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Tandra Page 949, September 16, 2007

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I’ve wanted to do a serialized comics page feature since as far back as I can remember. One of my earliest memories is of sitting with my grandfather as he read Little Orphan Annie to me from the Sunday Comics Section of the Memphis TN Commercial Appeal. I caught on with the syndicated Dick Tracy about as soon as I could read and also read everything else on the comics page. My first memory of Tracy is the Rughead sequence from the mid-Fifties. I also remember reading about that time Chester Gould was pulling down over fifty thousand per year for his Dick Tracy feature. Fifty thousand was Big Bucks in the mid-Fifties of the last century. I was inspired to someday create a feature of my own.

Both my parents read the comics, though my father was more into the comics features than my mother. I remember my father was a big fan of Milton Caniff’s Steve Canyon. He said Canyon was an adult comic strip. This was before the term adult became a synonym for porn. I first began to collect and save comic strips when my father acquired a new job that involved a lot of traveling and he could no longer keep up with his favourite comics. I clipped and saved Dick Tracy dailies and Sunday for him. But, while my father lost his connection with comics, mine was reinforced with the collection of Tracy strips. I began to study them, looking at how the continuity was constructed day-to-day.

Growing up, I soon became aware of comics pamphlets and bought the long underwear characters, but mu first love and inspiration remained the syndicated features. Comic booklets were cool and, until Stan and Jack at Marvel, mostly told several complete tales in a single issue. To some, that is an advantage, but I liked the ongoing tale parceled out a strip at a time with daily installments and the speculation of wondering how the story would finally work out and the reinforced connection with the characters of being able to visit them on a daily or weekly frequency. I came to know them better and care more about them, in some cases, to watch them grow and develop. Even Little Orphan Annie who never aged still changed perceptively as the years passed.

When I decided on Tandra for my feature, it is telling I presented the first installments as a daily newspaper strip. I had a deal with a local paper publisher who planned a free paper with massive circulation as it was delivered to everyone at no cost and paid for through advertising revenue. Tandra was one of the non-advertising features included to inspire those who had the paper tossed into their yard to open the paper and look at it. Alas, not enough folks opened the paper, but mostly just tossed it directly into the garbage can. The ad paper folded within months.

But I had my feature and began to create and publish it myself, first as a selection in a fan magazine along with syndicate reprints of adventure strips, then as stand alone graphic novels, Later still I would continue with publication as standard comics pamphlets and finally as internet web comics.

Now Tandra has come full circle appearing in weekly installments as a continuing adventure in full colour pages. My plans are to have some commentary either long or short as I am inspired, giving a bit of background information concerning the creation and inspiration of the page at hand. I may also run some of the more interesting mail I receive from appreciative readers, or from hostile critics, whichever appears most appropriate.

So read the new Tandra in the Members Section, enjoy the story, and send us an E-mail note telling us what you like or don’t like. We shall be waiting eagerly to hear from you.

May the sun always shine on your parade.

See ya next week,