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1977

TNT Comics started out as TT Comics in June 1977. I was inspired by old Superman, Jimmy Olsen, Adventure and Action Comics from the '60s that my Aunt Kris had. On a family fishing vacation to Canada, I picked up some comics at the grocery store. Inspired by the likes of The Avengers, The Fantastic Four, The Justice League of America, and The Teen Titans, I "created" my first team of heroes: the Junior Justice Club. The heroes were Supertodd (created for a 7th grade English theme; thanks Mrs. Anders!), who had powers just like Superman (except he could change into his costume in an explosion, a la TV's Wonder Woman), Wonder Girl (copied from The Teen Titans' Wonder Girl), Space Boy (copied from Space Ghost), Speedy (an African-American copy of The Justice League's Flash [but his name came from The Teen Titans' Speedy; I couldn't understand why an archer was named Speedy, and not Kid Flash], but in an orange costume), and Water Boy (copied from Aquaman, but he had a gun (?!) that let him project a strong spray of water). The Junior Justice Club headquarters even had a portal into the Negative Zone (an anti-matter dimension from Marvel's Fantastic Four)! The art was crude; the story worse. But it was a start, and now I knew what I wanted to do when I grew up: comics. Specifically, comics about groups of heroes. And so my brother Timm and I started producing comics out of our Pecatonica, IL home.

1978

The Junior Justice Club was revamped into the Justice Club in July 1978. "Published 17 Times A Year" the inside proclaimed (a little optimistic, let me tell you.) The group had been moved to the future (just like DC's Legion of Super-Heroes) in the year 2154 (later 2454), and Supertodd, Wonder Girl and Space Boy had to repel an alien invasion of Space Boy's home planet, Topaz, by the planet Timbe.

1979

Now we're cooking. We're producing quite a few titles, we're up to six subscribers (friends and family), and then we get in the paper. We start getting calls from people who have seen the article and want to send comics to their kids and grandkids. Within a few months, we have 54 subscribers in nine states. We even get on the local news. We're making practically no profit, but that's okay, because we like what we're doing.

1980

Around this time we get a strip in the local Pecatonica newspaper (they run the school paper as two pages inside). Supertodd has a few stories, then Timm tries his hand at a Fantastic Fish tale.

1981

Things grind to a halt. High school takes too much of our time, so the comics have to stop. I keep drawing my own strips for myself. The Justice Club becomes the Heroes from LEGION. I update and revamp characters: Wonder Girl becomes Astra, Canada Boy (?!) and Canada Girl (?!) become Scout and Comet, Solar Boy becomes Sunstar, Intangible Girl becomes Etherea and Thought Girl becomes Psirena.

1983

Wanting to start fresh and new, I shelve Supertodd, et al, and set about creating a whole new world of heroes and villains. The Guardians are born, starring Aura, Micron, Prism, Sparx, and Zero Lad. Set in the present, the heroes work from the United Nations Building and handle global threats.

1984

I send the first issue of The Guardians to Washington D.C. with $10 to get it copyrighted. Later, I attend the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art, Inc. in Dover, NJ. I make a few good friends and improve my artwork. I start redrawing the first issue of The Guardians to make it more professional-looking. I travel to First Comics in Chicago and present a sample of The Guardians to the editor. He pretty much tells me to learn to draw, but he likes the story.

1985

After another year at the Kubert School, I go back to First Comics with a new sample. The editor says it looks better, but keep at it. He suggests I go up to see someone at NOW Comics (also in Chicago). I do, but the editor is out. I'll keep practicing.

1986

Back to First Comics with another new sample. The editor likes it, and says we'll talk soon. Editor then leaves company to work for DC. First Comics soon goes under.

1989

After DC introduces The New Guardians during their Millennium mini-series, I change the name from Guardians to Vanguard.

1990

I get married to Kim, the best wife ever. I start re-drawing the first issue YET again, but re-craft the story.

1992

After Image Comics releases a title called Vanguard, I try to come up with a "nonsense" name that (hopefully) no one else will come up with. I play around with Unicorps and Unicore for a while, but finally settle on UNIGUARD.

I finish re-drawing the first issue (good thing I didn't have a deadline).

Kim's friend Brenda Herrmann, who worked for the Chicago Tribune at the time, gets me into the Chicago Comicon for free. I show my re-drawn first issue around to various companies, but no one is impressed, until I get to NOW Comics. The art director, Jim Bradshaw, likes my coloring, and hires me to color an issue of Universal Soldier. I complete that, then color an issue of The Twilight Zone. Brenda writes an article about me in Rockford Magazine.

1993

While talking to Jim Bradshaw at NOW Comics when looking for more work, he mentions they need someone full-time in-house. I immediately volunteer, and he eventually submits. Two weeks later I'm driving 78 miles (one-way) five days a week to be a full-time freelance production assistant. I am in heaven. I even get to write an issue of The Green Hornet!

1994

Moving on to more than coloring at NOW, I also get to letter, ink, write, and help proofread. I do everything but pencil. All my years of doing all those functions at TNT Comics has paid off. I suggest that NOW publish UNIGUARD, but they would want to own the characters, and I can't have that.

1995

After some bad business decisions (can you say Mr. T and the T-Force?), NOW dies a quiet death. The entire industry is taking a nose-dive, and there are too many professionals looking for too few positions. I am unable to find work anywhere else in the comics field. Maybe I should self-publish again...? In the meantime, I fall back on my graphic art skills to get a job at a local advertising agency. No more long commute into the northwestern Chicago suburbs!

1999

Welcome back to TNT Comics.

The TNT Comics web site goes online January 1st, first under my AOL account, and then under its own domain name (a gift to me from brother Timm).

I submit my sample issue of UNIGUARD #1 to Diamond Comics Distributors to see if they will pick it up for distribution, but their panel of experts (i.e., comic shop owners) suggests they decline. But they like the artwork, they say. I plan on selling my comics myself over the Internet and cut out the middle man.

2000

The web site gets revamped. Kim and I start work on our new title, The TNTeens, set in Forest City, IL. Maybe if we can generate some local interest in a different title, we can interest Diamond in picking up The TNTeens and UNIGUARD for distribution.

2003

Kim and I have triplet girls (Maxine, Trinity, and Cassandra). Life as we know it takes many exciting and strange turns, but our free time is at a premium. I try to work on my comics when i can, but I get sucked into playing Final Fantasy XI Online with most of my free hours (I love the Internet!).

2005

Another site revamp! I've given up Final Fantasy XI for City of Heroes and City of Villains, which inspires me to get back to my comics.

2012

City of Heroes/Villains gets cancelled at the end of November. With a lot of gaming time freed up, I work even more on my comics... new characters and new groups.

2013

A big site re-design as I unveil my newest character, Excarnate. I'm also planning on finally finishing and releasing the Captain Defender and our high school Dungeons & Dragons campaign trade paperbacks, as well as new merchandise and a new fan page entry.

 

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