Some of you might be fans of my old friend and collaborator, E-Man co-creator JOE STATON, from whom I was happy to hear at the NY ComiCon this year that he's back pencilling Scooby Doo for DC. Some of my happiest collaborations in comics were with Joe, on Metal Men and Plastic Man at DC, and the First Comics version of E-Man as well -- not to mention the many times he saved a custom comics project, when I was running that department at DC, by doing things like penciling a 10-page story in two days.
Well, I was rummaging around in my old files this morning and came upon something Joe and I (and, if memory serves, inker/letterer BRUCE PATTERSON) did a long time ago that I don't think has been seen anywhere. At least, no mention or image of it has turned up in my Google search.
Catherine Bushnell, an old friend and fellow acting student at Northwestern, had married a man named H. Michael Sisson, who was, at the time I first met him, a licensing director at ITT-Bobbs- Merrill, then the owners of Raggedy Ann and Andy. Michael had been instrumental in saving the 1977 Raggedy Ann animated feature by bringing in Chuck Jones to complete the film, effectively replacing the original director. Ever since that experience Michael had been trying to turn the venerable children's property into a syndicated comic strip. The idea was to do comedy-adventure that was less in the spirit of Johnny Gruelle's classic children's books and more like the animated film, which gave the ragdolls more of a life outside Marcella's bedroom and a bigger supporting cast, to boot.
Catherine had seen my byline on the Superman syndicated strip and wondered if it was the same Pasko she knew from NU. So out of the blue I get a call, and the next thing I know I'm in NY, making a handshake deal with Michael to prepare a syndicated strip sample -- fast. So I quickly hire Joe, who in turn hires Bruce, and a week's worth of sample strips are prepared in, like, a week. The project didn't sell -- it was a humor strip with continuity, and there weren't a lot of those around at the time (Gasoline Alley was on its last legs), so syndicated strip editors -- a notoriously risk-adverse lot at that time -- passed. However...
This morning I discovered four sample dailies and the B&W art for the Sunday page lurking in the back of that filing cabinet -- probably all that survives of this project. If you're a Joe Staton fan, as I am, you might like to take a look (and I apologize in advance for the poor image quality; these are minimally cleaned-up scans of very old Xeroxes):
comic strip art copyright 1980 by ITT-Bobbs-Merrill.
Raggedy Ann, Raggedy Andy, and related characters
are trademarks of Simon & Schuster and Hasbro, Inc.
Tomorrow: Hugh Hefner and Iron Man's nose.