Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Sight Unseen--4

Ronnie Does Dallas--For Good
The Dallas Sunday below isn't really "unseen." Maybe a dozen people in the world read it in their hometown newspapers. These were the twelve diehards who hadn't given the strip up after the first couple of months.
Its claim to uniqueness is that it's the only Sunday I colored on the original. This wasn't a color guide; I worked it over with markers just for the hell of it after I got the art back from the syndicate . There were comparatively few pasteovers (only two J.R. heads this time around) so the color didn't look so bad. Some years ago I sold the original on ebay to a woman in the Spanish publishing industry.

I preferred to draw my Sundays twice up on large sheets of vellum bristol, but this time I used a 15x20 inch piece of cold-pressed Crescent board. Note that in the grand American newspaper comic strip tradition, nothing at all happens in this page. Maybe only 20% of the subscribing papers took the Sunday, so putting something important there would mess the story up for the other 80%.

The car in the second panel is the 1954 Hudson Itali. The Itali was an experiment in sporty design for the faltering Hudson marque. Only a couple were made. The European design was pretty slick save for some funky space-age tubular taillights. I often drew odd cars and planes into my strips as a way to keep from going crazy. Not that it worked. Once a reader recognized one of the cars and let me know in a letter.

There aren't a whole lot of Dallas originals out there. The only thing good about the nutty hours I put in on Dallas and Star Trek was that I didn't have any time to spend my money. Even at the crummy salary I wound up with enough in the bank to pursue a long-time dream: attending the international comics convention in Lucca, Italy. I took some of my originals along and ended up selling or trading a few Dallas pieces to European fans. I gave a few Sundays to family members and friends. The rest I stuck in a drawer.

Almost a year later the Syndicate called to say that Lorimar, the company that owned Dallas, wanted the originals back. This was interesting, because literally a couple of days earlier I'd chucked the remaining Sundays and the majority of the dailies into the dumpster in my latest fit of depression. I'd cut the rest of the dailies into pieces to use as brush warm-up pages. I told this to the Syndicate. They told me just to send what I had. I took a perverse delight in filling a manila envelope with mangled bits of J. R. Ewing and his dysfunctional relatives. I sent the envelope full of pieces to Lorimar and that's the last I ever heard of it.

Needless to say I had kept the above original. And I think I may still have one of the large-format Sundays somewhere. As for the rest, Good Riddance.

1 comment:

Paul Chadwick said...

Jesus, in my self-absorbed way I had no idea you were this miserable about it. Pretty cheeky, Lorimar demanding the originals after years of abuse.

And I do remember some of the abuse. The quote that stands out was your editor saying "now, I'm just reporting what Lorimar said, and don't take it personally, but Bobby in this panel looks like 'a Chinese nerd.'"

So nice of him to soften the blow like that.

I wish you'd had the luxury of demanding to write it yourself or leave it. I would've loved to see you do that adventure story you plotted, set among the coastal fishing shacks -- totally subersive to the 'Dallas' glitz aesthetic, totally great.

You would've gone out in a blaze of glory as the last papers canceled the series.