Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Creators of Mars: Michael Nasser/Netzer
Detroit, MI native Mike Nasser, following years of medical treatment for the polio which had partially paralyzed parts of his left leg, moved to his parents' native Lebanon as a child. At about age eight, he fell in love with comic art via uncolored Arabic translations of DC books. Returning to the Motor City in the late '60s, Nasser took art classes, made Lt. Col in the ROTC, and worked his way into local fandom. A couple of great unsung African-American artists, Arvell Jones and Keith Pollard, took Nasser in when he moved to New York in 1975. Breaking into the industry through cover illustrations for Marvel foreign reprints, Nasser wanted a chance at interior sequential art, and got it through DC editor Gerry Conway. This eventually led to his working on a three part Manhunter from Mars serial with Denny O'Neil and Terry Austin.
At the suggestion of Greg Theakston, Nasser looked at the earliest John Jones stories, and restored J'onzz's large alien brow, not seen since the 1950s. Nasser also brought back the white circular belt buckle (divided into eight sections) that had been a constant on the Manhunter's costume for many years, before being abandoned in the 1960s. Both elements remained in use for decades thereafter. Nasser designed a new, dynamic Manhunter from Mars logo which appeared with the character until the mid '80s, when it was decided to enforce the "Martian Manhunter" trademark instead. Nasser came up with the visuals for several locations and technologies from "Mars II," as well as the villains N'or Cott and R’es Eda. Nasser colored his own artwork, and visually set the tone for the sullen, grim depiction of the Manhunter that has been the norm ever since. This established a connection between Nasser and J'Onzz that remains to this day, marking a rather short term project as one of the creator's most memorable, and among his personal favorites.
Manhunter from Mars and other 1977 projects served as a plateau for the early portion of Nasser's career. As the artist embraced and fervently endorsed what some might consider radical religious and social views, he was increasingly shunned by a comics industry notoriously intolerant of that type of expression. Money troubles and conflicts with authorities over his perceived erratic behavior saw Nasser shuffled about the country, to various publishers, and so forth. The 1980s saw Nasser abandon the industry, the United States, and his very name. Settling in Israel, the rechristened Michael Netzer found a wife, and made a home for his five children.
Comics remained in Netzer's blood, leading to his creation of the Israeli super-hero Uri-On in 1987, and his return to the American comics scene in the early '90s. As the decade progressed, Netzer again drifted away from the industry mainstream. Netzer instead channeled his energies toward his visual media production company and developing his use of computer aided illustration & graphic design. In recent years, Netzer has returned to participation in comics via a web presence that extends to internet sites, commission work, and social networking organizations. He remains a friend to J'Onn J'Onzz, and to fan blogs like The Idol-Head of Diabolu, for which he designed its trademark banner. Visit The Michael Netzer Online Portal for more.