When a veteran comic book editor learned she would be working with a former NFL player, she looked forward to getting her first impression.
Phillip Buchanon, a 1999 Lehigh Senior High graduate who finished his 11-year NFL career in 2011, gave her a favorable one. He called Shawna Gore not long after he finished his final season on injured reserve with the Washington Redskins.
Buchanon, 33 and living in Miami, began to research the comic book industry in early 2012, hoping to get information and contacts he could use to start a second career. The Fort Myers native contacted Gore, who began connecting him with various comic book writers and artists. Some of them have worked for Marvel Comics, DC Comics and Dark Horse Comics, the three largest comic companies in the country.
Buchanon’s interest in producing comic books reached a peak last weekend when he and some of his collaborators convened for the 45th annual San Diego Comic-Con International, the best-known national convention of comic book aficionados.
There, Buchanon displayed and promoted his first three comics: The Supernals Experiment, The Aquatic Bourne and New Money. New Money will also be a novel to be self-published by Buchanon.
The three comics have rare, print editions. Otherwise, two of them, New Money and The Supernals Experiment, are now available for download for 99 cents each from Comixology.com. The Aquatic Bourne will be available in September.
The Supernals Experiment is a five-part, monthly series that will run through the end of the year.
“I’m working on a lot of different things,” Buchanon said. . “Don’t be surprised if this is just the first of many different things I’ll be doing. It’s crazy how I got started.”
The genesis of the comic storylines began in Fort Myers.
“When I was young, I didn’t go to the Bell Tower,” Buchanon said. “I went to the dollar theater right next to the Edison Mall. I was really into the movies. As I got older, I started to realize how much I enjoyed going to the movies. Then I would start thinking, ‘What if they did this, or what if they did that?’ ”
Buchanon took his movie ideas and transformed them into comics.
The plotline for New Money revolves around a professional boxer, an NFL player, a soccer star and a singer who each sign lucrative contracts and come into money after growing up in low-income environments.
The NFL player in the comic, a cornerback named Broderick McFadden, is loosely based on Buchanon.
“When I first got into the NFL, I had a lot of dollars, but I didn’t have a lot of sense,” said Buchanon, who as the No. 17 overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft received a five-year, $12 million contract from the Oakland Raiders, which later traded him to the Houston Texans. Buchanon also has played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Detroit Lions and Redskins. He finished his career with 388 tackles and 20 interceptions, five of which he returned for touchdowns.
“I didn’t know how to manage the money,” Buchanon said of the earlier part of his career. “That’s where this book came from.”
N. Steve Harris, a former Marvel artist who co-created the DC comic character Aztek, drew the cover and artwork for New Money.
“It was interesting subject matter for a comic book,” said Harris, who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., and met Buchanon for the first time in person at Comic-Con. “These kinds of comic books are expanding even outside of America. Now you have other comic people coming out with their own comics and their own vision. You see totally different ideas being expressed and put out there in the general market.”
Gore, who has collaborated with other celebrities such as rock stars Gene Simmons of Kiss and Rob Zombie, said she wasn’t sure what to expect when she learned she would be working with a former NFL player. Based in Portland, Ore., she is a freelance editor who used to work for Dark Horse Comics.
“I wasn’t sure if he would be a macho guy or if he would respect a woman’s view of telling him what to do,” Gore said. “He’s a really intellectually curious person. I really liked him right off the bat. He didn’t want to just tell me what to do. He wanted to learn what I had to tell him about making comics. He’s very creative. If his ideas are too wild, he’s really willing to listen to what makes sense story-wise. He’s really a stand-up guy. He has treated me well. I think he has learned a lot, too. His story ideas and development have really gotten better.”
Buchanon said he wanted teenaged football players in Southwest Florida to know that if they can’t make it to the NFL that there are plenty of other opportunities for them to be successful in other walks of life.
“Sometimes, when you have an idea, and you’re first trying to do things, you try to find yourself some people who have already had some success,” Buchanon said. “Luckily, I had the resources, having played in the NFL.
“Even if you don’t have the resources, you can still stick to your guns and make something happen.”
Buchanon’s comic books
Here’s a look at the plotlines for two of former NFL player Phillip Buchanon’s three new comic books, available for 99 cents each on Comixology.com. Buchanon graduated from Lehigh Senior High School in 1999.
• The Supernals Experiment: For more than 20 years, a talented but renegade doctor has performed unprecedented medical experiments in an attempt to help the most vulnerable children imaginable. Now those children are growing up and discovering that Dr. Epstein did more than just heal their physical disabilities – he changed them, gave them powers, and made them targets for a ruthless organization bent on controlling their incredible abilities.
• New Money: When professional boxer Kameron Kash, NFL player Broderick McFadden, soccer star Mike Lion and singer/entertainer Marley White get signed to exclusive contracts...they start to make dollars, but not a whole lot of sense.