Walt Jaschek recalls his first published comic book story: “Last Dance Before Daylight,” starring The Savage Sisters, a pulpy tale of the demands of the Old West.
You never forget your first.
Your first published comic book story, that is.
Mine was a two-part Western tale starring those heroic, young “Savage Sisters” in One-Shot Western, a (you guessed it) “one-shot comic” published in 1991 by Caliber Press of Plymouth, Minnesota, one of the leading independent comic companies of the era. It sat amid other black-and-white indy publications on the shelves of comic book shops back in the day. Here are the first three pages, recently re-lettered by me to fix (ahem) a little bit of amateur verbosity. We open on… the moon. Or is it the moon?
The story, “Last Dance Before Daylight,” puts into action characters created by Don Secrease specifically for this title. Don was the penciller and the creative director of this feature, and Mark Lamport the inker. Famous DC comics artist Rick Burchett contributed the cover and cover logo. Rick also has a feature in this issue: “Torn Path,” starring a John Wayne look-alike.
I recently found some slightly yellowed copies of the book, had Rick and Don autograph them, added mine, and now those autographed copies of One-Shot Western reside quietly on eBay waiting for a fan of Western comics or 90s comics or Rick to scoop one up.
As I reread “Last Dance Before Daylight,” I expected to squirm at my writing, but the story isn’t terrible. The opening 9-panel sequence and splash page seem to really hold up, and Don did a great job creating what was described in crazy detail in the script: a vivid dream sequence of illusion and foreshadowing.
The story itself is, like the metaphor of “last dance,” a pulpy meditation on loss of innocence. The story’s young heroine must endure a kind of hardening that might be required of otherwise idealistic settlers in the 1870s frontier. There is also romance, gunplay and implied nudity, so we have those going for us. More pages to be scanned soon, so saddle up. And remember, if you want to see it as it appeared: eBay.
Bonus: Here are Don’s first sketches of the Savage Sisters, circa 1991.
Thanks for reading, partner.
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