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.
This comic essay is also the intro to my new memoir project, “Walt in Progress.” Here’s how it starts… “Have I just been insulted?” I’ve been asking myself. “No, wait, that was an unintentional insult, I think,” over-thinking. In fact, a series of recent, well, let’s call them “unintentional insults” made me think it might … Continue reading Have I Just Been Insulted?
Amateur “action-thriller” film made by Walt Jaschek and friends as sophomores at Jennings High School introduces Walt’s long-time detective character, played by him. Jennings, Missouri. 1971. A quartet of juvenile delinquents makes a daring escape from a detention center and head for a hide-out of gambling and drugs. When Christopher McKarton, teen detective, learns of … Continue reading Christopher McKarton: Teen Detective (1971)
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 in the comments below.)
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 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?
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)
We needed a funny product for a funny comic we’re creating. The thought of emulating a certain sweet treat often featured in the comics of our youth? Delicious. Boastess® Fructose Pies™ There’s a sugar crash in every dash! Concept: Walt JaschekPackage design and copy: Don SecreaseStay tuned to see what we do with these! The … Continue reading Walt & Don Launch Boastess® Fructose Pies™
Are they heroes? Are they super? NOT. The new, slightly unworthy team from writer Walt Jaschek and Walt Now Films. Hi. Walt here. This is an excerpt from The Hero Nots screenplay I’m writing this Fall. Hope to wrap up the script in 2021, cast and shoot in 2022, post and release to the world … Continue reading Hero Nots™
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.
Going around the table, counter-clockwise:
Kimberly Austin Daly, artist of the charming and delicate and delightful, and wife of Paul Daly (we’ll get to him.)
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
TERRANAUTS 2020 “CALL OF COLD DARK, PLACES” 8-Pager 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.
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.
That’s me, left, with two great, St. Louis comic friends and collaborators from Auld Lang Syne: Don Secrease, co-creator and artist of The Herobots™, Ned and the Nude, Mel Cool: Mall Cop™, and many more comics with me; and Sam Maronie, long-time comics and pop-culture journalist and author of Tripping Through Pop Culture. This was New Year’s Eve, 2015, at the home our mutual friend and ace comic creator, Paul Daly. Ever been to Paul’s place? It’s like stepping into a movie set. Anyway, my point is: Happy New Year!