TCA4_coverYou know about Charlton Neo, don’t you? The Charlton Comics Facebook page started by Fester Faceplant that lead to what was supposed to be a one-off “fan” publication The Charlton Arrow, which somehow blossomed into Charlton Neo, the little comic book company with a big heart that I help oversee with pals Roger McKenzie and Mort Todd. In out brief time, we’ve put out four issues of The Charlton Arrow, Charlton Wild Frontier #1, Paul Kupperberg’s Secret Romance #1 (of two, with #2 on the way), Unusual Suspense #1, Ditko’s Weird #1, and launch the Pix-C Web Comics site, current home to nineteen weekly comic strips, with more in the works and on the way!

Oh, and the Charlton Comics panel I hosted at the 2014 Connecticut ComiCONN with guests Denny O’Neil, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Frank McLaughlin, and Bob Layton was the inspiration for the documentary-film-in-progress, Charlton Comics: The Movie (go here to learn all about it, and watch the great trailer–I’m in it!–as well as video of my 2015 Connecticut ComiCONN Charlton panel with special guest Roy Thomas, Mort Todd, TC Ford, and filmmakers Keith Larsen and Jackie Zbuska).

The roster of talent we’ve been able to drag into our sick, corrupt little world…er, that is attract, includes (in alphabetical order, but we love you all!) Jeff Austin, Eduardo Barreto, Howard Bender, Rick Burchett, John Byrne, Jason Caskey, Sandy Carruthers, Chuck Dixon, Mike Collins, Nick Cuti, Jose Delbo, Jean-Emmanuel Dubois, Ron Fortier, P.D. Angel Gabriele, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Kevin S. Halter, Bradley Mason Hamlin, Dean Haspiel, Javier Hernandez, Tim Holtrop, Barbara Kaalberg, Gary Kato, Rob Kelly, Daerick Gross Sr., Pat Kennedy & Tim Kennedy, Batton Lash, Dev Madden, Frank McLaughlin, Cliff Mott, Jack Morelli, Andrew Mitchell, Michael Mitchell, Matt Hansel, Andrew Mitchell, Lou Mougin, David Noe, Pat Redding, Fernando Ruiz, Stephen Skeates, Bob Smith, Jack Snider, Rick Stasi, Joe Staton, Rene King Thompson, Steven Thompson, Ben Torres, Enrique Villagren, Ruben Vera, Neil Vokes, Matt Webb, Mark Wheatley, Larry Wilson…not to mention reprinting classic work by Jim Aparo, Pat Boyette, Steve Ditko, Joe Gill, and Jack Keller…and, of course, the contributions from Editor-In-Chief Mort Todd (in addition to doing all of Charlton Neo’s pre-production work, including lettering and coloring), Managing Editor Roger McKenzie, Assistant Editor Dan Johnson, Proofreader Jennifer King, and little ol’ Executive Editor me.

As for me, I’m knee deep into Charlton Neo. I’ve scripted almost two hundred pages of stories, ranging from superhero to Western to romance and funny animal…which brings us to The Charlton Arrow #4, just out from us good folk at Charlton Neo. It’s chock full of fun features, including my own debut of “Digger” Graves, Paranormal P.I. with the ridiculously talented Andrew Mitchell. Digger is the son of Dr. Graves, a classic Charlton Comics horror comics host and classic practitioner of the supernatural; his boy, Douglas “Digger” Graves is an up-to-date East Village hipster doofus who blends traditional magic with modern technology (“Dude, I’ve got apps to help me do my voodoo!”). Here’s what I wrote about “Digger” on the Charlton Neo blog almost exactly one year ago. (Oh, and since then, Roger McKenzie and Rodney Bennett have managed to come up with a concept for Yellowjacket that works. Watch for it!)

Be Original!


From The Charlton Arrow #4, “Digger” Graves, Paranormal P.I., page 2 by Andrew Mitchell

I gotta tell you, if I have to read another proposal for a revival of Yellowjacket, I’m going to scream. I mean…he was a hero who kept a bee in his freakin’ belt buckle that he would release to buzz around to befuddle the bad guys.

Look, it’s called the “Golden Age” not because of the overwhelming awesomeness of the majority of comic books published during it, but because like the classical “ages of Man’ from which the term was taken, it was the first period of comic books. Yes, there was some great stuff published during the period (you can argue among yourselves specifically which stuff that is), and it saw the birth of the form and the creation of some its greatest characters and the medium’s visual vocabulary, but most of Golden Age characters and stories pretty lame. The stories were simplistic, even nonsensical, and the art was often as not little better than a step above amateur. For every Spirit by Will Eisner or Plastic Man by Jack Cole, there were scores of Yellowjackets or Madame Fatals.

That’s not to say these lesser creations didn’t have a certain charm and appeal, even if most of them come off as having been created by inserting random nouns in front of “man” or “girl.” I can point to any number of features from that era that I’m really fond of and will happily reread for old time’s sake. But they are products of their time and place and don’t really work outside that historic context. What might have worked for the 8-year old reader or entertainment starved G.I. in 1944 is just plain silly for the (arguably) more sophisticated readers of today.

I walked into Julie Schwartz’s office circa 1983 once to find him shaking his head in disgust over the script he was reading. After first making sure that it wasn’t one of my scripts eliciting this reaction, I asked Julie what was wrong.

“It’s another one of those damned archaeologists,” he growled. (Julie was a world class growler.)


“One of those writers who are always digging up some fahcocktah old character and bringing them back instead of coming up with something original. And you know what they call me!” he declared.

I sure did: B.O. (Be Original) Schwartz.

While few editors had revived as many characters as Julie had in his career (The Flash, Green Lantern, Atom, Hawkman, to name a few), he would always reinvent them from the ground up instead of settling for a mere resurrection. And his reinventions were done not out of choice but under orders from his corporate bosses. Given his druthers, Julie would rather have created something like Adam Strange from scratch.

I don’t deny that early on, The Charlton Arrow (myself included) had some fun digging up the oldies from Charlton Classic to play with. But as we began evolving from TCA to Neo, we began to shift our focus from the old to the new. Roger McKenzie’s Spookman was already a ground up rebuild. My own Cheyenne Kid, Kid Montana, and Colonel Whiteshroud, Monster Hunter (coming up in TCA #4) stories were originally written for TCA before the Neo line and spin-off titles like Wild Frontier were even a gleam in our eyes. But going forward, neither Roger or I will be bringing back many Classic Charlton characters. We’re going to focus on our own creations, in the spirit of what came before, although not without the occasional nod to what came before (as with my upcoming Charlton Noir series, “Digger” Graves, Paranormal P.I., who is the son of Dr. Graves but as different from his old man as can be)…but leaving the past in the past, where it belongs.

So, do as we do and as B.O. Schwartz–arguably the greatest editor in the history of the medium–recommended: “Be Original.” And please…no more Yellowjacket.

Or Nature Boy either, come to think of it.

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And don’t miss these and other fine Charlton Neo titles (click on image to go to the Charlton Neo Order Page) and visit us at and on Facebook at Charlton Neo Comics:

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