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Good Read Column for February 22, 1999

Slightly Bent Comics

Written by Walt Jaschek
Artists this issue:
Paul Daly, Tony Patti,
Jim Riley, Don Secrease,
and Craig Skaggs
Slightly Bent Entertainment,
#1 of 2, 40 pages, $3.00

3 smileys(of a possible five)


This is a 40-page anthology comic all written by one person but drawn by several different artists. It has several features, including one called "Smirk Du Jour" that's simply two pages of single panel cartoons, but there are two primary stories that take up 16 and 14 pages, respectively.

The first story, "Dude-Guy, Earth's Best Pal," is a superhero spoof with an interesting twist I don't want to give away. It ends with a cliffhanger, with Dude-Guy in the clutches of super-villainess Big-Hair Babs (Debutante of All Darkness). Babs' current employer, the Zomboid King, breaks the fourth wall and tells us "Coming up in Part 2: Big-Hair Babs says 'Bye-Bye' to Dude-Guy - then destroys him!" Since there's only one more issue, he may even be telling the truth! Dude-Guy is drawn in a very nice cartoony style by Craig Skaggs.

"Mel Cool: Mall Cop" also ends in a cliff-hanger to be concluded in the second and final issue of this microminiseries. Mel is investigating the disappearance of two morons from Massive Mall's 100-screen movie-plex. In the end of part one, he is captured, and we are assured on the last page there are clues planted in the story that we can use to figure out which of Mel's foes is responsible. A helpful montage of his foes is presented, as if to "remind" us of Mel's "regular" foes. Don Secrease does the art here, and it's a skillful blend of styles, with most of the characters having a round, cartoony softness that contrasts nicely with the hard edges and more "realistic" depiction of Mel.

This collection of enjoyable nonsense is brought to you by Slightly Bent Entertainment, which I believe is Writer/Editor Walt Jaschek himself. How did he come up with the name? A one-page, three-panel strip on the inside front cover gives us a clue:

First panel: A man with dark hair, glasses and a mustache (presumably Jaschek) is sitting at a computer, furiously typing away, thinking, "Man! This stuff is bent! Truly bent! Totally bent!

Second panel: He sits back, examining what he's written, and nervously waving a pencil back and forth with his fingers.

Third Panel: Head in hands, he leans forward again, thinking, "OK. Well, it's slightly bent."

The address listed in the indicia is St. Louis, Missouri, which is also where I live, and yes, I originally bought this comic primarily because it was done by local guys (at least one of the artists, Don Secrease, is also a St. Louisan, and I suspect they all are). However, I'm not such a hometown booster that I'd do a column on it if I didn't genuine like it. I wasn't too impressed by "Those Dang Gnats!" or the cartoons in "Smirk Du Jour," but the main stories were hilarious, and the "Danger Dad" and "Attorneys in Space" shorts were also pretty good (I especially liked Paul Daly's art on the latter, echoing the old EC science fiction comics). I'm thinking seriously about ordering a "Danger Dad" T-shirt.

Jaschek also maintains a Slightly Bent website at, naturally enough, The site includes a new 5-page "Mel Cool: Mall Cop" story and profiles of all the artists, as well as Walt and his ad agency partner, Paul Fey. Apparently, Walt works at home from St. Louis even though the agency is based in Hollywood. Formerly Paul & Walt Worldwide, the company is now known as World Wide Wadio and concentrates on radio commercials.

Speaking of ads, while I was not impressed with Tony Patti's cartooning on "Smirk Du Jour," I was very impressed with some of his advertising work available at his website, which you can link from his profile. There were a few I recognized, and some others I liked, too.

I am a bit worried that if these guys are making a lot of money from advertising, they won't have time to do any more comics. I'm hoping these two issues of "Slightly Bent" will be the beginning of a comics empire, with new issues of "Mel Cool: Mall Cop," for instance, down the road. Mel especially seems worthy of his own magazine. The website has a script for a pilot episode of a Mel Cool radio show, and that wouldn't be bad, but I really hope to see more comics. The radio script says that Massive Mall is "the world's tallest mall. Three connected towers, 144 stories each. A self-contained eco-system of crime, madness, and brazen teen-age loitering." There's a lot of room for stories there.

(If you're reading this, Walt and Don, consider this a vote - nay, a plea - for a Mel Cool series)

So, here's hoping that we see more from Slightly Bent Entertainment. You can do your part by ordering issue #1 and signing up for issue #2 at your local comic store. If your store doesn't have it, they should be able to order it. If they say they can't, complain loudly! (You can write to Slightly Bent Entertainment, and they might be able to track down a more helpful retailer. Their e-mail is simply and their snail mail is P.O. Box 39336, St. Louis, MO 63139.)

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