Amazing Heroes: A RETROspective with Bill Murphy
The Black Terror! Stardust The Super Wizard! The Dare-Devil! All are brightly clad heroes of the 1940’s, when super-heroes were pulpy entertainment, but only a select few went on to become toys.
Bill Murphy, of Fresh Monkey Fiction, is looking to bring these Golden Age heroes back for a modern audience as a line of action figures. While most children of the 1980’s were obsessed by GI Joe and Transformers, Bill spent his time lost in a four-color newsprint wonderland of powerful right-hooks laying the Axis Powers low.
He’s now pulling these forgotten Golden Age heroes out of obscurity in a Kickstarter to turn the lost heroes of the 1940’s into an action figure line, Amazing Heroes.
Action Figure Fury: Bill, when did you first encounter Golden Age comics and what was it that drew you to them?
Bill Murphy: Well, when I was a kid my cousin owned a comic shop and he gave me a bunch of old comics when I was just getting into the collecting in the early 80s…I had Classic Illustrated, Western Comics…and the Nedor super hero books. They were all in pretty bad shape, but I fell love with the Nedor heroes…especially Daredevil.
Action Figure Fury: There has been something of a revival of these heroes of late. Black Terror and Dare-Devil are seen in comics from Dynamite Entertainment, Stardust was the focus of a critically acclaimed collection of Fletcher Hanks works by Paul Karasik several years back. Why do you think these heroes hold on?
Bill Murphy: I truly think there are many more adventures to tell about these heroes that have not been told. Look at Gene Luen Yang’s “The Shadow Hero” he took the Green Turtle out of obscurity and made him into an amazing character.
Action Figure Fury: Captain Action is different from the other heroes of the line as he is a creation of the 60’s and began his existence as an action figure. Can you speak to your decision to include him in the Amazing Heroes line. How is it working with the Captain Action owners on licensing the iconic figure?
Bill Murphy: Ed and Joe at Captain Action Enterprises are great, I cannot say enough good things about those guys. I love Captain Action and thought the essence of the character really worked well with what we were doing with Amazing Heroes. Ed and Joe thought this was a good opportunity to showcase the character in a different scale, so they were all for it.
Action Figure Fury: You have shown photos comparing the Amazing Heroes line to the scale and shape of Mattel’s classic Secret Wars line. What makes these proportions the best for your line of classic heroes?
Bill Murphy: I think it’s a clean well proportioned body style that works well for a large variety of superheroes. I felt we could do a lot with the basic design. Plus I’m a HUGE Secret Wars fan.
Action Figure Fury: We are seeing a wave of DIY toymakers turning out actions figures right now. What were the challenges in learning the production process? What advice would you have for others who are looking to produce their own line of figures?
Bill Murphy: Research, research, research. I was fortunate that I knew a few folks in the industry that guided me along the way. It took me close to a year to plan this line because I needed to make sure I planned it out from every angle. I wanted to make sure we could produce great quality figures. My best advice would be to get online and try to make friends with like-minded folks and share your knowledge.
Action Figure Fury: I have heard running a Kickstarter is full-time work, and then some. How is it going and what have you learned from the experience?
Bill Murphy: It’s going great so far. it’s been amazing to connect to the fan base. It’s so rewarding to connect with fans who love these characters as much as I do. I’ve learned that no matter how prepared you are before you launch, there are going to be curve balls thrown at you, so you have to be able to turn on a dime in order to make the most of your campaign. Also, growing your fan base before you launch is SUPER important, you need a core fan base to get you funded. This might be the hardest lesson I had to learn.
Action Figure Fury: How did your collaboration with acclaimed comics artist, Gene Luen Yang come about and how did it lead you to add Green Turtle to the Amazing Heroes line?
Bill Murphy: I started doing some teasers for the line a few months before we launched. Gene hit me up and showed me his “Shadow Hero” book and I fell in love. I knew I had to get the Green Turtle into the line the moment I put the book down. It took longer than I thought, but I’m glad we were able to get him in the line.
Action Figure Fury: What are your plans for the line post-Kickstarter?
Bill Murphy: Assuming we fund, the plan is to go right into production. Getting funded is only half the battle. Moving into manufacturing is exciting but also needs to treated as a full-time job. I want to make sure we produce the best line of figures we can.
Action Figure Fury: Bill, thanks so much for talking Amazing Heroes with us. One last question, what is one toy that you either couldn’t bear to part with or haunts your dreams because you never owned it?
Bill Murphy: Oh that’s easy, my collection of Big Trouble in Little China action figures by N2 toys… I love that movie and those figures are super rare so I’d never let them go.
Best of luck to Bill on Amazing Heroes. If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit Bill’s Kickstarter and support Amazing Heroes you can do so here. We wish him all the success as we can’t wait to hold those heroes of yesteryear in our hands and add them to our own collections.