Make The Commanding Presence
(originally published in the Winter
2001 issue of Once Upon A Dime)
I first heard there would be a Commander Courage
feature film, I immediately tried to think of how
they would do the costumes for the Commander and
Liberty Lad. Knowing how Hollywood had messed with
other characters' looks in the past, I was worried
they might go with a polished leather (or worse,
spandex) rather than the true-to-the-comics rough
finished buckskin. I even started drawing costume
design sketches to help me anticipate problems the
real Hollywood costume designers might face.
But none of my efforts could have prepared me for
the biggest problem Hollywood would introduce: They
weren’t using Liberty Lad at all, and for
the Commander, my sources told me they were leaning
toward the slick “black ops” look of
the later character Codename Courage.
Suddenly my costume designs took on a new urgency.
I had to get these sketches in front of the right
people. Perhaps if they saw how my adaptation worked
for a modern Hollywood blockbuster while still preserving
the authenticity of the early comics they might
re-think this disaster in the making. Then, odd
twist of all odd twists, I got a call from Timely
Studios. They wanted me to serve as a consultant
on the film. They had read my bio of Jack Whitney
and, clearly impressed, thought I might lend some
legitimacy to their efforts.
I took their job and headed to Hollywood. But of
course I had my own agenda. One of the first things
I did in Los Angeles was track down Greg Nicotero
and commission two costumes from my designs. One
for the Commander and one for Liberty Lad.
My next step was to find buff, handsome actors
to don the garb. I wanted to shoot some photos of
them and show the photos to the studio so nothing
would be left to their (inadequate?) imaginations.
My problem was I had spent too much money on the
costumes. Derek Sprang was on my back for going
into debt. He was probably worried that I could
lose the comic shop if I kept being reckless with
the little money I had. But I was still so naïve
about Hollywood I didn’t realize I could get
plenty of actors to work for free.
So these are those pictures. Let’s just say
that so far, my efforts to convince anyone at Timely
Studios have had less than the effect I wanted.
But I think fans will agree: this is the direction
they should take.