Another piece done for the English charity Childline. I asked for and obtained permission from League of Extraordinary Gentlemen creators Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neil. Getting their imprimatur was a exciting in and of itself.

The initial premise of LoEG was that various characters of fantastic Victorian literature were recruited by Great Britain to become a kind of 1890s superhero team. As the series continued, Moore and O’Neill broadened the concept by including an ever-increasingly number of literary and pop culture characters, suggesting a world in which all fictions are real and coexist. Almost no walk-on or background character, location, or sign is included without referring back to another work of some kind (Jess Nevins has done a phenomenal job of annotating LoEG) . In that spirit I wanted to make sure that all the details of this piece carried a little bit of narrative in them.

The scene depicted is from the second volume of LoEG, as Mr. Hyde is saying goodbye to Mina Murray, heroine of Dracula, before he confronts the Martians from War of the Worlds. Later in the story they mention a memorial statue will be built, and Serpentine Park will be renamed in honor of Mr. Hyde. I was trying to fit this into the narrative, suggesting this was the memorial statue (Ade Brown, the organizer of the charity auction, proposed the statue would have been sculpted by Mark Gatiss’s character Lucifer Box, and so Box’s signature is visible along with a date of 1900, two years after the events of the book).

Wanting to include the rest of the League, I placed them in simulated-stone cameos around the base of the statue, Quatermain, Nemo, and the Invisible Man, Hawley Griffin, with their adversaries the Martians included in the fourth cameo. Along the “stone” base are reliefs of the Nautilus famous Martian walkers along the Thames, the League “mystery man” logo, a depiction of Mars ringed with red creeper vines, and the League’s handler, Campion Bond with his family’s motto. Numerous other, minor details are packed away in there, too. The finished piece was shipped to London where it sat in the window of the defunct Comics Showcase, a shop I’m told Kevin O’Neill frequented, until it was auctioned.

When O’Neill drew the scene I used as a the basis of the sculpture, he drew Mina and Hyde mostly in close-up, so I needed to guess at their relative positions and postures. I gave Mina ramrod-straight Victorian posture, her hands bunched into fists at her sides.  The most recent issue of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 3: Century 2009 included this picture of the (now immortal) Mina Murray:

I thought it was funny that O’Neill had given Mina the same posture I had…

And then I noticed the monogram on her hooded sweatshirt. It’s a stylized “JF” nearly identical to the one I use to sign my sculptures.

I’m going to chalk it up to a neat coincidence and not the most obscure allusion ever made in LoEG, but I would love to imagine I’d been born into a world of stories and become one myself.



Doc Bruce Banner,
Belted by gamma rays,
Turned into the Hulk…

Stan Lee has said that the Hulk, co-created with artist Jack Kirby, is based on Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde, the good man who becomes a monster, and also on Boris Karloff’s version of Frankenstein’s monster, the misbegotten, persecuted creature. Those influences are fairly evident. What is absent from all but the original versions of the Hulk are his Cold War origins. Doctor Bruce Banner was a meek, bookish man who used his genius to build weapons of mass destruction and, caught in the blast of one of his bombs, became one himself.

The Hulk is Banner’s alter-ego. When angered, Banner becomes a seven-foot, thousand-pound, musclebound, lime-green, simple-minded version of himself (in most versions: he originally changed at nightfall, was gray-skinned, and merely terse, not simple). As he grows angrier, he gets stronger,often proclaiming “Hulk is strongest one there is!” After the anger has faded, he reverts back to a scrawny Bruce Banner by the side of the road somewhere, his clothes in tatters, barely able to remember what he’s done.

In the 1980s, writer/artist Barry Windsor-Smith proposed a story which would reveal that Bruce Banner had been physically abused as a child. The revelation would suggest that the Hulk was not merely Banner’s repressed anger, but a physical manifestation of the anger of an abused child, to some degree explicating the Hulk’s childlike demeanor. Marvel ran a version of  the story, but without Windsor-Smith (and interesting account of the behind-the-scenes story of how Marvel passed and then ended up using the story anyway can be found here).

The Hulk’s adventures both permit us to worry for Dr. Banner, the victim of violence who perpetuates violence without meaning to, and vicariously enjoy the demolition when he transforms and bellows “HULK SMASH!”

I hope you’ll return for tomorrow’s installment of MIGHTY MARVEL MAY even if tomorrow’s installment isn’t very nice.