About Me

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I'm the co-host of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl (Sunday nights, 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org).  As a freelance writer, I contributed to Goldmine magazine from 1986-2006, wrote liner notes for Rhino Records' compilation CD Poptopia!  Power Pop Classics Of The '90s, and for releases by The Flashcubes, The Finkers, Screen Test, 1.4.5., and Jack "Penetrator" Lipton.  I contributed to the books Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, Shake Some Action, Lost In The Grooves, and MusicHound Rock, and to DISCoveries, Amazing Heroes, The Comics Buyer's Guide, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Comics Collector, The Buffalo News, and The Syracuse New Times.  I also wrote the liner notes for the four THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO compilation CDs, because, well, who could stop me?  My standing offer to write liner notes for a Bay City Rollers compilation has remained criminally ignored.  Still intend to write and sell a Batman story someday.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

UNFINISHED AND ABANDONED: Jack Mystery, Part 1

Unfinished And Abandoned digs deeeeep into my unpublished archives, and exhumes projects that I started (sometimes barely started) but abandoned, unfinished. I am such a quitter.

   


My creation Jack Mystery and I go back a looooong way. When I was a kid in the mid '60s, I liked to play out superhero scenarios with whatever was at hand. My tools for these fanciful adventures included my Captain Action doll and accessories; I don't think I'd yet heard the phrase "action figure," but our Cap was a doll of steel who could transform himself into Superman, Batman, Captain America, The Phantom, Aquaman, Flash Gordon, Steve Canyon, The Lone Ranger, and Sgt. Fury, and I owned all of those costumes-sold-separately. I would also incorporate my sister's leftover Barbie dolls, my Creepy Crawlers, stuffed animals, various knickknacks and tchotchkes, my own drawings, and probably my lunch leftovers to concoct intricate, fanciful exploits for superheroes and super-villains, both existing characters and theoretically original creations. The "original" creations were highly derivative, and included names like...um, Batman (later re-named The Bat, really a Hawkman ripoff with batwings) and The Avengers. My crimson-colored Superman Creepy Crawler became The Scarlet Red Man. A painting I did in elementary school, depicting a bubbling, amorphous alien creature, became a superhero called Gloppy. I suspect that Stan Lee never wasted much time worrying about competition from seven-year-old me.



Among the random items at hand was a set of little James Bond-related statues. The only one of these I remember was a figure--Largo--dressed in a light-colored suit, sporting an eye-patch and a gun. I made him a superhero, and I named him Mr. Mystery.



My superhero play expanded from action figures into home-made comics. Usually not complete stories (though there were one or two of those), but cover concepts, heavily influenced by Marvel Comics. I envisioned my own comics line, Imperial-Universal Comics, and I scribbled ideas in long-since-discarded notebooks. My flagship title was a showcase book called Universal Suspense (inspired by the Marvel Super-Heroes comic book), depicting my heroes Gem, The Power, Rain-Hat Sam (don't ask), and other mighty forgettables clashing with nogoodniks like The Bolshevik Bat and The Vortex.

And, of course, there was Mr. Mystery.



Initially, Mr. Mystery was, I think, a non-powered hero who flew with the aid of some artificial means, and used what I called an Evri-Gun, capable of firing bullets, laser beams, or whatever other projectile or energy pulse the situation demanded. From there, I decided I wanted to change Mr. Mystery's appearance, ditching the suit and eye-patch in favor of a more traditional superhero costume. A weird explosion somehow caused Mystery's lost eye to regenerate itself, eliminating the need for the patch. He donned a skintight light blue costume, with black boots, black belt and holster, and golden jet pack, And he decided to go by his full name, rather than the needlessly formal Mr. Mystery. Henceforth, he would be Jack. Jack Mystery.

From these childish origins, Jack Mystery nonetheless became the one original character I came back to the most often over a span of a few decades. In the '80s, I started tweaking the concept into something that almost might have worked, but I never completed the work. The only Jack Mystery project I ever saw through, start to finish, was a proposed Jack Mystery newspaper strip that I penciled for Mr. DiGesare's art class in eighth grade, 1972-'73. That's where we'll pick up the story when Unfinished And Abandoned: Jack Mystery returns.





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