It wasn't the first comic book I ever read (I started off on some G.I. Joe's purchased at 7-11, and various comics found on the floorboard of my friend's family van), but my parents bought me Cloak & Dagger: Predator & Prey while we were staying with my grandparents one summer. I was completely engrossed with these tormented outcasts, sworn to project the helpless against the worst possible scum, the dark religious imagery, the hunger for light. Cloak and Dagger was intense. It blew my little adolescent mind. And I kid you not, as soon as I was finished, Mom and Dad gave me the Cloak & Dagger limited series, all four issues. Once I was finished, the big haul: all eleven issues of the first Cloak & Daggger series.

All written by Bill Mantlo. His Cloak and Dagger stories were amazing. I re-read them a few months ago, and after all this time, they still hold up. Unfortunately, the editorial staff mismanaged the Cloak and Dagger property after Mantlo. They strayed from the point. They partnered the children of light and darkness with Dr. Strange in Strange Tales (Mantlo wrote the only first seven issues), and the stories moved from hard crime to mystical battles against demons and magical forces. Even worse, the Mutant Misadventures of Cloak & Dagger series recast Tandy and Tyrone as being mutants. Any passing association the X-Men might sell more books. Later, Cloak and Dagger joined the Marvel Knights team where their power changed, so that they didn't need each other to co-exist. This utter dependency was the whole dramatic tension, and the characters lost any remaining pathos as a result.

Lately with my blog posts, there's been a theme of what's inspired me and what would I love to write. If given the opportunity, any choice of characters, I could write a damn fine Cloak and Dagger series. Not because I'm some Cloak and Dagger geek, seriously, I've moved past that. Instead, I'm a true admirer of Bill Mantlo's work, and I would love to honor him with a fitting continuation of this series. No, I'm not campaigning, even though it certainly sounds like that. Let's just say the proposal is ready should Marvel ever want to hear it.

A few months ago, I thought about getting in touch with Mantlo and writing him a thank you letter. However, I had no clue where he was now or what he was doing. After a bit of googled investigation, I discovered some tragic news (wikipedia) "In 1992, Mantlo was struck by a car while rollerblading. He suffered severe head trauma and spent over a year in a coma. He has since been institutionalized and is not expected to fully recover." Fortunately, Bill has the caring support of his brother Mike. Also, writer/illustrator David Yurkovich has started THE BILL MANTLO PROJECT, a 72-page, magazine-size book planned for a late spring 2007 release. All proceeds from the book are being donated to help ensure Bill Mantlo's daily needs can be met. Melissa and I will be supporting this project and the fund.