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!

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

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How to Kill a Pitch: Ad Biz Satire, Walt Jaschek Script

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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

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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 … Continue reading Christopher McKarton: 1974 comic strip debut

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

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.

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

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Review of True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee

With great power comes great responsibility. And with great responsibility comes fame, fortune, last-act misfortunes, a cross-maze of lawsuits, and a boatload of movie cameos. Walt Jaschek reviews Abraham Riesman’s new biography, True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee. It’s in hardcover and Kindle on Amazon. Check current price. #affiliatelink Here are my … Continue reading Review of True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee

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Review of True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee

With great power comes great responsibility. And with great responsibility comes fame, fortune, last-act misfortunes, a cross-maze of lawsuits, and a boatload of movie cameos. Walt Jaschek reviews Abraham Riesman’s new biography, True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee.

It’s in hardcover and Kindle on Amazon. Check current price.

#affiliatelink

Here are my 10 take-aways from this terrific tome.

  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

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Smirk Du Jour: Slightly Bent Panel Cartoons

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.

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The Date
The Drive
The Class
The Court
The Bar
The Date
The Date

See also:
Corp Rut
Slightly Bent Comics

Buy Slightly Bent Comics on eBay

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Corp Rut: Funny Comic About Careers

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.

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The story opens with narration by our hero, Lola Langly, a gal on the go. Here’s where she went.

Corp Rut page 1
Corp Rut page 2

Here’s the appearance of this feature on the cover of Slightly Bent Comics #2. The cover was designed by Walt. Tony did the illustration for the Corp Rut panel.

Readers! Don’t you think Corp Rut™ deserves to come back as an ongoing strip? An animated cartoon? A sitcom on a streaming service near you? Comment and we’ll get to it!

Meanwhile, back to your cubes, Corp Rut middle managers!

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Smirk Du Jour: Slightly Bent Panel Cartoons

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Danger Dad™ Superhero Parody, 1998

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

Danger Dad™ Superhero Parody, 1998

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.

Danger Dad™ logo by Walt Jaschek

“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.

Danger Dad from Slightly Bent Comics #1

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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.

Danger Dad from Slightly Bent Comics #2

Walt is currently writing a Danger Dad animated cartoon series pilot. Danger Dad™ is a trademark of Walt Jaschek. These comics are © 1998 – 2021.

Danger Dad™ illustration by Walt Jaschek

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Corp Rut: Funny Comic About Careers

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Slightly Bent Comics: Mall Cop, Dude-Guy, Danger Dad & More

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

Jim Theis “Conan the Barbarian” Comic Review in GRAFAN 9, 1971

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Slightly Bent Comics: Mall Cop, Dude-Guy, Danger Dad & More

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.

The comics feature the second and third print appearances of the original Mall Cop, Mel Cop, with art by Secrease. They also showcase the first appearances of Dude-Guy, with art by Craig Skaggs; Danger Dad, with art by Jaschek and Darren Goodheart; Corp Rut™ and Smirk Du Jour, with art by Tony Patti; Attorneys in Space, with art by Paul Daly; and Those Dang Gnats, a comic strip by Jaschek, who also wrote humorous editorials for both issues.

Reviews of these issues are on Steve’s Reads and on Flooby.

Buy Slightly Bent Comics on Walt Now Comics

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.

Here are select pages from the two issues. The characters and pages are © copyright 1997-2022 Walt Jaschek and the respective artists.

Slightly Bent Comics 1 cover
Slightly Bent Comics 1 inside front cover
Slightly Bent Comics #1 | contents page
Slightly Bent 1 Dude-Guy

Read more about Dude-Guy.

Slightly Bent Comics #1 | Mel Cool: Mall Cop

Read more about Mel Cool: Mall Cop.

Slightly Bent #1 | Smirk Du Jour

See more Smirk Du Jour comics.

Slightly Bent #1 | Attorneys in Space

More information on Attorneys in Space.

Slightly Bent #1 back cover
Slightly Bent Comics #2 cover
Slightly Bent #2 contents page
Slightly Bent #2 | Due-Guy recap
Slightly Bent #2 | Danger Dad™

Here’s more information about Danger Dad.™

Slightly Bent #2 | Corp Rut

Here’s more of Corp Rut™.

Slightly Bent Comics 2 back cover

Buy Slightly Bent Comics on Walt Now Comics

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James Theis’ “Eye of Argon” sequel in Son of Grafan 13, 1972

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One-Shot Western, Caliber, 1991 Comic Book with The Savage Sisters

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GRAFAN #8, Feb. 1971, Denny O’Neil interview, Part 3

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Jim Theis “Conan the Barbarian” Comic Review in GRAFAN 9, 1971

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.

GRAFAN 9 cover

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

GRAFAN 9 inside cover

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.

GRAFAN 9 page 4

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.

GRAFAN 9 page 6

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.

GRAFAN 9 page 11

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 Theis

GRAFAN 9 page 12

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.”

GRAFAN 9 page 12

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.

Jim Theis

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…

GRAFAN 9 page 14

…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.

GRAFAN 9 back cover

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.

(By the way: Make Mine Marvel.)

This #9 was the last issue of GRAFAN. The weight of ever-increasing expectations for its expansion kept it from reaching issue #10; instead, a leaner (at first) SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) took its place for 40+ issues. By issue #13 of SOG, Jim returned to his Grignr the Barbarian character for the first part of a new novella.

And Conan got competition anew.

GRAFAN 9 is for sale as digital download pdf.

For more of GRAFAN, see also:
ATLANTIS 1 and GRAFAN 2-8 (1970-1971) / covers and content summaries
SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) (1971-1975) / select covers and content summaries
Club home: granfan.org

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GRAFAN #7, Jan, 1971, Denny O’Neil Interview, Part 2

In first issue under new editor Walt Jaschek, St. Louis fanzine GRAFAN continues in-depth, 1970 conversation with writer of Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Justice League. GRAFAN #7 is available as a digital download pdf. Rare fanzine: GRAFAN 7, January, 1971Publisher: Graphic Fantasy Society of St. Louis16 mimeograph pages + offset coverCirculation: < 100 copiesEditor: Walt … Continue reading GRAFAN #7, Jan, 1971, Denny O’Neil Interview, Part 2

SON OF GRAFAN (SOG) zines 1971-75 | St. Louis comics fandom

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GRAFAN zine, 1970-71 | St. Louis Comics Fandom Remembered

Covers and content lists for ATLANTIS #1 and GRAFAN #2-9, 1970-71, “official propaganda organs” of the Graphic Fantasy Society of St. Louis. I love the smell of mimeograph stencils in the morning. Good thing, because as a teen-age fanzine writer and editor in 1970s St. Louis comics fandom, I smelled a lot of ’em. And … Continue reading GRAFAN zine, 1970-71 | St. Louis Comics Fandom Remembered

One-Shot Western, Caliber, 1991 Comic Book with The Savage Sisters

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?

Savage Sisters Page 01
The Savage Sisters page 02
The Savage Sisters page 03

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.

Autographs on One-Shot Western, 1991

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.
Samantha Savage by Don Secrease
Savannah Savage by Don Secrease

Thanks for reading, partner.

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GRAFAN #8, Feb. 1971, Denny O’Neil interview, Part 3

St. Louis comics fandom wraps up its 1970 interview with native son and DC comics writer O’Neil, weeks away from revamping Superman, Batman.

GRAFAN 8 cover

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.

Being “editor” was a role for multi-taskers!

To read this part of the Denny O’Neil interview:
GRAFAN 8 as digital download pdf
And to read the rest of the interview:
GRAFAN 6 as a digital download pdf
GRAFAN 7 as a digital download pdf

For more of GRAFAN, see also:
ATLANTIS 1 and GRAFAN 2-8 (1970-1971)
SON OF GRAFAN (1971-1975)
granfan.org

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