Friday Funnies Presents: Jim Engel’s Dick Duck, Duck Dick
We here at ComiCrazys (meaning li’l ol’ me) have been wanting to start a weekly “Friday Funnies” comic showcase for sometime now, but didn’t know what comic to feature first?
When I ran across these Jim Engel comics over at Mykal Banta’s, The Big Blog of Kids’ Comics, I was an instant fan. I went hunting for the comics on Mykal’s blog as well as anything else I could find by Jim Engel. It wasn’t until a fanzine from the the early 80s called, The Comic Reader, arrived in my mailbox that I knew I had found my comic feature. Dick Duck, Duck Dick!
After a few email introductions via the incredibly generous, Mykal, Jim graciously took me up on my offer to run Dick Duck, Duck Dick as a weekly feature. Jim also thought it would be fun to include original drawings, as well as insights and anecdotes from the time he was producing Dick Duck, Duck Dick.
Jim would love to hear from you! If you’ve become an instant fan, like I did or if you remember reading Dick Duck, Duck Dick in The Comic Reader, during those thrilling days of yesteryear, Jim wants to hear from you. So in total contrast to ComiCrazy policy, Comments has been enabled for this and all future Dick Duck, Duck Dick installments.
So, without further ado, ComiCrazys proudly presents, the very first Friday Funnies weekly comic feature, Jim Engel’s Dick Duck, Duck Dick, with commentary by Jim Engel.
Jim Engel: Although I proved to be less than prolific at it, writing & drawing the serialized adventures of “DICK DUCK, DUCK DICK” for THE COMIC READER was one of the great joys of my artistic life. I was 22, and working as a greeting card illustrator & writer for MARK I Greeting Cards in Chicago.
TCR’s publisher and editor, Jerry Sinkovec and Mike Tiefenbacher had taken over the legendary fanzine with issue #101. Mike and Jerry were friends of (my friend) Chuck Fiala and I for several years when Mike posed the question to us as to whether we’d like to do comic strips for TCR.
The magazine was making a switch from digest to comic book size, and to afford the color covers on nice white cover stock, the bulk of the interior pages would be going to newsprint, BUT the white paper signature meant there would be 4 pgs. of white (and potentially COLOR) interior pages as well. The STREET ENTERPRISES boys had an eventual goal of publishing funny animal comics, and Mike thought Chuck & I doing monthly one pagers would be a good way to start… The opportunity to be part of such an esteemed zine (in COLOR, yet!) and join our good friends in THEIR adventure, was too good to pass up, so we said yes.
Friends Chuck Fiala and Jim Engel (l. to r.)
When it came to what characters to DO, Chuck opted for turning his fanzine character JOE CROW into “BULLET CROW, FOWL OF FORTUNE”. I considered using LACKLUSTER LIZARD, a character I’d done in a few zines, but turned instead to an idea I had for a funny animal detective (Lackluster WOULD later appear in DICK DUCK). I love names with odd rhythms or sounds to them, and “Dick Duck” had that, but when I realized his name could be inverted for his profession as well, I knew I had the perfect name for the strip. As for characterization, I basically planned for him to be a hard-boiled, short-tempered, no-nonsense gumshoe, evocative of the old Warner Bros. movie types.
“THE SMITHSONIAN BOOK OF NEWSPAPER COMICS” had recently come out, and Chuck & I were smitten by it, particularly the color pages (POLLY & HER PALS in particular). Two things in our strips came as direct influences–Chuck’s “BULLET CROW–FOWL OF FORTUNE” logo & tag came from “CAPTAIN EASY–SOLDIER OF FORTUNE”, and I decided to add a second strip to my page, the way so many classic strips (ORPHAN ANNIE, DICK TRACY, BARNEY GOOGLE, and yes–POLLY & HER PALS) did. I’d been drawing the “PALS” characters for about 4 years by then, as strips and as notes for my girlfriend/wife Charis. They were always silly, simple upbeat images or exchanges. Some readers assumed it was some sort of wicked mockery of wholesome strips, but it wasn’t. It was sincere, and I thought it made a nice counterpoint to Dick Duck’s comic violence…
It certainly was a thrill when TCR #166, arrived in the mail with Dick Duck’s & Bullet Crow’s debuts, and the fun was just starting… more in future installments!
Come back next week for more Friday Funnies, featuring Jim Engel’s Dick Duck, Duck Dick!