Jon Sable Twolance.

§ November 10th, 2023 § Filed under indies § 5 Comments

Yes, here’s the necessary follow-up to Wednesday’s post with extra info on Jon Sable Freelance that I missed due to 1) ignorance and 2) being too old to work the internet properly.

First, let’s get this out of the way…several folks left comments or sent emails essentially telling me “hey Mike you dummy, that Soldier of Fortune text you linked to actually has a link to actual scans of the magazine.” Said comments/emails were accompanied by links and/or attachments showing THE ACTUAL AD, the very one my dad spotted back in 1986 and informed me about. Hence:

I edited out the address/phone number, obviously, even though it’s right there in the original scans if you want to trek to this Canadian apartment complex and find Mr. Sable. (LEGAL DISCLAIMER: don’t do that.) Anyway, first person through the gate with this info for me was Sleestak of “Lady, That’s My Skull” fame, so thanks to him and to everyone else who tried to set my ailing brain straight.

More additions/corrections:

Chris lets me know that there have been a couple of Kickstarter campaigns (here’s the most recent one) to issue nice hardcover collections of the original Jon Sable series. Of note is that one of the “rewards” is Jon Sable Graphic Album #1, a 56-page “DC’s Black Label” format oversized softcover. Apparently this is a planned ongoing reprint thing for 2024, but available to Kickstarter supporters first.

Pal Nat reminds me that 1987’s Word Warriors contained a jam story that included Jon Sable and work by Grell.

Customer Sean asks how many votes Mr. Sable received in my poll. He was a 4-voter!

Mixmat points out my mix-up, giving the wrong title for First’s crossover series. It’s actually Crossroads, and I should have known better because it’s not like i haven’t talked about it plenty of times on this site. Ah well, fixed now.

Roel Torres (one of the aforementioned four votes!) talks about what sounds like his very impressive collection of Grell art, and notes that Bill Jaaska, the main artist of the Sable series, had a sad end. I went looking for more info and found this detailed accounting of the man’s life. Worth a read in remembrance of an artist who, like many, never really got his due.

CP Bananas slips in this one last question:

“A sincere question for the Sable fans here, from someone who’s never read any and isn’t sure this is google-able: what was the deal with the stuff on his face? I always assumed it was a concession to make a ‘real-world’ character look more superheroic on the stands but what was the in-universe explanation?”

I don’t remember any specifics, but my presumption is that it’s just like “warpaint” or such to help disguise his appearance, and maybe act as a form of camouflage. Just looking at the covers, I presume this origin issue (which was one of the earlier issues I hadn’t read) gets into more detail:

I’m sure one of you know the actual answer, so please leave it in the comments here! Thanks!

5 Responses to “Jon Sable Twolance.”

  • ChrisB says:

    If I remember correctly, his mask originated from his time in Africa, when he returned home, his family had been killed and his house burned down by poachers (he was working as a game warden). With the ashes he created a ‘battle mask’ and hunted the poachers down. This influenced his proper mask design which I guess he wore to remember and honour his family and the vengeance he took – that’s the in story explanation. I expect as mentioned that Grell designed him that way to make him a bit more super hero looking and to attract the Marvel/DC base. A lot of those indie creators did that at the time with characters who weren’t typical superheroes, see Nexus, Badger, Whisper, Grendel, etc.

  • MisterJayEm says:

    How in the last 33 years has there not been a superhero (or villain) named BATTLEMASK?

    (Or maybe there has been and I missed it.)

    — MrJM

  • Jim Kosmicki says:

    My memory is similar to ChrisB’s comment:
    Sable created it as a battlemask/camouflage from the ashes of his burned family home as he went after the perpetrators, and continued wearing it after he got his revenge because, well, comics…

  • Snark Shark says:

    That makes sense! and it would hide your face in the jungle a bit.

    Not so much in New York City.

  • Tom W says:

    Which revelation of origin (to me, I never read Jon Sable) confirms that the character in the Mike Grell-written Green Arrow 15 & 16 is a Sable analogue turning up for a dick-measuring contest against Oliver Queen…