E-Man

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E-Man
FirstEman.jpg
E-Man #1 (First Comics)
Publication information
Publisher Charlton Comics, First Comics, Comico, Alpha, Digital Webbing
First appearance E-Man #1 (1973)
Created by Nicola Cuti, Joe Staton
In-story information
Alter ego Alec Tronn
Abilities energy-based

E-Man is a fictional comic book superhero created by writer Nicola Cuti and artist Joe Staton for Charlton Comics in 1973. Though the character's original series was short-lived, the lightly humorous hero has become a cult-classic sporadically revived by various independent comics publishers.

Publication history[edit]

After editor Dick Giordano left the Derby, Connecticut-based Charlton Comics, in 1968,[1] the publisher ended its superhero line.[2] A later editor, George Wildman, persuaded the publisher to try superheroes again, leading writer Nicola Cuti and artist Joe Staton to devise E-Man.[2][3][4]

Cuti said in the 2000s that his inspirations included the Golden Age of Comics superhero Plastic Man, and that he wanted to create a similarly fun and whimsical character. Cuti also admired Albert Einstein and his formula, E=mc2. He conceived a character who was caught in a factory explosion and became an energy being that could take any form of matter. When he shared this idea with artist Joe Staton, Staton felt the origin was too similar to that of Charlton's Captain Atom and the atomic-accident origins that had often been used by Marvel Comics writer-editor Stan Lee. Inspired by the works of Arthur C. Clarke, Cuti created a new origin that made E-Man a packet of sentient energy created as a star went nova.[5]

Cuti asked Staton to design the costume, only requiring that the character not wear a cape and that the formula E=mc2 be his chest emblem.[5] Staton based E-Man's face on that of actor Roger Moore, making him appear heroic but somewhat generic.[6] When Staton delivered his design to Cuti, Cuti colored it with yellows and oranges to differentiate it from the reds and blues so frequently in other superhero costumes.[5]

E-Man took a light whimsical tone to differentiate itself from super hero comics at Marvel and DC.[7] Cuti enjoyed scripting wisecracking banter between E-Man and his girlfriend, Nova Kane, inspired by movies like The Thin Man and Mr. and Mrs. North. However, he did not intend to spoof super hero comics. He wanted to present serious situations that the characters could make light of.[3] Inspired by the work of Wally Wood in MAD Magazine, Staton would insert sight gags into each issue.[5]

Cuti promoted E-Man in advance of the first issue by sending letters to assorted fanzines, such as Rocket's Blast ComiCollector[8] and The Comic Reader,[9] with a photostat illustration of the titular hero. The letter announced Charlton's re-entrance into the super hero genre and promised that one third of each issue would feature a new super hero,[8][9] an idea suggested by Wildman to try out new super hero properties.[10]

Charlton Comics[edit]

E-Man #4 (Aug. 1974). Cover art by Joe Staton.

E-Man first appeared in E-Man #1,[11] cover-dated October, 1973, on a bi-monthly publishing schedule. The series for 10 issues until cover date September, 1975.[12] Cuti suggested the title "E-Mail,"[13] for the series' letter column, a term not yet in prolific use.[5] The last four issues, along with other Charlton titles, featured painted covers after Charlton began working with a Texas company that could do painted color separations cheaper than Charlton could do hand separations.[14]

Due to a nationwide paper shortage caused by a Canadian paper mill strike,[15] six months passed between issues #2 and #3. This gave Cuti and Staton time to push other material back and produce a story titled, "The Energy Crisis,"[16] a social commentary on the 1973 oil crisis. This gap in publication also gave Staton the opportunity to refine the title's art style, making it darker and conveying more mood.[5]

E-Man was Charlton's lowest selling title on newsstands, but was the company's best selling subscription. When Wildman told Cuti that the title was to be cancelled after issue #10, he explained that the publisher only allowed it to continue publication to that point out of loyalty to Cuti.[2][3][7] CPL Gang publisher Bob Layton agreed to publish E-Man stories in the fanzine Charlton Bullseye,[17] but only a single story saw print, "...And Why the Sea Is Boiling Hot" in issue #4 of that title.[18]

Steve Ditko's "Killjoy", a two-issue backup feature

Each issue of E-Man featured a backup story, with the single exception of issue #8.

  • "The Knight," by Cuti and artist Tom Sutton appeared in the first issue, starring a superspy agent of C.H.E.S.S.[19]
  • "The Dragon Killer," by writer Joe Gill and artist Wayne Howard, appeared in issue #3, which featured Travis, a time travelling youngster.[20]
  • "Killjoy," written and illustrated by Steve Ditko, appeared in issues #2 and #4, expressing a similar tone and philosophy as another Ditko creation, Mr. A.[21] The stories featured a silent but frenetic hero battling criminals who protested that Killjoy's constant interruption of their crimes was a violation of their rights.[22][23]
  • "Liberty Belle," by artist Joe Gill and artist Steve Ditko, was featured in issue #5.[24] The character was to be the company's "women's libber."[25] Artists Mike Vosburg and Dan Adkins worked on the character's development, but were replaced by Ditko.[25]
  • "Rog-2000" was featured in issues #6,[26] #7,[27] #9[28] and #10,[29] written by Cuti with artist John Byrne making his professional comics debut.[10] Rog-2000 was the most popular of the back-up features[3] and Byrne had several ideas to expand the character into its own title.[30] Staton and Byrne formed a friendly rivalry during the feature's run, with each of them inserting jabs at each other in sight gags inserted into the art.[10]

A supporting character, the grubby but right-hearted detective Michael Mauser, got his own backup series in Charlton's Vengeance Squad.[31] In 1977, six issues were reprinted under the Modern Comics label for sale as bagged sets in discount department stores such as North America.[2][32]

First Comics[edit]

When Staton became art director at First Comics, the publisher acquired the rights to the character from Charlton[33] and launched a second series. First approached Cuti to write the title, but his obligations as a DC Comics prevented him from accepting the role. The series was initially written by Martin Pasko, who had previously worked with Staton on Plastic Man and Metal Men. Staton[34] and Paul Kupperberg[35] would write later issues, until Cuti finally became the series writer with issue #24.[36]

As a direct-market publisher not distributed to newsstands, the second series was not obligated to seek Comics Code Authority approval and could address more mature topics than Code-approved comics. Where the Charlton series featured broad whimsical themes, the First Comics series engaged in more specific satire[37] directed at targets including the X-Men, Steven Spielberg and Scientology.[33]

The first 10 issues each contained a one-page parody of the Hostess snack advertisements that ran in comics through the 1970s and 1980s.[38] These parodies were written and drawn by different creators and featured characters from across the independent comics industry. These parodies included:

E-Man ended with issue #25 after the title went on hiatus to allow First to publish the seven issue mini-series The Original E-Man and Michael Mauser, which reprinted the Charlton series and Mauser's backup stories in Vengeance Squad.[49] The final issue of this series introduced E-Man's sister Vamfire in a previously unpublished story.[50]

In the course of the run, Staton acquired certain rights to the character from First, although First Comics retained ownership of those stories that had been published by them. As Staton described in an interview published in 2001,

The deal with E-Man was that I had an arrangement with First Comics so that they bought the rights to E-Man from Charlton, and then I was to repay First all their expense out of my royalties. The rights to E-Man were then supposed to revert to me completely. But some of us needed more lawyers than we knew, and the end result of how it stands, as I understand it, is that I have the right to do any new E-Man stories I want to, and I have the right to license any new E-Man material I want. Ken Levin, the lawyer for First, controls the rights to what First published. To keep the rights unified, Ken and I decided he would represent the whole E-Man package. ... [W]hatever I get in, Nick [Cuti] gets 50%, but so far, it's been nothing.[51]

Later publications[edit]

Several years after the cancellation of the First Comics series, Comico published an E-Man one-shot (Sept. 1989) by Cuti and Staton,[52] followed by a three-issue miniseries (Jan.-March 1990).[53] After Comico's demise, Alpha Productions did two one-shot publications, E-Man (Sept. 1993) and E-Man Returns (1994).[54][55]

E-Man appeared in the two-page story "Come and Grow Old With Me", by Cuti and Staton, published in the magazine Comic Book Artist #12 (March 2001).

Cuti and Station reteamed for three one-shots by Digital Webbing Press published the one-shots E-Man: Recharged (Oct. 2006); E-Man: Dolly (Sept. 2007); and E-Man: Curse of the Idol, per its cover-logo trademark, a.k.a. E-Man: The Idol, as copyrighted, per its postal indicia (Nov. 2008), each with Cuti & Staton as the creative team, abetted by co-writer Randy Buccini on the third.[56][57][58][59] The indicia for each listed E-Man as copyrighted by "Joe Staton/First Comics".

A previously unpublished E-Man story (done originally for Alpha Productions) by Cuti & Staton, saw print in Charlton Spotlight #6 (2008), along with an unpublished Mike Mauser story.[60]

In 2011, E-Man appeared in War of the Independents, a crossover mini-series by Dave Ryan starring over 200 independent and creator-owned characters.[61]

In 2014, Charlton Neo announced that Cuti and Staton were collaborting for a new three-part E-Man story to be published in an upcoming issue of Charlton Action, a tribute comic fanzine celebrating Charlton's legacy. Staton stated that he is approaching the project as the final E-Man story.[62]

Fictional character biography[edit]

E-Man is a sentient packet of energy thrown off by a nova. Traveling the galaxy he learned about life, how to duplicate the appearance of life, and good and evil. Reaching Earth, he met exotic dancer/grad student Katrinka Colchnzski (who attended Xanadu University), also known as Nova Kane (novocaine), and formed himself into a superhero dubbed E-Man, with a civilian identity dubbed "Alec Tronn" (electron). His emblem was the famous mass-energy equivalence formula "E=mc2", and his powers included firing energy blasts from his hands, changing his appearance, and transforming part or all of his body into anything he could envision (e.g., turning his feet into jet engines so he could fly).

Nova would later be caught in a nuclear explosion and gain the same powers as E-Man and become his partner; later still, she would lose her powers and become a normal human being again, only to regain her powers sometime afterward. During their early adventures they picked up a pet koala named Teddy Q, whose intelligence grew to the point where he had a job waiting tables in a cafe.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cooke, Jon B. (Spring 1998). "Director Comments "Thank You & Good Afternoon!" Talkin' with Dick". Comic Book Artist (TwoMorrows Publishing) (1). Archived from the original on October 19, 2007. Retrieved February 17, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d Cooke, Jon B. (March 2001). "Wildman Times at Charlton". Back Issue (Raleigh, North Carolina, United States: TwoMorrows Publishing) (12). 
  3. ^ a b c d Cooke, Jon B. (March 2001). "Nicola Cuti Interview: Cuti of the Cosmos". Back Issue (Raleigh, North Carolina, United States: TwoMorrows Publishing). 
  4. ^ Hurd, Jud (December 1973). "Charlton Comics: 1973". Cartoonist PROfiles (Westport, Connecticut, United States: Cartoonist PROfiles Magazine) (20). 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Ambrose, Michael (December 2005). "Pro2Pro: Nick Cuti and Joe Staton". Back Issue (Raleigh, North Carolia, United States: TwoMorrows Publishing). 
  6. ^ Ambrose, Michael (December 2005). "Pro2Pro: Nick Cuti and Joe Staton". Back Issue (Raleigh, North Carolia, United States: TwoMorrows Publishing) (12). ...I realized that was the look I was looking for, just more of an Americanized version of Roger Moore. Just charming and heroic looking, but kind of generic. 
  7. ^ a b Bethke, Marilyn; Koehn, Alexandre (March 1979). "Joe Staton Interview". The Comics Journal (Stamford, Connecticut, United States: Fantagraphics, Inc.) (45). 
  8. ^ a b The Rocket's Blast Comicollector (Brooklyn, New York, United States: S.F.C.A.) (100).  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^ a b Levitz, Paul (April 1973). "ET AL". The Comic Reader (Brooklyn, New York, United States: TCR Publications). 
  10. ^ a b c Cuti, Nicola (w), Byrne, John (a). ""ROG 2000 or What's a Nice Robot Like You Doing... Oh, You've Heard That One Before."" The Complete ROG 2000: 10 (July 1982), San Diego, California: Pacific Comics
  11. ^ Cuti, Nicola (w), Staton, Joe (a). "The Beginning" E-Man 1 (October 1973), Derby, Connecticut: Charlton Publications, Inc.
  12. ^ Cuti, Nicola (w), Staton, Joe (a). "The Witch of Hog Wallow"" E-Man 10 (September 1976), Derby, Connecticut: Charlton Publications, Inc.
  13. ^ Wildman, George (ed). "E-Mail" E-Man 2 (December 1973), Derby, Connecticut: Charlton Publications, Inc.
  14. ^ Cooke, Jon B. (March 2001). "Joe Staton Interview: Man of Energy!". Comic Book Artist (Raleigh, North Carolina, United States: TwoMorrows Publishing) (12). 
  15. ^ Tiefenbacher, Michael, ed. (December 1973). "Charlton News". The Comic Reader (Brooklyn, New York, United States: TCR Publications) (102). 
  16. ^ Cuti, Nicola (w), Staton, Joe (a). "The Energy Crisis" E-Man 3 (June 1974), Derby, Connecticut: Charlton Publications, Inc.
  17. ^ Wildman, George (ed). "E-Mail" E-Man 10 (September 1976), Derby, Connecticut: Charlton Publications, Inc.
  18. ^ Cuti, Nicola (w), Staton, Joe (a). "...And Why the Sea Is Boiling Hot" Charlton Bullseye 4 (1976), Derby, Connecticut: Charlton Publications, Inc.
  19. ^ Cuti, Nicola (w), Sutton, Tom (a). "The Beginning" E-Man 1 (September 1973), Derby, Connecticut: Charlton Publications, Inc.
  20. ^ Gill, Joe (w), Howard, Wayne (a). "The Dragon Killer" E-Man 3 (June 1974), Derby, Connecticut: Charlton Publications, Inc.
  21. ^ Sinkovac, Jerome, ed. (November 1973). "Charlton News". The Comic Reader (Brooklyn, New York, United States: TCR Publications) (101). 
  22. ^ Ditko, Steve (w), Ditko, Steve (a). "Killjoy" E-Man 2 (December 1973), Derby, Connecticut: Charlton Publications, Inc.
  23. ^ Ditko, Steve (w), Ditko, Steve (a). "Killjoy" E-Man 4 (August 1974), Derby, Connecticut: Charlton Publications, Inc.
  24. ^ Gill, Joe (w), Ditko, Steve (a). "Liberty Belle in Freedom's Star" E-Man 5 (November 1974), Derby, Connecticut: Charlton Publications, Inc.
  25. ^ a b Sinkovac, Jerome, ed. (May 1974). "Charlton News". The Comic Reader (Brooklyn, New York, United States: TCR Publications) (106). 
  26. ^ Cuti, Nicola (w), Byrne, John (a). "That Was No Lady" E-Man 6 (January 1975), Derby, Connecticut: Charlton Publications, Inc.
  27. ^ Cuti, Nicola (w), Byrne, John (a). "Withering Heights" E-Man 7 (January 1975), Derby, Connecticut: Charlton Publications, Inc.
  28. ^ Cuti, Nicola (w), Byrne, John (a). "The Wish" E-Man 9 (July 1975), Derby, Connecticut: Charlton Publications, Inc.
  29. ^ Cuti, Nicola (w), Byrne, John (a). "ROG 2000 Vs The Sog" E-Man 10 (September 1975), Derby, Connecticut: Charlton Publications, Inc.
  30. ^ Byrne, John (w), Byrne, John (a). "Rog-2000 Interviews His Creator!" Charlton Bullseye 4 (1976), Derby, Connecticut: CPL/Gang Publications
  31. ^ Cuti, Nicola (w), Staton, Joe (a). "The Inheritance" Vengeance Squad 1 (July 1975), Derby, Connecticut: Charlton Publications, Inc.
  32. ^ E-Man (Modern [1970s], 1977 Series) at the Grand Comics Database
  33. ^ a b Johnson, Kim Howard (July 1983). "Who's on First Comics". The Comic Reader (New York, New York, United States: Comics Worlds Corps.) (10). 
  34. ^ Staton, Joe (w), Staton, Joe (a). "What's Up, Tyger Lili?" E-Man v2, 10 (December 1983), Evanston, Illinois: First Comics
  35. ^ Staton, Joe (a). "Blacklung" E-Man v2, 10 (January 1984), First Comics location = Evanston, Illinois
  36. ^ Thompson, Kim (October 15, 1985). "E-Man". Amazing Heroes (Stamford, Connecticut, United States: Redbeard Inc.) (62). 
  37. ^ Thompson, Kim (January 1983). "E-Man Gets a Second Chance". Amazing Heroes (Stamford, Connecticut, United States: Redbeard Inc.) (19). 
  38. ^ Thompson, Kim, ed. (January 1983). "First Announces Regular One-Pager in E-Man". Amazing Heroes (Stamford, Connecticut, United States: Redbeard Inc.) (19). 
  39. ^ Byrne, John (w), Byrne, John (a). "Rog-2000 vs Auntie Decay!" E-Man v2, 1 (April 1983), Evanston, Illinois: First Comics
  40. ^ Collins, Max Allan (w), Beatty, Terry (a). "The Butler Didn't" E-Man v2, 2 (May 1983), Evanston, Illinois: First Comics
  41. ^ Marrs, Lee (w), Marrs, Lee (a). "The Cupcake Caper" E-Man v2, 3 (June 1983), Evanston, Illinois: First Comics
  42. ^ Patterson, Bruce D. (w), Patterson, Bruce D. (a). "Fuzzyvision" E-Man v2, 4 (July 1983), Evanston, Illinois: First Comics
  43. ^ Waller, Reed (w), Waller, Reed (a). "Omaha the Cat Dancer Feeds the Needy" E-Man v2, 5 (August 1983), Evanston, Illinois: First Comics
  44. ^ Hembeck, Fred (w), Hembeck, Fred (a). "Date Bait" E-Man v2, 6 (September 1983), Evanston, Illinois: First Comics
  45. ^ Baron, Mike (w), Rude, Steve (a). "If Twinkles by My Destiny" E-Man v2, 7 (October 1983), Evanston, Illinois: First Comics
  46. ^ Quagmire, Joshua (w), Quagmire, Joshua (a). "The Great Tweekie Heist" E-Man v2, 8 (November 1983), Evanston, Illinois: First Comics
  47. ^ Foglio, Phil (w), Foglio, Phil (a). "The Gauntlet" E-Man v2, 9 (December 1983), Evanston, Illinois: First Comic
  48. ^ Patterson, Bruce D. (w), Patterson, Bruce D. (a). "That Was No Lady" E-Man v2, 10 (January 1984), Evanston, Illinois: First Comics
  49. ^ Thompson, Kim (Summer 1985). "E-Man". Amazing Heroes Preview Special (Agoura Hill, California, United States: Fantagraphics Books, Inc.) (1). 
  50. ^ Cover, Arthur Byron (October 15, 1985). "Newsflashes". Amazing Heroes (Agoura Hills, California, United States: Fantagraphics Books, Inc.) (81). 
  51. ^ "Joe Staton, Man of Energy! The prolific cartoonist on E-Man, Mauser & Charlton Comics". Comic Book Artist (12). March 2001. Archived from the original on April 10, 2011. 
  52. ^ E-Man (Comico, 1989 Series) at the Grand Comics Database
  53. ^ E-Man (Comico, 1990 Series) at the Grand Comics Database
  54. ^ E-Man (Alpha Productions, 1993 Series at the Grand Comics Database
  55. ^ E-Man Returns (Alpha Productions, 1994 Series at the Grand Comics Database
  56. ^ "E-Man Returns to Comics" (Press release). Digital Webbing via Newsarama.com. March 13, 2006. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. 
  57. ^ E-Man: Recharged (Digital Webbing, 2006 Series) at the Grand Comics Database
  58. ^ E-Man: Dolly (Digital Webbing, 2007 Series) at the Grand Comics Database
  59. ^ E-Man: The Idol (Digital Webbing, 2008 Series) at the Grand Comics Database
  60. ^ "Charlton Spotlight #6". Charlton Spotlight. Argo Press. Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  61. ^ "War of the Independents". Red Anvil Comics. Gargantuan Media. Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  62. ^ "Back Where They Belong! Nick Cuti and Joe Staton Bring E-Man Home to Charlton". Charlton Neo. Charlton Neo. Retrieved 14 June 2015. 

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Back Issue #13 (Dec. 2005): "E-Man: Cosmic Hero for the '70s" (Nick Cuti and Joe Staton interview), pp. 34–47