BEHIND THE SCENES: THE SECRET ORIGIN OF SGT. FLAG
G-Man Comics started in September 2019 with Jim Burrows, Eric N. Bennett, and myself commissioning work from Gilbert Monsanto for our first comics which we called. WHO’S WHO, THE OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF THE G-MAN UNIVERSE #1. I liked the long name and the incorporation of the title of WHO’S WHO, IN THE DC UNIVERSE, and THE OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE. It was just a fan project for us to show off our original characters, we gave away the PDFs for free and only charged printing fees for the print edition, we weren’t trying to make any money. We didn’t really expect it to lead to anything more. Then Gilbert suggested we could actually do a comic. I was very skeptical.
However, 30 years ago in 1992, I owned a comic shop called Paper Hero Comics and we were going to publish comics. The first title was Lynx and for the 30th Anniversary, we are actually going to print that comic for the first time. The second title was Sgt. Flag, you can see my original design of the character on the opposite page, penciled by me in 1992, inked by Luis Rivera, and colored by Téo Pinheiro. Boy, do they make my poor skills look professional.
Sgt. Flag was a Marine Sargent kind of like a patriotic version of the Punisher. I was a huge fan of Mike Baron’s work on the Punisher, I had been following his work in Nexus and the Badger. The art on the Punisher by Jim Lee and Whilce Portacio was amazing. I love the Punisher Armories as well. To me, the fun parts of the Punisher were all the action moments but as a character himself, he was rather dower and was the villain turned anti-hero and I didn’t care for that type of representation.
I like the idea that he should be a Sargent, a working man, a Clink Eastwood type of hero. Also, since he was the hero, he would have to enjoy what he did, find joy in saving people. However, as a marine Sargent, he was cool with a bar fight. As a Marine, he wouldn’t have a need a secret identity. Sgt. Rock and Sgt. Fury didn’t have a secret identity.
With the basis of who he was, now I needed what he would look like. Since I was in Junior High I have worn Fonzie style leather jackets. So, I wanted to incorporate that look into his uniform. I wanted to give him a machine gun and a sidearm. It was the ‘90s and as such he had to have a mullet with a ponytail. Ask anyone it was a requirement back in the day. I gave him some stubble and a cigar and we were all set.
Then I got divorced, lost the shop, and never print any of the comics from Paper Hero Comics. Without a comic shop to sell the comics or weekend conversions, I didn’t think I could move 3,000 comics on my own. That was the end of my publishing empire.
In February 2019 along with artist Mitch Kwok, I redesigned Sgt. Flag. I had told Mitch I wanted him to look like a traditional ‘90s Image style hero. He had to be asymmetrical, like Spawn or Overkill. We had to have pouches everywhere. I don’t want the belt to connect and I wanted swords, guns, and grenades. I had a photo of a sawed-off grande launcher with a short stock so I wanted to add that too. No longer was he just Sgt. Flag because who better to accompany Simon N. Kirby, The Agent than Rob McFarlane? Simon N. Kirby was the main character of my corner of the G-Man Universe. He represented everything good, patriotic, and wholesome. So, my ‘90s hero represented everything I loved about ‘90s action movies. He was just as patriotic but it was all high-octane action. While Simon N. Kirby was in charge of all the heroes, Sgt. Flag was a lone wolf. He would love his job and have no friends. Ok, Simon would be his only friend. I wanted him to complain about everyone else. I also wanted him to be oblivious to other people’s feelings. In the mock cover series, I had Simon N. Kirby come home to find Sgt. Flag in his home as an unwanted house guest. SIMON N. KIRBY, THE AGENT #4 we repeated the event in the actual comic.
With G-MAN COMICS 3in1 #1, Sgt. Flag went from supporting character to a solo feature, I also tied his story into the origin of Lynx. I was building a cohesive universe. I had asked Rob Liefeld to draw the cover for With G-MAN COMICS 3in1 #1 featuring Sgt. Flag. He said he couldn’t fit it into his schedule. He told me to wait a year. One year later Sgt. Flag had been in Simon N. Kirby, The Agent, The G-Man Comics Christmas Special, G-Man 3in1, and G-Men United. The character proved to be very popular and a lot of fun to write. In 2022 we were getting ready to launch Sgt. Flag into his own comic. Rob Liefeld was there with a spectacular cover and we were about to launch our Kickstarter.
On the eve of launch, J. Michael Straczynski messaged me and said he notice Sgt. Flag looked too much like his hero from RISING STARS. This was a shock to me. Looking at it the eye and the barber pole design were in fact identical. I talked with Jim and Eric. None of us had read RISING STARS and were oblivious. Clearly, I had seen the image somewhere, I’ve worked in comics for 30 years. But it didn’t register. What I had thought of as an original idea was a half memory of something I saw more than a decade ago. Michael was very understanding and we pushed back the Kickstarter while we made changes. Hopefully, you enjoy the new look and this first full-length adventure. We have a wonderful backup story with pencils by Bobby Ragland, inked by Luis Rivera, and colored by Téo Pinheiro. My buddy Gregg Whitmore joins me for this story as we introduce his character Wildcard. I hope you enjoy this adventure as much we did bringing it to you.