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!”
Issue #3: “Sudden Death Overtime!” | Continued from Issue #1
Published by the Patrick Company. Art Agency: Hinkle & Company. Writer: Walt Jaschek. Artists: Don Secrease, Rick Burchett, Bill Lux, Bill Vann. Read series backstory and full credits
Big day in comicdom! Action Comics #1000 is out, the first comicbook in history to reach that number. It’s also the 80th anniversary (to the day) of Action #1, which introduced Superman to the world. “I’ll buy just ONE COPY of issue #1000,” I said this morning. “I WON’T buy the 9 variant cover editions, each representing a different decade. I WON’T!” One hour later…
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Can a Simpsons™ character handle full-frontal nudity? Even in the name of art? This 6-page “Ned and the Nude” comic by Walt Jaschek, Don Secrease and Bill Lux was created as an audition for a gig at Bongo, publisher of the Simpsons comicbook. It’s a tale about nudity in art and America’s queasiness about that. It’s also a silly Ned Flanders solo story. Simpsons are © 20th Century Fox. Created by Matt Groening. (Props 4ever, Matt.)
You can also read Walt’s naked script for this comic below — if you want to see how his brain works (and/or you’d like to hire him to write a comic.)
“NED AND THE NUDE”
Writer: Walt Jaschek
Full-page splash. In the foreground is a cute, female ART MODEL, her back to us, her head turned so we can see her face. She is very, very NUDE. One long arm thrusts out and bends back to her hip. Framed in the space between her arm and body is our hero, NED FLANDERS. He is sweating. With one hand, he tugs at his pink collar. With the other, he hold a paint brush up to an canvas on an easel. But the paint is dripping and smearing: he just can’t focus!
CUTE MODEL: What’s WRONG, Mr. Flanders?
CUTE MODEL 2: Why won’t you…
CUTE MODEL 3: PAINT me?
FLANDERS 1: Well, I… [GULP!]
FLANDERS (thought 1:) Great gobs of GIDDY-GOO, man!
FLANDERS (thought 2:) Get a ho-ho-HOLD of yourself!
STORY TITLE: NED AND THE NUDE
END PAGE 1
1 – A classroom. From behind Ned. Across the room, the silhouette of the model, her hands on her hips. Ned is turning to look up — there’s a hand on Ned’s shoulder. And a cigarette burning from the hand!
Voice (from off): YES, Ned. You do seem a little… “UPTIGHT.”
2 – Reveal: Marge’s sister Selma. She is chain smoking, pontificating like a self-important teacher. Because in this class — she is!
Selma: STUDENTS! Did I not LECTURE this class on the need for a true NUDE FIGURE ARTIST to let GO!…
Selma 2: GO!…
Selma 3: [[cough!]]
Selma 4: GO?
3 – A three-shot. Ned, at his easel. On the left, a little behind: Marge, also painting at an easel. On the right, also a little behind: Barney.
Ned: Oh GOSH, Selma! You’re the best darn ADULT EDUCATION ART TEACHER here at EAST-LOWER SPRINGFIELD JUNIOR HIGH!
Ned: It’s JUST that…WELL…
4 – CU of Selma, scowling.
Selma: WHAT, Ned? WHAT?
5 – A shot past the model as Ned leaps up from the easel — he uses one hand to cover his eyes. With his other, he points to the model. He can contain himself no longer.
Ned (yelling): The HUMAN BODY is OBSCENE!
NED (yelling 2): And LOOKING at it is a mortal SIN so SEVERE it’ll yank your SPLEEN out!!!!
6 – 2-shot. Ned is artificially calm now, grinning sheepishly at Selma and making a circular gesture with his hand just above the surface of his canvas.
NED: Plus, I’d feel better with more time for the “UNDER-DRAWING.”
END PAGE 2
1- Exterior shot of East-Lower Springfield Junior High.
SELMA (from within): Are you GETTING this, class?
SELMA (from within): Ned is EMBARASSED — by THIS!
2- In foreground, Selma gesturing to the tableau behind her. The beautiful, nude model. Holy cow! She looks like Britney Spears! With gigantic bosoms! And this is no normal pose: she’s holding a whip! While sucking on lollipop. Wearing (as it turns out) fishnets! About to get into a bathtub! While a fan blows her big hair. In other words, a bunch of obvious cheesecake cliches.
(Selma’s word balloons hide the model’s naughtier bits.)
SELMA: Merely by THIS:
SELMA 2: A completely NATURAL, NORMAL BODY…
SELMA 3: …in a completely NEUTRAL POSE!
3- Selma leans in to taunt Ned. He holds his head in his hands.
SELMA (whispering): Is it because she looks like BRATNEY SPHERES?
NED: SWEET LORD IN HEAVEN! YES!
4 – Selma tosses the nude model a robe.
SELMA: ACHTUNG, my so-called “ARTISTS!”
SELMA 2: When deconstructing the NUDE…
5 – Selma dramatically pulls the straps of her Moo-Moo from her shoulders.
SELMA: You must DIVORCE yourself from POP CULTURE CONTEXT!
6 – Floor level shot, past Selma’s disturbing, naked legs. The Moo-Moo is bundled at her feet. And in the background, our cast so far (Marge, Smithers, Barney) gasps in horror.
SELMA: (from above:) And THINK only…
SELMA 2: SEE only…
SELMA 3: (Yelling): MASS!!!
END OF PAGE 3
1- Same exterior shot as panel 1 on previous page. But now legions are running out the front door, still wearing paint smocks, paint hats, and wielding wet brushes. Who do we see here? How about… Chief Wiggums, Doctor Hibbard, and Apu…
GROUP SCREAM: AAAAAAAAAAAA!
2- Back inside. Ned and Selma. Ned is holding two thick paint brushes covering his eyes so he can’t see. Selma is putting her Moo-Moo back on.
SELMA: Yeah, this won’t work EITHER, Ned.
SELMA 2: We need a QUORUM to meet MODEL FFES.
3 – Cut to: another part of the room. WILLIE, the Scottish groundskeeper at Springfield Elementary, is… ripping off his shirt! He’s really buff — super-hero buff! And he’s coming right at us!
WILLIE: HOW about THIS, Flanders…
WILLIE 2: …ye wee bit o’ POOFY-BOY?
SELMA (from off): WILLIE!?
4- Willie has pulled his pants off one muscuar leg, and has the other muscular leg in the air, pulling the pants from it. Flanders and Selma look on, amazed.
5 – Willie, lying on his side now on the model platform. We’re looking past Selma now, and only her arm and lit cigarette hide his nether-regions.
WILLIE: If it’s a BODY divorced of CONTEXT ye be needin’, PANSY-painters…
WILLIE 2: Grab y’r tubes of YELLOW OOOOCHRA…and HAV’ AT!
6 – CLOSE-UP OF NED. He is holding two paintbrushes in the sign of the cross, as if stopping a vampire.
NED: No! NO! I won’t rendereth WILLIE, EITHER!
END PAGE 4
1- Ned points to his own booty as Selma his fellow artists look on.
NED: I can’t gaze upon ANY “BOO-TAY” that’s not in its God-given GARMENTS!
MARGE: But NED…
2 – Two-shot. Marge and Barney in front of their easels.
MARGE: THEN you won’t PASS the CLASS!
BARNEY: Yeah! And you’ll be doomed to REPEAT it FOR-EVER!
BARNEY 2: Like ME!
3- Ned consults a huge, 3-inch thick catalog, which he evidentally carries with him. On the cover: SPRINGFIELD ADULT EDUCATION / SPRING “SEMESTER”
NED: B… But I NEED to pass!
NED: It’s REQUIRED for admittance to ART 199:
NED: “The Art Of The FAMILY CIRCUS!”
4 – Ned is on his knees, burying his face in folds of Selma’s Moo-Moo.
NED: PLEASE, Selma — Is there ANYTHING I can DO to PASS…
NED: …that DOESN’T involve PAINTING the PANTSLESS?
5 – Selma puffs out a smoke ring and Flanders stares hopefully through it.
SELMA: WEEEELL — I can think of ONE “academic OUT.”
SELMA: It’s not really FAIR…
SELMA: …but it doesn’t break any COMMANDMENTS!
6 – Close-up of Ned, fists clenched, delighted.
NED: I’LL DO IT!
END PAGE 5
Full-page panel. Taking up most of this panel is the nude figure of … NED HIMSELF! He is standing on one foot. The other foot is cupped in one hand, and the leg is bent accordlingly. . The other hand is behind his neck. He is contorted… and content. He looks almost like a human ice swan. And he has a rose in his teeth!
NED (thinking 1): SAY…THIS isn’t so bad!
NED (thinking 2):I guess if I can’t MAKE art — I can BE art!
NED (thinking 3):I feel so…LIBERATED! So LOOSE! So…FREE! But then…
NED (thinking 4):That could just be the BREEZE!
And, looking past Ned, in a small horizontal group shot at the bottom of the panel, simultaneously reacting to this pose, is…
SELMA (pleased, framing him with her hands): FREEZE, you gorgeous MAN-CHILD!
SMITHERS (thinking): C’MAGNIFIQUE!
CAPTION: THE “END”
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A crazy, creative, collaborative crew. I am blessed to have incredibly talented artists as co-creators and friends here in St. Louis. Tonight wife Randy and I joined some of them for brainstorming, project development, catching up, and eating. Of course, eating! It was a Bread Company, after all, and bonus: we used a Panera Bread Gift Card, so we were golden.
Going around the table, counter-clockwise:
Kimberly Austin Daly, artist of the charming and delicate and delightful, wife of Paul Daly (we’ll get to him.)
Rick Burchett, Eisner-winning artist of Batman Adventures; co-artist of The Death of Superman; current artist on the Funky Winkerbean comic strip; and artist on the I-hope-gets-completed (some day) true “Help” story.
Sam Maronie, long-time pop culture journalist and author of Tripping Through Pop-Culture!: (Mis) Adventures of an Entertainment Writer. Sam is leaving St. Louis for life in Columbus, Ohio! We miss you already, Sam.
Don Secrease, co-creator (with me) of Mel Cool: Mall Cop®: Comics, the Herobots Coloring & Games Book and newly-launched Terranauts 2020; artist on our Brett Hull comicbook series; and owner of the eBay store Pop’s Culture.
Paul Daly, artist of Julie Walker is The Phantom; pencil artist of the splash page of Terranauts 2020; artist of Recycled Man (both written by me); and fan-favorite artist on his own amazing properties, which you’ll experience soon.
P.S. Some of the comics and books mentioned above are on Amazon. Like these:
See you all again soon, artist friends! Typing… scripts… fast… as I… can…
Happy to report I’m writing adventure comics again! Just completed a script (scroll to see it) for a deep-diving tale of The Terranauts, the team created by Paul Daly and Don Secrease. Splash page complete. What new menace taunts the ‘nauts? We’ll find out — in a cold, dark place.
Credits on this page: Pencils by Paul Daly. A great composition meticulously realized. Coloring by Don Secrease. Masterful. Look at that water. Copy and inks by me. (Yeah, inks, too. “Walt Jaschek inking” is not something you usually see in any reasonable reality. But I wanted to try it. Let me tell you, inking Paul’s beautiful pencils is daunting. Fun, but daunting. Also, now my carpel tunnel has carpet tunnel.)
Here’s the fully inked page, just before I sent it to Don to do his amazing color stuff.
Bonus! Here is the
“CALL OF COLD DARK, PLACES”
Script by Walt Jaschek
++++++ SPLASH ++++++
CAPTION: In the middle of the Aegean, we locate the anomaly.
CAPTION: We are warned it will sense us.
CAPTION: And will not be friendly.
CAPTION: But we are…
[LOGO] TERRANAUTS 2020
CAPTION: So we dive.
++++++ PAGE 2 ++++++
A hero shot. Under the surface as Adam and Maria complete the dive, each arcing upward to stabilize, a trail of bubbles indicating their trajectory.
ADAM: Read me, Connie?
MARIA: Si, Adam. It’s as if we’re in the same ocean.
ADAM: Very funny, Terranaut.
ADAM: Propulsion mode.
Having stabilized after the jump, Adam and Maria have activated the propulsion packs: they are jetting swiftly through the water in a downward diagonal,
ADAM: How ‘bout the ship? You with us, Harry?
HARRY (from off): With you and remind you…
Back in the ship, Harry is standing with his walker, but is surrounded by sensors and screens and sonar, some of which are hologram projections.
HARRY: The sentient is self-replicating.
HARRY: It doubles in size every 6 hours…
HARRY: …along the top of a seamount ridge…
Close on Maria as, through her mask, her eyes go big. She sees something.
HARRY (through transmitter): …close to surface.
Maria: Madre de Dios!
In the foreground, a jagged “arm” of ice, coming from bottom right corner of panel and seeming to reach out like a warning finger to our oncoming divers in the distance.
And in alien letters and/or alien balloon, the word: S T O P
++++ PAGE 2 ++++
And there is the creature in full, as seen by our divers in foreground. They are about a mile away. The creature is a huge, octopus-shaped alien crystal. It sits atop a mountain in a mid-ocean ridge. Gigantic tentacles are growing down the side of the rigge and into the surrounding ocean. It’s half holding on. And half spreading out.
Near the the top of this icy mass a “face” has formed, chunks forming brow and dark holes in the ice forming “eyes.” At the moment, the face is glowering..
Alien balloon: G O A W A Y
ADAM: Getting this, Harry?
HARRY: Threat projections.
HARRY: Translated by your partner’s telepathy.
Adam turns to look Maria in the eye, through his goggles and hers.
ADAM: You heard him, Connie. You’re our conduit.
ADAM: Can you get in there…
ADMA: And read its “mind”?
Maria is “floating” in an all-white panel with no background, to suggest she is in some other place, some netherworld of telepathy. She has her hand to her temple, reading incoming signals.
MARIA: Memory synapsis evasive…
MARIA: Like static…
MARIA: Wait… I have something…
Outer space. Earth a blue ball in background. A huge comet is hurling in blackness, rocky, irregular, minerals in catching distant sunlight. But attached to the bottom is of the comet much, much smaller version of our creature, an irregular mass of icy lichen on a rock. A piece of it, though, is tugging away.
MARIA (from off): It was using a comet…
MARIA: (from off): As habitat.
MARIA: (from off): On a near-Earth pass…
MARIA: (from off): It tore itself off.
++++ PAGE 4 ++++
Long shot as the creature crashes hard into the ocean, speed lines indicating its trajectory, a circle of waves where it hits.
MARIA (from off): After eons inert, all it needed was…
Back in the ship, Harry has taken off his glasses and is holding the bridge of his nose with his fingers. A realization is sinking in.
HARRY: Something to drink.
As close as we’ve been on the creature yet. We can see its whole “face.” And its “scrowl” is deep.
ALIEN: I DRINK.
ALIEN: I GROW.
ALIEN: I TURN YOUR SEAS…
ALIEN: INTO ME.
Maria and Adam are jetting through a “cave” – AKA a hole — at the edge of a tentacle. Maria is shining a light into the foreground, where we see floating dead fish and brown, limp sea plants, and a murk of grey gasses.
MARIA: Not good, Adam.
MARIA: Whatever alien chemical stew it’s excreting…
MARIA: …is killing sea life for kilometers.
ADAM: Roger that. “Sentient bad.”
Adam presses down one of the buttons that make up a grid of rectangles on his high-tech band on his wrist. The button he’s pushing is green.
ADAM: But as I’m sure Harry would agree:
ADAM: “Sentient” does not equal “smart.”
In the ship, Harry is looking at a looking at a screen. It shows a large panel opening at the bottom of the ship. Emerging from the panel are five, high-tech harpoons, pointed down, ready to be launched.
HARRY: It does not.
PANEL 1-A, small inset panel. Closer on the screenshot of the harpoons. Words appear over picture: HARPOONS BOOTING
Wider shot as Maria and Adam make a loop around a tentacles and shoot off in the opposite direction, away from the creature.
ADAM: Yo, cranky alien! Ever heard of the internet?
You should have used it to search…
“Where Not to Breed Underwater.”
The creature squints, trying to understand.
ADAM (from off): Top answer:
ADAM (from off): “Above a Geothermic Vent.”
Adam and Maria are booking out of there, full propulsion speed, diagonally up and away.
CAPTION: They’re all over the ocean floor.
CAPTION: Temps up to 3000 degrees Celcius.
Looking up at bottom of the ship. The panel is fully open and the harpoons have been fired. They’re raining down on us.
CAPTION: The vents it’s sitting on have been clogged for a while.
The high-tech harpoons shoot through the surface of the ocean.
CAPTION: We’re the plumbers.
Harpoons penetrate the surface of the ocean
BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!
Alien: M I S S E D
Unclogged, the geothermic vents turn into geysers of super-hot water. All around the geysers, the tentacles of the creature are instantly melting and dissolving.
ADAM (from off) Didn’t.
The face of the creature as it knows it is doomed. Already the ice of its face is melting and dissolving into streams shooting upward with the hot water.
ALIEN BALLOON: [SCREAMS WHILE DISSOLVING]: AAAA
ALIEN BALLOON (GETTING SMALLER WHILE THE LIST OF LETTERS GETS LONGER): AAAAAAA
ALIEN BALLOON (GETTING SMALLER WHILE THE LIST OF LETTERS GETS LONGER): AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
Now back outside: long shot of the ocean as seen from the ship. A mile or so away, globules of dissolving creature are sending up wide showers of steam. A piece of the ship in foreground suggests scale and distance.
Inside the ship, Harry is looking very closely at a censor and tapping on it as he does so.
HARRY: 99.9% decrease in sentience.
ADAM (communicator balloon): Not 100?
HARRY: 1% margin of error.
SFX (as Harry taps on censor screen) TAP TAP TAP
ADAM (communicator balloon): Well, I’ll round up and call that…
The surface of the ocean. The large raft we saw hanging from the ship is now floating on the surface, waiting, stocked with containers for food and dry supplies. On either side, rope ladders. A dripping wet Adam and Maria are climbing the ladders and climbing into the raft. The sun is low in the sky.
ADAM: …“mission accomplished.”
MARIA (a disappointed grunt): Hurmph.
Maria pulls off her hood and goggles: we are seeing her face full for the first time. She is looking at Harry pointedly.
MARIA: Shortest. Mission. Ever.
Reverse angle looking at Adam as he removes hood and goggles, too. Also, in the background, the silhouette of the hovering ship against the late afternoon sun. (A silhouette to save you from drawing those details.) Its presence subtly underscores what Adam is saying.
ADAM: Be thankful, Terranaut.
ADAM: They get longer.
Maria hugs herself, shoulders hunched, cold. Her wetsuit is now slighting zipped open at the neck, revealing a small crucifix necklace. Adam is reaching out to her, handing her the cup from atop a Terranauts-branded thermos. It steams with a hot beverage.
MARIA: And I’m still cold.
ADAM: Warm your core, Maria Consuela Santos…
Deep down below. A tiny chunk of the creature, sinking even farther into the crevices of the ocean. A stream of bubbles follows it down. It is breathing.
ADAM: “They also get colder.”
End of script
Walt Jaschek likes spending time in warm, bright places.