“The Evolutionary Dead End”

“The Evolutionary Dead End” (Non Sequitur, August 14, 2019)
By Wiley Miller (1951-)
8.5 x 14 in., ink on heavy paper
Coppola Collection

In 1991, Wiley launched his popular Non Sequitur strip, eventually syndicated to 700 newspapers as well as published on Go Comics and distributed via email. The strip oscillates between one-panel commentary and stories with recurring characters. In either event, the strips have a history of politically leaning. In February 2019 many newspapers canceled their subscriptions to Non Sequitur after the Sunday comic dated February 10, 2019 included a hidden profane message aimed at President Trump.

The note from Wiley:

“So grotesque and preposterous are the principal characters in this galaxy of clowns and crooks that none but a thrice double ass could have taken them for rulers.”

Attributed to an Officer in the Allied Control Commission during the Nuremberg Trials.

A reminder – Wiley composes these to be able to be cropped as a horizontal or vertical format (see below).

2010 Iron Man 2 Artist Proof (ToS#54, 2010)

2010 Iron Man 2 Artist Proof (ToS#54, 2010)
by Adam Cline (1983-)
2.5 x 3.5 in., pen, ink, and marker on card
Coppola Collection

The card companies provide the artists with a limited number of cards that they can sell to their fans. The artists do different things with their cards, including commissions.

This card features a nice homage on the cover to Tales of Suspense #54, and was the only one of these he did.

2007 Marvel Masterpieces I Artist Proof (FF#1, 2008)

2007 Marvel Masterpieces I Artist Proof (FF#1, 2008)
by Adam Cline (1983-)
2.5 x 3.5 in., pen, ink, and marker on card
Coppola Collection

The card companies provide the artists with a limited number of cards that they can sell to their fans. The artists do different things with their cards, including commissions.

This card features a cool interpretation of the cover to Fantastic Four #1, and was the only one of these he did.

“The Triple Terror” (Tip Top Comics 90, November 1943)

“The Triple Terror” (Tip Top Comics 90, November 1943, p. 7)
by Fred Methot and Paul Berdanier (1879-1961)
13 x 20 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

“The Triple Terror” appeared in Tip Top Comics #54-119 (1940-46).

This is the first page of a complete, six-page story published in Tip Top Comics #90 (November 1943).

The Triple Terror series started off as an unusual concept. Putting their considerable wealth and scientific skills to good use, the Brandon triplets (Barton, Richard, and Bruce) donned costumes to fight evil around the world as Chemix (Barton), Lectra (Richard), and Menta (Bruce), The Triple Terror. In addition to their respective expertise in the sciences, the Brandon boys were extremely athletic, good climbers and exceptional fighters. Menta could pilot an aircraft and they all seemed to be familiar with military weapons, equipment and tactics. In early adventures, decked out in superhero garb, they usually fought to prevent dangerous new technologies from falling into enemy hands, sometimes at the request of the US Government.

After America joined WW2 in 1941, these superheroes (as did many others) changed back to their civvies, joined the Army, and fought in both the European and Pacific Theaters. Their enemies included a female villain in a rat costume named The Rat and a cabal of Nazi sympathizers called the Silver Swastikas.

Triple Terror’s creators, according to Public Domain Superheroes, were Fred Methot (about whom I can find almost nothing) and Paul Berdanier.

“The Mirror Man” (Tip Top Comics 90, Nov. 1943, p. 44)

“The Mirror Man” (Tip Top Comics 90, November 1943, pp. 44)
by Fred Methot and “Sam Singer”
13 x 20 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

This is the first page of a 6-page story, featuring Mirror Man, a former super-hero comic that shifted to the war-hero genre after the outbreak of WWII.

The Mirror Man was a super-hero series introduced in the Tip Top Comics anthology in issue 54 (October 1940), by writer Fred Methot and artist Reg Greenwood (who also introduced The Triple Terror characters in the same issue).

As Mirror Man, Dean Alder possesses the Mystic Garment, a robe that permits him to use mirrors and other reflective surfaces as his transport, and he uses this to fight crime and evil.

Soon after WWII broke out, both the Mirror Man and Triple Terror characters hung up their spandex and enlisted in the army, becoming military warriors fighting the enemy overseas. The first Mirror Man war story was in Tip Top Comics 71 (March 1942), and the Triple Terror triplet had a spy-adventure and decided to formally enlist at the end of their Tip Top 72 (April 1942) story.

Methot and Greenwood (1899-1943) are credited with The Mirror Man stories through Tip Top Comics 87 (August 1943), which was presumably Greenwood’s last story because he is listed as dying in 1943). The more noted Paul Berdanier (1879-1961) took over The Triple Terror and did one Mirror Man story (TTC 88, September 1943). The rest of the Mirror Man series, which lasts about another year, is not credited except for a couple of stories signed “Singer.” Methot is still thought to have written these, and the artist is referred to as Sam Singer in some places.


This 6-page story, from TTC 90, is Singer’s second one (the first one, from the issue before, is signed by Singer). I have the 6 pages, as well as the 6-page Triple Terror story from this same issue, in addition to the stories from both series that appeared in issue 89.

“Tumbleweeds” (02/15/1979)

“Tumbleweeds” (02/15/1979)
by Tom K. Ryan (1929-2019)
22.5 x 11.5 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

Dedicated to the memory of Tom Ryan

From 1965-2007, with his clean art lines and classical, gag-a-day wit, Tom Ryan led a 42-year stint on telling the story of the denizens of Grimy Gulch (population 49), the 6 7/8 Cavalry from the nearby Fort Ridiculous, and the members of the Poohawk tribe.

A classic gag featuring the Poohawk named Limpid Lizard is presented here.

“Tom K. Ryan died March 12, 2019 in Florida. He had devoted 42 of his 92.8 years to the production of a daily comic strip that was among the bellwethers of fresh comedy in newspaper comic strips in the middle of the 20th century. Westerns were all the rage in television of the 1950s and 1960s, and Ryan caught the wave with Tumbleweeds and helped turn comic strip humor in a new direction.”

Introduction to the obituary from The Comics Journal (www.tcj.com/t-k-ryan-dies) written by RC Harvey

Mage: Kevin Matchstick and Edsel (August, 1986)

Mage: Kevin Matchstick and Edsel (August, 1986)
by Matt Wagner (1961-)
14 x 11 in, ink on paper
Coppola Collection

Mage: The Hero Discovered, the first third of Matt Wagner’s Mage trilogy, ran from February1984 until December 1986.

Mage: The Hero Defined(Jul 1997 – Oct 1999)
Mage: The Hero Denied
(Aug 2017 – Feb 2019)

Thirty-five years in the making, The Hero Denied is the conclusion of the tale of Kevin Matchstick, who, after encountering a wizard, discovers he is the reincarnation of the legendary Pendragon and able to wield the power of the mystical weapon, Excalibur.

Matt Wagner: “The main character of Mage is Kevin Matchstick, a somewhat cynical everyman when the story first begins, he eventually meets a wily street wizard (the title character) who reveals that he is heir to a legendary power and destined to become the hero he never imagined himself to be.”

This drawing came from the August 1986 San Diego Comic Con.

What a Great Day for Mail

At this web site, over at the “Take On Me” tab, I have archived the story of writing and then commissioning the art for a 5-page comic story. I wrote the story… I saw drafts of the art… I’ve seen and posted scans of the final pages… and I even made a little book about it.

And yet none of that compares to a package being delivered that contains the original art pages.

Sixty cents worth of graphite, ink and watercolors on a buck-fifty in paper… capturing an idea in the minutes and hours of artistic labor by a pair of clever and talented guys.

Happy, happy, joy, joy… do the Snoopy dance.

Cerebus the Aardvark #151 Cover

Cerebus the Aardvark #151 Cover (October 1991)
by Gerhard (1959- )
11 x 17 in., ink and watercolor on board
Coppola Collection

This is perhaps my favorite cover from the series. I think it does such a great job at telling its story, and conveying action, with its characters (well, other than the flying book) all implied.

This cover was not, however, a favorite of its creator.

In the 2016 IDW “Cover Treasury” book, Gerhard writes: “I spent a lot of time working out the composition and perspective of this piece, but I could not get the color right. It was too orange, not the mahogany hue that I wanted, but there was nothing I could do to fix it. I hated it so much that when I hung the cover on its clip, I hung it face toward the wall.”

Dave’s response is cute: “In those situations you take the hint and just hope it’s still on its hook, face to the wall, when you come in tomorrow. It’s HIS cover.”

A hi-res image of this cover, suitable for printing is available for no cost and no obligation (see the additional image for details) along with the “Take On Me” story, by Gerhard and Carson Grubaugh, as described elsewhere.

Bringing Up Father (March 7, 1945)

Bringing Up Father (March 7, 1945)
by George McManus (1884-1954) and Zeke Zekley (1915-2005)
23.25 x 5.75 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

In 1904, young George McManus was hired by Pulitzer’s New York World as a cartoonist. While he was there he created such strips as The Newlyweds, which comics historians consider the first family comic strip. In 1912, William Randolph Hearst hired McManus away to start a comic strip about a guy called Jiggs, a lower class man who came into a lot of money. With their new wealth, Maggie, Jiggs’ wife, wanted to enter the upper crust of society but Jiggs just wanted to hang out with his old friends at the local bar playing cards and pool and eat his simple favorite foods. This is the classic strip Bringing Up Father, which is counted as the longest running comic strip of the 20th Century (1913-2000) after The Katzenjammer Kids, 1897-2006). A few more that started after 1913 now have longer absolute running times, post-2000.

McManus had masterful line work with a strong deco feel to his designs. Over time, he developed the recurring motif of animating the background paintings in certain panels, and this is generally delightful.

The whimsy in the funny papers often sits in sharp contrast to the news of the day.

By March 1945, things were looking up for the Allies. Facing a siege of Berlin by the Soviets, Hitler had withdrawn to his bunker about 3 months earlier. And in less than 2 months, on the last day of April, he would commit suicide in that bunker.

FDR was less than a month away from his death at this point. In his public report to Congress on the Yalta Conference, on March 1, he made the noteworthy and open acknowledgement of his paralysis: “I hope that you will pardon me for this unusual posture of sitting down during the presentation of what I want to say, but I know that you will realize that it makes it a lot easier for me not to have to carry about ten pounds of steel around on the bottom of my legs.”

In Germany, the Wehrmacht began calling up 15- and 16-year old boys on March 5, the same day that the US Army entered Cologne, about 375 miles from Berlin.

On March 6, 1945, the day of this particular strip, Germany launched “Operation Spring Awakening,” the last major German offensive of the war, near Budapest. After about a week, the Soviets had countered and pushed the Germans back.

By March 10, the last German troops west of the Rhine withdrew to the east as Bonn and Godesburg, along the river to the south of Cologne, we occupied by US forces.

And on March 18, the Allies made heaviest daylight bombing raid, to that point, on Berlin. The next day, Hitler ordered destruction of the country’s infrastructure to prevent their use by the Allies. Two days later, Hitler made his final public appearance, awarding medals to members of the Hitler Youth.

I also have the strip from the day before (March 6) and the composition of the two strips is interestingly parallel, ending with the 2-panel spread and including a silhouette panel in the middle.

March 6 and 7 (reformatted):