If you are younger than say twenty-five, you may not even know who Ron Lim is. For most comic readers over twenty-five, Ron Lim's name and artistic career are tied to a single period of time, a single company, and a single character. That period of time is the 1990s. That company is Marvel Comics. That character is The Silver Surfer. Ron Lim was a force at Marvel in the early to mid 1990s and it is unfortunate that he is practically invisible in today's comics.
If you were to compare Lim to a movie star, he would be the one that you can only remember one film starring that person and it would be the film that made the most money and/or won the most awards. Ron Lim did a lot of comic work before his famed six year run on Silver Surfer back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He also did a lot of work after that. Ever heard of the Ex-Mutants? What about Infinity Crusade? How about Captain America? What about Sonic the Hedgehog? Ron Lim worked on all of those books but when you ask someone who Ron Lim is or to remember their favorite Ron Lim comic, I guarantee you that the majority will answer “Silver Surfer.” Look at THIS THREAD that I started at cbr.com to see what I mean.
Ron Lim's run on Silver Surfer defined the character for practically a decade. As a teenager, I remember Lim taking over on Issue 15 of the series. He took over from Marshall Rogers (hardly a slouch in the art department) and it was like the punch in the face. The Silver Surfer looked freaking awesome! Totally different yet the same. Most importantly for the time, Silver Surfer looked quite realistic. He was shiny! He looked like actual metallic silver might look like in actual outer space.
Lim put an extraordinary amount of detail in to each and every drawing of the Surfer. You could tell that he was having fun drawing the shiny dude. Each drawing looked like a true labor of love. Even with all his attention to detail, Lim rarely missed a deadline. At one point, Lim was drawing multiple books simultaneously. In 1992-1994, Lim drew Silver Surfer, Jim Starlin's Infinity War/Crusade thingy, and Captain America! After a two year stint on Captain America, he took on X-Men 2099 while he continued to draw Silver Surfer. The man could hustle.
From issue 15 until issue 31, Lim worked with writer Steven Englehart. Jim Starlin took over the writing duties on issue 34. It was at that point that the Silver Surfer book became a must read. The team of Lim and Starlin redefined the cosmic books at Marvel for more than a decade. Lim's rendition of Thanos the world breaker is regarded by many as the best rendition of the character. Lim's visuals and Starlin's stories helped to make Thanos one of the big bads at Marvel. See the Infinity Gauntlet stories for an example of this (Infinity Crusade and Infinity War were drawn by Ron Lim).
After issue 92 (seventy-seven issues assuming he drew every issue) of Silver Surfer, Lim moved on. Or he took a much needed break. However you want to look at it. The Silver Surfer book continued. While the book was a top seller during Lim's tenure on the book, sales quickly declined after Lim's departure. The best known post-Lim Silver Surfer artists were Tom Grindberg, Ron Garney, and Jon J. Muth. While these were tremendously talented people, most readers had pegged Ron Lim as “Thee Silver Surfer Guy” [sic] and they could not integrate the artists that followed Lim with their vision of the character. This kind of fan worship might seem cool but being pigeonholed like this is not the greatest thing for a person's career.
Looking back on it now (and after looking in to some rumors), Lim apparently suffered a case of burn out. This happens a lot in the comic industry. When he did return to regular comic drawing after a bit of a break, his art seemed to have lost its “glamour.” [sic] No longer did the art seem as vibrant and bold. Was it the times? The Image guys had become the pinnacle of comic art and many fans were loath to accept anything different. Many of Marvel's 90s books were blatantly imitating the art of Rob Liefeld or Jim Lee. The real “Clone Saga” of the 1990s was the story of artists who cloned the Image style when drawing books for Marvel.
Some of Lim's work in the late 1990s was quite shoddy. Look for his later issues of X-Men 2099 or his more recent issues of Marvel's Anita Blake to see what I mean.
I have tried to contact Lim directly but I have not received a response by the time of this article. As such, I was unable to ask him for his own story as to what happened.
There may be a bright side to all of this. Lim has returned to doing more regular comic work for Marvel. He recently worked on a book called Skaar for them. Skaar is apparently the Hulk's son (Don't ask me. I have no idea how that happened). The book has generally been received well. While the art seemed pretty good from a technical standpoint, it still seems to be a shadow of what Lim used to consistently produce in the early 90s.
Is Lim just past his prime? Did he peak in the mid 90s?
Maybe. Maybe not. Whatever the answer, the Lim I will always remember is the one who drew the best damn shiny Silver Surfer ever.
This is the fourth of a five part series.
The first part of the series has a more detailed mission statement. For those of you just tuning in that do not want to go back, this series is my response to PAUL'S ARTICLE about the cartoons of the 1980s. I liked his article but I think that he got a lot of things wrong. I am responding to his comments by saying that there is a reason why a lot of these cartoons have returned. In this article, I will go through each of the cartoons that he reviewed and I will score them based on how likely I think they are to succeed today.
The ratings go from 0 (worst) to 10 (best).
In this section, I will be looking at the cartoons of 1986 and 1987.
This show could definitely work. A few little tweaks would be needed but I think there is enough here to get the show to work absent the nostalgia factor.
Bigfoot and the Muscle Machines:
Is Bigfoot even still around? So many of these 80s cartoons rely on things that no one recognizes anymore. I think that monster trucks were dethroned by street racers a few years ago. I'm not so sure that a big gas guzzling truck could carry a cartoon effectively.
Captain Caveman and Son:
I agree with Paul's assessment and yet I fundamentally disagree. I loved Captain Caveman but I don't think that there is any way that he would work today. I have to give this a pretty low rating.
Defenders of the Earth:
I disagree with Paul on this one. I thought that this was an awesome show. It was certainly superior to Phantom 2040 or any of the umpteen Flash Gordon reboots that all seem to die within ten episodes. There are so many things that can be done here. You could go the original route of the cartoon and mix together all of the characters or you could go for a postmodern League of Extraordinary Gentlemen kind of pulp story that no one except me would actually like. If you want to make money go with the former. This show would probably still work but I do have a few doubts.
I loved this show. The best part about it is that it used animals so the 80s fashion seems much less dated. The old episodes of this show could still work and new episodes could easily be made. I really don't see why we have not seen new Duck Tales stuff.
This show might work but why bother bringing a show back that no one remembers and has no real franchise?
The Real Ghostbusters:
The third Ghostbusters movie has been rumored to be in development ever since the second one was released. It is apparently set for 2012 but I will believe that when I see it. There is something to be said for a franchise that kept a cartoon going for years even though it was tied to an old movie. The concept is simple. The characters are well drawn and humorous. The only thing I might consider doing would be to recast the roles and reboot everything.
This was a really cool cartoon. Huge monsters wreck cities and the good guys have weird looking exoskeletons. This is pretty much tailor made to reboot as anime.
This is one of those children's cartoons that makes me think that all children's cartoons were created by people who used a lot of drugs. This cartoon is so bizarre that I really don't know what to make of it. I am just going to give it an X since I remember that from high school math.
Lazer Tag Academy
My friend and I got a lifetime ban from a laser tag place. I'm not even going to go in to the details of what happened but it is far from my proudest moment. This cartoon was actually pretty cool and it could still work but I don't think that Lazer Tag is still around. I'm not sure that a licensed cartoon would work because of that.
Another cartoon that needs a revival of the toy line to work. The toy line is not coming back so the cartoon is not coming back.
My Little Pony
According to Wikipedia this is still being made.
This was terribly in the 80s. Sadly this could still work.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Still around. Was purchased for a huge amount.
This is seriously one of my dream projects to work on. I want to do an update of this and made it really dark. The cartoon went to some pretty dark places, it wanted to go darker but the 80s would not allow for that. With Battlestar Galactica and Doctor Who relaunched, this should be redone. But it won't work if anyone else does it. Seriously. I am the only person in the world that can make this work.
Rating: 10 if I do it, 0 if anyone else does.
These toys were awesome. The cartoon was really cool. This could really work today if you were to bring a bit of global warming in to the premise.
No...just no...This cartoon would only work in an era with no conception of political correctness. Everything about this show was pretty racist. And if Firefly can't make a space Western work...nothing can.
Dinosaurs are cool but the concept of this cartoon isn't.
I actually kind of liked the way that this show mixed together sitcom and action elements. The problem is that I don't think that anyone else would.
Beverly Hills Teens
About as fun as watching kittens falling in to a wood chipper. For sociopaths and Helen Keller only. Seriously. You don't know how bad this was. Watch at your own risk.
Only cool in pog form.
Editorial by JA Crestmere (added 11-13-10)
So a lot of you guys probably noticed that this issue went up with no editorial. I hope that people care enough to think that there might be something going on here. I wish I could say that I was involved in some picaresque adventures involving international art theft and quirky music box makers. This was not the case. The articles were ready to go and I got backed up so the articles ran with no editorial.
I am enjoying writing the cartoon series. It gives me a chance to think about why people keep liking these cartoons. The biggest reason does seem to be nostalgia. I am the kind to consistently underestimate the power of nostalgia, something that can range from sentiment to delusion. Does anyone seriously have nostalgia for the Trollkins? I would expect to see smallpox nostalgia first. Paul gave us an excellent article on 1990s artist Ron Lim.
I like to think of this place as somewhere not only to reflect on the articles but on what I learned from them. I am on my eighth issue as editor and I have edited articles from multiple regular and semi-regular contributors at this point. I would like to think that I am finally starting to learn to modify my editing style to suit their writing style in a way that is different from editing while being sensitive of their writing style. I am starting to differentiate the way that I edit different articles based on what is there and I think this is a big step forward in the process for me. Before I started this, I had actually not edited anything. It helps a lot that all of the contributors are excellent writers. Travis's articles use more academic language and they center more around larger theoretical issues. I tap in to my inner English major for his articles. Paul writes his articles with a lot of sincerity but he usually uses a clear arc so I try to focus the articles around that. Paul and I co-write on occasion so our writing styles are fairly compatible. Mogadishu Jones's articles were the biggest challenge for me since his voice is so opposite mine. He also puts his voice right on the surface of his work. It took me a lot of work to get it right and I still don't think that I was perfect. I would like to have another go at some of those articles because I could do them better.
Regardless of who contributes, I need to get better at length. I am terrible at making articles shorter. It is hard for me to cut any content so I try to keep everything in there.
So what do we have coming up in Sequential Daze?
I will be finishing the final parts of the 1980s cartoon article. After that, I probably will not be writing any more articles for the publication unless a stroke of inspiration strikes me. I like editing but I hate editing my own work.
Paul has an excellent Dazzler article coming up. He will also be doing a series on the comics of the 1990s. It will be focusing on how the era was the best of times and the worst of times for comics. This series will either be two or three parts. Discussions are still ongoing regarding the structure.
Travis is going to be doing an article or articles regarding diversity in the Wildstorm Universe as opposed to how Marvel and DC handled it. We are still discussing the format and length for that one but a rough draft is in my Inbox and it is excellent. You are in for a real treat.
Mogadishu Jones has not given us an article for some time but he has stated that he will try to write one for us at some point in the near future as of the last time he communicated back to me.
We have a future article commitment from a writer named Lee Stone regarding mini comics.
There are exciting things on the horizon.
As for recommandations, I am going to do five recommendations based on my 1980s cartoon article. The cartoon series is easy for this because so many of the old shows have been released on DVD. The other recommendations were going to be work related to Ron Lim. Unfortunately, Paul had already set up a ring of Ron Lim related items and, honestly, a lot of his stuff is not available in trade paperbacks or hardcovers at Amazon. As much as I loathed HTML Comics for its flagrant violation of copyright law, it was nice to have one central place for all of the stuff that has never been collected (with a fair amount of that likely to never be collected). Since Ron Lim was not a viable option, I first searched Amazon for “Lim.” With that not returning many things that people would likely be interested in, I decided to go with items done by people named “Ron.” There was not a lot of rhyme or reason to this. I typed “Ron” in to Amazon and went through the items. My first rule was that the writer (or one of the writers) had to have Ron as part of their name. So L. Ron Hubbard was okay. The next rule was only one book per author. The final rule was something that people reading this might be interested in.
I like doing this. I want to try more crazy random stuff for future recommendations. I am curious what people will respond to. But what do you guys think? Would you rather I stuck with recommendations based on the articles? Only comic ones? Thematically related ones? Or are you cool with crazy stuff chosen out of the blue?
Let me know if you have an opinion.