Mortality & Morality
“I made a decision while holding my wife’s hand that if that doctor comes into this room and tells me it’s chronic, I’m gonna check out,” he said. “In a 24-hour period, I went from everything being totally OK, having a career I loved on the rise, to making a decision that I was going to take my own life.”
– Donny Cates
Greetings from the desert fellow CBSI friends. This One Year Later is going to be a tad different this week for a few reasons. The first being there is ONE clear-cut winner for the week of January 11, 2017. Instead of just listing that book, I wanted to list some history behind it for reference. In addition, the story of the author of this week’s comic and career is fascinating and I thought many of you would enjoy it.
14.3K total copies spread over 2 covers
While there are many comics that come and go throughout the year, I think it’s safe to say that most of us had some kind of interaction with the Image title God Country by Donny Cates in January 2017.
Whether this was to read, flip, slab, converse about, or loathe, the book created buzz. Yeah, I know just another so-called HOT Image title that flamed out quick and all that comes with it – too many copies in personal long boxes with little hope of moving them, bloated priced CGC copies, 3rd and 4th prints with different colors and no value, etc., etc.
This all may have some validity, but let’s take a look potentially as to the why behind the initial success. At one point, this was a special book.
When speaking of God Country, there has to be mention of the author. Why? Well because this book is a personal experience that started by questioning his own mortality.
In mid 2015, Donny Cates was diagnosed with acute pancreatitis that would cause him to wake up in unbearable pain screaming at the top of his lungs – refer to the original quote to start this article as to his reaction towards all of this.
The aftermath was 3 months of pain meds and a liquid diet concluding in a 30 pound weight decrease. During this time he was laid up and experienced memory loss. Additionally, “waking up” from 90 days of pain meds helped him build this comic.
You see, God Country (according to Cates) is about what would someone do if they got their life back – and how far would they go to keep it that way. The Alzheimer’s aspect of the story comes from what he went through. Donny mentions the idea of “not being able to be a son to my parents, a husband to my wife, I felt all of those things” in an interview.
As an avid consumer of many different mediums, I found that fascinating as I am always wondering how people come up with their respective creations/stories and where the motivation came from to release into the world. Perhaps there are some of you that are the same way.
Well, who is Donny Cates and what else does he have to offer from his creative mind? Many great titles! Donny learned how to read from the help of his father via an issue of Green Lantern. This was his first language learned.
As a kid, his influences included Preacher, Sandman, Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, and Hellblazer to name a few. His first intent was to go to SCAD (Art School) to become a penciler and quickly gave up on that when he saw the talents of others in his classes such as Geoff Shaw and Tradd Moore.
One of his biggest influences is Stephen King, who just so happens to base many of his books in Maine where he lives. Cates emulates that in a sense as he uses his home state of Texas as his background for many creations.
His moralities are grounded in Texas as he continues to give back during times of crisis. His career began with Dark Horse and Heavy Metal Magazine before having more mainstream appearances within Image and most currently Marvel.
Here are some important titles he has helped create:
Ruben is not your average alcoholic; he's an unstoppable superhero who derives his powers from imbibing MASSIVE amounts of alcohol. After all the disasters it's caused in his personal life, he's ready to get clean . . . and the city's supervillains couldn't be happier!
Heroism doesn’t come cheap, so when superheroes borrow money to finance their genetic enhancements or crime-fighting supercomputers, their debts make student loans look like IOUs! Enter the Paybacks, a repo squad composed of bankrupt former heroes here to foreclose on everybody’s secret lairs!
Interceptor tells the tale of Poli and Weep, two freedom fighters on a planet populated exclusively by blood-sucking vampires. A planet called Earth.
For the world’s most valuable, dangerous, or secretive cargo, you don’t call just any trucking service . . . You call THE GHOST FLEET. When one of the world’s most elite combat-trained truckers takes a forbidden peek at his payload, he uncovers a conspiracy that will change his life forever!
The Bowmans are vampires who have quietly run the local barbecue joint in their small town for years living off of cow’s blood. Their peaceful coexistence ends as generations of hate, fear, and bad blood boil to the surface – making it impossible to separate man from monster!
Sadie Ritter is sixteen years old, nine months pregnant, and scared out of her sweet nerdy mind. Having a baby that young is tough, but with the support of her loving family behind her, everything should be okay. OH YEAH, and also her baby is the Antichrist and it's going to break open the barriers between the earthly and demonic planes and unleash eternal suffering to all of humankind.
Finally, Donny has started writing for Marvel. His current titles include Thanos and Doctor Strange which he just took over the reins from and has already given us some great issues – Cosmic Ghost Rider anyone? It is exciting to think of all the possibilities moving forward as there needs to be a new infusion of talent to fill Marvel’s panels. Well that’s all for this week. I hope some of you will give these older titles a try! Donny Cates is an interesting talent that we are very fortunate to have in our comic world!
One more word of note. Please check out the CBSI Con Recon exclusive interview done by Jack DeMayo @ HerosCon 2017 in Charlotte, NC with the man himself Donny Cates! This video shows how down to earth Donny’s personality exudes and his love for comics. Very entertaining piece!