new
archives
comments
faq
links
contact
dialbforblog

The original pin-up (below, left) used to create the DBB cover (below, right).
dialbforblog

SECRET ORIGINS
"Wander" by Denny O'Neil and Jim Aparo

We all know who Denny O'Neil and Jim Aparo are, but who ever heard of "Wander"? This unsung western hero comes from Charleton, the perennial third-bananna of Silver Age publishers. The Charleton in-house ads BELOW show why. Compared to the masterworks created by DC's Ira Schnapp and Gaspar Saladino, they're positively AWFUL!

There's almost no real design. They're more like a conglomeration of hideous logos. It's almost like Charleton couldn't be bothered doing the ads. The art is cannibalized. The coloring is uninspired. And the "font" they used (especially on the blue ad on the lower left) looks like the sort of primitive bubble-lettering we all used to doodle back in the fifth grade.

As for the wording of the ads, well... whose idea was it to say "What you see is what you get"? And who suggested the phrase "Real Western Excitement"? Was that as opposed to the FALSE western excitement ostensibly found in other comics? Click any ad to embiggen it, magnifying its truly wretched production values...

dialbforblog dialbforblog dialbforblog
dialbforblog dialbforblog dialbforblog
But ugly ads notwithstanding, "Wander" made his debut, unannounced and unsung, in Cheyenne Kid #66, May 1968, cover pictured below -- a positvely dreadful-looking book...
dialbforb
Still, this humble comic contained greatness within its pages, in the form of editor Dick Giordano, writer Denny O'Neil (writing here under the pen name of Sergius O'Shaugnessy) and artist/letterer Jim Aparo, three "beginners" who would all go on to attain comic superstardom. Here's the splash page...
dialbforblog
In his debut story, Wander, an alien stranded on earth when his space ship cashes, confronts a gang of Mexican banditos by speaking in Shakespearian fashion...
dialbforblog
See that sketchy-looking, primitive face below, in panel four? It's hard to believe Jim Aparo drew it -- but, considering that it's some of his earliest work, it's understandable.
dialbforblog
Afer the fight, Wander reveals the name of his home planet: SIRIUS FIVE!
dialbforblog
His actual name is "WNNDWAR," so he is dubbed "Wander!"

Turns out he's a "galactic merchant" -- aka a traveling salesman!

The series continued, and soon made it to the FRONT COVER of Cheyenne Kid's title -- but only as a blurb (see lower left corner of both covers)!
Wander soon found himself up against aliens shaded with "zip-a-tone," a thin plastic film with a pattern imprinted on it that was hand-cut, and placed over portions of the art to give it an unusual type of shading. Here's the effect, as used by Aparo in "Wander"...
Aparo's zipped aliens remind me of the aliens drawn by Neal Adams in Aquaman #50, a story that co-starred Deadman and featured some other aliens from planet zip-a-tone...
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, in Cheyenne Kid #68, Wander gets a power-whip!
As the series progresses, so does Aparo's art. Below are the splash and a page from the Wander story in Cheyenne Kid #69...
Cheyenne Kid #70 featured a Wander whose title satirized Clint Eastwood's immortal "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly." Once again, we see a face to simplistic it's hard to believe it came from Jim Aparo's pen!
But it gets worse. When Jim Aparo left Wander (with Cheyenne Kid #71), he was replaced by a series of artists who turned out pages so flat and primitive, they look like something out of the earliest days of the Golden Age! Here's the Wander story from Cheyenne Kid #86...
Finally, the "Wander" saga ended, without fanfare, in Cheyenne Kid #87...
Whatever happened to the Wander team? Editor Dick Giordano went on to become one of the industry's top inkers, and eventually was named Publisher of DC Comics. Denny O'Neil went on to write Batman, Superman, JLA, and virtually every DC title, becoming one of the industry's top writers. And Jim Aparo left Charleton for DC, where he pencilled, inked and lettered titles such as Aquaman and Brave and Bold for DECADES. Not bad for a trio of "unsung" western heroes!
dialbforblog
dialbforblog
dialbforblog
dialbforblog
dialbforblog
dialbforblog