This is writer Walt Jaschek’s introduction to the comic book thriller Recycled Man: What Goes Around. The intro is about the character’s power to “accelerate Karma” – and the source of that idea.
Recycled Man™ first appeared as a preview in Slightly Bent Comics #2, published in 1998 and distributed to comic book stores throughout the United States. His most recent appearance is in a full-color, one-shot comic for mature readers available now on Amazon Kindle (cover below.) Recycled Man and supporting characters are ©1997-2022 Walt Jaschek.
“What goes around, comes around.”
A somewhat world-weary, cigarette-smoking art director I worked with back in my ad agency days used to say that a lot.
He was right a lot.
He wasn’t talking metaphysically. More transactionally. If the flu is going around, you’re going to get the flu. (That was before the the shot. I am pro-shot.) If a client pays late, the agency is going to pay late. If somebody buys lunch with a counterfeit dollar, you’re going to get it as change.
He also used lean back, blow a smoke ring, and say, “Life’s a bitch and then you die.” My younger self had to actively shrug that off. My carefully crafted optimism had to be shielded.
But he was right about that, too, in his way. We’re here for a blink, the challenges never stop, and if you don’t hone optimism and resilience, life will seem, as per Thomas Hobbes, “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”
“Life’s a bitch and then you die” is snappier, I think.
All those quotes were on my mind when the notion of Recycled Man was born a few years ago, in a notebook, late at night.
My concept of Karma – as in, creating your ultimate fate through the arc of your daily behavior – was continuing to evolve. I kept seeing both good and bad behavior manifest fate indirectly, and over time. Thieves don’t necessarily get robbed in return, but check out prematurely. Robbed of time. The corrupt are called out, at least by history. The poor winner loses it all.
Eventually. But often the pace of Karmic repercussions can be glacial, as in glaciers, which we used to have.
My impulse for Recycled Man was that he could accelerate Karma. He could cut to the chase. See the nasty out the door.
This introductory story, in which he does just that, hints – not subtly – at a backstory I worked out in the very same notebook.
It is, I hope you’ll understand, a deliberate change-up for me: a toe-tip into (what I hope is) pulpy drama. That’s new for a writer whose work is typically more light-hearted. Or was.
But as Don Secrease started adding seer-your-retina color to Paul Daly’s evocative art, I knew we had to get a print and digital edition out there – partially to gauge reaction, partially to give our new publishing company, Comicmood, a jump-start. (Will the story continue? Oh yes, if engagement and sales warrant. Let us know what you think in the comments below.)
Filling out the issue: a new story I guest-wrote for Terranauts: 2020, an incarnation of the long-running team created by Paul and Don, and on loan for this appearance. “The Call of Cold, Dark Places” matches the book’s tone, I thought.
More characters are in development — get ready, here they come —and I think they all have a certain Karma of their own. The unworthy will vanish quietly. (Or maybe not-so quietly. I’m a comics fan, too. I know how we are.) The worthy?
They’ll come around. •
Recycled Man: What Goes Around is available as a digital download on Amazon Kindle.