Flashback Universe Back in the day when men were men, and comic books were comic books, stories told stories too. Heck, I can even remember a time where hero's wore their underwear over the their overwear. Yeah. No messing about! My comic book creating mate, Jim Shelley, substantiated this fact to me only the other day, whilst we were comparing undergarments that look as dynamic as a stick of dynamite in a dynamite factory. Ka-Boom! 

1) What is your role in the FlashBack Universe Jim? And how did this venture come about?   Very simply, back in 2005, I decided I wanted to create a digital comic book that did two very different things from traditional comics. 

First: I wanted it designed specifically for the CBR/CBZ format -- that is so the pages would look good displayed wide rather than tall. At the time I thought that would become the format of choice. As it turned out, the tablet revolution has made horizontal and vertical both viable options.

Fantastic Four Giant Sized AnnualAnd the other thing I wanted to do was to make a comic that was bright and colorful with a huge cast of characters that were more set dressing than a world building. I wanted to generate the same sense of excitement I had gotten the first time I read the 'Fantastic Four Giant Sized Annual' with the wedding of Reed Richards and Sue Storm.

Teaming-up with talented Animator, Pierre Villeneuve, who shared my passion, we created the first Flashback Universe comic book. Judging by the many emails and comments I've gotten over the years, Pierre and I were successful on both counts!

2) What are your own origins?   I started as a passionate fan of comics, pulp, fantasy, and sci-fi in the 70's, and became a published horror writer in the 90's. I drifted away from publishing after a few false starts (lured away by the easier money in the IT field). When I saw the potential of the CBR/CBZ pirate networks as a distribution method, I decided to try my hand at writing again.

3) How would you describe your online publishing house? Plus what formats do your wares come in?   We originally started with the CBR format. But because we were one of the first people to consolidate our wares (as opposed to making you click through a zillion web comic pages) many other developers have come forward and asked if they could include my comics in their software (or link to them in some way). Among these have been 'Robot Comics' on Android, 'ComicsRack' on the web (our leading referrer) and 'ComicZeal' on the iPad/iPhone. I have had little interest in paper distribution up until recently, when I saw some potential with Kickstarter. 

Still, mulling that over.

Flashback Character4) What was the first comic book you can remember reading? And what do you still remember about reading it?   I can answer that one very easily as I wrote a post about the First Five Comics I Ever Read. The first one was and 'Aquaman 25 cent Giant Sized' comic with about 5 stories in it. As fate would have it, the Aquaman DC Archives was the last trade / hardcover I bought (back in 2011). Since then I have bought only digital comics.

5) Is it possible for you to run through some of your cast of characters please, comparing them to their more mainstream counterparts?   To answer this question completely would take pages of email. Suffice it to say, if you enjoyed the Bronze Age of comic books, you'll find yourself smiling when you read the Flashback Universe comics. :)

6) If ‘FBU’ was a piece of music, what would it be and why?   This question totally stumped me until I happened to hear Deep Blue Something's 'Breakfast At Tiffany's' purely by chance yesterday. That sound takes an awesome touchstone (the cool George Peppard and Audrey Hepburn movie) and recasts it as thing that binds two people in a way they didn't realize. All to a fun, jangly beat. I think our comics do something like that too.

Aquaman 25 cent Giant Sized
7) How did you meet-up with your collaborators on this project? Plus what have you learned about each other during this venture?   I started with a call out for Artist on the Digital Webbing boards, but because sooooo many of them were clearly just trying to be emulate bad Image comics from the 90's, I almost gave up. Out of about 20 replies, I got 4 people who actually had a real defined style to their art that made them unique. Of those 4, only Pierre had more than 4 pages of sequential art in his portfolio. Most guys just seem to have done enough pages to satisfy whatever art class requirement they had for a semester and had quit. Pierre had dozens and dozens of very good pages that showed me he could deliver. It wasn't until we started corresponding that I realized just how much our personalities clicked.

We both have similar ideas about what we want to see in a story.

What I've learned about Pierre after working with him for so long is just how much I don't know! He never ceases to surprise me with some observation or preference. I think it's because he works in the animation field, so he brings to projects experience and knowledge that I just can't get on my own.

8) What is the one trait unifying your ‘universe of characters’, and how does this differ from the mainstream?   A lot of people have said the key thing our comics have that they have missed over the years is Fun. I think the comes from the fact that I'm not afraid to throw whimsical elements in my stories. Some people say it reminds them of Kurt Busiek's 'Astro City', but I think a more fair comparison would be the Giffen / DeMatteis 'Justice League' from the 80's. Some people have also compared it to Kirkman's Invincible, but I think we are more lighthearted than that series.

Doc Brown Art
9) Has your site received any praise from the media or other noted sources?   Yes, we have. We've been written about by MTV, interviewed by Todd Allen, and I'm often finding other sites linking to our comics and articles. I use to keep track of them all, but have long since given up. I think the biggest boost I ever got was from getting a complimentary email from Rich Buckler after I wrote an extensive article on the counter culture elements in Deathlok. Also, I was once told an article I wrote was being used as reference material in a class in Cambridge, which made my father happy no end - until he realized I wasn't getting paid for it. Ha!

10) If you could get a celebrity – either living or dead – to promote your site, who would you get, and why would you want to get this person?   Wow! That's a toughie. My knee jerk reaction is to say Jack Lord from Hawaii Five 0 because I'm a big fan of the show and the man who drove it. However, I don't know that he would really be the best spokesman for the Flashback Universe. The person who would best convey the sensibilities my site has would probably be Christopher Lloyd. He's zany and out there which is something I've often been accused of.

Same here, Jim. Same here. But I don't know why though? Albatross-Monkey-Piano. Maybe that's why I dig the FlashBack Universe so much? And encourage all of my dear readers to click on it. So go on, folks! Quack. Quack. 

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