Wednesday, February 5, 2014

FAST WILLIE JACKSON "Happy Birthday, Frankie"

Here's an example of love gone wrong... this never-reprinted story from the very hard-to-find Fast Willie Jackson #1 (1976).
Illustrated by Gus Lemoine, the script was either by him or publisher/editor Bertam Fitzgerald.
Previously, Gus pencilled shorts and a couple of covers at Archie Comics from 1967 to the mid-1970s.
The Fast Willie books were his final credited work.
(There is a theory that Gus was really Henry Scarpelli, a versatile humor artist who did work for Archie as well as Archie-clone books for both Marvel and DC.
The period when "Gus" was active at Archie was before Scarpelli's credited work appeared there,'s like "Gee, Clark, we never see you when Superman's around! Why's that?"
Lois Lane couldn't prove it, either.)
Bertram Fitzgerald was the publisher/editor/writer of Fitzgerald Publications, doing a Black historical comic anthology, Golden Legacy, sold to schools and bookstores.
He conceived Fast Willie as a way to break into the teen comic market on the newsstands.
Two ironic notes:
1) Fitzgerald finally broke even on the series as of it's final issue, #7.
(It has been "in the red" up to that point.)
2) He failed to capitalize on the late 1970s creation of the Direct Market and comic book stores, which could've enabled him to continue publishing the title without the costs and hassle of returnable books.

Though the series has never been reprinted, it has not been forgotten....
...though not an "official" appearance, this brief interlude in Image's Savage Dragon #170 (2011) by Erik Larsen would seem to be a "Where Are They Now?" tip of the hat to the MoCity crew.
As it turns out, Willie is a distant uncle of the comic's title character...
Next week:
We haven't decided yet what it'll be, but we can guarantee that...
You'll Cry Your Eyes Out if You Miss It!
(Oh, you've heard that, eh?)
And now a word from out sponsor...
featuring the cover art from all four HTF issues
on kool kollectibles!

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