Last month was the four year anniversary of The Retros launching. The comic has been full of surprises, well, for me anyway. The comic was always meant to be a pretty straight forward action story but it has veered off into different directions than I expected it to. The comic touches on a lot of the political climate, the influence of social media, and has had it’s share of small, intimate moments as well. Even though I never thought the comic would turn into the comic it has evolved into, the shift feels organic and natural.
The other big surprise is that I haven’t missed a day in over four years. So that’s pretty cool.
So, in honor of four years of The Retros, I wanted to share four secrets of the comic.
Alie’s name LOOKS like it’s pronounced “Alley” but it’s actually “Ay-lee”. She picks the name after crash landing on Earth and overhearing someone speculate that she is alien.
“Ay-lee” sounds like the first part of the word “alien”. Another fun fact is that her name is an anagram of Leia, as in General Leia.
Lucky’s full name is Lucky Parker.
His name is a play on the phrase “Parker’s luck” in Spider-Man comics. It’s a common theme for Peter Parker to have pretty lousy luck and ol’ web-head chalks it up to typical ‘Parker’s luck’.
Much of The Retros was inspired by silver age Marvel and 1980’s-era X-Men. This inspiration is a bit of a surprise to me as I am more of a DC fan.
Zoo is the first Retro to retire. He was one of the few team members who was happier before they joined the team. Some of the team members don’t have the happiest endings, but Zoo did. He got to go back to the time period he came from.
Zoo was the hardest of The Retros to decide on a personality. I thought about him being super smart, a direct contradiction of his animal/beast appearance, similar to Hank McKoy from the X-Men. I also considered him being monosyllabic, like the Hulk. But my friend Brian, who co-created Fly-Girl and wrote the plot and dialogue for the first half of the first season said that Zoo should just be… cool.
As soon as he said that, I knew exactly who Zoo was. I used to work with a guy named Tavis. Tavis was soft-spoken, funny, kind, and patient. I worked with him for a while and was just… a cool guy. Everyone liked him, He went onto a new job as a corporate trainer. It was a perfect job for him. He would be a great mentor. The mentoring part of him inspired Zoo mentoring Fly-Girl after she joined the team.
I lost touch with Tavis once he moved to a new job, as is typical when it comes to work colleagues. One day at work we received news that Tavis passed away and it just… broke our hearts. We learned he took his own life and we just… couldn’t believe it. He was always smiling. He was always happy. But he kept his pain hidden behind those smiles. I miss Tavis. I wish I could have known him better, I wish he were still here. Seeing Zoo reminds me of him and I smile each time I draw him.
Finally, Fly-Girl’s real name, Red Reed, was inspired, again, by Marvel comics. Of course, who knows what her real name is as she is an orphan, but she has always been Red Reed. There’s no in-story reason as to why her name is Red Reed. I like to think that the orphanage named her Red because of the color of her hair and couldn’t bother being more creative, but I don’t suppose it’s important. ‘Red Reed’ is a nod to comics’ tradition of alliteration: Peter Parker, Lois Lane, and Reed Richards, the leader of the Fantastic Four. I was on a huuuuge Kirby kick when Brian and I did the first Fly-Girl one-shot a million years ago. Brian liked the name, and there we go.
It’s been a very fun four years. Last week I finished coloring the last page of season five, the current story line. Last night I finished writing and penciling pages 1 -5 of the sixth season. I don’t see the series ending… ever, at this point and I am loving every panel of it.