The Legend of Tim Truman

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Truman’s career began following his graduation from the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Garphic Art. The West Virginia native moved to New York City, landing work on various fantasy role-playing games including ones by TSR. He also began working for DC Comics, providing back-up stories on the popular war-title, Sgt. Rock (beginning issue #354, July 1981).

In 1983, the groundwork for Truman’s first major mark came through independent publisher, First Comics. Working with John Ostrander, Truman co-created John Gaunt, the mercenary anti-hero known as Grimjack. Appearing as a back-up feature in Starslayer (#10, November 1983, to #17, June 1984), the war veteran/former gladiator eventually graduated to a full guest spot in Starslayer (#18, July 1984), and then his own series in August. Grimjack, which ran to issue #81 in April 1991, made a major mark on the comic industry, pioneering the popularity “grim ‘n’ gritty” that boomed in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s. Although Truman only worked on the book for the first 2 years, the comic which blended pulp fiction and science fiction, earned it’s place in history, showing the aging, cynical character’s humanity though his flaws.

On the heels of Grimjack, Truman created Scout for Eclipse Comics, another of the popular independents from the 1980’s boom. Over the course of two series (volume 1, 1985-1987 and Scout: War Scout, 1988-1989) Truman charted the story of Apache warrior, Emanuel Santana, in a post-holocaustic America. In addition to exploring ecological, political and mythical elements, Truman used the book as a platform for his love of music. In one issue, he included a flexi-disc soundtrack, and later put out a short Scout comic (bridging the first series with War Scout) with his Marauder album. 

In 1989, Truman made the crossover to the mainstream through DC Comics. Already several years removed from the company line re-launch, DC tapped Truman to rework one of the few remaining DC icons left untouched by Crisis on Infinite Earths. In the pages of the three-issue prestige format series Hawkworld, Truman re-imagined Hawkman for a new generation. Doing away with the organic wings and whimsical Flash Gordon-esque science fiction, this Hawkman came from a darker, fascistic world. Focusing heavily on the idea of class struggles, this mini-series led to an ongoing Hawkworld title (June 1990-March 1993, which Truman helmed for the first several issues), marking the last time the character was marketable prior to the Geoff Johns relaunch.

Shortly thereafter, Truman began a professional association with The Grateful Dead, producing album covers, T-shirts and tour illustrations for the band, as well as being a contributor to Kitchen Sink’s Grateful Dead Comix anthology. Truman also illustrated lyricist Robert Hunter’s graphic novel, Dogmoon, and did an album cover for Hot Tuna. 

The 1990s provided Truman an opportunity to explore another of his passions – the Western. Beginning with his 1992 graphic novel biography Wilderness: The True Story of Simon Girty: Renegade, Truman produced an impressive body of work for what was perceived as a dead genre. Collaborating with Joe Lansdale, Truman helped revive DC’s long running western character, Jonah Hex. Under DC’s mature reader Vertigo imprint, the new Jonah Hex combined traditional western elements with horror.

The surprise successes of 1993’s Jonah Hex: Two Gun Mojo led to two follow-up mini-series, 1995’s Riders of the Worm and Such and 1999’s Shadows West. Riders of the Worm and Such also brought Truman and Lansdale a degree of infamy. Johnny and Edgar Winter launched a civil suit against the creative team, citing the characters the Autumn Brothers, clear parodies of the 70s rockers. After extended legal proceedings, all nine points of the case were thrown out of court in a landmark First Amendment case.

Westerns proved to be an ongoing theme for Truman throughout the decade. The pairing of Truman and Lansdale tackled another western revival in 1994 – The Lone Ranger and Tonto for Topps Comics. Truman also reunited with John Ostrander for the first eight issues (August 1997-March 1998) of a novel maxi-series that combined the western genre, Civil War history and the origins of Superman. Originally conceived as dealing with the family history of Floyd “Deadshot” Lawton, The Kents detailed the story of Jonathan Kent’s ancestors when they first settled in Kansas. Despite the allusions to Superman mythos, The Kents stands on it’s own as an entertaining western, placing the characters in the midst of the actual historical events surrounding the Civil War. Finally, Truman was also involved with the 1990s revival of Turok , a Native American dinosaur hunter. 

In 1999, Truman became very involved with his music, first as a producer for Cherokee singer/songwriter Terry Strongheart, later forming the Terry Strongheart Band with him. Although the band has recently dissolved, the group released several CDs and performed at many festivals, shows and events through the northeaster United States.

Following the 1999 release of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Truman moved to Dark Horse Comics. Based firmly in the prequel era, Truman’s tales frequently focused on Jedi Master Ki-Adi-Mundi and bounty hunter Aurra Sing.
More recently, Truman, along with John Ostrander and Mike Gold, rescued Grimjack for the legal snarls that resulted from the collapse of First Comics. In 2005, IDW Publishing released the first new Grimjack story in over a decade with Grimjack: Killer Instinct. The mini-series detailed John Gaunt’s life leading up to the events in Starslayer #10.

Finally, this month marks Timothy Truman’s arrival as the new regular writer on Dark Horse Comics’ Conan (the Truman/Lansdale team had previously paired on the Conan and the Songs of the Dead mini series). Beginning with issue #33, the life long fan of Robert E. Howard’s barbarian picks up the threads left by past writers Kurt Busiek and Mike Mignola as he fills in the gaps leading up to his adaptation of Howard’s “Rogues of the House.” 

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