Birth of the Blue Bomber

“We wanted to make sure that the animation was realistic, and actually made sense”

– Keiji Inafune on Mega Man

 

Birth of the Blue Bomber

 

Greetings from the desert fellow CBSI members. There has been a lot of chatter within our group recently about characters created outside the comic medium gaining traction within this circle. Things like Popeye or Ducktales variants come to mind as the hot books of today.

Well what about video game comic renditions? Ah, there’s no play in that many would argue. Yes, for the most part this is true. However, I am going to take a look at one of the most popular video game characters of all time, and the unique fashion it was bestowed into art / book form. Are these perhaps an unearthed gem for the most part?

That will be up to you to decide, but I will lay out the facts. Let’s first take a look back at how this guy with a cannon arm got his start, resulting in a dozen spin offs and more than one hundred games. Yes, that’s on par with that plumber who can’t seem to sit still. What’s his name?  Mario.

In the early 80s, Capcom the maker of such hits as Street Fighter, was looking for a way to break into the home console wars. This market was growing in popularity, however they had to be sure whatever their contribution would be, it would need to define a change in how games were played. Enter Keiji Inafune, a staple for years behind Mega Man.

True story – When Capcom was unsuccessful at landing the rights to Astro Boy, they had to start all over with a new creation that stood on its own merit. In looking deeper, Mega Man borrowed from Astro Boy, which borrowed from Pinocchio. Ironically, all three are about a elderly man building a young boy, who then embarks on an adventure.

Coincidence? Hmmm, I think not! Okay, so we all at some point have played rock, paper, scissors correct? Whether it was for marbles, hot wheel cars, or beer depending on age. The goal being use one of the three to take out your opponent. Now individually any one of the three could win a game played, and in addition, each one has a weaknesses subsequently creating a loss.

This was the Genesis of Mega Man, and those who have played know that is exactly how the game is played out. Some bosses being easier than others to defeat, yet all having a flaw that could be exposed making it easy.

Here’s one more interesting tidbit before we move on. The question is why he is blue comes up regularly. Well, the console – Nintendo, had limitations. There was a better selection of blue shades than any other color of the 54 color Pallette the system was reduced to at that time, thus he became blue.

See examples for then and now… A few more than 54 today huh?

 

Nintendo 1987

 

PS4 Today

 

The release of this iconic game is also something of interest. In Japan on December 17th, 1987  the game was released as Rockman (ロックマン, Rokkuman). Not to long after, it was released in the US as Mega Man. Why the difference in titles? Well, within the States there was already a copyright for the term “Rockman”, which is a low priced headphone amp.

Furthermore, the had two different box arts as well. Ok, so what’s wrong with this picture? The US version has got to be the ugliest, generic box known to man. With this is was not until Mega Man 2 that it took off here in America.

Japan

U.S.

 

Finally, in speaking of the sequel, as seen below there was an advancement in graphics. In addition, the games controls were increased, creating the best selling one is the series at 1.5 Million copies sold.

 

Mega Man

 

Mega Man 2

 

Alright, so we have looked at the backstory of where this creation came from in the late eighties. Let’s now peer into the comics. There is a bit of a rabbit hole here, which makes it all the more intriguing. First, here are some key hard to find appearances from Japan for the obscure collector – Paging Topher!

Comic Bon Bon #87

Rockman Memories

 

Nintendo Power 6 is known for the 1st stateside appearance of Mega Man in book form in June of 1989. Fun fact – This issue also holds J. Scott Campbell’s 1st artwork as a kid as well. Probably something you may want to track down if possible.

Nintendo Power 6

 

Now here is a peak into the first comic book “series” which was published by Dreamwave Productions. The irony is the company went under after only four issues, killing this rendition. Big picture, these are sought after books as the print runs were very small.

Here are three covers for the #1 including one by an artist you should all know by now. Finally, if you can find issues 2, 3, & 4 to complete the set as six total books it’s worth more on the secondary market. Only the #1 had variant covers.

#1 Cover A

#1 Cover B – Scottie Young Artist

#1 HOLOFOIL Cover
This is THE issue to own and is the most illusive to find

 

Now here’s where things go a little sideways. In Brazil in the late 90s there was a 16 issue series titled Novas Aventuras de MegaMan – Yes, licensed by Capcom. What makes these a buy in the eclectic market is they were highly sexualized and violent. A far cry from the cute renditions within Japan and the US.

It’s like viewing Sonic and Co. in a late night Cinemax movie as some dude who is ambidextrous waffles between the pause and fast forward buttons. If you can own the entire run, bravo! If not, the first and last issues are the ones to grab. Here are the covers as reference:

Issue # 1

Issue # 16

 

Well this leads us up to some of the more recent books published under the Archie label. This ran for 55 issues and included variants throughout the series. There are some great covers, too many to list but worth checking out. Okay what about the money books? I am going to make your searches easier.

These listed below are some of the rare variant covers that are worth a few bucks. They are put in numerical order via cover to make it simple. Here is the checklist  – #1 Sketch, #6 Convention, # 9 Sketch, # 14 Convention, # 24 Convention, # 26 Sprite Variant, # 37 SDCC Variant, # 40 Dawn of X (This is a ghost under $100), # 41 Convention, # 50 Convention.

Again, there are many more GREAT variant covers worth looking into as well, just not the bigger ROI.

 

Alright well that brings this column to a close. Again, are these the next Popeye’s, or Ducktales? IDK? I do know that they depict a classic character with a universe that has been around for 30+ years. Many times we look at formulas for success – Crack the code per se.

Here are the facts: There is a variety of publications from companies that went out of business producing low print runs, to foreign sexier issues, and finally rare variants. Oh and one more thing – There are NEWSSTAND covers for many of these that have value too. Sounds like a familiar mixture right? One that may have a opportunity.

Well have at it and good luck. Anyone have complete sets of these, please post! In closing, I hope you took away something from this piece of value. It’s the under the radar stuff we need to start to look at going forward. This has been talked about many times.

 

Food for thought – Do you know what the other sellers / competition are doing different today than you? Do they know what you are doing different today? Solve this model and success may be in your horizon. It certainly has paid dividend in the business world… Which in many ways is what comics has become right?

 

Talk soon,

Clint

 

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