodies yet. In fact, the only ones I knew of were the Saturday Night Live version and Pigs in Space. Since then, of course, there have been more parodies created than can be counted, some even involving ducks (much to my heartache and sorrow).
I went on to follow my career of being a college professor of graphic design when in 1993 a contest in Animation Magazine caught my eye. It was the first annual Cartoon Network/Animation Magazine Storyboard Contest, open to both professional animators and amateurs alike. I thought it would be a good chance to build up my storyboarding skills and revisit a concept I loved, so I revamped my original 4-page story, adding in new sequences. Out of over 700 entries, Star Quack was awarded one of 7 honorable mentions as well as the highest individual score by any one judge. Feeling encouraged to develop the idea further, I eventually completed a black and white version of issue #1 with the intention of self-publishing. This prospect seemed expensive and risky, but happily a company called Shanda Fantasy Arts published a black and white version of issues #1 and 2 combined into one book. Sales were limited due, I believe, to the black-and-white printing and the oversize (and thus more expensive) format. So I let the concept alone for awhile.
A New Venue
Then I read Reinventing Comics by Scott McCloud and everything changed. That book got me excited about the possibilities of online publication of Star Quack. The internet, with almost no overhead costs or financial risk, offered the capability of working in color, and seemed a perfect home for my work. Through investigating McCloud's references, I eventually discovered an ebook publisher called Unbound Comics. Amazingly, here was a company actually trying to implement some of McCloud’s visions of comics’ future; diversity of genre, direct connection between creators and readers, and creator control. I submitted my work to them and was a top seller for them for a couple of years, though "top seller" was a relative term. NO ONE was making money in downloadable e-book comics in 2001! I completed my third issue, "Sappy Days", yet the Unbound Comics model was ultimately unsuccessful. They were about 10 years too early!
After a brief stint with the Wowio website, which again went nowhere, I discovered Comixology, which had finally made an online platform for digital comics viable. With the creation of their Comixology Submit program, I was able to find a new home for Star Quack. Are more issues forthcoming? That's up to you! If demand is there I have plenty of ideas for more stories, beginning with a cryogenically frozen superduck of the 20th century!
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A 3D animation experiment (unfortunately low-res for now).