Local Comics Fans Fuel the Return of ‘Pineapple Man’
A locally cultivated superhero comic that found a national audience in the 1990s is joining his mainstream peers in staging a big comeback. But unlike the mass-market revivals of Marvel and D.C. comics staples, “Pineapple Man” and his creators are turning to Kickstarter and both old and new fans alike to publish the next chapter.
“Pineapple Man” is the creation of Sam Campos, a Kahuku High School graduate who self published comic books in the mid-1990s, long before graphics and digital artist tools were widespread. While he continued to deliver his art, he also taught graphic design at the University of Hawaii, and landed gigs in the TV and film industry, doing everything from costume design to fight choreography to storyboard art.
Sam has always found inspiration in the world around him. His talents in costume design and fabrication led him to develop the character of “Dragonfly,” who stars in supernatural martial art videos and makes appearances at events around Honolulu. And while he’s worked on many comic titles, “Pineapple Man” has been in Sam’s head since 1984.
The artist credits his high school art teacher, Ted Uratani, who turned Sam’s love of comics into a make-or-break assignment. In one weekend, Sam dreamed up a tropically themed team that he named “Hawaiian Punch.” And there, the seeds of “Pineapple Man” were planted.
Every superhero has an origin story, and “Pineapple Man” is no different. The spiky topped yellow superhero is the alter ego of reluctant organized crime thug Isamu Pahoa. (The character name is inspired by a relative of Sam’s who helped with the printing of the first comic book.) In a showdown at Pu’ukohola Heiau on the Big Island, Isamu is shot and left for dead.
But after his blood soaks into a stone altar, he undergoes a transformation. And now, triggered by adrenaline, he becomes “Pineapple Man,” with “superhuman speed and strength in a pineapple package.”
Before the phrase “going viral” became a thing, that’s what happened with “Pineapple Man.” The independent comic by Sam and former wife Genesis Maya found a national, then even international audience. At one point in 1997, was even selling better than “Batman” and “The X-Men.” Even after the comics industry fell into decline and the audience dwindled, “Pineapple Man” made the jump to the web in 2001.
But over a decade later, after some big changes in both his life as well as the comics industry, Sam is ready to give independent publishing another try.
Sam launched a Kickstarter campaign last month to put out “Old School Lock Up,” the first full-color, 48-page comic book that will be the return of “Pineapple Man.” Genesis once again collaborated with Sam to write the story, and they’ve added Napua Ahina to the team as a digital colorist.
“After so many years it will be great to get back into the saddle and tell tales of high adventure on the shores of Hawaii,” Sam wrote in an update. “I have laid the entire book out and have already finished 9 pages, so we are well on our way.”
In fact, the Kickstarter campaign has already met its $5,500 goal with over 80 backers, with more than a week left to go.
“I can’t believe that people remember and are still eager to see new Pineapple Man stories — I am ever thankful,” he added.
Sam says he as a “stockpile of stories waiting to be told,” as well as three completed “Pineapple Man” comics that were never published. But for “Old School Lock Up,” he decided to take a fresh look at how “Pineapple Man” came to be.
And the remaining days of the crowdfunding campaign mean there are still opportunities to get special premiums for supporting “Pineapple Man.” They range from a hand-made Pineapple Man antenna ball and an autographed mini sketch for just $10, an autographed copy of “Old School Lock Up” as well as two signed pin-ups for $50, or an original comic book page from the title for $250.
To learn more, visit the Pineapple Man Kickstarter campaign, or visit the official website at PineappleMan.com. You can also connect with the fan page on Facebook, or subscribe to Sam’s channel on YouTube.