A Brief History of Ninja Guy

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Ninja Guy 1994
Scan 1
A panel by Lee Gilmore for “Always and Forever”

As far as I can tell, I began doodling Ninja Guy in my high school notebooks as early as 1994. In 1996, I began passing around a notebook full of blank comic book panels asking my classmates to contribute something to the on-going story. So the concept of improv theater in comic book form had its beginnings for me with Ninja Guy. The only rule for the Ninja Guy improv sessions was that no two people could contribute after one another, so the rotation of artists had to be at least 3 people before an individual could contribute again. That first comic from 1996 (titled Always and Forever) was 20 pages and written by 12 high school kids. This can be considered the First Ninja Guy who met his untimely fate by using all of his Ninja Powers in one final burst to renew the cosmos.

Micah and Ryan panel drawings for Mmmm… ‘sketti…

Then in college, I passed around another notebook full of blank panels, and a different Ninja Guy was born. This Ninja Guy titled Mmmm… ‘sketti… lasted 39 pages before getting blown up near his home in New Hampshire; however, he appeared to survive the atomic blast. This book was written by 7 people, the majority of it by Keith Douchant, and Ryan Buller, (who also contributed to the first one) and Christian Lawrence and myself.

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Keith Douchant’s Ninja Guy
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Christian Lawrence’s Ninja Guy

Then also in college, I started collaborating on a new idea with these three friends who all helped come up with the plot of a comic I would draw. This comic was about 70 or 80 pages long and, unlike NJ improv sessions, illustrated on high quality Bristol board. However, after completing it, I was ultimately dissatisfied with my drawing style and decided to pitch the whole thing. The basic idea for the story encapsulated the belief that “Super Heroes” were like football jocks and “Super Villains” were the nerdy loser crowd that usually got picked on by the former. It’s in this story that Ninja Guy meets the love of his life, Jenny.

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From Ninja Fish: Sherry Buller, Ryan Buller, Micah then Sherry’s panels
a Ryan Buller splash page
a Ryan Buller splash page

This was followed by another improv comic that lasted 36 pages (Ninja Fish), and a brief 6 page comic (Badminton Europa 2004). Jenny remains a major character throughout this run, and the tone of the book is much less violent or crass (yet way more absurd). Also it should be noted that more female contributors helped with this book then in previous sessions including Sherry Buller who became a major contributor from this point forward.

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From the NJ origin story: Ryan, Micah, Sherry, Ryan then Micah’s panels

The last improv comic lasted only 12 pages and remains incomplete. It appears to be about the origins of the second Ninja Guy.

There are at least 3 sidebar Ninja Guy comics that I created just for fun. None of them really contribute to the Ninja Guy legacy. They just appear to be special appearances by the second Ninja Guy that he probably did for charity or something. He also makes a brief appearance in the improv web comic, Pannin’ for Clumps.

While it is known what happened to the first Ninja Guy, the fate of the second Ninja Guy and his wife Jenny remains a mystery to this day.

The third (and newest) Ninja Guy appears for the first time in the 2014 Ninja Guy comic, chapter title New Felt Friendships. Get it today to learn more!