Daemon Mask was originally published by Amazing Comics in 1987.
John Clute’s Encyclopedia of Science Fiction calls Daemon Mask my best known work.
It had its origins in a paper I wrote for a freshman literature course that I was flunking. I just couldn’t get the knack of what the professor was looking for in the way of essays. In truth, at that point in my life, I was only interested in writing fiction. Literary criticism bored me. I wouldn’t learn to enjoy writing it until I was in Law School. For the last essay for the course, the one that would decide whether I would pass or fail, I threw caution to wind and decided to compare Feodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment to a 1940’s Buster Crabbe Flash Gordon film, The Purple Death from Outer Space. What the two works had in common was a peculiar similarity in their narrative structures. Both works were compilations of serials. Each individual plot segment had been constructed with a narrative hook at the beginning and a cliffhanger at the end. Rather than proceeding with the rising and falling action of traditional plot structure, both works continued from beginning to end with an unbroken level of emotional intensity. Purple Death surely lacked Dostoyevsky’s existential depth– but then Crime and Punishment didn’t have wondrous elements of functional fiction– like periscopes on spaceships, or sweaty laborers frantically shoveling chunks of uranium into the ship’s atomic engines. Fortunately, my professor bought it. And I started thinking that I would like to do a comic book structured the same way as Crime and Punishment and the Purple Death from Outer Space.
It was originally intended as a one shot. An obvious paen to the old hero pulps, it draws on elements of the Shadow, the Spider (who himself was a Shadow knock-off) with a touch of Robert E. Howard. I was striving for an approach to visual storytelling that was entirely counter to the dominant trend in comics at the time—I wanted something retro, evocative of golden age comics—or E.C. horror titles—anti-cinematic visuals that compressed the narrative into a series of icons.
When the Crimson Wings of Silence was published by Amazing Comics in 1987, it sold 25,000 copies.
Since Russ Martin and I had pretty much destroyed the Earth by the end of the tale, we decided to do a prequel for the follow-up story that neither of us had originally intended. The second Daemon Mask story is an origin story. Never published before, it is forthcoming from Bold Venture Press.
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