Long, long ago, on an island far, far away...hmmmm, that has a familiar ring, for some reason.
Let me introduce myself. My name is Dave Cockrum. I'm also known as Dark Bamf who, as some of you know, is only a pawn in the game of life.
Back in 1968 I was in the Navy, and stationed on the Pacific island of Guam. My first wife, Andrea, and young son, Ivan were with me. Since base housing wasn't yet available to us, we rented a rickety, tumbledown, rat-infested shack in the jungle. 'The Boonie-house', as we called it. Ultimately, Andrea got us moved to the top of the housing list by storming into the office of the Housing Officer and tossing a rat-chewed pair of Ivan's pajamas on his desk.
I have had a career of marrying feisty ladies.
Anyway--we had a lot of typhoons out there. It was seasonal, the way hurricanes are here. During one terrible storm, we rode it out in the boonie-house, with lightning, thunder, and 120 mile-an-hour winds shrieking overhead. Debris whirled through the night skies, and some of it crashed onto our corrugated tin roof.
To put it bluntly, we were scared shitless. Pardon my French.
Trying to keep our minds off the storm raging overhead, we occupied our time making up comic book characters. Frankly, I don't remember most of them. Probably they weren't too teriffic. But there was one pair of characters I remember well--the Intruder, and his demon sidekick, Nightcrawler.
The Intruder was a character like Batman or the Punisher, who relied on strength, intelligence and weaponry to combat crime. Nightcrawler was a demon--yeah, a real one--who had screwed up on a mission from Hell, and rather than go back and face punishment, he stayed on the mortal plane and hung around with the Intruder.
This Nightcrawler wasn't a nice guy. He was nasty, vicious and animalistic. He ran up and down the sides of buildigs, and bayed at the moon like the Hound of the Baskervilles. He came and went in bursts of flame and brimstone--I kept that part, later on--and he had a prehensile tail. He was a very frightening character.
Sometime before I got out of the Navy and became a comics pro, the late and legendary Jack Kirby came up with a character called simply, 'The Demon'. His demon was named Etrigan, who was tied into the Merlin legend. Well, my idea was no longer unique, so I dropped the demon aspect.
In 1973, after working for a couple of years as a background inker and assistant to several other artists, most notibly Murphy Anderson, I got a chance to draw the Legion of Superheroes. After working on it awhile, I decided I'd like to introduce a character of my own into the group. I came up with four possibilities, one of them Nightcrawler.
The Legion nightcrawler was no longer a demon, he was an alien. His name was Balshazaar. He came from another dimension, and his people were the source of lEarth's legends and mythology about demons. He kept most of the original demon's characteristics, though he wasn't quite as nasty as the original Nightcrawler. He also gained the ability to disappear in shadows.
Nightcrawler didn't make it into the Legion. Murray Boltnoff, the editor, thught he was too funny-looking.
In 1975, when I got the chance to be in on the ground floor of re-starting the comatose series X-Men, I proposed several new characters, including Nightcrawler, Storm, Colossus and Thunderbird. They all made the grade, though we killed Thunderbird two issues later.
Nightcrawler, as presented in the X-Men, was a gallant swashbuckler type. All the nastiness and animalistic qualities were left behind. Kurt reveled in his uniqueness. Blue is beautiful, was his philosophy. He was handsome, strong, and chivalrous to the ladies. In fact, he liked the ladies very much. And they liked him back.
Frankly, Kurt was ME
in the X-Men. He was my opportunity to vicariously live the adventures in the company of a great bunch of characters. I always figured if I was blue and athletic as hell, I'd behave just like he did. So you see why I take it personally when somebody messes with him.
I didn't approve when Chris Claremont turned him toward the religious business, but by that time I was off the book and didn't have any say any more. I hated the whole priest business, both because it offends my personal beliefs, and because storywise, it won't work. A potential priest has to spend years in a theological seminary first. When did Kurt have the opportunity? And is there anyone out there who believes the Catholic Churh would ordain someone who looks like Kurt?
I think not.
Well, that last tirade was a little off the topic. But Bamfette asked me to do a short (?!?) bit on the creation of Nightcrawler for those of you who think he started in X-Men Evolution. This is it. Welcome, Nightscrawlers all!