The Secret Origin of The Last Paladin - Part One
Even back in the summer of 2002 Ed Dukeshire wanted Digital Webbing Presents to focus on super heroes.
The book itself was never meant to be what it became. Digital Webbing Presents started as something Ed wanted the creators that hung out on his website to produce and use as a portfolio piece so we could all show the editors and pros at conventions that we had some chops too. Several guys suggested we show it to Diamond and see if it would be placed in their catalog. Ed did and it was and the rest is a small bit of indy comics history.
I was lucky enough to have a story in issue #1 in December of 2001. After that I struggled to get more done. I threw together numerous scripts over the following months and worked to try and get artist after artist to jump on board my projects. Sadly for most, having a short published and copies to show friends, family, and editors wasn't always enough of a draw for an artist to do five to eight pages for free. Finding artists in those early days was cut throat to say the least. Come to think of it... it still is.
That summer I had a retail job that would give me weekdays and mornings off almost every week. At least one of those days was spent talking over projects and various other things with Ed. By this time Digital Webbing Presents #3 was in the can and Ed was working on issue #4 and beyond. All the stories to this point ran the gamut of genres. We had Crime, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror, Slice of Life, Humor, and just about everything else you could think of EXCEPT Super Heroes.
Ed's dream was to make Digital Webbing Presents huge and he wanted it to be a showcase for new characters and ideas. He wanted Digital Webbing Presents to be like Amazing Fantasy, the book where Spider-man got his start. It was a short story. Eight pages I think and the whole thing was told in nine-panel grids. Lots of story and lots of art crammed into a page to make a complete and cohesive story.
It was at that point I wanted to do something like that for Digital Webbing Presents.
I've always been intrigued by mythology and the unknown and strange things that go bump in the night. I even own the Time/Life Mysteries of the Unknown series of books. Already working on several ideas that used Greek and Roman mythology I decided to do something a little different and focused on Atlantis. Since Atlantis is a "lost" continent and civilization you can do almost anything you want.
I came up with with a story about a member of the Royal Guard, displaced in time to protect the Princess of the realm who had been reborn in a modern girl. The idea was a little odd for me to write since I grew up a Star Wars child and always gravitated to science fiction as opposed to fantasy like this. Good thing this is comics. I took a little pinch of this and that and when I was finished the idea was something more than standard fantasy. My main character had a sword but he also had a pistol at his side like some kind of Western Sheriff. All he needed now was a name.
I scoured through books and my thesaurus and came across Paladin. It fit like a glove. Only problem was Marvel Comics had some goofy guy in purple ski goggles and umpires chest protector with a gun and the same name. I went looking for other options but Paladin had etched itself into my brain. Instead of naming my character Paladin I made it his title. He was the Last Paladin and would have another name just like any other man. That should keep Marvel's lawyers off my back. It has so far... knock on wood.
I blasted through the script and wrote my eight page story with nine panels per page and started the search for an artist. It didn't go very well. Most had no interest in working on a project like this for no pay. The few that did never turned in much if anything at all. Several took the script then disappeared without ever contacting me again.
It was around this time Ed called me and told me to get in touch with Deon Nuckols. Deon had wanted me to write a short story based on his character he created on the front of Digital Webbing Presents #1 - The Digital Widow. At that point my script for the Last Paladin was put in a fold and shoved in a drawer and it sat there for close to two years.
To Be Continued...