The original idea for this thing began at a comic convention, Heroes Convention 2014 to be precise. I was talking with one of the people who visited my table at the convention, and the subject of Golden Age Super Heroes came up.

He mentioned that there was a wiki for public domain super heroes from the Golden Age. These were characters that had been unused for so long that their copyright had expired and they now belonged in the public domain.

Of course, the legality of whether these characters actually belong to the public domain is questionable. Based on the letter of the law, a work that is published after 1923 but before 1978 is copyright protected for 95 years. Technically speaking, most of the characters in The Not So Golden Age are actually about 20 years away from being in the public domain.

The publishers of the comics that these characters appeared in have been out of business for a very, very long time. Simply put, no copyright owner for these characters exists any longer. These characters have been abandoned.

The idea of these characters being unused and dormant for so long intrigued me. For the sake of this story, I decided to consider these characters all in the public domain. It is, after all, a parody. I wanted to poke fun at silly Golden Age comic book characters and honor their legacy at the same time.

The original idea was an equal parts mix of The Watchmen and Aqua Teen Hunger Force. (keen eyed readers can even spot the characters from ATHF hidden in a panel in this comic. Have fun searching!) These characters were unused and neglected for so long that they have fallen on hard times, thus why they now live in a trailer park.

I also decided early on that these characters, despite being old and washed up, would not actually be “old”. I didn’t want the comic to devolve into a series of geriatric jokes. Besides, everyone knows that comic book characters don’t age at the same rate as everyone else anyways.

Blue Bolt was the first character I focused in on, and he soon became the main character of the book. He would be the Dean Martin of the comic while everyone else would be Jerry Lewis. Blue Bolt has quite the comic pedigree and was created by comics legend Joe Simon. It was also one of the first times that Joe Simon and Jack Kirby worked together. They would, of course, go on to create Captain America.

The next character that absolutely jumped out at me was a goofy sounding super villain; The Deathless Brain. The idea of a robot brain in a jar absolutely screamed Golden Age to me. I quickly decided that he would be a reformed super villain and raging alcoholic. The idea that he would “drink” by simply dumping booze into his “brain juice” was too good to pass up. The Deathless Brain would be Blue Bolt’s asshole best friend.

From here the characters basically wrote themselves; from the pant-less Phantasmo, the crazy cat lady Black Angel, to the determined vigilante The Green Mask. I made up bios for all of them and figured out how they would mesh together and live in this silly little trailer park outside of Reno, Nevada.

It was about at this point that the idea seemed to fizzle a bit as I struggled to fit all of the pieces together into a coherent story. This is where writer and all around awesome dude Phil Buck entered the picture. It was quite fortuitous that I met Phil, because without him The Not So Golden Age probably wouldn’t exist.

I’d never really worked on a comic with a writer, or anyone else for that matter. When I pitched the idea to Phil, I was worried he wouldn’t “get” the joke. The thought of someone else playing with my “toys” scared the shit out of me. I thought explaining my stupid idea for a comic to someone would be like pulling teeth. I was wrong. Phil got the joke almost immediately.

Working with someone else really was a god-send for this project. Getting Phil’s input and meshing his ideas with mine really worked out wonderfully. Within a few weeks we had a finished script for the first issue.

I also decided that I wanted to first publish the comic as a web-comic, followed then by a print edition. The art and style of NSGA kind of developed over time, and the old school coloring was absolutely inspired by Ed Piskor’s Hip Hop Family Tree. If you haven’t read that, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

The Funco! advertisement at the front of the book was a lot of fun to work on. I pretty much giggled incessantly the entire time I was making it. I thought it would really set the stage for the comic.

The artwork, lettering, coloring, designing and everything else took me about a year to complete. I have a normal, boring full-time job during the day so I had to squeeze making this comic into my already busy life. My wife deserves a huge amount of credit for tolerating me while I worked on this thing. Thanks, dear.

Now that this comic is finished, one thing I can feel comfortable in is that this is as good as I could have possibly made it. Now onto issue number 2!

– Joseph Freistuhler 03/20/16