Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Characters I Want to Write! THE FACE!

Created by artist Mart Bailey in the 1940s, The Face is one of those time-and-place concepts that gets snickered at by the modern reader.

A reporter-type guy named Tony Trent puts on a scary rubber mask, a visage so terrifying that criminals sh*t their pants instead of shooting Trent in the Face. This hesitation on their part leads to Trent, as The Face, cleaning their clock for them.

The original series of stories are actually really well-done, art-wise. Bailey had that clean, smooth style we associate with Wally Wood or Al Williamson. Of the stories I've seen, most have been highly entertaining pieces.

The Face, as an intellectual property, has fallen into the Public Domain. Thus, anyone can create stories based on the original version of The Face, created in the 1940s. And recently, Alex Ross and the Dynamite Comics machine has seen fit to reinterpret the character for their PROJECT SUPERPOWERS series. Unlike the original (which no one is bound to...only Alex Ross' version of The Face will be protected by his copyright,) Ross' Face has a supernatural ability to illicit terrifying hallucinations when criminals stare into his kisser.

Eh. Whatever. I mean, it would explain why The Face was so terrifying in the first place, but really I don't care much for the whole of PROJECT SUPERPOWERS so...I disparage it.

My version of The Face, I've been thinking, would have a great secret about him, something he keeps hidden. I've wondered about the whole idea behind Tony Trent in relation to other heroes who illicit revulsion, like The Creeper and The Question (both Steve Ditko creations, and Ditko himself has worked on The Face, illustrated here,) and Trent psychologically destroys his prey. I wonder what would happen if Trent's real face began to destroy his Face persona. What if Tony Trent was the thing that scared The Face most in the world?

Literalizing this would require some Pulp intervention, particularly in regards to something called "the Bultugin." This is a word in parts of Africa which supposedly means, "I change into a hyena." Literally. The idea of the were-hyena is actually a strong legend in Africa, a boogeyman who haunts many nights there. I keep looking at The Face and connecting "Bultugin" to it. I find there's something there...something relevant and terrifying.

All in all, I'd feel like a crumb "taking" The Face and altering Mart Bailey's creation to suit my the same time, the character is compelling and visually striking, and it's unfortunate to see The Face unused, unappreciated, by a modern audience.

No comments: