The lost art of the panel cartoon came roaring back when comedy writer Walt Jaschek teamed with illustrator Tony Patti for Smirk Du Jour, a series of gags about life, love and laughs.
These New Yorker-style panel cartoons originally appeared in Slightly Bent Comics #1, an American humor series distributed to comic book stores in 1998. The Smirk Du Jour cartoons, featuring Patti’s unique style of illustrations, served as a nice counter-point to the more narrative, multi-page features in the anthology. The two St. Louis-based creators also teamed up for the Corp Rut feature in Slightly Bent #2.
Unboxed and lovingly inspected on video, this high-end art book by Taschen (2022) shows high reverence for the Stan Lee and Steve Ditko Spidey run. Unboxing video and spontaneous commentary by Walt Jaschek. Enjoy Walt enjoying book! And laugh at him trying to open it. Want a copy of Marvel Comics Library Spider-Man Volume 1 … Continue reading Close-Up: Marvel Library Spider-Man Vol 1
Walt Now Creative, the advertising and marketing division of my global business empire, sends out this digital card as 2021 winds down. Next: goals. Here are some of my goals for 2022. Enjoy continued good health and a stronger body Receive a pleasant jolt of good income Make some mild to medium creative splashes Make … Continue reading A Toast to the New Year!
Misery, they say, loves company. Here’s the company it loves the most. Corp Rut™. It’s not just a place to languish for decades. It’s the subject of a funny, two-page comic book story by Walt Jaschek and Tony Patti, as it appeared in the second issue of Slightly Bent Comics, 1998.
Walt reviews the book True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee, a page-turner for the Stan-Curious. New Stan Lee bio by Abraham Reisman is in hardcover, Kindle and audio book on Amazon. Check current prices. #affiliate Here are my 10 take-aways from this terrific tome, a well-researched bio that tells a lot (maybe … Continue reading Review: Revealing new Stan Lee bio tests “True Believers”
Humorist Walt Jaschek ponders the connection between a recent series of “unintentional insults” and his sudden desire to launch a memoir. “Have I just been insulted?” I’ve been asking myself. “No, wait, that was an unintentional insult,” I think. In fact, a series of recent “unintentional insults” made me think it might be time to … Continue reading Question: Have I Just Been Insulted?
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 heads for a hide-out of gambling and drugs. When Christopher McKarton, teen detective, learns of … Continue reading Christopher McKarton: Teen Detective (1971)
Danger Dad™, the superhero with “paternal parent power,” was created by Walt Jaschek and first appeared in Slightly Bent Comics, 1998. Here are two of the strips.
“Stop and Think!” That’s the motto of the over-protective parent Danger Dad, a parody superhero created by St. Louis writer and humorist Walt Jaschek. “At the time, I had a young, growing family, and I had a reputation for worrying about the dangers all Dads fret about: sharp objects, falls, accidents, etc. Taking it to a humorous exaggeration, I imagined a normal Dad, tugging his tie, transforming into the ultimate protector.”
Here is Danger Dad’s first comic strip appearance, from Slightly Bent Comics #1, 1998, which was sold in comic book shops across the United States that year. In it, Wilber Blane transforms into his alter-ego in order to (gasp!) change a tire.
And here is Danger Dad’s second appearance, in Slightly Bent Comics #2, also 1998. (Art by St. Louis comics illustrator Darren Goodhart.) In it, Wilber Blane must summon his powers to find a contact lens adrift in the neighborhood pool.
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 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
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
Slightly Bent #1 and #2 are black-and-white anthology comics written by Walt Jaschek, starring creator-owned characters. Top St. Louis comic artists supplied visuals.
This 2-issue series, self-published as “Slightly Bent Entertainment,” was distributed by Diamond Comic Distributors to comic books stores across the United States in 1998. Walt Jaschek designed the Slightly Bent logo and the covers, and hired his talented friends to draw scripts for his creator-owned characters. Don Secrease served as art director on both books.
Says Walt: “The series was a fun experiment, a deep-dive immersion into self-publishing during the black-and-white comics boom, and a launch for characters and concepts bouncing around in my brain. It was also a nice, creative distraction from my day job writing funny radio commercials.“
Approximately 800 copies of Slightly Bent Comics #1 were ordered by comic book stories, according to statistics from Diamond. Approximately 400 copies of issue #2 were ordered. These are the only copies of these two issues in circulation. Some issues are often spotted on eBay and other “back issue” platforms.
“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
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
In “A Tale of Two Conans,” heroic fiction fan/student Jim Theis (“Eye of Argon”) casts a critical eye at Marvel Comics’ newly launched Robert E. Howard adaptation (1971.) Swords clash.
Rare fanzine: GRAFAN 9, May, 1971 GRAFAN 9 is for sale as digital download pdf. Publisher: Graphic Fantasy Society of St. Louis, Missouri 18 mimeograph pages + wraparound cover Circulation: < 100 copies Editor: Steve Houska Cover by: Larry Todd Main feature: “A Tale of Two Conans,” a review of the new Marvel Comic “Conan the Barbarian” series Additional features: Editorial, Fandom Report by Mike McFadden Comic-related book reviews by Dev Hanke and Tom Zygmunt Fredric Wertham interview by Len McFadden and Walt Jaschek Letters from Dennis Rogers, Charles Spanier, Tim Seidler, Ed Spring, Tiny McClemmons Poem by Ed Spring Inside Back Cover by Joe Caporale Back Cover by George Barr Mimeograph production: Walt Stumper
I’m listed as “Editor Emeritus” on the inside cover of this, the 9th issue of GRAFAN, but I remember having a hand in much of it, especially the Fredric Wertham interview, and the presentation of Jim Theis’ Conan comic review. [See below.] The issue opens with an editorial by Mike McFadden, and a comprehensive “Fandom Report” on club meetings and other fan-related activities, including cons in other cities.
Page 6 begins a Fredric Wertham interview I had conducted by mail with questions submitted by Len McFadden and me. Dr. Wertham and I had earlier struck up a friendly correspondence when he subscribed to a previous fanzine I published; from that experience, a few paragraphs of my writing ended up in his subsequent book, The World of Fanzines: A Special Form of Communication.
By page 9, we come to the main feature, the James Theis review of Marvel’s new Conan the Barbarian comic book series. The header illustration is by Mike McFadden, and the headline is by me. In 1971, 18-year-old Jim was a huge fan of Robert E. Howard, had read every piece of Conan content out there, had written his own heroic fiction (“Eye of Argon,” starring Grignr the Barbarian, published in another zine, OSFAN) and was the most qualified among us to address the potentials and pitfalls of the Roy Thomas/Barry Smith comic adaptation.
The review begins:
Recently comic books have acquired a new character who has no need for the isolated telephone booth or computerized lab: Robert E. Howard’s bloody barbarian – Conan – is here. However, many of Howard’s techniques are purely literary, and as such, are inapplicable to graphic story form. The comic book writer is necessarily limited to those aspected of a character which can be rendered both visually and literarily – he cannot really develop either quality completely. Therefore, Barry Smith and Roy Thomas are fared with the necessity of separating those unusable qualities from the usable. Here, unfortunately, they have fallen short.
Jim takes lengthy exception to the choices and execution of writer Roy Thomas, seeing the Marvel adaptation something other than the Conan readers came to know in the pulps and paperbacks.
Howard depicted Conan as the brooding savage. Conan seldom spoke, and when he did, it seemed incongruous with his character. Thomas’ Conan, however, babbles incessantly. I realize this is necessary, in part, to move the plot, yet Thomas could produce more coherent adaptations by moving his stories through the dialogue of other characters. Possibly, this action is nothing more than an attempt, conscious or unconscious, to transform Conan into a common superhero.
Speaking of superheroes, the review is interrupted by this full-page pin-up, penciller Mohow, inker Mike McFadden, reproduced in the glory of what was then known as the “electro-stencil.”
After this interlude, Jim has much more to say about the comic, including Barry Smith’s art, “which, unfortunately, illustrates towns with bright, colorful towers which reek of gaety and good cheer … Smith totally destroys the atmostphere.”
Then, after a recognition of the impact on this series of the restrictive Comics Code, making it “necessary for the artist and writer to improvise,” Jim comes to this conclusion.
Room still stands for the argument of whether or not Marvel’s free adaptations are legitimate and worthwhile. Certainly, they have been approved by such people as Glenn Lord. However, Lord, though the manager of the Howard estate, is not Robert E. Howard. Robert E. Howard created Conan, along with ab entire entire world, equipped with workable governments, racial strains, geographic features, etc., and did not give permission to any others to utilize their creations. Thusly, since Howard is no longer alive to give permission, I believe that his memory should be honored to the extent of accurate adaptations.
Followers of the Jim Theis story and his treatment post-mortem might find extra nuance in that sentiment.
The issue keeps going, including a robust letters column…
…and concludes with this delicate ballpoint convention sketch from the amazing George Barr, a science fiction and fantasy artist whose work has graced hundred of pulps, magazines, books and gaming kits.
I thought “A Tale of Two Conans” was a smart, informed review when it was published, and I still think so now. I squirm at the misspellings and typos – hard to know which was the work of 18-year-old Jim or us 17-year-old typists – but if a college freshman had cleaned this up and submitted it to an introductory English class, it would have gotten an “A.” Or maybe an “B+” It was also refreshing to read a critique that came from a less gushing “Make Mine Marvel” point of view than I was used to in comics fandom.
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
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?
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Some in fandom think “Eye of Argon” author Jim Theis “never wrote anything again.” Not true. He wrote at least one more Grignr the Barbarian story, “The Sacred Crest.” Son of Grafan 13 printed part of it.
As the 17-year-old editor of the May, 1972, issue of SON OF GRAFAN, the mimeograph newsletter of the Graphic Fantasy Society of St. Louis, I was excited to receive from my friend and fellow club member Jim Theis – one year older than me – a copy of the manuscript for “The Sacred Crest,” his new Grignr the Barbarian story, and permission to publish it in SOG #13.
This was like being handed fanzine content gold.
I knew a couple of years earlier, Grignr had debuted in “Eye of Argon.” Jim’s story published another St. Louis fanzine, OSFAN 10. I vaguely knew it had garnered attention in science-fiction fandom; I wasn’t active in it. I was a comics guy. I didn’t really know or care that “Eye of Argon” was the subject of some ribbing. I was in awe that a peer was generating long-form fiction, and grateful that on a monthly schedule with pages to fill, I had material!
JIm and I were friendly but never close, and I drifted out of GRAFAN by 1975, engulfed in college, the student newspaper and theatre group, jobs, life, girlfriends, fun. I was shocked and sorry to hear, in 2002, he had died, waaaaaaay too young. My memories were fond, and I considered myself lucky to have been given the opportunity to help publish his early 70s work, first Jim’s review of Marvel’s Conan comics in Grafan 9, then the Grignr story in Son of Grafan 13.
The issue kicks off with a cover by St. Louis cartoonist Larry Nolte.
Here’s the indicia and my editorial introduction. I wrote, genuinely, not ironically, in the style of a 18-year-old Stan Lee wannabe:
Fans of Grignr, that pulse-pounding savage barbarian creation by Jim Theis, will certainly be delighted by the three-part sword-and-sorcery novella that begins in this issue. “The Sacred Crest” is Jim’s latest journey into heroic fantasy – and features Grignr at his best!!! “Diamond” Jim won the notorious J. T. Rickosh award from OSFA, the local SF group, for his first story, which appeared in their clubzine and drew a lot of attention. “The Sacred Crest” equals, if not surpasses, that well-remembered epic.
After a few pages of regular material – “Fandom Report,” a summary of GRAFAN meetings past and yet to come, and current activities of its members – we come, on page 7, to the issue’s main attraction. Aspiring artist me drew the gripping hand and broadsword directly on to the mimeograph stencil, the first half of what I thought would make a striking double-page spread.
“The Sacred Crest” by James Theis begins:
Squatting a full bow shot from the foliage of the royal forest was a lone oak tree; its bent limbs and twisted boughs lifted from an earth that stifled its roots and stunted its glory. Twisted shadows writhed over downcast limbs like formless wraiths; shambled and twined in an ever-mingling chaos that bore upon mighty limbs a weight which broke a haughty arrogance and prostrated them with an ignoble despair. But, out they grasped, gnarled and stooped with disgrace, that they may some day shatter their bounds and mount the somber throne of destiny.
Gliding from behind the oak, seeming as one with its eldritch mysteries, was a crouched form — stealthy as a stalking panther, despite its ponderous bulk. The dying sun glinted dully from dented helm and crimson corselet as it dipped redly into a horizon clouded by the smoke of battle; glinted from eyes the tint of a horizon recoiling from volcanic upheavel — eyes smoldering with mingled hate and despair that is the lot of few mortals to bear. Jutting beneath the stormy eyes was a broad nose, tapering and hooked at its end so that, combined with broad sunken cheeks and square outjutting chin, it lent to already craglike features the predatory sneer of a descending vulture coupled with the aloft and noble bearing of a soaring eagle.”
Eventually Grignr must confront an enemy captain, a “mercenary from the tribes south of the Borthunian wastes.”
Grignr passed his eyes rapidly over the captain and licked his chops with anticipation of locking arms with a worthy opponent.
“Ho scullion maids, be you afraid to set steel against a lone foreman?” taunted Grignr, his eyes ablaze and a wide grin curling his lips.
A tide of nervous movements swayed the column of troops, but none dare sally forth to battle.
The captain’s eyes blazed with ctempt and the scars upon his face burned redly with anger.
“What dogs do I command, that they quake at contemplation of a lone renegade! Set to it, and take him alive, before I step in and rip your yellow guts out with my own blade!”
This part of “The Sacred Crest” ends as the battle builds to climax.
Curse your hide, but you can fight,” muttered the captain as his eyes locked with Grignr’s, “but now you’ve drawn blood from this scratch a set my guts aboils for yours. If I cant take you alive then, by the Gods, I’ll split you like a boar and bind your head to the palace gates.
A wolfish grin curled Grignr’s lips; he raised his sword to cleave the captain’s skull as he recovered his lungs. Shadows crept behind cover and glided through the branches of the bent oak. The sword descended with a whistle of cleft air,
A few paragraphs later, the story is “to be continued… of course.”
The rest of the comparatively calm issue ends with a few “From the Outside” fanzine reviews by me…
…and the 1971 Comic Art Fan ballot, seeking votes for “favorite pro comic book” from nominees The Avengers, Conan, Green Lantern and The New Gods.
It would be two issues, not one, before Grignr appeared again. The second part of “The Sacred Crest” appeared in Son of Grafan #15, May, 1972. But that’s another story.
Or more accurately: a continuation.
It was only recently, in 2021, that a mutual friend hinted that Jim’s original Grignr story, “Eye of Argon,” had gained a kind of infamy in science-fiction fandom. I genuinely had no idea. When I read online reviews that suggested, in a hazy, seeming word-of-mouth backstory, Jim “never wrote anything again,” I thought, well, regardless of what one thinks of Jim’s teen-age writing or the outsized, somewhat cruel reaction to it, that fact is just not true.
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 … Continue reading Cooler Heads Prevail in this Beer Promo Pitch
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
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 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.
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.
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 … Continue reading St. Louis V.I.P: Jaschek Wins With Humor
“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
St. Louis comics fandom wraps up its 1970 interview with native son and DC comics writer O’Neil, weeks away from revamping Superman, Batman.
Rare fanzine: GRAFAN 8, February/March, 1971 [This issue is for sale as a digital download pdf.] Publisher: Graphic Fantasy Society of St. Louis, Missouri 18 mimeograph pages + offset cover Circulation: < 100 copies Editor: Walt Jaschek Cover by: Vaughn Bode Main Feature: Part 3 of interview with DC writer Denny O’Neil by Len McFadden, Mike McFadden, Bob Schoenfeld, Bob Gale and Walt Jaschek Additional features: Editorial, Fandom Report (member and meeting news), Miami-Con 1971 report by Steve Houska, letters from from Ralph Green, Tony Foster, Joe Caporale, Ruben Hayes Interior art by: Joe Caporale, Tom Foster, Chester Gould, Steve Houska, Len Wein Mimeograph production: Walt Stumper
In January, 1971, at the ripe young age of 15, I was putting finishing touches on the 8th issue of GRAFAN, the mimeograph fanzine newsletter of the Graphic Fantasy Society of St. Louis, the enthusiastic, young fan hub of this Midwestern city back in the day. The zine was, according to the indicia, “conjured every month with a little bit of luck… and magic.” All the issues included “Fandom Report,” a preview of upcoming meetings, TV airings and movies of interest, and minutes of previous meetings.
We were a tight and dedicated bunch of what we now call nerds (I say proudly,) and I really don’t know how I would have survived my teen-age years without this funny, supportive group of fellow fans and aspiring writers and artists.
The highlight of this issue was Part 3 our our round-table discussion with St. Louis native and ascendant DC Comics writer, Denny O’Neil (“Wonder Woman,” “Green Lantern,” “Justice League of America.”) The recorded and transcribed conversation took place in Bob Gale’s basement late in 1970, with questions from Bob Schoenfeld, Len McFadden, Mike McFadden, Bob and me. Most of these guys were in their late teens; Denny was in his late 20s. I was, as mentioned, 15. Imagine my thrill.
Here’s the first page of the interview, with a header designed by me right on the mimeograph stencil, and an opening cartoon by me, as well.
This part of the discussion was focused on comic book sales and the target audience. Is it spontaneous (“That looks interesting, I think I’ll buy it”) or uniform (“I will buy this every month no matter what.”)
GRAFAN: It seems to me that the company should either go to an all-spontaneous audience or a uniform audience.
DENNY O’NEIL: Well, we’re not going to be able to go to a spontaneous audience for a number of reasons, among which are merchandising problems. We can’t put comic books out like they put TV Guide out, with point-of-purchase displays and that sort of thing. It seems to me, that our best hope is to try to build a solid audience; to do that it’s going to require some major upheavals. A lot of attitudes are going to have to be changed. The Academy of Comic Book Arts is in business to change the attitudes. First we have two change the attitudes of the readers— the public — toward comic books. For years comics have
been synonymous with the most imbecilic entertainment. And we are going to have to change the attitudes of the publishers…
GRAFAN: And the editors…
DENNY O’NEIL: Well, no, you give the editors a good product, and they get turned on. Julie Schwartz is a fantastic man now… he’s bubbling and happy because he’s doing science fiction.
GRAFAN: Growing long hair, wearing beads…?
DENNY O’NEIL (smiling): Not quite like that.
Much of the discussion was about declining sales and the potential demise of comic books altogether.
GRAFAN: So you’re going to have a good time as the comic industry slides downhill, is that it?
DENNY O’NEIL: Well., that could be. We may be on a real Ragnarok trip. The end may be very soon. But I think there are things that can be done. A lot of business things–thing that should have been done ten years ago. But ten years ago, Superman was good for 750,000 copies and the money was just rolling in. I guess at that time they didn’t see any need to engage in what I feel are very simple basic business practices that would tend to build an audience am get the magazines displayed. Practices that would broaden the base of the operation, so that if you had a bad year with the comics, you don’t stop altogether. Well, obviously, [ownership by the] Kinney [Corporation] is good for that, so that’s at least one thing that has been done.
And some of the discussion was prophetic: talk of new formats and distribution models that would take years to manifest.
GRAFAN: Is the Kinney Corporation significantly interested in DC Comics to really institute some revolutionary changes in distribution?
DENNY O’NEIL: Sure. They’ re talking about all sorts of things.
GRAFN: What sort of things?
DENNY O’NEIL: Oh, there is the package concept, the subscription concept, the bigger-magazine with higher-price concept, which would make comics more attractive to retailers. People are talking about paperback book formats, and even hard cover formats. A lot of things are being kicked around….
Here on the back page is an actual sketch of Dick Tracy by creator Chester Gould. It was an original I received in the mail from Mr. Gould after I sent him a fan letter. But of course it had to be traced onto the mimeograph stencil by someone. You guessed it: me.
Copywriter Walt Jaschek remembers St. Louis Post-Dispatch ad columnist Jerry Berger, and being lifted from obscurity by the reporter’s generous coverage. Certain graces boost us in our careers, inadvertently or otherwise. In my career, one of those graces was named Jerry. Newspaper writer Jerry Berger (1933-2021) was on the advertising and marketing beat for the … Continue reading How Jerry Berger Rocket-Boosted My Career
The lost art of the panel cartoon came roaring back when comedy writer Walt Jaschek teamed with illustrator Tony Patti for Smirk Du Jour, a series of gags about life, love and laughs. These New Yorker-style panel cartoons originally appeared in Slightly Bent Comics #1, an American humor series distributed to comic book stores in … Continue reading Smirk Du Jour: Slightly Bent Panel Cartoons
Misery, they say, loves company. Here’s the company it loves the most. Corp Rut™. It’s not just a place to languish for decades. It’s the subject of a funny, two-page comic book story by Walt Jaschek and Tony Patti, as it appeared in the second issue of Slightly Bent Comics, 1998. Buy Slightly Bent Comics … Continue reading Corp Rut: Funny Comic About Careers
Rare fanzine: GRAFAN 7, January, 1971 Publisher: Graphic Fantasy Society of St. Louis 16 mimeograph pages + offset cover Circulation: < 100 copies Editor: Walt Jaschek Cover by: Steve Houska and Mike McFadden Features: Editorial, Fandom Report (member and meeting news), book reviews Main Feature: Part 2 of interview with DC writer Denny O’Neil by Len McFadden, Mike McFadden, Bob Schoenfeld, Bob Gale and Walt Jaschek Mimeograph production: Walt Stumper
50 years ago this month, at the unripe young age of 15, I was putting the finishing editorial touches on the 7th issue of the fanzine GRAFAN, “official propaganda organ” of the Graphic Fantasy Society of St. Lous. I inherited the Editor role with this issue from beloved, late founder Mike McFadden. Oh, how I remember being excited that this January, 1971 issue was to feature original cover art by Steve Houska; the second part of our in-depth, far-ranging interview with the late Denny O’Neil, superstar DC comics writer [see below;] and other fun fannish fodder. The mimeograph machine was running hot that cold Midwest winter.
GRAFAN the organization was a St. Louis-based, comics-focused fan club, composed mostly of teens and young adults with passion for storytelling, writing, art and collecting. It met regularly in the homes of members and fostered creative collaborations of all kinds. One subset of members met on a dark, 1970 night in Bob (“Green Vomit”) Gale’s basement to interview a guest: DC Comics writer and St. Louis native Denny O’Neil on a brief return visit home. I was with Len McFadden, Mike McFadden, Bob Schoenfeld and Bob Gale for the long, recorded conversation with Denny. It was transcribed and ran across three issues. The second part ran here in issue #7.
Here is an excerpt from the interview.
QUESTION: You’ve scripted all of The Creeper stories so far, right?
DENNY O’NEIL: All but the first one, in Showcase.
QUESTION: How did you like working with Steve Ditko?
DENNY: Yeah, sure is nice weather we’re having.
DENNY: Oh, Steve is a very talented guy, but we disagree in every possible way to disagree, on politics, on morality. So after the second issue of The Creeper, I wasn’t working with Steve anymore, I was working through Dick Giordano. It was even worse for Steve Skeates, who looks like a hippy, and was doing Hawk & Dove with him. Ditko is very big on Ann Rand, and Mr. A really sums up his philosophy. He didn’t like — I think he didn’t like — The Creeper because we had the character sort of self-satirizing in the thought balloons. He made fun of himself, and it’s one of Ditko’s tenets that heroes have to be serious and straight. I don’t think he liked how we handled the character at all…
Another section of the interview, from page 8:
Q. With National trying out these new Western titles, I don’t suppose there’s any chance they might revive Bat Lash? Denny O’Neil: There is a chance! There’s no chance of it being feature in his own book; Bat Lash had the worst sales in the whole 30-some-odd-year history of National Periodical Publications. We’re targeting it for a back-up feature in one of Giordano’s books. Q. Was Infantino as excited about Bat Lash as everyone else was? Denny O’Neil: Oh, it was Infantino’s baby. He kept it alive three issues after the business office told him to stop publishing it.
Shortly after this interview, the same group of fans escorted Denny to St. Louis tv station KPLR-TV, where he was interviewed live on-air about his comic book work as we watched from the green room. Could there have been a bigger thrill for me, a 15-year-old comic book fan also fascinated with journalism TV production? No, of course not. But there was hardly time to take it all in. There was another issue of GRAFAN to put out…
The second fanzine/newsletter of the Graphic Fantasy Society of St. Louis was edited by a dedicated few, including me. Fun times!
A long time ago in a St. Louis comics and science fiction fandom far, far, away – well, darn close, actually – I was an on-again, off-again editor and producer of SON OF GRAFAN (nicknamed SOG,) the newsletter of the fan club and communityGRAFAN. This was 1970 – 1975, when I went from being a 16-year-old high school nerd to a 20-year-old college nerd.
Don’t worry. I had a serious girlfriend or two in there. I wasn’t completely hopeless. In those years, I was also serving as editor my high school newspaper and my college newspaper, all concurrently with fandom activities. The connective tissue was writing. Editing. Typing. I must have been always typing.
“GRAFAN is dead! Long live SON OF GRAFAN!” So declared our club, the Graphic Fantasy Society of St. Louis in 1971, when its “official propaganda organ,” became too unwieldy under ever increasing expectation of editorial and production pizazz. GRAFAN lasted 9 storied issues; I edited a couple of those, too. On both runs, I was happy to be involved and part of the fun.
The leaner, more streamlined (at least at first) SON OF GRAFAN kept the mimeograph machine cranking with meeting news, minutes, reviews, announcements, article and art, all revolving around St. Louis comics fandom and its enthusiasms, and expanding to science-fiction in those early 1970s, as well.
Here are the covers to the only issues of SON OF GRAFAN I still have in my files. All of the printing, unless otherwise noted, are by friend, master of the mimeograph Walt Stumper.
SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) 1
July, 1971 2 pages Edited by Mike McFadden “Son of Editorial” by Mike McFadden “Son of Fanac Calendar” Member and meeting news
SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) 2
July, 1971 2 pages Edited by Mike McFadden “Fandom Report” by Mike McFadden “Filthy Pro News” by Mike Letter from W. C. Rhomberg
SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) 3
September, 1971 4 pages Edited by Walt Jaschek Features include: Upcoming meeting details Previous meeting minutes Member news Fanzine reviews by Walt J “Pro News” “In the Mass Media” news
SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) 5
October, 1971 6 pages Edited by Walt Jaschek Features include: “Fanac Calendar” “Fandom Report” by Mike McFadden “Dreck” column by Dev Hanke Fanzine reviews by Walt J. Non-subscriber list [weird]
SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) 6
November, 1971 6 pages Edited by Walt Jaschek “Fandom Report” by Mike McFadden “Dreck” column by Dev Hanke 1971 Goethe Awards ballot “Pro News” from Newfangles “Around Town” news
SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) 11
February, 1972 Edited by Walt Jaschek Cover art by Larry Nolte Features include: “Fandom Report” by Mike McFadden “Human Violence Can Be Abolished” by Frederic Wertham, M.D. “Coming Attractions” by Paul Daly Fanzine reviews by Walt Jaschek
SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) 12
March, 1972 6 pages Edited by Walt Jaschek and Walt Stumper Staff and club officials list “Dreck” column by Dev Hanke “Coming Attractions” movie news by Paul Daly “From the Outside” fanzine reviews by Walt Jaschek Letters from Paul Daly and Charles Spanier
April, 1972 16 pages Edited by Walt Jaschek Cover by Larry Nolte “Editorial Notes” by Walt Jaschek “Fandom Report” by Mike McFadden “Coming Attractions” movie news by Paul Daly “The Sacred Crest: Part 1” fiction by Jim Theis starring Grignr the Barbarian “The Spider and Mr. Moke” comic strip by Paul Daly Upcoming conventions list “From the Outside” fanzine reviews by Walt Jaschek 1971 Comic Art Fan Awards ballot
April, 1972 Edited by Walt Jaschek Cover by Mike McFadden [I have only the cover to this issue. Weird.]
SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) 15
May, 1972 16 pages Edited by Walt Jaschek Cover by Paul Daly “Editorial Notes” by Walt Jaschek “Fandom Report” by Mike McFadden “Upcoming Comic News” “Coming Attractions” movie news by Paul Daly “From the Outside” fanzine reviews by Walt Jaschek “The Sacred Crest: Part 2” fiction by Jim Theis “Howls from the Belfry” club news by Walt Stumper Current release science fiction paperback book list 1972 Albuquerque Science Fiction Society “Bubonicon” promo flier “Reference Guide to Fantastic Films” promo flier
SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) 16
July, 1972 18 pages Edited by Walt Stumper “Howls from the Belfry” by Walt Stumper “Fandom Report” by Mike McFadden “Coming Attractions” by Paul Daly “Comics of French Canada” by Ralph Alfonso Fanzine reviews by Walt Jaschek Letters from George Vincent; Harry Warner, Jr.; Frederic Wertham
SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) 17
August, 1972 10 pages Edited by Walt Stumper Cover by Larry Todd “Fandom Report” by Walt Stumper “Coming Attractions” movie news by Paul Daly Letters from Gary Goersch, Steve Frischer, Celia Tiffany, Ed Hummeny
SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) 19
October, 1972 8 pages Edited by Walt Stumper Upcoming meeting news “Fandom Report” by Mike McFadden Book and magazine news Phantasmagoria ad flier Upcoming conventions list Letter from Ralph Alfonso
SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) 22
December, 1972 14 pages Edited by Walt Stumper “Fandom Report” by Walt Stumper Club library list “Coming Attractions” movie news by Paul Daly Los Angeles Science Fiction & Fantasy Film Convention Report by Larry Arnold Upcoming conventions list Fantasy and science fiction book news & reviews “Color It: Comics” Comic reviews by Don Secrease Reviews of TV shows “U.F.O.” and “The Protectors” by Paul Daly
SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) 23
March, 1973 Edited by Walt Jaschek “Fandom Report” by Mike McFadden [My issue is incomplete. This is the only page I have.]
SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) 24
April, 1973 16 pages Edited by Walt Jaschek and Walt Stumper Cover by Larry Nolte Editorial by Walt Stumper “Fandom Report” by Mike McFadden News release about Frederic Wertham book about fanzines “Coming Attractions” movie news by Paul Daly Books of interest by Walt Stumper “Color Them: Comics” reviews by Don Secrease Fanzine reviews by Walt Stumper Letter from Chuck Kallenback II
SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) 29
February, 1974 10 pages Edited by Mike McFadden Cover by Vince Rhomberg Editorial by Mike McFadden “Fandom Report” by Mike “Coming Attractions” by Vernon Shelton “So Speaks the Stump” by Walt Stumper
SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) 36
August, 1975 Edited by Walt Jaschek Cover by Mike McFadden [GRAFAN Mini-Con promotion] Editorial by Walt Jaschek “Fandom Report” by Mike McFadden “Dreck” column by Dev Hanke
Good thing, because as a teen-age fanzine writer and editor in 1970s St. Louis comics fandom, I smelled a lot of ’em.
And so did my pals and fellow members of the Graphic Fantasy Society of St. Louis, who co-created dozens of mimeo zines throughout the decade, bursting with news, reviews, articles and artwork, often accompanied by covers featuring sketches we begged from pro comics and science fiction artists at conventions.
GRAFAN, as the “graphic fantasy society” was known, was a well organized, fee-based club, with regular monthly meetings for years (in the basement of members’ parents’ homes,) and kept a fairly rigorous monthly schedule for its zine/newsletter, containing at very least minutes of meetings past and previews of meetings upcoming. “It is published every month,” the indicia of every issue said, “with a little bit of luck… and magic.”
The club was a warm community of nerds; I say that proudly as one then and now. It was a self-selected tribe of fast-frozen and long-held friendships among talented young people sharing enthusiasms, putting their still-forming work out there, and squinting together into adulthood and creative careers.
Some were “older” teens and even 20somethings – a few in college, a few in Grad School. Founding members in my memory, were brothers Len and Mike McFadden; Bob Schoenfeld (of “Gosh Wow”;) and Bob Gale (of “Green Vomit,” then later, “Back to the Future.”) Len and Bob were at the older end of that age range. But when I first joined the group, in 1969, I was 14 years old, and when I inherited the editor position of GRAFAN, its monthly zine, as of issue #6 in 1970, I was 15.
The regulars who leaned in to publication of GRAFAN and its follow-up zine SON OF GRAFAN were founders Len and Mike McFadden; Walter Stumper, Steve Houska, Jim Theis, Joe Caporale, Dev (Brock) Hanke, Paul Daly, Don Secrease, Larry Nolte, me, and others I’ll remember as soon as I’m done posting.
Here are the covers and overview of contents of ATLANTIS # 1 and GRAFAN #2-9. The name changed with issue #2 to align more closely with club name. (Better branding, I said back then, and still say now.)
June, 1970 18 mimeograph pages + photo offset cover Editor: Michael McFadden Cover: Vaughn Bode Features include: Editorial Fandom Report Meeting minutes and news about next Ozark-Con 5 flier Zine reviews Upcoming con listings
July, 1970 6 mimeograph pages + photo offset cover Editor: Michael McFadden Cover: Mike Royer Features include: Editorial by Len McFadden Fandom Report Meeting minutes and news about next Member survey
August, 1970 4 mimeograph pages + photo offset cover Editor: Michael McFadden Cover: Larry Todd Features include: Editorial by Mike Fandom Report Meeting minutes and news about next
September, 1970 6 mimeograph pages + photo offset cover Editor: Michael McFadden Cover: Joe Caporale and Mike Features include: Editorial by Mike Fandom Report Article on Ozark-Con 5 by Marsha Allen and Mike Meeting minutes and news about next
October, 1970 6 mimeograph pages + photo offset cover Editor: Michael McFadden Cover: Vaughn Bode Features include: Editorial by Mike Fandom Report Meeting minutes and news about next Member survey
November, 1970 16 pages + photo offset cover Editor: Michael McFadden Cover: Larry Todd Features include: Denny O’Neil interview, part 1 Editorial by Mike Fandom Report Meeting minutes and news about next Book reviews by Len McFadden
January, 1971 A typo in this issue incorrectly lists date as January, 1970 16 mimeograph pages + photo offset cover Editor: Walt Jaschek Cover: Steve Houska and Mike McFadden Features include: Denny O’Neil interview, part 2 Editorial by Walt Jaschek Fandom Report Club Election Results Book reviews by Len McFadden Read more about GRAFAN 7
February-March, 1971 18 mimeograph pages + mimeograph cover Editor: Walt Jaschek Cover: Vaughn Bode Features include: Denny O’Neil interview, part 3 Editorial by Walt Jaschek MiamiCon 1971 Report by Steve Houska Grafandom letter column: Letters from Ralph Green, Tony Foster, Joe Caporale, Ruben Hayes Read more about GRAFAN 8
May, 1971 20 mimeograph pages + photo offset cover Editor: Steve Houska Cover: Larry Todd Features include: Fandom Report by Mike McFadden Conan the Barbarian Comic Book Review by James Theis Fredric Wertham Interview Book Reviews by Dev Hanke Comic strip by Vince Rhomberg Granfandom ketter column: Letters from Dennis Rogers, Charles Spanier, Tim Seidler, Ed Spring, Tiny McClemmons Poem by Ed Spring Inside Back Cover by Joe Caporale Back Cover by George Barr
Longtime followers of fandom might recognize quite a few of these names. The late Editor Emeritus Mike McFadden went on to be a prominent comic book grader for CGC in Florida. The late writer Jim Theis became well-known in science-fiction fandom for his fiction, including the story “Eye of Argon” starring Grignr the Barbarian, originally published in another St. Louis mimeograph fanzine of the era, OSFAN. Bob Gale, who was part of the group who interviewed Denny O’Neil (issues #6, 7 and 8) became a Hollywood screenwriter and part architect of the “Back to the Future” franchise. As for me? Well, you’re on my site! Click around.
Len, Mike, Bob, Jim and other prominent figures in GRAFAN have since passed – see grafan.org for dates. It is to honor their memory I post these covers.
A robust follow-up zine, SON OF GRAFAN, would carry on from 1971 until years later; I shared editorship of that publication with Walt Stumpers and others. It, too, was packed with cool, mimeograph content. But that, son, is a story for Part 2.
Danger Dad™, the superhero with “paternal parent power,” was created by Walt Jaschek and first appeared in Slightly Bent Comics, 1998. Here are two of the strips. “Stop and Think!” That’s the motto of the over-protective parent Danger Dad, a parody superhero created by St. Louis writer and humorist Walt Jaschek. “At the time, I … Continue reading Danger Dad™ Superhero Parody, 1998
Slightly Bent #1 and #2 are black-and-white anthology comics written by Walt Jaschek, starring creator-owned characters. Top St. Louis comic artists supplied visuals. This 2-issue series, self-published as “Slightly Bent Entertainment,” was distributed by Diamond Comic Distributors to comic books stores across the United States in 1998. Walt Jaschek designed the Slightly Bent logo and … Continue reading Slightly Bent Comics: Mall Cop, Dude-Guy, Danger Dad & More
In “A Tale of Two Conans,” heroic fiction fan/student Jim Theis (“Eye of Argon”) casts a critical eye at Marvel Comics’ newly launched Robert E. Howard adaptation (1971.) Swords clash. Rare fanzine: GRAFAN 9, May, 1971GRAFAN 9 is for sale as digital download pdf.Publisher: Graphic Fantasy Society of St. Louis, Missouri18 mimeograph pages + wraparound coverCirculation: … Continue reading Jim Theis “Conan the Barbarian” Comic Review in GRAFAN 9, 1971