BY JENNIFER M. CONTINOMike Dawson
is proving himself to be quite the eclectic comics creator by following up his autobiographical, critically acclaimed comic, Freddie & Me
, with a mod superhero yarn, Ace-Face
. His hero with gigantic metal arms and a keen fashion sense, uses his strength for righting wrongs and fighting for the innocent. Again, music plays a part in Dawson's creation, as he told THE PULSE, "When I was a teenager, I really loved The Who. I created a superhero character who I called Ace-Face at that time, because I liked that name, which I got from the album/movie Quadrophenia." But just how did his Mod with the Metal Arms evolve from that initial idea ...? THE PULSE: For our readers who missed Project: Superior, just who or what is Ace-Face?
Ace-Face is the alter-ego of Colin Turney, a man who was born in England in the 1940s without arms. Luckily, his Uncle Lenny, an amateur inventor, had recently built a pair of robotic arms, and was able to attach them to Colinís infant body. Growing up with gigantic metal arms was tough for Colin, but once he became an adult, he realized he could use their super-powered strength for good. He became known as Ace-Face: The Mod with the Metal Arms, because at the time he chose his superhero name, he was really into bands like The Who.THE PULSE: How did you come up with this eclectic well-dressed hero, who is part bionic man and part Howard Cunningham?
When I was a teenager, I really loved The Who. I created a superhero character who I called Ace-Face at that time, because I liked that name, which I got from the album/movie Quadrophenia. The version of Ace-Face from that time was nothing like the character in this book, except for having the same powers. He was a 20-something American, his name was Gabriel Kane (I think ďKaneĒ was a popular name for superheroes and villains in the '90s), and he didnít have a history of being a mod in the '60s. When I got the chance to write a story for Project: Superior
in 2005, I decided to take the parts of the character that I liked (the name and the arms), and change everything else to make something new. THE PULSE: What do you think it would be like balancing work, the life of a superhero and a family? I can't comprehend how there would be enough hours in the day ....
I agree. However, Iíve noticed in life, that the busier you are, the more productive you are capable of being. For instance, I am capable of drawing more comics during the week than on the weekends, even though the weekdays are busy with day-jobs and family. The weekends are quieter, but less gets done. THE PULSE: How did you come up with the idea to do something like this? What inspired or influenced you the most as you were developing this story? I'd imagine there were some Golden Age tales that played a small role ....
Iím not really sureÖ Iíve read a lot of Marvel
and DC Comics
in my time, and I imagine thereís a lot stuff that influenced me. I was going to say that the Alan Davis
run on Excalibur
was one of the biggest influences, and that comic was a big influence on me, but Iím not sure that Ace-Face is really anything like that. Maybe just in that thereís a bit of a sense-of-humor about things, as well as the superheroics. THE PULSE: How soon after Project: Superior did you find out about the chance to expand Ace-Face: The Mod with the Metal Arms for this AdHouse graphic novel?
I believe it was pretty soon after that I spoke with Chris Pitzer
about doing another Ace-Face story for Superior: Showcase
#1. I was very
excited to be in that Ė Iíd been published in a few anthologies before, but this was the first time that I was getting published and my name
was printed on the cover, right alongside Nick Bertozzi
, and Dean Trippe
. THE PULSE: Is this one of the projects you're involved with that you're constantly thinking of new story ideas for or did it take you a while to come up with what you wanted to do next and how you wanted to present it?
I had no problem coming up with new ideas, because I actually tried to approach the new stories in different ways. Thereís a major new Ace-Face comic in the collection, but itís very different than the ones from Project: Superior
and Superior: Showcase
. Thereís an Ace-Face adventure taking place, but thereís also a contrasting sub-plot with Ace-Faceís son, Stuart and his problems with his neighbors. THE PULSE: Why did you want this collection to jump through time and show different eras and things Ace-Face was involved with, instead of having it be one, long tale?
I wanted the opportunity to try a lot of different things with the different stories. There are other stories in the collection that donít even feature Ace-Face, but instead other super-powered characters and the things that happen to them. THE PULSE: Since your hero is something of a "Mod" were you at all influenced by the Teen Titans foe Mad Mod or the X-Men's villain, Arcade or any of the other '60s characters who were hip to be square?
Funny that you bring up Arcade. One of the stories is called ďDr. Funhauserís House of FunĒ, and the idea for that came directly from Arcade. Again though, while the execution is totally different, the early Excalibur
comics have been quite influential. THE PULSE: What have been some of the biggest challenges of getting this work created?
In terms of doing the actual work, having a baby in the Summer was definitely a challenge for a while. Getting no sleep is rough. But, she settled into a routine fairly quickly, and Iíve found that Iím able to draw about as much as before. It is one of the reasons I decided to do a book of short stories thoughÖ I had been working on a different big long book before she was born, but after she arrived I found I just didnít have the concentration. THE PULSE: How is the present state of the economy affecting your comic book work? Have you been hit hard by this? Was there a chance that Ace-Face might not come out with the new Diamond cut offs and all?
I am still waiting to find out how hard this will hit me. It felt like things were rough in December, but it feels way
worse now, in January. Itís the main reason I am really trying to get the word out about this book as much as possible, while itís still in PREVIEWS. THE PULSE: What was it like having Freddie & Me so well received by audiences?
Itís really wonderful. I feel great that it got a lot of positive critical attention. I was very nervous about it before it went out into the world Ė Iíd spent so much time on it, and it was obviously so close to my heart. I feel really lucky that it was received well. It was very exciting to get to travel back to the UK over the Summer to do some press for the British edition. That gave me a very personal feeling of accomplishment Ė getting to go back to my home country like that. I am also very proud that the book has been/or will be translated into a bunch of different editions. The French version will be out in April. THE PULSE: How is working on Ace-Face different from that project?
Since finished F&M, itís been great to realize that I can work on all sorts of comics projects, and not everything has to be something that I spend four years totally immersed in. I really liked trying different things with the ACE-FACE stories, and having a lot of fun with it. I am also really happy to be doing something with AdHouse
again. THE PULSE: What other projects are you working on? Any interest from Marvel or DC in you doing anything with them lately?
I will be launching a webcomic on February 17th, at ACT-I-VATE, called JACK AND MAX ESCAPE FROM THE END OF TIME. Jack and Max are two super-powered brothers, who also appear in the ACE-FACE book. They essentially fight and squabble like many siblings who are close in age Ė except that with the powers of telekinesis and teleportation, they can be extremely destructive.
"From the pages of Project: Superior bursts Ace-Face: The Mod with the Metal Arms, a collection of stories featuring everybodyís favorite well-dressed crime fighter, doling out super-powered justice with his bionic limbs, and handling crisisís at home as a husband and father. The Diamond order code for ACE-FACE is FEB094014, and it's currently in PREVIEWS now."