December 9 - Well, I'm done recapping the past two years of specialty "...Of The Day" features with my "Just One More" versions. Last night, it was Just One More "Forbidden" WOMP Character, Venumia (the Gargoyle Queen). Before I go on, I suppose I should tell you about Venumia. Back in the nebulous, formative days between my sweet childhood drawings of Monkey and my sort-of-professional adulthood drawings of Monkey, there were a few years of embarrassingly disastrous mid-teenhood drawings of a character who was "Monkey" in name and general appearance only. As I searched for my cartoonist "voice," I drifted away from playful fantasy toward "serious" stories. Even so, I was reluctant to let go of certain characters, like Monkey, in whom I had so much invested. Still, that doesn't mitigate the horror of seeing the "Monkey" that I drew then. He was very muscular, except for his gigantic, bellbottom-like feet. He carried a sword and a raygun. Worst of all, he was always scowling, as if he had just sucked on a lemon...a rotten lemon at that. Also making the jump to my terrible teen comics was Vladic, the scar-faced immortal most recently featured in my Continuity Crisis 24-Hour Comic. My cast of characters then expanded to include such "classics" as squiggly John Woe (originally merely my pseudonym) and moody Powerfist, as well as several awful, awful new creations that I thought would help me tell stories about swashbuckling space pirates and science fiction horror. Looking back, I can see that Bill Mantlo and Michael Golden's Micronauts had a great influence on my stuff of that period. For a premise, I imagined a bleak, future Earth, wherein Monkey was inexplicably a romantic lead (complete with human girlfriend) in stories about a ragtag handful of rebels fighting oppressive alien overlords, nicknamed "Gargoyles" by Earthlings. There was a Gargoyle king (named simply "The"), several Gargoyle governors and bureaucrats, and a conniving, power-hungry queen named Venumia. As character designs go, she was "OK," I suppose (Venumia was a pseudo-sexy, bulbheaded, bald vampire-lizard), but as a literary vehicle, she was ridiculously melodramatic, complete with many scenes of her clutching a curvy knife to her chest as she looked out of the corner of her eyes toward her unsuspecting mate. Oh, it was all so Shakespearean...except for the "being good" part. After a few trial runs, my stories clearly had a problem (or, should I say "they had a very large problem that even I could suddenly see" instead?). There was no place for Monkey in any of them. I rewrote/redrew the same stories with Powerfist in the "hero" role, and, with that, retired Monkey unceremoniously for about a decade. In the end, the "oppressive alien overlords" story got twisted and tuned to fit into The World of Monkey (as one of a series of many alternate futures), but Venumia, with her over-the-top and too-cliched actions, has been sidestepped...at least for now. As I continue The Forbidden Territory (eventually), I think that I can still find a place for her. OK, now, as I wrap up this month, I need some sort of new "...Of The Day" topic, so I've decided to cheat and now post what I'm calling "Just One" versions (as opposed to "Just One More"). How will this work? Like this; here's your Just One Paranoid Conspiracy-Theorist Comic Book Character of The Day - The Question!