The Final Panels from Canceled Comic Books: #2 – Dakota North

For the second entry into the sometimes confusing, hastily-drawn and odd swan songs of canceled comic books I have invited a guest-blogger. That was something I once thought I would never entertain because 1) Who would want to post here? And 2) The very real ego-crippling danger that anyone who does an entry will be funnier, wittier and far more clever than I can manage on my best day.

So braving the possible destruction of my sense of self-worth I present Marionette, guesting from the Wonder Woman-centric and troll-target website the Dance of the Puppets.

In other words, “I’m looking for work tomorrow, so screw it.”

When I offered to send Sleestak my favourite last panel from a canceled comic book for his collection he mentioned he’d knew nothing about the title and invited me to do a guest entry, and here we are.

Dakota North ran for 5 issues from 1986 to 87 and featured the adventures of jet setting, glamorous private eye Dakota North. Superficially she looked a bit like a sexed up version of Max Allen Collins and Terry Beatty’s Ms. Tree, a non-jetting, unglamorous private eye, such that an advert Marvel ran to promote Dakota featuring the tag “Style” in large type was parodied by the Ms. Tree team, featuring their heroine and changing the tag to “Substance”.

The problem with Dakota North was that although the story tried to be a lot like a big action movie with James Bond-like chases across well known foreign landmarks, the dialogue was turgid, the plots banal, and the art was appalling. A lot of the time Tony Salmons’ art looks unfinished, often leaving the rather dull and unimaginative colouring to define objects that appear only half drawn.

It’s anything but stylish.

Its cancellation at issue #5 must have been very last minute. The immediate maguffin is dealt with, but the overall plot line is just starting to build, and even the letters column refers to subsequent issues. The only indication that this is the last issue is the final caption.

But apparently that wasn’t the end of Dakota North. While looking stuff up I found this page, Thrilling Detective, which lists her subsequent adventures and adjustment into quite a different character.

Just shows nobody ever stays dead or forgotten in comics.


Thanks, Mari! You read it so we didn’t have to!

Published bi-monthly, the title seems to have suffered from at least partly a lack of support from Marvel. Way back in the 80s before the writers and artists dictated how the company was run it was often that good editorial attention turned around many faltering titles. Imagine how differently the initial Dakota North story arc would have been accepted if someone as stylized as Bill Sienkiewicz or Kevin Nowlan handled the art chores. The book was probably doomed creatively from the start since it was placed on the schedule during a particularly difficult period for professional and corporate Marvel.

I recall the “Style” ad but never picked the title up. My quota of strong female detectives was ably satisfied by Jeanne DeWolff at the time and I had little interest in a hotter version who fought crimes of fashion. New readers may recognize the character of Dakota North from her recent supporting role in the Ed Brubaker run of Daredevil.

Next in the series: Surviving Cancellation!


The Final Panels from Canceled Comic Books: #1 – Devil Dinosaur

This might be interesting. I’m going to find the last panel of canceled comic books and post them to my online photo album, then write something about it here in Lady, That’s My Skull. I anticipate some of the final panels will reveal different things about the title, the creators and some of the the editorial decisions that led to a book being canceled. Some of the comics will undoubtedly show signs of being unceremoniously or quickly dropped, others will present a cliff-hanger that may or may not have ever been resolved. Some panels will probably document the results of the decline caused by the mishandling a character or the mis-steps by the creative team on the title. A few of the final panels might be sad, some will be uplifting or even baffling.

The first in this series is the last panel from Jack Kirby’s Devil Dinosaur #9 (December 1978).

After many adventures and a multi-issue re-telling of the Garden of Eden myth, Moon-Boy and Devil Dinosaur trod off into the sunset after being not-unexpectedly canceled, not to be revisited by Marvel for many years.

This is a title that ran during one of the ‘Marvel Explosions’ that occurred every now and then in the 70s and 80s when a comic company published a lot of things just to see what would have staying power in the market. Devil Dinosaur is a Jack Kirby work that is either considered great, has camp-value or is even admired in 2007. At the time it was a strange book to publish. It had no real large audience and it was mainly for Kirby fans who, honestly, were not numerous enough 20 years ago to support a title when a book could sell 700,000 copies and still be considered a failure. In 2007, executives can only dream of selling that many copies of a comic book. Also, Devil Dinosaur could very likely been put on the schedule out of a sense of obligation to Jack, who was gaining an ever-increasing audience in his very vocal and public battle with Marvel.

Interestingly, the series is was set outside of the Marvel Universe familiar to fans of 1978. Jack gleefully stomped all over his own extensive Marvel continuity during the nine issue run. That was odd considering that at the time the company was exploring deeply the concepts that Jack Kirby contributed in the Eternals subplots that were all over the place. Jack either didn’t want to play within the established Marvel continuity by creating something new or was sending a message as a few Devil stories contradicted the foundations of his Eternals stories.

The final panel of the Devil Dinosaur title is a good example of a book that was quickly removed from the schedule as the farewell text and image is clearly an after-thought to the story. I can’t really tell if the final panel is Jack Kirby and Mike Royer or is John Byrne doing Kirby, as the rocks look kind of Byrne-ish (See cover). At any rate the panel is kind of hastily done and something about the perspective is wrong. Amusingly, Devil Dinosaur has his fist cocked back like he is prepared to go over that hill and punch somebody out.

Jack Kirby may or may not have known that cancellation was coming for Devil Dinosaur and if he did, probably didn’t care all that much since he just kept on Kirby-ing like mad throughout the final issues. The story in the last issue is one of time travel, where Devil accidentally enters a warp and briefly visits the modern era to stomp the crap out of things. Recently, the entire Devil Dinosaur and Moon Boy concept was retconned to have actually taken place not in pre-history or another reality as Kirby wrote it, but in the modern day locale of the Savage Land. Not a bad update to the Kirby Universe and it is one that I can live with.


Comic Book Ad: Gabbigale, insulting in any language

Creepy ad for a creepy doll featuring creepy people. The cruel woman midget is particularly alarming.
From Walt Disney Showcase #19 (December 1973).

Of course, this ad gives one the opportunity for all sorts of tomfoolery. Like this…

And this…
And even this impossible fever dream of evil that is not true and could never happen in reality…


Bad Advice from romance comic books – Are You Ready For Marriage?

DC Comics presents a 20 question quiz about readiness for marriage in Girls’ Romances #147 (March 1970) and offers questionable advice in the life-changing decisions of young women!

Are you ready for marriage?

Are you already in a marriage when you shouldn’t be?

Should you unceremoniously dump your fiance at the altar, alienate friends and family and live only with five neutered cats who keep you company while you reflexively drink a concoction of scotch and low-fat milk over ice while watching DVD’s of Sex and the City?

Take the test and find out!

Disclaimer: Sleestak and the website Lady, That’s My Skull not responsible for anyone who ruins their life by making horrible, tragic decisions based on the results of this test.

Click each image to make a big, life-altering decision that may involve
destroying your children and any future chances at happiness.

You can post your results publicly here in the comments section for strangers to poke fun at or even suggest some alternate questions!.


My loot. Let me show you it.

A couple weeks month and a half ago I received a care package from none other than Bully of Comics Oughta Be Fun!

The box was very heavy and when I opened it I was pleasantly surprised to discover I was the recipient of some of Bully’s legendary generosity! I was so moved I created a live-action version of one of the scenes from the Krazy & Ignatz book.

In the box were the following books:

The Comics of Fletcher Hanks – I Shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets by Paul Karasik.

The Complete Peanuts – 1963-1964.

Walt Kelley’s Our Gang – 1944-1945.

Things Get Away From You by Walt Holcombe.

Human Disatrophism and The Girl from H.O.P.P.E.R.S. – Love and Rockets trades.

Arf Forum v3 by Craig Yoe.

The Art of Lyonel Feininger.

Krazy & Ignatz – 1939.

Quite the haul! I’ve been remiss in reviewing these books for various reasons: Shiny things distracting me, crippling anxiety attacks, the job, varying accessibility to the computer and somehow misplacing my memory card after spending several hours scanning interesting pages and photographing the books (It’s so difficult to find a fur or urine stain-free space in this house to display the books for a nice photo setting it’s ridiculous). I don’t want to even talk about the art project I also lost that I spent a day photographing. Argh!

I suspect the memory card I placed on the table just “for a minute” is now either a plaything of the cats hidden somewhere or is currently in the backyard, its tiny chewed pieces mixed in with dog droppings like cracked wheat in a loaf of bread.

So to correct this I’m going to begin reviewing the gifts as any good blogger should, even the ones I don’t fully understand. I’ll begin with the Fletcher Hanks book and maybe have an answer to the unasked question as to why there was more buzz about the book among bloggers before it came out than after.

Thanks again, Bully!

You can find out more about these and other fine books at Fantagraphics.

Jesus, the Missing Years

The Time Machine

– Epilogue

One cannot choose but wonder. Will he ever return? It may be that he swept back into the past, and fell among the blood-drinking, hairy savages of the Age of Unpolished Stone; into the abysses of the Cretaceous Sea; or among the grotesque saurians, the huge reptilian brutes of the Jurassic times. He may even now – if I may use the phrase – be wandering on some plesiosaurus-haunted Oolitic coral reef, or beside the lonely saline lakes of the Triassic Age. Or did he go forward, into one of the nearer ages, in which men are still men, but with the riddles of our own time answered and its wearisome problems solved? Into the manhood of the race: for I, for my own part cannot think that these latter days of weak experiment, fragmentary theory, and mutual discord are indeed man’s culminating time! I say, for my own part. He, I know – for the question had been discussed among us long before the Time Machine was made – thought but cheerlessly of the Advancement of Mankind, and saw in the growing pile of civilization only a foolish heaping that must inevitably fall back upon and destroy its makers in the end. If that is so, it remains for us to live as though it were not so. But to me the future is still black and blank – is a vast ignorance, lit at a few casual places by the memory of his story. And I have by me, for my comfort, two strange white flowers – shriveled now, and brown and flat and brittle – to witness that even when mind and strength had gone, gratitude and a mutual tenderness still lived on in the heart of man.

The Time Machine 2

– Prologue

Jesus was finally going home. The promise of adventure presented to him that hot dry day in Nazareth so long ago by the stranger were as if seeds of excitement were sown on barren ground. Edging the lever of the fantastic machine unto himself increased the pace of the strobing sun and and moon across the heavens as he passed outside of time, numbering the days and years. It was time, Jesus mused, after spending much of his adult life journeying to different eras to return to whence he came and end his wandering ways. He had been gone for too long from home, 18 long years! Much had changed for Jesus in the interim. He was older, wiser and had grown a long beard, something that would amuse his brother to no end. Undoubtedly many would think him dead and miraculously returned to life.

Years had passed since that day the Time Traveler appeared in the hills above the humble abode of Jesus. While collecting stray sheep for Joseph, a strange sound and flashing lights over by the old cave piqued the attention of the humble carpenter. Treading the path around a grove of olive trees Jesus beheld an amazing sight! An odd cart, bereft of oxen, seemed to form from the very air! The ground did tremble, the air did sound as if trumpets and with a flash of light the odd cart solidified and dropped roughly to the earth, the impact pitching it’s pilot out roughly onto the dirt.

Swiftly, Jesus ran to offer comfort to the master of the cart. Even to his eyes untrained in the ways of healing it was obvious the stranger was injured. “Do you need succor? May I wash your feet, stranger?” Jesus said.

The stranger opened eyes caked with blood and looked up at his would be savior. “W…Weena?” The visitor said. Jesus was confused. The stranger was delirious, possibly possessed by madness. “I know not what this Weena may be.” Jesus said, laying his hands upon the wounded man and helping the stranger to a sitting position against the cart. “Pray, tell me what is this wondrous cart I behold in my eyes that needs no goats or oxen to lead it?”

The stranger seemed to gain strength from the caring hand on his shoulder and was able to speak without gasping for breath. “It is a time machine, for crossing the years without the requirement of experiencing them. In the seat of this device that I built with my own two hands I am an eagle soaring above creation whereas man is the snail slowly traversing the years. Yet, kind sir, I am in sore needs of your assistance. My wounds are grievous and I am on a mission of utmost importance.”

Jesus considered the chores that lay before him that day. Find the missing sheep, till the field, repair the table that Abraham dropped off yesterday at his carpenter shop, and scrub clean the village leper. After weighing these options Jesus decided that being a good Samaritan took precedence. “Of course, how may I help thee…Sir..?”

“Call me the Time Traveler, for that is who I am and what I am. I need to deliver these tomes of knowledge, we call them “books” in my far future advanced era, to my companion in the year 802, 701 A.D. I need you to pilot my ‘cart’ as you call it for my injuries are debilitating, though not fatal.”

“Okay.” Said Jesus. Over the course of the next several hours the Time Traveler explained the working of the arcane machine. It was then that together Jesus and the Time Traveler embarked upon an amazing and yet unrecorded series of adventures that culminated far in the future where the visitor was ultimately re-united with his young, child-like bride. When the Time Traveler decided to remain forever in the year 802,701 A.D., the homesick and restless Jesus begged his friend to let him return to the land and time of his birth. The Traveler agreed and adjusted settings on the time machine so it would return to him once the prodigal son had reached his proper era.

And thus began the long, strange journey of Time Traveling Jesus. Unbeknown to him, this would be no routine trip home. Along the way many adventures awaited him, both in the far future and distant past, with deeds great and small and fraught with danger and shocking revelations.


The search for a VP continues

Sleestak for President Campaign Diary
Entry for July 25th, 2007.

Today I met at the exclusive HAYLEYDOME with a candidate who I felt showed some promise as a potential Vice President. This candidate in question met several of the criteria required for a VP. To wit, the candidate was nearly perfect. Intelligent, a brilliant chemist, heterosexual, family-oriented, CEO of a successful construction company, experienced in defending borders against enemy attacks and was even once appointed as an Ambassador to another country! Best of all, the candidate was female! Being female is certainly plus for ensuring many votes in this day and age.

No, the candidate was not anyone recognizable from the Reagan or Clinton eras of politics. I am seeking someone who is not a beltway insider who will work for America as an American for America. I am referring instead of the silicon-based life form known as the Horta.
While I was initially very impressed with the Horta’s qualifications and experience a quick background check revealed some troubling brushes with the law in her past. In the late 1960s, the Horta was involved in several underground environmental groups and was under investigation for several instances of manslaughter. Whether those charges were eventually dropped for lack of evidence or political expediency is unclear. But with some positive spin that incident could be as forgotten and considered as irrelevant to a candidate as Chappaquiddick was for Ted Kennedy.

But one incident in 2003 could not be overlooked and in a political campaign is the type of scandal that no amount of public relations could overcome, that of the Sex Scandal.

File copy, Santa Barbara County Sheriff booking card

The loyal, wholesome, patriotic Americans of America do not tolerate any shenanigans by their civic servants. The average honest, loyal American not understanding the complex issues of the military-industrial complex as it relates to private business and geo-politics is one thing, but a Vice Presidential candidate being arrested for soliciting prostitution is not the kind of scandal that Americans will overlook or dismiss in today’s political climate. Particularly when a search at the local library revealed this shocking newspaper headline from the excellent, taxpayer-supported periodical archives.
While the Horta explained that she was a victim of circumstance and that the charge was completely innocent and taken out of context, I was skeptical. This was America! Opportunity is everywhere, from the street to the back alley, from the bus station restroom to the corporate boardroom! No circumstance or misfortune could ever possibly cause someone to be so desperate as to resort to selling their body and more importantly, their very soul to strangers! Furthermore, I was shocked that anyone involved in such sordid activities could possibly ignore the patriotic, American voice of honesty in themselves that would tell them to excuse themselves from politics and public service.

It was almost as if some manipulative person in a seedy motel somewhere was trying to set my campaign up for failure via scandal. If so then they were sadly mistaken. As if I wouldn’t attempt to vet any candidates that came my way! No one in the history of political campaigns anywhere as ever been so foolhardy with the trust of the American people.

The search continues.


Bad advice from comic books: Live a lie, girls! It’s better than dying alone!

From Girls’ Romances #153 (September 1971) is some advice meant for women worried that if they do or say the wrong thing they will scare men away. This feature is a good example of the problem that romance comics had during the 1970s. Published in the midst of a gender roles revolution when women were demanding equal rights more than ever before in American society, romance comic books gave only lip-service to women’s liberation as they were firmly entrenched in the mores and expectations of the 1940s and 1950s.

Click the picture to to make a big freaking issue of it.