Comic smile of the week, at least for me: I accidentally learned Marvel Comic reprinted the X-Men parody I wrote – and Jim Lee drew! – in GenNext (an X-Men anthology book) #8. It originally appeared in What Th–? #5, a Marvel humor book from a decade earlier. Great to know! I was using the Google machine last week, and saw that I was listed as a writer on that book. “Ha! That’s a mistake,” I said. “I think I would know if I had anything in that issue.” But I ordered it, and what do you know: there we are, with better paper and better printing this time. Love it. You hang in there, writers, and the world offers up little gifts like this. I’m grateful.
This is writer Walt Jaschek’s introduction to the comic book Recycled Man: What Goes Around, published by Comicmood Studios, and available now on Amazon Kindle. The text introduction is titled, “When Endings Begin.” It’s about the impulse behind Walt’s creation of Recycled Man, and in particular about his power to “accelerate Karma.”
“What goes around, comes around.”
A somewhat world-weary, cigarette-smoking art director I worked with back in my ad agency days used to say that a lot.
He was right a lot.
He wasn’t talking metaphysically. More transactionally. If the flu is going around, you’re going to get the flu. (That was before the the shot. I am pro-shot.) If a client pays late, the agency is going to pay late. If somebody buys lunch with a counterfeit dollar, you’re going to get it as change.
He also used lean back, blow a smoke ring, and say, “Life’s a bitch and then you die.” My younger self had to actively shrug that off. My carefully crafted optimism had to be shielded.
But he was right about that, too, in his way. We’re here for a blink, the challenges never stop, and if you don’t hone optimism and resilience, life will seem, as per Thomas Hobbes, “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”
“Life’s a bitch and then you die” is snappier, I think.
All those quotes were on my mind when the notion of Recycled Man was born a few years ago, in a notebook, late at night.
My concept of Karma – as in, creating your ultimate fate through the arc of your daily behavior – was continuing to evolve. I kept seeing both good and bad behavior manifest fate indirectly, and over time. Thieves don’t necessarily get robbed in return, but check out prematurely. Robbed of time. The corrupt are called out, at least by history. The poor winner loses it all.
Eventually. But often the pace of Karmic repercussions can be glacial, as in glaciers, which we used to have.
My impulse for Recycled Man was that he could accelerate Karma. He could cut to the chase. See the nasty out the door.
This introductory story, in which he does just that, hints – not subtly – at a backstory I worked out in the very same notebook.
It is, I hope you’ll understand, a deliberate change-up for me: a toe-tip into (what I hope is) pulpy drama. That’s new for a writer whose work is typically more light-hearted. Or was.
But as Don Secrease started adding seer-your-retina color to Paul Daly’s evocative art, I knew we had to get a print and digital edition out there – partially to gauge reaction, partially to give our new publishing company, Comicmood, a jump-start. (Will the story continue? Oh yes, if engagement and sales warrant. Let us know what you think at comicmood.com.)
Filling out the issue: a new story I guest-wrote for Terranauts: 2020, an incarnation of the long-running team created by Paul and Don, and on loan for this appearance. “The Call of Cold, Dark Places” matches the book’s tone, I thought.
More Comicmood characters are in development — get ready, here they come —and I think they all have a certain Karma of their own. The unworthy will vanish quietly. (Or maybe not-so quietly. I’m a comics fan, too. I know how we are.) The worthy?
They’ll come around. •
Here’s my short, suitably nerdy report and review of… Detective Comics #1000! (Spoiler alert: I lovedit.) Of course I would dash out and scoop up some variant cover editions. Doesn’t take a detective to figure that out! What editions did YOU get? Let me know in the comments!
In 7th grade, I wrote a gushing fan letter to Stan Lee. The letter was subsequently published in its entirety in Captain America #107, November, 1968. A thrill. Here’s the cover, by Jack Kirby (another hero:)
But it got better. Stan deemed the letter worthy of a “No-Prize,” his inside-joke “award” for fans – an envelope with literally nothing inside. So when, a few weeks later, said envelope from Marvel arrived, my 12-year-old head hit the ceiling.
This is my way of saying… RIP Stan, entertainer extraordinaire, wizard of words and worlds, and an outsized influence on many, including me. I’m so happy you lived long enough to see your co-creations explode into every corner of pop culture. Thanks for the ride.
And thanks also for this little envelope: no prize I’ve gotten since surpasses.
“Congratulations,” it says. “This envelope contains a genuine Marvel Comics No-Prize which you have just won. Handle with Care.” I did, through the decades. That’s a pic I shot recently. The outer envelope (from 625 Madison Avenue, New York, 10022) has yellowed. The No-Prize itself… is mint.
Walt Jaschek looks back on his story in What The–? #5, Marvel’s self-parody comic, originally published in 1989. Walt recalls:
“Just as my freelance writing business was heating up, my friend and superstar comic artist invited me to do a short piece in Marvel’s humor anthology” His idea was teaming up characters who really didn’t belong together. I called it ‘Ill-Conceived Character Couplings.’ As I look back now, I see it was really a bunch of inside jokes for those reading comic at the time. But it was such a privilege to work with Jim and get that first check from Marvel. Even now I think back and say, ‘Did that really happen?’ In other words: ‘What The–?'”
Here is the Hilary Barta’s cover to the issue, followed by the story itself. Credits below.
“Ill-Conceived Character Couplings: Team-Ups That Just Wouldn’t Work”
Comic for Marvel’s parody anthology What The–?! The Marvel Mag of Mirth and Mayhem (Issue #5, 1989.) Script: Walt Jaschek. Plot and Pencils: Jim Lee. Inks: Al Milgrom. Letters: Jim Parker. Cover: Hilary Barta.
“Golden Adventures of Brett Hull” Issue #2: “Power Play: 2094” | Continued from Issue #1 | Publisher: The Patrick Company. Agency: Hinkle & Company. Writers: Walt Jaschek and Brock Hanke. Artists: Don Secrease, Rick Burchett, Bill Lux and Bill Vann.
Read the series backstory and full credits
To be continued in Issue #3: “Sudden Death Overtime!”