by Terence E. Hanley
Five Star Comics began in 2011 as an anthology of Golden Age comic book characters that are now in the public domain. Our first issue included stories of Moth Man, Silver Streak, Marvel Maid, Flip Falcon, and Cave Girl. With our second issue, we began telling stories of our own original characters, first of which were a pair of Siamese twin brothers, code-named The Amalga-Mates. Their identities are secret. (That's part of the fun.) When they aren't fighting crime, the two are millionaire philanthropists Hemsworth V. Hemsworth (pun intended) and Semyon Hemsworth. For short, they call each other Hemi and Semi (more puns intended).
Hemi and Semi came into my imagination in a way I can't explain exactly. There they remained until a Saturday afternoon in April 2011, when Larry Blake introduced me to Tim Corrigan at the Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo (S.P.A.C.E.) in Columbus, Ohio. Larry had shown Tim some of my work. I felt honored when Tim asked if I wanted to collaborate with him on a story. I said yes, but I didn't know what we would do for a collaboration. He said think about it, so I thought about it as I drove home that evening. The idea came to me as I was driving, one I had sketched three months before. The next morning I drove back to Columbus for the second day of S.P.A.C.E. When I saw Tim, I told him of my idea for a story about Siamese twin superheroes. "No one has ever done it before," I explained. "There's a good reason for that," he laughed, with tears coming into his eyes. But he agreed to it and asked me to send him a script.
Things get away from us. Nearly six months passed before I mailed a script to Tim in November 2011. He called me on the day he received it. He had just finished reading it and was laughing again. Anyone who knew Tim knew his laugh and his great sense of humor. He liked the script and told me he would start drawing.
Tim and I agreed that our story of the world's first Siamese twin superheroes would be a true collaboration. Although I had written the script, I wanted him to feel free to add to it or make changes. One change came out just right. I had tentatively called my heroes "The Titanic Twins." "That's kind of a weak name," I admitted in a letter to him. Tim came up with something better, and that's how Hemi and Semi became The Amalga-Mates. Tim also changed the title of the first story from my original "Nuts to the Nut" to "The Case of the Nutcase." Tim was a great maker of signs, logos, titles, and sound effects. (For evidence of that, consider the "GA-JEEZ" and "SHAZEAMPPP!" on page 28 of FSC #2.) The Amalga-Mates main title is his creation alone.
Tim was a fast worker. Not long after the new year, 2012, began, he called to tell me that he was working on the story, but that he couldn't make it fit into ten pages, which was about what I had envisioned. He sounded a little worried. I confess that I get a little long-winded in my stories, and I always underestimate the number of comic book pages it takes to tell a story. I was just learning then. I still don't have a formula down. At the time I thought one page of script would equal about one page of a comic book story. Now I know that it's more like two to three pages of comic book story per page of script. Anyway, I told Tim that we could break the story roughly in half, run the first half in Five Star Comics #2 and the second half in issue #3. He sounded relieved.
Not that there was any reason to worry. Tim finished the penciling and lettering of Part One of "The Case of the Nutcase" in February 2012. Larry Blake, Gary Gibeaut, and I collaborated on the inking (I was supposed to have done the inking on my own), and the story went to print in time for S.P.A.C.E. in April 2012. I suppose it's only fitting that a story about Siamese twins would have two halves. The second half would have to wait until Five Star Comics #3.
To be continued . . .
Art and text copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley