Comic Legends: The Horror Director Who Won a DC 'Create a Villain' Contest?

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As usual, there will be three posts, one for each of the weekly three legends.

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A contest winner of a Post Cereal/Super Friends "Create a villain" contest went on to become a horror film director!


I'm Going With True

I have a feature called "Win What's Never Been Won" about notable comic book contests. I just put up the latest one earlier tonight about DC's two contests for Superman the Movie. Anyhow, my pal David Gallaher (whose comic book, The Only Living Boy, with artist Steve Ellis, is a real treat), asked me about a notable contest from the 1980s and looking into it, it went in such an interesting direction that I decided to just do it as a Comic Book Legends Revealed instead.

In 1982, Post Cereal did a tie-in with the Super Friends, although without actually doing a tie in with the Super Friends exactly. They just did a tie-in with DC's "Super Heroes" and used the voices of the Super Friends cast to do a commercial starring Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Robin...

You just had to design a villain using a specially marked box of Post cereal and send it in and 9 winners would fly to Hollywood to have breakfast with "Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Robin" and the villain that the kids created...

DC had been working with Post for a couple of years by this point. Here's a nice piece of licensed material promoting the two companies working together (looks like Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Dick Giordano art)...

Okay, looking into it, on the biography page of Todd Tjersland on IMDB it reads:

Was one of nine nationwide winners in the 1982 DC Comics/Post Cereals "Create a Villain" Contest. Won an all-expense paid trip to Hollywood and his villain was supposed to appear in a DC Comic. His winning villain was a three-eyed, horned demon. Todd came in first in just about every art contest he ever entered as a kid and originally intended to become a comic book illustrator before switching to a career as a filmmaker in the early 1990s. His primary artistic influences were Berni Wrightson, Richard Corben and other horror alumni who graced the pages of Warren's CREEPY magazine in the 1970s.

Now, IMDB is a user-generated website and not one that I would normally use as a reference point, but, come on, that's pretty clearly written by Tjersland himself, right?

His personal website (which hasn't been updated since 2011 and features a link to a defunct MySpace page and a defunct e-mail address) links directly to the IMDB page. Tjersland WAS 12 years old in 1982.

Here's an interview with Tjersland where he talked about his youth and his experiences with comic books...

Born in Anaheim, 1970. Did you spend much time of your childhood and youth with comic books, movies and stuff like that?

I was practically raised by them! I lived in front of the television set watching old monster movies. I still have a huge horror comic and magazine collection. Looking back now, it makes sense: I had a lot of social anxiety and needed escape.

How do you remember childhood and youth? Did you want to become a comic artist or writer, what was the dream? When have you left Anaheim?

I don’t remember living in California at all. My family moved to Washington state when I was two, so all my earliest memories are from the Pacific Northwest.

Since you are clearly fascinated by those expressions of art which deal with images or imaginations of suffering, torture and death. Can you name your influences, what movie or book titles had started this fascination?

As an outsider, I felt comfortable with monsters, even a sense of kinship with them. Like them, I knew what it was like to never fit in, and how impossible it was to be what society expected me to be. The only advantage I had over the monsters was I was never chased by a pitchfork-wielding mob (at least, not before the internet).

In 1987 you published a horror comic anthology series on your own. What’s the story about that, how would you describe the idea behind that? Have you learned a lot during the two years of it’s release?

It was called Splatter, and it ran for three issues in 1987. It was horror comics, mostly written and drawn by me. My buddy’s dad had a Xerox machine and that was the only way I could afford to produce it. When the Xerox died, so did Splatter. I resurrected it the next year as the new and improved Splatter Magazine, paying a fortune to have it professionally printed and bound. I had no distribution and no idea what I was doing. It died after only one issue...

Tjersland might be best known for his "Faces of Gore" series of "documentary" films showing, well, footage of people dying in various accidents and stuff like that...

However, he later directed more standard horror films, like Midnight Movie Madness...

He's also written horror fiction, as well.

Now, could it all be nonsense and Tjersland (or someone else) just made up that he won that contest while getting pretty darn specific about it? Sure, it's possible, but I tend to believe it, so I'm going with a true here.

Check out some other entertainment and sports legends from Legends Revealed:

1. Was Snakes on a Plane Re-Edited after a Parody Trailer of the Film?

2. Were the Lyrics to Sarah McLachlan’s “Possession” Taken from an Actual Stalker’s Letters?

3. Was South Park Originally Going to be a Big Parody of The X-Files?

4. Was Waylon Smithers Originally Going to be Black and Married with a Wife and Kids?

Check back later for part 2 of this week's legends!

And remember, if you have a legend that you're curious about, drop me a line at either brianc@cbr.com or cronb01@aol.com!

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