I grew up reading Mad, Cracked, Crazy, Heavy Metal, 2000 A.D., Judge Dredd Megazine, Warrior, Eerie, Creepy, Raw, Marvel Fanfare, Epic, Negative Burn, Dark Horse Presents, Drawn & Quarterly, Top Shelf, Kramer's Ergot, Batman Black & White, and a slew of other anthologies. I fondly remember bin diving for old issues of Marvel's Tales To Astonish, Tales of Suspense, Journey Into Mystery, and Strange Tales. DC Comics' Weird War Tales. And, EC Comics horror, crime, and war anthologies. Since then, I've been involved in several benefits and curated several anthologies, including AdHouse Books' PROJECT: SUPERIOR, and the Harvey Award nominated, ACT-I-VATE Primer. Anthologies are in my blood.
So, when former Marvel Comics editor Jody Leheup invited me to submit an idea for Marvel's outlier revamp of STRANGE TALES in 2010, I couldn't say no. The tone reminded me of Tom Devlin's Coober Skeber #2 (Marvel Benefit Issue), and DC's Bizarro Comics (edited by Joey Cavalieri). Sure, I'd properly played with the Marvel toys a few times before (and after), but I was encouraged to access my indie/alt sensibility. The continuity cuffs were off. And, I got to be in a series with a bunch of my friends.
My STRANGE TALES memory is fuzzy but I remember being encouraged to do what I do. Back then, the thing that recommended me was my semi-autobio series STREET CODE. Collaborations with Harvey Pekar, and Jonathan Ames. And, my cosmic bruiser, BILLY DOGMA, the last romantic antihero. So, naturally, my contribution was gonna be American Splendor by way of Brooklyn with a side of superhero. I don't remember there being any editorial qualms with my story and art.
I knew I wanted to use The Thing, my favorite Marvel character, but I wanted to employ Marvel's worst character, too. Who could that be? It was a challenge to excavate but I finally arrived at Woodgod. In his origin story, he basically cries the whole time. He sucked. I wanted to dust him off and give him some honor. Grace him with star crossed romance. I wound up devising an epic in four pages that incorporated Woodgod, The Thing, Alicia Masters, The Yancy Street Gang, and The Celestials. Because it was so purple yet corny, I don't think I wrote a comedy, but you're meant to smirk at the heartfelt absurdity of a tale entitled, "The Left Hand Of Boom."
I wish Marvel would publish more projects like STRANGE TALES.
You can read David Harper's in-depth account at SKTCHD, “Just Do Your Thing”: The Story Behind the Making of Marvel’s Strange Tales Anthologies: