Will the real Tom Terrific please stand up?

Published on by Charlie Boatner.


The fluffy news of the week was that Tom Brady wanted to trademark the name “Tom Terrific.” And my response was, of course, “You can’t do that – it’s already taken!”

Not by Tom Seaver, though. Tom Terrific was a cartoon character in the 50s, created by Gene Deitch. It was drawn in a modern (it still looks modern) style of simple, almost abstract, fluid lines that looked like they had just wiggled off the artist’s doodle pad. (According to Mr. Deitch, some of that effect was due to limited budget, but “mother of invention,” as they say.)

The heroes were a talking dog and shape-changing boy (not to be confused with Adventure Time, years later, whose heroes were a boy and a talking, shape-changing dog). Tom provided all of the optimism and motivation to the heroics. Manfred (full name: Mighty Manfred, the Wonder Dog) generally wanted to sleep and avoid trouble (my kind of guy). But Tom never lost faith in Manfred’s inner nobility.

Unfortunately, the Washington Post (June 3 article) believes that the trademark registration by Terrytoons animation studio has expired. So maybe the name really is up for grabs. But I’ll know who was the Real Tom Terrific is.

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Mermaids in the News

Published on by Charlie Boatner.


For me, the oddest thing about the current popularity of superhero movies is that obscure characters I have loved for years are suddenly household names. Mera, played by Amber Heard in the Aquaman movie, is the latest case-in-point.

Mera was the first mermaid I encountered in comics. In the Aquaman comic, she is a supporting character and love interest, much like in the movie.

She was a scarlet haired water nymph in a form-fitting green suit. In her first appearance, she was drawn at the bottom of the cover. In her second, the enterprising editor put her high up, next to the masthead, where she wouldn’t be hidden by the comics below on the rack. That was the first time I bought Aquaman, so maybe that’s why. But I was ten, so who knows?


I was confused by that suit. She was covered in scales and apparently had webbed feet so I figured those scales were part of her – that she was a two-legged (or two-tailed) melusine like the Starbucks logo. Yes, the scales ended abruptly in a collar at her neck, but I discounted that as artistic license. The first time I saw her in a different outfit, proving that she had boring, human-type feet, I was disappointed.

She was one of the earliest super-powered women (especially if you don’t count spinoff characters like Supergirl); in fact, she was more powerful than the hero (which was never mentioned in the stories). Despite that, Mera has not had a title of her own before now. That’s another benefit of the movie. Her first graphic novel, “Mera: Queen of Atlantis,” went on sale in December. The story is a subplot of a larger Aquaman storyline, and she has to share space with another character (male) but they do spell her name right. And there’s something called “Mera: Tidebreaker” coming out in April that looks promising.

Support your local mermaid!

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Art Tour

Published on by Charlie Boatner.

On the east side of Midtown Manhattan is a bar/restaurant called The Overlook (225 E. 44, to be exact).  If you go to the back and peer at the walls, faded drawings appear.  Two walls are covered by cartoonists’ sketches, many in color.  The murals are a treasure of big names, like Sergio Aragones, Gil Kane, and Dik Browne.  (It’s said that a James Thurber drawing was included once.)   

The first time I went, it was fun to poke around and see who I recognized.  Everyone has their favorites.  One of mine is a drawing of “Rip Kirby” by John Prentice.



Rip was a dapper detective created by Alex Raymond, of “Flash Gordon” fame.  Raymond’s interest in fashion and drapery was obvious, even in his science fiction work, but it was put to better use in Rip’s 20th century world. 

As well as tailored suits and cool hats, Rip wore glasses.  As a bespectacled boy, I looked for heroes I could identify with in comics and movies and on TV.  When I found Rip Kirby, Raymond was no longer drawing it, however -- John Prentice had taken it on.  Not that I knew or cared -- I thought it was great. 

Prentice was a talented and worthy successor.  Prentice delineated handsome and beautiful people with a crisp black line.  Rip was grim and his butler Desmond was funny.  (What hero’s butler isn’t funny?)  Prentice drew fine detail and rich shadows (even Rip’s frames cast shadows).   

I’m happy that many of his strips have been reprinted in collections of crisp reprints by IDW Publishing.  I don’t know how much longer the mural at The Overlook Bar will last…

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My Steve Ditko story

Published on by Charlie Boatner.

One of the great comics artists died recently.  Steve Ditko was the first to visualize Spider-Man, Dr. Octopus, J. Jonah Jameson, Dr. Strange, the Dread Dormammu, The Creeper, The Question, Mr. A, Squirrel Girl, and many other unforgettable characters.  Sometimes he wrote his own stories.  Other times he worked with writers like Stan Lee and Will Murray.  

I was also one of those lucky writers, although only for ten pages.  The story was “The Making of a Monster” in Blue Ribbon Comics issue 12.  My excitable editor, John Carbonaro, said, “Guess who I got to draw your story!”  

You can see by this panel, how much my dialogue contributed to the story.   


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Notable Note

Published on by Charlie Boatner.

Greer writes:


I am a big fan of webcomics and I really like yours, I think that your characters are cute and I like the fact that, randomly you chose a furry Martian bug thing and a mermaid to become friends. Also, I like how he is a shy, contemplative spirit, and she is bold and adventurous (even if they might be just like each other on the inside)! Thank you for making these splendid comics! I will be sure to tell all of my friends about them!

Keep calm and doodle on!

Hey Greer, I'm sending you a sketch in thanks for your Notable Note.

"Doodle on" is my new battle cry! 


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A Christmas Story

Published on by Charlie Boatner.

Once upon a time, I worked briefly for the IRS.  As Christmas approached, I found it funny that Luke’s lovely account of Jesus’ birth in the Bible said, “…it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.”  So I drew up this Christmas card.


I only found out later that “taxed” in the King James Bible is a poor translation.

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America's Got Talent!

Published on by Charlie Boatner.

When I was a kid, I had a book of Magical Science Tricks (or was it Scientifical Magic Tricks).  One trick explained how to balance a salt shaker on its edge, using a small pile of salt.  The cube-shaped salt crystals stack up to form a teeny restraining wall. 

This is how I spend my time, now, when I’m waiting for food to arrive in a restaurant.  However, you need the right combination of salt type, table surface, and shaker design for it to work.  The last time it did work, I had to document the achievement.  I don’t know the names of my fellow diners, but you can see they are impressed.

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Published on by Charlie Boatner.

I just saw the movie Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017).  This has been a long time coming, although I didn’t know it.

Several years ago, I was browsing one of the larger comics & fantasy stores – Forbidden Planet, New York – and stumbled across something unfamiliar.   It was a 1975 edition of Valerian, agent spatio-temporel, “L’ambassadeur Des Ombres (Dargaud).”  It was in French, I didn’t speak French, and it cost more than I wanted to spend.  But it had a wonderful bunch of space aliens in it, and I liked the way they, and the heroine, were drawn.

It was great fun, flipping through the imaginative pages, trying to figure out what was going on.  I have bought many comic books and had to dispose of many comic books, but I held onto that one.  Recently, another publisher, Cinebook, started reprinting and translating Valerian, including Book Six, “Ambassador of the Shadows.”  Although I have bought several of the other translations, I haven’t really wanted to buy Book Six.

So now a movie has come out, based on Valerian.  It’s a little late, since little things the artists inspired, like Star Wars, have eclipsed it.  Much like the way John Carter came out too late, after its descendants stole ITS thunder.

Interestingly, much of the movie takes ideas and images from Book Six, even though the title comes from Book Two and there were twenty other books.  Maybe that volume being one chosen to import and the one that caught my eye weren’t entirely random.

By the way, the movie is good, if you don’t mind fashion models in outer space.  It is fast-moving, with a consistent tone, heart, and rich, original imagery.  Spoiler:  to the movie’s credit, Valerian does NOT save the universe and NO big fortress nor spaceship blows up at the end.

P.S. These little scoundrels from Book Six remind me of the three bat brothers from Pogo, although they could also be based on Huey, Dewey, and Louie.

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Now It Can Be Told

Published on by Charlie Boatner.

So, Mermsy’s 2:00 AM rest stop experience is inspired by a 4-day bus ride I took from Palo Alto to Akron.

Rest stops were rather strange.  I’d feel obliged to get out of the bus at every opportunity, but the outside world was a bit of a shock. 

At night, I would stumble from a dark bus into strange buildings with harsh lights.  My favorites were the casinos where people were chattering, bells were ringing, and slot machines flashing.

After sitting upright for two days, I was probably suffering from sleep deprivation.  By the third day my muscles had totally atrophied, so I no longer felt the need to get out at all.

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The MoCCA has gone cold

Published on by Charlie Boatner.

Now the seats are all empty, the bellow of the crowd has quieted, and they're sweeping up the confetti.  The Small Press comics show is done.

I sold some books, handed out lots of flyers, and met some fun people.  Yeah, that's how most zine sellers report the experience...maybe NEXT time, little green men will leviate to my table and offer me a seven-volume deal with Barsoom Books.

If you found your way here from the URL on a book or a flyer, welcome!  And thank you if you bought a book!

(Ten points if you can identify the image of the sweeper.)


Hot off the presses!

Published on by Charlie Boatner.

I am jazzed…just visited a print shop and accepted a proof for printing my first small zine. 

I have a table (half a table) at the MoCCA Arts Festival Small Press comics show https://www.societyillustrators.org/mocca-arts-festival  April 1 and 2, in Manhattan.  The image above is its poster by Becky Cloonan.  I’ll be selling a zine reprinting the first 36 “Bureau of Beasties” strips.  Plus a Stunning Full Color Cover!

(Table H 259B)

So, that’s what I’ve been doing instead of posting new installments – I’ve been formatting the PDF files for the zine.  That’s my excuse.  To receive email messages announcing when the strip updates, please contact me at CBOATNER aht IGC doht ORG or via my Feedback page.

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Order Your Ultrabeam Laser Now!

Published on by Charlie Boatner.

I got this in my e-mail...


When Disaster Strikes, There's Only One Plan -- SURVIVAL!
Safer Than A Gun. More Powerful Than Mace.
Ultrabeam Tactical Laser Can:

  • Light a Match
  • Blind an Attacker
  • Send a Help Signal Over 2 Miles
  • Test Water Purity Instantly

Over 30,000 units have been sold already this month. Supplies are limited. Order today to receive a FREE waterproof case.
Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones. Makes a Great Gift!

 How did they KNOW that's what I wanted?

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Dynamo Duck, part Deux

Published on by Charlie Boatner.

The superhero “Dynamo” (from my last post) had a memorable enemy.  Called the Iron Maiden, she was a statuesque woman improbably clad in form-fitting armor.  The two flirted while fighting, maybe more than Batman and Catwoman. 

This was my take on the two, adapting a scene from the comics.

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