The Dang Gnats and I share this plan. Happy 2017.
By Walt Jaschek
Recycled Man™. A dark drama for mature readers. Returning in color in 2017. Here’s the splash to Book 1, “What Comes Around…” Writer: Walt Jaschek | Pencils & Inks: Paul Daly | Colors: Don Secrease
To be continued on page 2. In progress.
Meanwhile: stay dry.
Me and any grocery store, anywhere.
Walt Jaschek needs gloves.
I sold this humor article to the feature section of the Colorado Springs Sun newspaper in the summer of 1982. It documented the start of what became a lifetime of irritation with movie-theater talkers. I’m much better now (people have learned, I think), but this irritation led, in 1987, to a published letter to TV Guide, and later, in 1993, to a plot device in Mel Cool: Mall Cop (sample panel below.) But it was back in Colorado the blood started boiling.
Special to the Colorado Spring Sun
By Walt Jaschek
I’m not a violent person, really.
In fact, I’m the kind of guy who will capture an insect and set it free rather than endure the trauma of squashing it.
I will cross a busy street rather than confront vicious-looking squirrels and rabbits.
I will befuddle mugger in dark alleys by breaking an a capella rendition of “I’m Just a Girl Who Can’t Say No.” (Experience has shown that any song from “Oklahoma” will scare off the criminally inclined.)
So we should establish at the outside I’m an average, gentle fellow, spending my days pondering the meaning of life, examining man’s inhumanity to man, and devising methods for getting that blonde down the hall over for a game of strip Scrabble.
Lately, however, I’ve been frothing at the mouth in frustration and anger, and I feel as if at any minute I’ll sprout a green wig, torn pants and absolutely Hulk-out. The source of this hostility:
Morons who talk in movie theaters.
It’s my curse. No matter when I sit in the theatre, it is inevitably next to the rude, crude, impardonnable types who blatantly babble during the film.
I sit there and seethe, transferring my anxiety by man-handling my Milk Duds.
As a frequent patron of the cinema, especially during dollar nights, I have found our town to be in excess of quote of loudly express their every non-thought.
We’ll all had to deal with these troglodytes. You’ll be watching a steamy love scene and the guy behind you will complaining about the lack of butter-like-material on his popcorn.
You’ll be absorbed in a riveting moment from a psychological thriller and the woman in front of you will be criticizing the actresses’ hair styles.
I’m nostalgic for the days when people went to the movies to neck. At least they did it quietly. These days, these seem to go to form networking events.
I suppose television is at fault for this tendency toward unrestrained verbalizing. Families are used to sitting around the living room, having open conversation during even the most intense moments of whatever CSI is playing these days.
Specialists in primitive human behavior have identified three sub-genres of movie theatre malevolents:
So what’s to be done about this unmannered subset of humanity? I’ve suggested to local police that talking in movie theaters be made a misdemeanor, but I’m told this would take untold overtime pay.
Vigilante action is, then, our only recourse. We must gag the verbose Mom and her inquisitive children. We must silence the spaced-out pontificators. We must squelch the Sprite-slurping hecklers.
We’ve paid good money to see the film without distraction and no jury would convict us for defending our right to discussion-free screenings.
I’m not a violent person, really. But this is war.
Walt Jaschek once went to a lot of movies.
Part One: What I Believe.
Originally published as the editorial in Slightly Bent Comics #1.
I BELIEVE in music, I BELIEVE in love. But not necessarily in that order.
I BELIEVE for every drop of rain that falls, one is leaking into my basement.
I BELIEVE before the end of time, the title of every pop song ever released will also be used as the title of a movie.
I BELIEVE civilization reached a peak with the invention of the prescription swimming goggles.
I BELIEVE on of the best titles ever for a comic book is “Mysterious Suspense” (Charlton, 1968), because mysterious suspense is truly the best kind of suspense.
I BELIEVE in the universal, healing power of sarcasm.
I BELIEVE George Reeves (TV’s Superman of the 1950s) was a great actor. So you can synchronize your aesthetic tastes to mine right now, as long as you know mine are correct.
I BELIEVE it’s not what you can do, it’s what you can repeat.
I BELIEVE it’s not what you can do, it’s what you can repeat.
I BELIEVE it would be inappropriate to foist my vegetarian beliefs on others, so if you want to slaughter sentient mammals just to have a heart-clogging bacon-burger, I will give you no grief.
I BELIEVE the glass is half empty and half full. We call this reality.
But I BELIEVE the half-full part is a lot more fun.
I BELIEVE being alive is a caper. We’ve stolen existences from the vaults of the Carbon-Based-Life-Form Bank & Trust and zipped off in the getaway car of biology. I’m giddy about it.
But then, I BELIEVE exuberance should be the default emotion for human beings. We should all snap back to it when not otherwise engaged, like when, you know: working.
I BELIEVE those who can find exuberance in their work are lucky dogs.
Or other lucky domestic pets of your choosing.
Part 2: What I Don’t Believe
Originally published as the editorial in Slightly Bent Comics #2.
I DON’T BELIEVE I caught your name. I’m Walt.
I DON’T BELIEVE everything I read, which is odd, because I do believe everything I smell.
I DON’T BELIEVE in ghosts, except for Capser, ’cause he’s friendly. In fact, I say this with authority: he’s the friendliest ghost in town.
I DON’T BELIEVE my personal life is anybody’s business but my own, except for maybe a few close friends, family and oh yeah, “The E True Hollywood Story.”
I DON’T BELIEVE in fairy tales. I mean: a pig? Who can make a “house” of straw? A “house” that gets, like, blown down? By a wolf? Yeah, right. Who do they take us for?
I DON’T BELIEVE how good you look! Are those new glasses? And you’ve lost weight! HOW? You must tell me! Treadmill?
I DON’T BELIEVE you should write checks in grocery store lines, unless you don’t have cash or credit cards, and if you don’t have cash or credit cards, please, don’t go grocery shopping.
I DON’T BELIEVE there’s anything more beautiful than a sunset, except for a sunset in the background of a Victoria’s Secrets catalog photo.
I DON’T BELIEVE in government conspiracies. Conspiracies require competence and coordination.
I DON’T BELIEVE you ignore that whole “Wag the Dog” thing, though.
I DON’T BELIEVE in not believing.
I DON’T BELIEVE in spreading bad Karma, hatred, intolerance, paranoia, gossip or flu germs.
I DON’T BELIEVE you paid attention all this time.
But I’m glad you did.
Walt Jaschek means that.
Happy to report I’m writing adventure comics again! Deep into script 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.
We see this as an 8-pager and I’m diving into the rest of the script now.
Walt Jaschek likes spending time in warm, bright places.
TBT 1986. Giving blood @ Southwestern Bell during my stint there. This pic by George Stenitzer made it into the company newsletter, even though “thumbs-up” was code for “feeling faint.”
I’ve given blood since and have not been such a wuss. Ask the American Red Cross.
Walt Jaschek says it only hurts a little.
You probably don’t remember “Stoogecoach,” our 1987 Three Stooges comic, but that’s because it was never printed. Ask Don Secrease or me about it sometime when we’re drinking.
Those are the first two-pages of a completed, 22-page second ish. A first issue, “Of Stooge and Screen,” is around here somewhere, too. It has some great pin-up pages by Paul Daly.
Let’s just say the indie publisher who told us he had the licensing rights to the Three Stooges turned out to be… wrong. But only after we completed two full comics.
It was 1987. We were learning. Contract first, then the fun begins.
Get ready for hot, sexy comic strip action: 1976-style!
Just kidding. What you’re about to see is, by today’s standards, quite tame.
But in November, 1976, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (and about 20 other newspapers around the country) made an editorial decision to withhold publication of a 5-day run of the Doonesbury™ comic strip, and replace it with reruns.
At the time, I was a 21-year-old feature columnist for The Current, the student-run newspaper at the University of Missouri – St. Louis. I was also a crazed comics fan. Realizing I could fill a column, provide a “public service,” and see the blacked-out strips myself (not easy, pre-internet), I pitched then-editor Tom Wolf: “Let me ask Universal Press Syndicate if they’ll let us run ’em. For free.”
Tom and the syndicate said, “Do it.” We printed the strips with my article, which you can read below.
First, of course, you want to see the strips.
Here they are, as printed in the December 2, 1976, edition of The UMSL Current.
Warning: they are very safe for work.
By Walt Jaschek
Most St. Louisans will never know how good Joanie Caucus is at breakfast.
There were were, Tuesday, Nov. 11, breathlessly watching as Joanie makes her final moves on Rick Redfern. Eating dinner in his apartment, Rick compliments Joanie on the meal she had made. “Thank you, Rick,” she says. “I’m pretty good at breakfast, too.” Rick’s face contorts. Joanie thinks to herself: “As the kid goes for broke.”
The next day, we were intrigued further, as Virginia Slade — having just withdrawn from the Senate race — dials Joanie’s apartment in the morning… and gets no answer!
The day after that, we were suddenly and mysteriously back on the familiar football field with Captain B.D., no mention made of Joanie’s romantic adventure.
It was enough to drive Doonesbury fans zonkers, so to speak. Local fans of the terse, explosive, provocative comic strip realized The St. Louis Post Dispatch had substituted alternate episodes rather than finishing the Joanie and Rick sequence.
We called Joan Dames, features editor at the Post, and she was quick to clarify this comic strip tease, AKA the Doonesbury dilemma.
“The editorial board of the Post decided to take out the sequence that showed Joanie Caucus and Rick Redfern in bed,” said Dames. “We thought it inappropriate for a family page.”
But the Post wasn’t alone in blacking out the strip.
Lee Salem, a representative of Universal Press Syndicate (which distributes Doonesbury to 450 newspapers) said about 20 papers dropped the sequence. But those papers, including the New York Daily News, make up a large chunk of circulation. Most of them just dropped the Nov. 13 strip.
Riding out this controversy, as he’s done before more than once, is Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau, the most electrifying force on the contemporary comic art scene.
As an undergraduate in 1968, Trudeau started drawing a strip for the Yale Daily News called “Bull Tales.” It introduced a cast of rich, mimetic characters like Mark Slackmeyer, Zonker Harris and Mike Doonesbury. When Universal Press offered to syndicate the strip nationally, it was dubbed after the persona presumably closest to that of Trudeau.
In its short history, the strip’s virtual world has developed and diversified, the characters shuffling, the concepts sharpening. Trudeau’s insights, pacing and crisp characterizations have enthralled legions of readers, while giving them some of the gutsiest comic strip humor since Walt Kelly’s Pogo.
The Joanie and Rick affair is just the latest of Doonesbury’s envelope-pushing concepts. While their sex life may be casual, the establishment of it — and the reaction to it — wasn’t.
“We only got about 20 letters and about as many calls, but some are very angry,” said Post features editor Dames.
“Most kids don’t read Doonesbury. But parents do get upset when this type of material appears on the comics page. We thought it wasn’t appropriate,” she said.
With a smile in her voice, Dames added: “Listen, we live in Sex City, U.S.A. We’ve got Masters and Johnson here, and even they say that sex without commitment isn’t that exciting.”
“Trudeau said that he did this because he wanted everyone to take a stand on pre-marital sex,” said Dames. “So I guess the Post took a stand. But we’re really not bluenose about this. Just today (Nov. 18, 1976), we ran a story contraceptives. Take a look at it.”
At Universal Press, Lee Salem emphasized that his syndicate carefully reviewed the strips.
“With Garry, as well as with all the creative people we do business with, the material is gone over carefully,” he said. “With this particular piece, we had a long session over the phone with Garry, and we thought, considering Joanie’s character and that of Rick Redfern, the sequence is justified.”
The sequence was certainly justified to those readers who have shared Joanie Caucus’ long and winding road to happiness.
Joanie worked hard in Slade’s campaign, but times turned bleak when Virginia decided to throw in the towel so that a third candidate could successfully beat the incumbent. The only light in the darkness for Joanie — who only weeks before had been hurt by a guy who was gay — was political reporter Rick Redfern.
That’s where we came in, remember?
Trudeau has said it is the challenge of the cartoonist to, among other things, “invite the reader to involve himself in a new reality set up as a sustained metaphor for his own; to let the small meanness and foolishness of life face each other in distortion … and to seek out the vignette that speaks to the lives of many.”
Joanie got to make her “good breakfast.” That is her small pleasure.
We got permission to print the blacked-out strips.
That is ours.
Walt Jaschek hopes you have enjoyed this frisky flashback to the sexy 70s.
Need motivation? Take it one step at a time. Focus on the positive. Be like…Upbeat Man, World’s Most Upebeat Superhero.
Concept: Walt Jaschek. Art and dialogue: Bill Lux. © Walt and Bill. Upbeat Man™ is a registered trademark. Not a member, FDIC.
First two pages of a autobiographical story. Script and lettering: me.
Pencils and inks: comics master Rick Burchett of Webster Groves.
This needs completing. Kickstarter is calling.
My buddy, St. Louis illustrator Chuck Hart, saw an ad from a trade magazine for dentists and dental staff, seeking a comic strip about “daily life in the dental office.” I suggested “Rinse & Spit,” and wrote sample strips. Chuck drew this one as the pilot. Still waiting for word from the dental mag. Come on, this strip could go on as long as a root canal.
St. Louis comics artist Lorenzo Lizana and I created The Squirrel Squad™ a fews years ago for a pitch to a cartoon network. They didn’t bite, which we thought squirrelly, but we had fun using them on this poster urging on the St. Louis Cardinals in a 2012 World Series race. (Squirrels were a thing for the Cards then. You can Google it.)
“Must…have…now!,” I exclaimed, as I whisked this 1978 Newsweek from atop a stack of vintage, disco-era magazines at a nearby Antique Mall. Cost: $1, same as cover price in ’78! Are you kidding? A deal to reveal… “TV of Tomorrow!”
I am mesmerized by the meticulously rendered M. Kunstler cover, with its Bruce McCall-like images of a nuclear family at play. But more so, I gasped at the cover’s eerie, uncannily accurate prescience regarding details of Our Modern Digital World.
Hold onto your Roller Derby helmet! This painting predicts:
1. Our ability to summon Uber and other ride-sharing services while tracking driver proximity.
3. The iPhone 10. (You heard it here first.)
4. Our growing acceptance of recreational marijuana.
5. The breech at Ashley Madison and revelations of passion gone awry.
6. The announcement that Will Ferrell will soon start in a tennis dramedy. (True and coming soon.)
7. Ghost photobombs.
8. The perennial popularity of vinyl. (Vinyl? Still around? That can’t be right.)
But, bravo, Newsweek, for this unnervingly accurate, telescopic view of tech today from 1978, the year of “Grease,” “Superman” and “National Lampoon’s Animal House.” Let’s download those films by thought control, shall we?
Meanwhile, there is one futuristic, tech object I can’t identify in the shot.
What the heck is THIS?
Perhaps the future isn’t completely knowable.
Walt Jaschek is obviously a futurist.