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Christopher McKarton: 1974 comic strip debut

Walt Jaschek’s first published comic strip: Christopher McKarton, dramatic thriller, serialized weekly in The UMSL Current, Fall, 1974. Script and pencils: Walt. Inks and letters: Gary Hoffman.

It was a dramatic debut for Christopher McKarton, my rookie homicide investigator called to an ominous and familiar location. Here are the first four panels as they appeared on September 12, 1974, in the weekly newspaper distributed to 7,000 students of the University of Missouri – St. Louis (UMSL.) It garnered some fans.

Christopher McKarton™ Week 1

By Walt Jaschek and Gary Hoffman

Keep scrolling for Week 2 of Christopher McKarton.

Bonus feature: Here is how this comic appeared as published in the September 12, 1974, issue of The UMSL CURRENT. It is, in fact, issue #200.

Christopher McKarton is © 1974 – 2022 Walt Now Studios.

Christopher McKarton Week 2

Christopher McKarton Week 3

Who is the mysterious intruder who has taken over UMSL’s administration building? Why is he demanding to see the University President? And who is… the hostage? Watch for more of Christopher McKarton — as soon as I find more of the art!

More from Walt Now

Have I Just Been Insulted?

This comic essay is also the intro to my new memoir project, “Walt in Progress.” Here’s how it starts… “Have I just been insulted?” I’ve been asking myself. “No, wait, that was an unintentional insult, I think,” over-thinking. In fact, a series of recent, well, let’s call them “unintentional insults” made me think it might … Continue reading Have I Just Been Insulted?

Mister Sticky™: Master of Invisible Glue

In real life, indecisive 20something Tanner Talbert can’t “stick” to anything. But as Mister Sticky, Master of Invisible Glue, this Heronot can stick to anything! Comic book treatment and script in progress by Walt Jaschek, starring new, creator-owned characters. Mister Sticky TM and © 2021 Walt Now Studios Mister Sticky™ Concept and Characters Concept: A … Continue reading Mister Sticky™: Master of Invisible Glue

Christopher McKarton: Teen Detective (1971)

Amateur “action-thriller” film made by Walt Jaschek and friends as sophomores at Jennings High School introduces Walt’s long-time detective character, played by him. Jennings, Missouri. 1971. A quartet of juvenile delinquents makes a daring escape from a detention center and head for a hide-out of gambling and drugs. When Christopher McKarton, teen detective, learns of … Continue reading Christopher McKarton: Teen Detective (1971)

Is Paul Blart: Mall Cop Based on Mel Cool: Map Cop?

The short answer: not as far as we know or can legally prove. In fact, bless that Paul Blart. Somebody had to be “the” Mall Cop in pop culture. He won.

But here’s a longer Q&A with Walt Jaschek about that, originally published in 2009, when the movie was coming out but more than a decade after Mel Cool: Mall Cop was published.

Mel Cool: Mall Cop comics are now collected into a Kindle edition.

Copy and layouts: Walt Jaschek. Art: Don Secrease.

Q. Are you and your collaborators getting a piece of the action from the new movie “Paul Blart: Mall Cop,” opening January 16, 2009, in theaters everywhere?

A: No.

Q. Why is that?

Walt: Paul Blart: Mall Cop is not (as far as we know or can legally prove) based on Mel Cool: Mall Cop®, the long-running comicbook and web series created by Don Secrease and me in 1995, even though there was both a Mel Cool feature film screenplay and a cartoon series pilot script floating around Hollywood for years.

Q. What is your reaction to that?

A. Existential sadness mixed with raging anger.

Q. Really?

A. No, I’m just playin’ with you.

Q. What?

A. I’m cool with it. Mel Cool with it.  I’m philosophical about the whole thing.

Q. “Philosophical?”

A. Yes. In fact, let me put on this toga.  [Rummages through a box of costumes, looking for the toga.]

Q. [While he does so.] But you just said there was a completed screenplay…

A. [Still rummaging.] There was. Cary Anderson and I wrote the story, based on the comic; Cary wrote the screenplay. Paul Fey produced. It’s a funny script. But in Hollywood, you gotta be your own agent and work the thing on a daily basis. I was in St. Louis, Cary is in Baltimore, and Paul has World Wide Wadio to run.

Q. Quit rummaging.

A. [Finds toga, puts it on.] Ah, here it is! My philosophy is, “live and learn.”

Q. All that for that?

A. “Live and learn.” To the victor, the spoils. That is, to the first one to actually get a star and a deal and Happy Meal tie-ins, the spoils. Have we gleaned nothing from “Entourage”? Next time we bring a comedy concept to Hollywood, we dig in like a pit bulls on amphetamines.

Q. You have more movie-worthy comedy concepts?

A. What, are you kidding me? I’d tell you, but…

Q. …you’d have to kill me?

A. [stares at him from an angle]  No, but what an odd thing to say.

Q. [quickly changes subject] So: you’re not bitter about Paul Blart and you’re not suing?

A. No. I really think it’s just great comic minds thinking alike. The movie looks really funny, actually. Kevin James. He knows from funny.

Q. Any sales of your work in the wake of publicity from the movie?

A. We’ve sold one comicbook, one t-shirt, and made about 46 cents in AdSense revenue.

Q. So it looks as if you’re raking in some dough from the whole Mall Cop thing, after all.

A. Praise the mall gods. There are mall gods, you know.

Q. We believe you. Um, are you going to leave that toga on?

A. Yes. I think it’s flattering to my shape.

Q. Thank you, Walt.

A. You’re welcome, Q.

Mel Cool: Mall Cop comics are now collected into a Kindle edition.

Mel Cool: Mall Cop is TM and © 1993-2022 Walt Now Studios

Latest from the Blog

“Big Mistake” | Funny TV Campaign for Channel 4 St. Louis (1985)

St. Louis media history rediscovered! Here are KMOX-TV Channel 4’s “Big Mistake” commercials from 1985, alerting viewers to an error in TV Guide magazine. Writer/director: Paul Fey. Guy on camera: me! Yes, that’s me, Walt Jaschek, at a studio in KMOX-TV (St. Louis,) performing on-camera in 1985. I recently found these spots on 3/4″ tape, … Continue reading “Big Mistake” | Funny TV Campaign for Channel 4 St. Louis (1985)

Walt & Don Launch Boastess® Fructose Pies™

We needed a funny product for a funny comic we’re creating. The thought of emulating a certain sweet treat often featured in the comics of our youth? Delicious. Boastess® Fructose Pies™ There’s a sugar crash in every dash! Concept: Walt JaschekPackage design and copy: Don SecreaseStay tuned to see what we do with these! The … Continue reading Walt & Don Launch Boastess® Fructose Pies™

Hero Nots™

Are they heroes? Are they super? NOT. The new, slightly unworthy team from writer Walt Jaschek and Walt Now Films. Hi. Walt here. This is an excerpt from The Hero Nots screenplay I’m writing this Fall. Hope to wrap up the script in 2021, cast and shoot in 2022, post and release to the world … Continue reading Hero Nots™

Bad Ash™: Coming Soon from Walt Now Studios

Here’s a preview image and description of BAD ASH™, Overdue Accounts Collector, the new comic book action hero created by Walt Jaschek, and coming soon from Walt Now Studios.

This rare, original concept art of Bad Ash by Walt Jaschek is for sale.

Bad Ash is a high-tech bounty hunter in a glistening city of the near future. Located somewhere in the Americas, it’s even called… Future City. 

Ash is beautiful yes, but also tough. She’s half-Italian (Dad) and half-Latina (Mom,) and her light brown skin sheens. But never sweats.

Clad in thin, chain-mail fabric-armor; steampunk-like goggles for enhanced perception; and fingerless gloves with circuits controlling her tech, Bad Ash is brash. As an athletic 26-year-old with ninja training, her strength and agility are enhanced with injections of Martian vitamins given to her by her Mars-born lover, D’Arx D’Rax.

Bad Ash is known as the most persistent finder in the field. She doesn’t like the term “bounty hunter,” though. She prefers to call herself an “overdue accounts collector.” Makes a whole lot of commission$ for it. But she’s also a gum-popping wisecracker, and has been since high school; that hasn’t changed.

Her most recent employer: Bigg Bounty, a skyscraper-dwelling corporation whose sole service is bounty hunting on a global scale. B.A. is one of their star hunters. But as we shall see in her first story, she’s trying to quit Bigg to go freelance. She already resigned, but now she must collect the hundred grand in severance pay Bigg’s contract promised her. 

She’ll get it. Or die trying.

“Bad Ash: In It to Quit It.” Coming soon from Walt Now Studios.

Meanwhile, buy the original art by Walt Jaschek.

Bad Ash™ is trademark and © 2021 Walt Now Studios.

Latest from the Blog

Satin Brass™ Now on Kindle Vella

Walt serializes his new comic book script on the new Kindle Vella platform. It’s the pilot episode for action hero Satin Brass™, Overdue Accounts Collector. You can read the first three chapters for free on Kindle Vella. Then purchase tokens from Vella to unlock more chapters! Satin Brass is a high-tech bounty hunter in a … Continue reading Satin Brass™ Now on Kindle Vella

Walt “calls in” to St. Louis Media Hall of Fame Ceremony

The St. Louis Media History Foundation asked Walt to add some comedy to its 2021 Hall of Fame video. This “Zoom call” is the result. Congratulations to the new honorees in the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame, which due to The Current Situation is a video celebration only, archived on YouTube.Ken Ohlemeyer Jr., producer … Continue reading Walt “calls in” to St. Louis Media Hall of Fame Ceremony

How to Kill a Pitch: Comedy Short, Script by Walt

“How to Kill a Pitch” is a short ad biz satire written by Walt, directed by Angie Lawling, shot by Chris Lawling, produced by Mercury Films. Oh, creatives! Don’t fall on that sword over your favorite idea. Client not loving your latest idea? There’s another one, you know. Come up with it and live, damn it! … Continue reading How to Kill a Pitch: Comedy Short, Script by Walt

Review: Revealing new Stan Lee bio tests “True Believers”

With great power comes great responsibility. It also leads to fame and fortune, yes, but also last-act misfortunes, lawsuits, and a boatload of movie cameos. Walt reviews True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee.

Listen to an audio version of this review on my podcast episode here, and/or read the review below.

Ep 01: Revealing New Stan Lee Bio Tests "True Believers." The Walt Now Show

Writer/actor Walt Now – a lifelong Stan fan – reviews "True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee," the revealing, new bio by Abraham Reissman of the Marvel Comics co-creator. Walt calls it, "A page-turner for the Stan-curious." Walt's review is in the form of ten, key takeaways, written and delivered with a light-hearted but insightful style.

Fascinating new Stan Lee bio by Abraham Reisman is in hardcover, Kindle and audio book on Amazon. Check current prices.

#affiliatelink

Here are my 10 take-aways from this terrific tome, a well-researched bio that tells a lot (maybe too much) about my favorite comic book writer.
  1. It’s a “toupee-and-all” tell-all, and I’m all in.

The book works to be clear eyed, to peer through the mist of myths surrounding Stan to something more layered, more substantial, and ultimately sadder, than previous bios, many of which merely amplified the breezy public persona he crafted. That was “Stan the Man,” which became “Stan the Brand.” But it’s Stan the (lower case) “man” who gives us pause, as we examine his great talent and great personal flaws.

2. The Marvel Method < Rhythm Method.

Turns out the Marvel Method of creating comics – art first, then script – was created by Stan in the 50s, as a way for artists to get paid faster, not having to wait for, you know, scripts. That part is cool; I’m in favor of artists getting paid faster. Where that gets tangled later is in “who-created-what” debates and lawsuits. I’ve followed Marvel for decades. Who created what? The artists who wrote the stories in pencil art: Jack Kirby. Steve Ditko. John Romita. Don Heck. John Buscema. And Stan Lee. After the art was turned in. The process was wonky and fraught with danger, but it worked. In that regard, The Marvel Method is like birth control’s rhythm method, only slightly more reliable.

3. The book’s biggest surprise isn’t.

The hog-the-credit aspect of Stan’s story arc is well known. His books and interviews basically rewrite history so that it seemed like he came up with every character and character name. This comes as a great surprise to absolutely no one. It’s no less exasperating to revisit, though.

4. When he moved on, he moved on.

Stan left Marvel’s day-to-day operations in the late 90s, and seldom followed Marvel’s books thereafter. For example: When the producers of the (now beloved) 1990s animated X-Men series approached Stan for approval on their adaptation of the Wein-and-Cockrum-created characters, they realized he didn’t know who these “new” X-Men were. Can you imagine? I can just hear him saying, “These characters don’t look familiar. I like the guy with the claws, though. What’s his name? Wolverine? I like it. In fact, I created it. Yeah, that’s the ticket.”

5. He had a job description to admire. And a salary to desire.

A 1998 lawsuit revealed that Marvel was paying Stan one million dollars a year for quote “basically doing nothing” unquote. I pass no judgement, because that is, in a nutshell, my exact career goal. He continued to be a cheerleader, of course, at cons and everywhere. True story: at San-Diego Comic-Con in 2010, I was walking down a packed-with-people corridor when I almost ran into Stan, who was with Joan. He wasn’t happy with the dense crowd, or with me in the way. He grunted past me. So my one real-life interaction with Stan involved him being annoyed at my physical presence. I decided not to ask for an autograph

6. His Third Act was filled with the third rate.

Stan was sadly surrounded the last third of his life by lawless con-men and grifters scheming and double-dealing behind his back. And sometimes behind his “Face Front!” Before Stan Lee Media went bankrupt in 2000, stock manipulation took it from $9 a share to pennies a share to into The Negative Zone. Even Reed Richards couldn’t bring it back. Stan said he “didn’t know a thing” about all the stock hi-jinx and bad behavior, but he should have been suspicious when his partners kept greeting him with, “Hail Hydra.” But seriously, all these lawsuits, all these downward spires: was he that bad a judge of character? Or was bad character seeking same?

7. “Striperella:” For completists. Or masochists.

The biggest series success Stan had after Marvel was the Spike TV animated cartoon “Striperella,” voiced by Baywatch’s Pamela Anderson. That’s right, I said his biggest series success. so that sets the bar right there. All Stan came up with was the name, and the pitch to Pamela. When the showrunners, who were to write all 13 episodes were given the name they asked who the character was. And the answer came: “Whatever you guys want to do with her.”  They went with an out-there “adult” humor, not for me. I went to YouTube and watched a few minutes of the character throwing a sledgehammer at a villain’s testicles. He was in pain, I was in pain, it was all about the pain.

8. Celebrity begats celebrity.

Stan sat next to Bill Clinton at a big Hollywood fund-raiser. There’s no record of whether or not they ever shared a cigar.

9. For richer, for poorer, but especially for richer.

Stan’s wife Joan, by all reports, went through his earnings at lightning speed, buying everything in sight at the speed of light. If she was a Marvel character, she could be called … The Slender Spender. (Slender Spender trademark Walt Now Media.) Stan and Joan held lavish cocktail parties at their L.A. home, many recorded on video. I can be glad there’s wasn’t yet Tik Tok. But it was a long and happy marriage, by all accounts, symbiotic at least, real Hank and Janet Pym stuff, without anyone being lost in the Quantum Realm.

10. I’m still a fan.

Stan is one of the top writerly influences in my life. I read his work almost daily as a kid then teen from 1963 to 1973. His voice, style and point of view are all over my work. I can relate to Jim Shooter, who, when asked to write a tribute to Stan, said, “Everything I write is a tribute to Stan.” But my fandom has limits. I find it good, nay, healthy, nay cautionary, to examine and consider the journey of a talent too easily flattered, too reckless in judgement, too quick to pass responsibility.

Ah, responsibility.

I hear it comes with great power.

True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee is available on Amazon. Check current price. #ad

Latest from the Blog

22-Minute Writing Sprint

Overcome procrastination and writers’ block! In a new “timed writing” video, writer Walt Jaschek prompts you to join him as he writes uninterrupted for 22 minutes. (It works!) Is there something you need to write? Are you in avoidance mode? Would a timed, 22-minute deep dive move something along? And would watching Walt write at … Continue reading 22-Minute Writing Sprint

HyperX Quadcast Review: Cool Mic, Good Price, Hear It In Action

Walt Now fires up his new HyperX Quadcast USB external mic and records a video with it – to review the mic itself. (It’s on Amazon. #ad) Looking for a good, external USB mic for your home/office? Found a cool one! I realized I needed an external USB mic to up my YouTube game (and … Continue reading HyperX Quadcast Review: Cool Mic, Good Price, Hear It In Action

Christopher McKarton: 1974 comic strip debut

Walt Jaschek’s first published comic strip: Christopher McKarton, dramatic thriller, serialized weekly in The UMSL Current, Fall, 1974. Script and pencils: Walt. Inks and letters: Gary Hoffman. It was a dramatic debut for Christopher McKarton, my rookie homicide investigator called to an ominous and familiar location. Here are the first four panels as they appeared … Continue reading Christopher McKarton: 1974 comic strip debut

New Sponsor: Fructose Pies™

Walt Now Studios and its entertainment productions are brought to you by Boastess™ Fructose Pies. Five delicious, delectable flavor combinations. Huckleberry! Coconut Pitaya! Crabapple Persimmon! Tomato Ugli! See for yourself. Click through these packages as you dream of these delights.

Boastess™ Fructose Pies™

There’s a sugar crash in every dash!

Making your mouth water? Want another bite? Watch for new Boastess™ Fructose Pie™ content coming soon from:

Walt Jaschek: Concept Creator

Don Secrease: Flavor Namer and Package Designer

© 2021 Walt Now Studios

Latest from the Blog

Is Paul Blart: Mall Cop Based on Mel Cool: Map Cop?

The short answer: not as far as we know or can legally prove. In fact, bless that Paul Blart. Somebody had to be “the” Mall Cop in pop culture. He won. But here’s a longer Q&A with Walt Jaschek about that, originally published in 2009, when the movie was coming out but more than a decade … Continue reading Is Paul Blart: Mall Cop Based on Mel Cool: Map Cop?

Bad Ash™: Coming Soon from Walt Now Studios

Here’s a preview image and description of BAD ASH™, Overdue Accounts Collector, the new comic book action hero created by Walt Jaschek, and coming soon from Walt Now Studios. This rare, original concept art of Bad Ash by Walt Jaschek is for sale. Bad Ash is a high-tech bounty hunter in a glistening city of … Continue reading Bad Ash™: Coming Soon from Walt Now Studios

Review: Revealing new Stan Lee bio tests “True Believers”

With great power comes great responsibility. It also leads to fame and fortune, yes, but also last-act misfortunes, lawsuits, and a boatload of movie cameos. Walt reviews True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee. Listen to an audio version of this review on my podcast episode here, and/or read the review below. Fascinating … Continue reading Review: Revealing new Stan Lee bio tests “True Believers”

Cooler Heads Prevail in this Beer Promo Pitch

Copywriter Walt Jaschek recalls a college poster campaign concept he pitched to the Budweiser team at Anheuser Busch. Did the Cooler Heads prevail?

Happy first day of Summer! Here’s a seasonal flashback from back in the day, when I was invited by the Budweiser promo team to pitch ideas for a college poster campaign with a summer thme. I concocted characters called “The Cooler Heads” who would “prevail” until school resumed in Fall.

The group laughed…

But didn’t buy it.

Oh, well. Truth is, when I rediscovered this pencil layout and the Anheuser-Busch name badge still stuck to it, I remembered: Even when not every idea we pitched was bought… we were having too much fun.

As for The Cooler Heads, they deserve to appear somewhere. Beer clients? Water clients? Cooler clients? Gimme a shout. This idea has legs!

Latest from the Blog

New Sponsor: Fructose Pies™

Walt Now Studios and its entertainment productions are brought to you by Boastess™ Fructose Pies. Five delicious, delectable flavor combinations. Huckleberry! Coconut Pitaya! Crabapple Persimmon! Tomato Ugli! See for yourself. Click through these packages as you dream of these delights. Boastess™ Fructose Pies™ There’s a sugar crash in every dash! Making your mouth water? Want … Continue reading New Sponsor: Fructose Pies™

Walt’s Words of Wisdom: Cilantro

Writer Walt Now has “a line in the sand” when it comes to a certain controversial herb. He’s talkin’ cilantro, and he says the only right way to think about it is: love. As I was saying: There are two kinds of people in the world. People who love cilantro. And people who are wrong. … Continue reading Walt’s Words of Wisdom: Cilantro

Rediscovered! Rare, Star-Studded 1992 CBS-TV Holiday Spot

Scriptwriter Walt Jaschek finds rare, 1992 CBS-TV holiday spot with performances by dozens of TV stars of the day. Here’s a holiday TV blast from the past, never before seen on the internet, at least as far as we know. In 1992, CBS-TV offered our agency Paul & Walt Worldwide the opportunity to write and … Continue reading Rediscovered! Rare, Star-Studded 1992 CBS-TV Holiday Spot

Walt’s Words of Wisdom: Cilantro

Writer Walt Now has “a line in the sand” when it comes to a certain controversial herb. He’s talkin’ cilantro, and he says the only right way to think about it is: love.

As I was saying:

There are two kinds of people in the world. People who love cilantro. And people who are wrong.

I realize cilantro is a divisive issue. I also realize we definitely do not have a shortage of divisive issues in this world. I also realize I have just made it more divisive.

I do that.

But it’s an Alamo-style line in the sand about cilantro for me.

The herb, AKA coriander, adds a fresh, green tang-note to every salsa, a frenzy of flavor to every soup, and sacred life to holy guacamole.

I also rip the leaves from cilantro plants and nurseries and big-box stores and get a quick hit. Don’t tell them.

But you don’t have to leave home. Amazon sells a wonderful dried cilantro. #ad

There’s even an organic liquid extract cilantro. #ad

Best of all, cilantro seeds #ad are plentiful for indoor or outdoor planting. I’ve had good luck with both, year after year.

But I’m starting to hear contrary views. It’s beginning to enter my consciousness that not every human being alive appreciates cilantro. Shocked!

In fact, today my wife told me that some people are born with a genetic disposition to process cilantro flavor differently. To them, she said, cilantro tastes like green soap. It’s not a matter of “liking” it, she said. It’s a matter of not wanting to eat soap.

Okay, respect for genetic disposition, but how these people can go through life is beyond me. I would shoot myself into the heart of a burning sun rather than live without cilantro. Next you’ll be telling me to give up dill.

Readers: let’s get some food-centric feedback here. Let me know in the comment: Do you love cilantro? Or are you wrong?

Rediscovered! Rare, Star-Studded 1992 CBS-TV Holiday Spot

Scriptwriter Walt Jaschek finds rare, 1992 CBS-TV holiday spot with performances by dozens of TV stars of the day.

Here’s a holiday TV blast from the past, never before seen on the internet, at least as far as we know.

In 1992, CBS-TV offered our agency Paul & Walt Worldwide the opportunity to write and submit scripts for its annual, big-deal, on-air holiday promo spot. The network had aired one annually since the dawn of the medium. Intended as a sincere gesture to express a sentiment on behalf of the brand, they’re seen and appreciated by tens of millions of TV viewers each year.

(Before it became a Paul & Walt client, the network had a long and happy relationship with Paul Fey, my partner; I wouldn’t have had a chance to work on any of these national campaigns if not for him.)

In submitting our stack of scripts, we included my holiday poem, “The Wish,” written specifically for the stars of the network’s hit shows of the day, and intended to be performed by them. Holiday miracle: our pals in the promo department bought it! And brought it to amazing life with their in-house production crew.

From Angela Lansbury (“Murder, She Wrote”) to William Shatner (“Rescue 911”) to Burt Reynolds (“Evening Shade,”) these iconic actors brought their holiday A-game to the performances. Thought lost to time, the 30-second spot showed up on a VHS tape in the bottom of a box at the bottom of another box. Yeah. I had it digitized.

Take a breath. Here are a dizzying array of 1990s TV icons. And their holiday wishes.

Script
CBS-TV
The Wish”
:30 TV

JAY THOMAS: We wish you the gift…

SUSAN DEY: That love can bring.

JOHN RITTER: The gift that keeps on giving.

BURT REYNOLDS: I wish for just one win this year!

ESTELLE GETTY: I wish to just keep living!

ANGELA LANSBURY: I wish you love and lasting joy.

DIXIE CARTER: We wish you a scrumptious diet!

WILLIAM SHATNER: I wish you hope and peace on Earth.

BOB NEWHART: Or at least some peace and quiet.

JANINE TURNER: We wish you warm and cozy nights.

MICHELLE LEE: And the greatest wish of all…

GERALD McRANEY: ..is a wish you make with your family.

CHARLES KIMBROUGH: No matter how big…

CANDICE BERGEN: …or how small. Happy holidays! ‘

© 1992 Walt Jaschek and CBS-TV

Shows represented: Love & War, Hearts Afire, Evening Shade, The Golden Palace, Murder, She Wrote; Designing Women; Rescue 911; Bob; Knot’s Landing; Major Dad; Murphy Brown.

Copywriting Freelance: Profit and Prosper Without Pants | Intro

This is the intro to an eBook I am writing about the joys and challenges of freelance copywriting. I love writing freelance. Have made a good living at it. And want to help others do the same.

“Can I thrive, even survive, as a freelance copywriter?,” you ask. Yes, you can.

You can make a difference with your writing powers.

You can move minds, heal hearts, invoke smiles, and sometimes unleash an unexpected laugh.

And you can make a real living at it. Not buy-a-small-country living, but buy a cool house living, and gosh darn it, aren’t all our homes our small countries?

Best of all, day and night, you can concentrate on the work, not the illusions and kabuki theatre of work, like, say, status meetings.

You know. “Huddles.”

You can stay home. And jam in your jammies.

It’s a little thing I like to call…

Copywriting freelance.

And I’m here to walk you through it.

Hello.

I’m Walt Jaschek, AKA Walt Now.

And I’ve had a long career as a freelance copywriter, profiting and prospering without pants.

But let’s talk about you.

Perhaps you are sitting in ad agency, working already as a copywriter. Sure, you love exposed brick as much as anybody. And that glow-in-the-dark pool table is a fun distraction. But you’d actually like to write.

You know Steve in traffic? You know how he shows up at 4 p.m. and asks for the status of your copy? And then asks your to list your favorite Zombie movies in alpha order? Steve is the obstacle to Deep Work.

Steves are always the obstacles of Deep Work.

Perhaps you are already a freelance copywriter by choice.

Or perhaps you are already a freelance copywriter by circumstance.

Congratulations to the former for seeing the light and making that jump. Leap and the net will appear, I say. Or somebody said, and I agree.

And if you’re a “circumstance” freelancer, relax. You’ve got this. I promise that, with the right mindset, you will get more done at home then you could ever accomplished in a cube.

And with that higher productivity comes the ability to (1) charge more for your hours, and (2) bill for more of them.

But we’ll get to that.

Perhaps you are a student in the realms of marketing, advertising, communications, creative writing or languages, starting to define yourself as a copywriter. You wonder if freelancing might extend the life of a student into the world of work.

Ha! It so will. My home office is half dorm. Step around that rebounder.

But to you, grads and undergrads, I say do not go directly into freelance writing as a career. You must first taste the Corp Rut. I mean, corporate. You must experience the office, as in, The Office, to make the kind of human connections you will need when you go rouge.

You will also develop a sense of agency-as-absurdity that will help you when writing like a caffeinated commander at your kitchen table.

So this book, students, is for you to read when you’re already in That First Job. Or Second. Scroll it on your phone as you savor Sauce on the Side.

To existing copywriters then, this book is dedicated. Congratulations on being a keyboard wizard, for using your powers to turn letters into words, words into sentences, heads into the stratosphere, and hearts into mush. (I see you, Ms. Senior Writer at Hallmark.)

If you are curious about the perspective of a copywriter who has managed to freelance almost exclusively for more than 30 years…

Who has put a couple of kids through college, funded multiple mortgages, bought tons of comic books yet managed to save for semi-retirement…

And who now wants to find the right mix of encouragement and practical advice for you on your freelance copywriting journey…

Here we go.

Can I really do this?, you ask. To repeat my central theme:

Yes, you can.

Next: All it takes is talent. And luck.

“Freelance Copywriter Steals Show.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February, 1989

Walt Jaschek is a champion of great copywriting. As creative collaborator, mentor, and freelance copywriter, he pushes to craft memorable stories with humor, pizazz and verve. For his award-winning, national ad campaigns for global brands, he was inducted by the St. Louis Media History Foundation into the city’s advertising and PR Hall of Fame. A life-long freelancer, he is declaring “I’m not history yet,” and is still open to juicy writing and consulting assignments, especially for friends and family.

St. Louis V.I.P: Jaschek Wins With Humor

This post transcribes an interview with me from Advertising Age in 1989, when my taste in funny advertising exceeded my taste in ski sweaters. That photo, oy! Did I not own a normal shirt?

Article transcribed from the version published in Advertising Age magazine, March 19, 1989.

BY JUDITH VANDEWATER

ST. LOUIS – Walter Jaschek assesses his sudden stardom with this rhyme:

“I don’t want to sound ungrateful
I don’t want to sound like a jerk
But instead of all the ad awards
I’d like a little work.”

The work will likely come. Last month, Jaschek, 33, a little-known copywriter, surprised the local ad community by winning two of the four “Best of Show” awards at the Advertising Club of St. Louis’ Addy competition (AA, Feb. 27.)

He won in the radio category for English- and Spanish-language versions of “Laugh Catalog,” a 60-second commercial for King World’s syndicated TV show, “George Schlatter’s Comedy Club.”

In the print collateral category, Mr. Jaschek won for the funny “Warm, Personal Letter: – a form letter with blank spaces for the recipient’s name to be written in – used to promote his agency.

Mr. Jaschek, who runs his two-person shop, Jaschek Ink, out of an office in his basement, won five Addys for three last-minute entries.

His agency partner is his wife, Jackie, who handled the business side.

Might success spoil the shop?

“[Anheuser-Busch Chairman] August A. Busch III hasn’t called yet, but I wouldn’t want to take Budweiser away from D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles,” Mr. Jaschek said.

Actually, he worked on the Bud account for DMB&B, helping develop a direct-mail piece now under A-B consideration, he said. He has also done projects for his former employer, Southwestern Bell Corp. Mr. Jaschek quit as an advertising manager there last year. “I just woke up one day and I said, ‘People should not do what they are good at; people should do what they are great at.”

Mr. Jaschek has collaborated with Paul Fey, and independent producer in Los Angeles, on several radio commercials, including the “Comedy Club” radio spot, a catalog of distinctly funny laughs.

Messrs. Jaschek and Fey waltzed away with their first “Best of Show” Addy radio spot 2 years ago. The spot, “Subliminal Seduction,” was created for a Denver restaurant, but it also been sold to Menage, a local dance club.

Related:

A Big Hand For The Little Agency: Adweek Magazine

Walt Jaschek and His Basement Humor: St. Louis Business Journal

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My Copywriting Tips and Advice from 1984

“Positioning + creativity + guts = effect.” That was my formula for successful advertising, as quoted in this 1984 article from the Colorado Springs Business Journal by Ron Wallace. I was 29 years old. The Ad Vantage: On Words And Up Words“Positioning + creativity + guts = effect”By Ron WallaceColorado Springs Business Journal, January, 1984 … Continue reading My Copywriting Tips and Advice from 1984

My Copywriting Tips and Advice from 1984

“Positioning + creativity + guts = effect.” That was my formula for successful advertising, as quoted in this 1984 article from the Colorado Springs Business Journal by Ron Wallace. I was 29 years old.

The Ad Vantage: On Words And Up Words
“Positioning + creativity + guts = effect”
By Ron Wallace
Colorado Springs Business Journal, January, 1984

Almost every hour of the day we are a candidate for hearing a message from a total stranger. When we wake to the radio alarm, drive in the car, read the paper, or watch television, we are constantly bombarded by message from anonymous copywriters who urge us, one way or another, to buy someone’s product or service.

I recently met with three of the best local copywriters, Steve Haggart and Tom Bulloch of Bulloch & Haggart Advertising, and Walt Jaschek, creative director of The Flynn Group, to discuss the role of copywriting in the marketing process.

What is copywriting? According to Walt Jaschek, writer of the commercial that won best-of-show at the Pikes Peak Advertising Federation awards presentation, “Copywriting is the science and art of transforming concepts into words and pictures. It is the process of communicating information, of taking a specific message and telling it to a recipient in an attempt to get the individual to act upon the message. Copywriting is not just words. It is creating the concept that will trigger an emotional or intellectual response in a particular audience, and it is the writing of the words themselves.”

A similar definition was given by Steve Haggart. “On a basic level, copywriting is writing the words that appear. It begins with a selling concept, a basic decision about how the product is going to be shown. The creative concept is very much intertwined with the writing of the words.”

A print ad for Cedar Heights home sites, written by Walt Jaschek of The Flynn Group of Colorado Springs

Like A Lawyer Presenting A Case

Tom Bulloch adds, “Copywriting is like a lawyer presenting a case. There is a statement of the problem and a solution provided.” So, in short, copywriting is the hand of the marketing process that makes the message real and get it down on paper to be produced so that we can read it, hear it, and see it.

For Walt Jaschek, copywriting propels the abstract into the tangible. First, says Jaschek, comes the research, then the marketing positioning and finally writing the ad. That’s the key that turns the system. Both Haggart and Jaschek feel that marketing strength and creativity are not mutually exclusive.

“In copywriting, there is a symbiosis of marketing information and an expression of relevant information the audience needs to know,” says Bulloch. “It’s really hard to see where art stops and the copy begins. Sometimes we couldn’t tell you who came with layout or copy headline, and those have been our best ads.”

Just as marketing research and positioning have to work with copywriting to achieve the communication goal, art and words also have to work together in a good ad. “In the best advertising, you can’t really separate the warmth from the selling message,” says Haggart. “How can you separate the marketing concept, the idea you’re trying to get across, from the execution? They’re too closely related.”

Create A Shared Space With The Audience

Copywriting is an important profession, because it so directly works to stimulate the economy. So what type of people become copywriters? “Anyone who has an acumen for translating concepts into language in a compelling ways,” is Jaschek’s answer. He also says that honesty is of utmost importance in the advertising process.

“What I like to do is create a temporary space, share with an individual member of the audience, and use their intelligence as a tool to understanding the message even more. For example, in the Baron’s Saloon “Subliminal Seduction” radio commercial, we were simply saying that, whatever technique we use to get your attention, the core message is, we’d like you try Baron’s.

“Subliminal Seduction” | Radio spot for Baron’s Saloon, Colorado Springs | Written & Produced by Walt Jaschek

“The best copywriters know a lot about life,” says Bulloch. “They know what language people use. They know a little bit about a lot of things.”

Haggart says, “Curiosity and a willingness to ask questions marks the type of person that becomes a copywriter, along with the sheer ability and enjoyment of putting ideas into words.”

What happens if a client doesn’t like the advertisement but the copywriter thinks it will sell? Both agencies take a strong stand for their ideas. They present the campaigns to their clients after much thought, and say, this is why we think it will work for you.

“A doctor can argue with you that you need your appendix taken out,” says Bulloch. “You may not want that but that doesn’t change the fact that you went to him for his opinion, you think he’s good, and you need it taken out.”

There are many rules to follow in advertising. An Ogilvy disciple is respected by all. “The main rule,” says Haggart, “is to take an offer and make it as attractive as possible by pointing out how well it solves the problem – dramatize it.”

Creative Director Walt Jaschek concocts new creative ideas from a perch in the Garden of the Gods, overlooking Colorado Springs, 1983.
Photo by Bill McMullan.

The Jaschek Equation

Jaschek’s rule for successful advertising is, “positioning plus creativity plus guts equals effect.” In order word, he says: understand your product’s unique selling position. Communicate that with creativity. And take some chances.

“A lot of people believe the standard for good marketing is to do what everybody else is doing; that’s safe. It’s like the saying, ‘nobody gets fired for hiring IBM.’ But nobody gets remembered for doing that, either.”

What is the rule of typography in copywriting? Jaschek says it is tremendously important. The typeface, the amount of white space one uses, is crucial how the words are read. The type should complement the method and Haggart points out that the size of ad and what one has to work with often designates the typography.

When asked, at what level of sophistication is Colorado Springs’ advertising, compared to towns of its size, all felt there was a great deal of good work coming out of this market. “For towns of its size, Colorado Springs is way ahead,” says Jaschek.

“Good advertising and good agencies depend of good clients,” says Haggart. “If, like Topeka, Kansas, Colorado Springs was the capital of the state, then there would be larger companies based here and even stronger advertising.”

What’s the worst thing one can do in advertising? “Insult the readers’ intelligence,” says Jaschek. “It’s a mistake to assume that the audience won’t understand. Use the audience’s intelligence, imagination, perception and awareness for you.”

Get the Address Right

A different but equally sound answer was given by Steve Haggart. “Leaving the client’s name or address off is the worse thing you can do, or otherwise make it impossible for the prospect to buy your product.”

And finally, what advice do these copywriters have for the small businessman or woman who can’t really afford a large agency? All agreed that they should get some sort of professional consultation from a freelance copywriter, a media representative, or an ad agency. Contacting a good agency for just two hours of their time might provide a solid marketing understanding of the business and a direction to pursue.

“Ask other businessmen for their advice,” says Tom Bulloch, “and above all, when a plan is made, stick to it.”

So, as you hear advertisement copy throughout the day, know that copywriters work to use their marketing expertise and creative imagination to not just sell you product, but to talk to you like your best friend.

List of Colorado Springs ADDY winners, 1983. Jaschek’s radio spot for Baron’s Saloon won “Best of Show.”

Related: Radio’s Word Magic | Article from the Colorado Springs Sun, 1983

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