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But the book isn't just restored minicomics. It also includes interviews and trivia. Handling the interviews was Danielle Gelehrter. “It was a privilege having the opportunity to interview these very talented individuals whose work meant so much to me when I was growing up. I spent a substantial amount of time formulating questions that were tailored to each creator. In several instances, I wanted to ask them specific questions about the stories they worked on. Once I had their responses, I sometimes followed up with questions that spun out of their previous answers. It was an enjoyable process. I conducted most of the interviews over email, but in some cases creators were more comfortable speaking on the phone. Either way, it was fun.”
And many pages of the book are highlighted by pieces of trivia, composed by Jukka Issakainen. “It started out as a small suggestion I made during a conversation with Val Staples about other He-Man products released many years ago and luckily resulted in becoming an addition to the minicomic collection, after a blessing from the fine folks at Dark Horse,” informed Issakainen. “One of the easiest and at the same time hardest things with writing trivia was determining what would go into it all. I had written down some notes about minicomics for personal projects that I planned as part of a video series I create. So having a preliminary list in place, I wanted to add as much trivia as I could find. Notes and tidbits that would hopefully be entertaining and informative to a casual fan and something also for the long time fans of Masters of the Universe.”
The project was grueling, but everyone walked away with new outlooks about the minicomics. “There were times, near the end, that I had to remind myself how much I loved Masters of the Universe because after the first few dozen restorations, the scale of the undertaking, along with the deadline, could become daunting,” Rod Hannah recollected. “What kept the project fun was being able to relive the enjoyment of reading the minicomics and really absorbing the art. I had also never seen the entire collection of the minicomics until I was brought on board for this project. I had never seen a single Princess of Power minicomic before and I was really blown away by the Jim Mitchell and Charles Simpson style toward the end of the run. The pastel colors over Jim's animated style made a pleasant contrast for what was primarily aimed at a target audience of young girls.”
Similar feelings were expressed by Leanne Hannah, who said, “One of the things I most loved about the project was working on the earlier minicomics and seeing how the characters and vehicles evolved over time. From personalities to costume and color changes-- Teela's pink costume, Stratos' peach-colored skin, the white Sorceress, the gold Attak Trak-- it was all awesome and I loved seeing these different versions of the classic characters I grew up with. Knowing that things weren't yet set in stone when these minicomics were made somehow makes them seem fresh and exciting to me as a fan.”
Jon Kallis went on to add, “During the restoration, I really grew to appreciate the art of the minicomics. For such small books that were promotional vehicles, so much time and creativity was actually put forth. It is amazing that such famous artists such as Bruce Timm worked on the various books.”
The minicomic collection is a chance for fans everywhere to relive these stories and experience new revelations. “In interviewing the creators, I discovered many fascinating things,” shared Danielle Gelehrter. “I love coming across treasures that haven't been seen in decades. Sharing those finds with fans brings me great joy. With that in mind, the most amazing and exciting thing for me was discovering the Ring of Dreams script for an unpublished minicomic featuring characters like Faker, Evil-Lyn, and Queen Marlena. When I was interviewing Michael Halperin, he mentioned the title in passing and I remarked that I had never heard of it before. He was kind enough to send me the script and, lo and behold, this was an entirely new vintage era story that had never been seen by fans before. Thanks to Mr. Halperin and Dark Horse, fans will get the chance to read the script for the story in this new book.”
Just like the diverse universes of He-Man and She-Ra, every person has their favorite minicomics. So we asked the minicomic collection team to share theirs.
• Ian Tucker, “My favorite is probably The Power of the Evil Horde! with art by Bruce Timm. I've always been a big fan of Timm, and his early work as seen here is very unlike his later more minimal style, but is still so cool and energetic.
• Daniel Chabon, “Hmmmmmm. That's hard. Maybe Rock People to the Rescue or The Treachery of Modulok.”
• Jimmy Pressler, “I really love Bruce Timm's work on The Terror Claws Strike. There are a lot of dynamic and expressive images of both He-Man and Skeletor in that issue.”
• Rod Hannah, “I think it is probably Dragon's Gift, because it is an adaptation of such a great Filmation episode, although Grizzlor the Legend Comes Alive! stands out as well for the liberties and fun Bruce Timm enjoyed turning each page into a work of art in its own right.”
• Jukka Issakainen, “My personal favorite minicomic in the book is Enter... Buzz-Saw Hordak! from the vintage Masters of the Universe issues. It was illustrated by Bruce Timm whose art I simply love, and while I feel the story isn't the best written, I still think it makes use of every page it has to drive the story forward.”
• Jon Kallis, “My absolute favorite inclusion in the release is The Power of the Evil Horde!, a rare mini book that I contributed to the project. This book is very hard to come by and I am so happy that a wide audience of fans can now experience it first-hand.”
• Rachel Crockett, “The Ultimate Battleground. While the story is well written, it's all about the art to me in this one.”
• and since it's not always easy to choose, Danielle Gelehrter said, “Picking a favorite minicomic is similar to picking a favorite figure. I just can't do it.”
Looking back on the project, everyone expressed similar feelings. “The team that worked on the collection were really some of the best people to do so,” expressed Crockett. “Dark Horse set the stage for a better product by bringing on passionate fans instead of simply shopping the work out to a random project team. It wasn't a job to us. Instead, it was preserving the collection for other He-Fans and She-Ravers to enjoy.”
“I hope this minicomic collection is enjoyed by longtime MOTU fans who are revisiting these classic comics, or those fans seeing them for the first time,” said Leanne Hannah. “It's amazing to actually have them all in one book so lovingly put together by fans who grew up with and genuinely care about the Masters of the Universe property. This project was a complete labor of love and I was incredibly honored to be a part of it!” A feeling shared by her husband Rod who added, “Masters of the Universe is iconic and so well remembered by fans and the public. I'm proud to have my name in the book and to finally have the complete collection in a nicely bound hardcover.”
It's a collection decades in the making. “To finally have all of the He-Man, She-Ra, and even New Adventures releases all in one place is such a blessing,” rejoiced Kallis. “The collection is a must-have for any He-Man and She-Ra fan that collected the toy lines as a child.”
“Great content, in a great collection, put together by a great team that I was fortunate to work with. This book is made for the fans by fans, and brings together multiple generations of memorable art and stories,” said Staples. “I hope fans everywhere enjoy it!”
And Dark Horse is thankful to all the support from fans of these books. “Everyone at Dark Horse is so grateful to the He-Man and She-Ra community for their excitement and support of these projects,” exclaimed Tucker. “We're all fans too, and we put lots of hard work into making these books the best that they can be, but we couldn't do it alone. We've had such amazing cooperation from Mattel and Dreamworks, and from the fans around the world. You're the best. Thanks!”
Gelehrter joyfully expressed, “Between the ongoing Masters of the Universe Classics toy line and licensed products like these amazing books from Dark Horse, it is a great time to be a Masters of the Universe fan.” We couldn't agree more.