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The "Little Freddy" feature contains mildly fictionalized but mostly true tales of yours truly growing up in the sixties and reading funnybooks during the period that has come to be known as The Silver Age of Comics.
There. That SHOULD be enough information for you folks to go on, but that realization won't deter me from digging deep, exhuming all available background facts, and, well, going on. And so...
The genesis of "Little Freddy" (the comic strip, not the person) began, as things sometime do in the exciting and unpredictable life of a freelance cartoonist, with a phone call out of the blue. Who's on the other end of that ringing phone? A telemarketer? One of my daughter's friends? Or some stranger about to offer me the opportunity of a lifetime? Okay, okay-maybe I'm being overly dramatic ("maybe"?...), but it was some guy I never heard of and he WAS offering me a job!?!... In my life, THAT passes for excitement.
Seems as if this fella had bought the rights to the long dormant name, "The Comic Reader". TCR, as it was affectionately known, was an amateur publication that, for several decades, focused on reporting breaking news in the comics business. With that function being filled more than adequately elsewhere-not the least ways here on the Internet-this newly minted publisher planned to take what he felt was a very commercial name and use it for a flashy, general interest zine for comics fans. Okay. If that's what he wants. And he desired MY involvement. Hey, who am I to argue? Here's a man who obviously knows what he wants-except, he didn't know EXACTLY what he wanted. He wanted something about comics, natch, and he wanted something like my "Dateline:@#$%" feature that was then currently running in Comics Buyers Guide and Comic Book Artist, but he wanted it to be different, too. Since he offered me a reasonable, if hardly extravagant fee, it was the format that sold me on the idea: up to four pages a month, on glossy paper, and in color!! Toiling as long as I have in single page installments printed in black and white, this change of venue greatly appealed to me. So, promising to come up with some great new strip worthy of all these extra elements, I hung up on my new best friend-and almost immediately had a brainstorm! A kids strip!! Take just a cursory look around this site and you'll quickly realize how fond I am of that particular genre! And back in July of 1999, when I was initially contacted, "Petey" was in Marvel limbo and KIDZ was up on the self, with no imminent possibility of coming down off it. So why not do something that'd combine my love of old comics and my love of kids strips? Why not take tales of my misbegotten youth, nose stuck inside a Marvel or DC classic, jazz things up just a little for dramas sake (though all events depicted are essentially true-honest), call the thing "Little Freddy" and voila! There's my strip! It was a natural, and my new employer seemed as happy with it as I was when I hastily called him back to inform him that, yes, inspiration had struck. A happy story, no?

Well, no.

Although several issues of "The Comic Reader" were solicited in the Diamond distributors catalog, none were ever published. Not enough orders to justify the expenditure. During that first conversation, I'd wondered to myself if the market really needed another comics magazine, as there were currently at least a half dozen high quality well established ones for buyers to chose from. The answer to that question apparently was a resounding "no". After the moneyman bailed out, the editor he hired tried valiantly to scrape up enough cash to publish it himself, but to no avail. There was even some talk of a web version, but that also never amounted to anything. Of course, gearing up for monthly publication, none of this could be known beforehand, so I produced four episodes before I was told to wait and see before proceeding with the next installment. Ironically, that next installment came several years later and is the only one to see the light of day prior to the unveiling of the original four here. Needing a strip for the 22nd issue of Jon Cooke's fine COMIC BOOK ARTIST magazine dealing with the topic of Gold Key Comics, I resurrected the "Little Freddy" concept for a single pager concerning the Dell/ Gold Key split. That page will no doubt find it's way here somewhere down the road, but for now it's time for the initial pages to finally see the light of day.

The four-page debut installment details how I fell into this whole comics mania and though I tried my best to cover the subject with excruciating thoroughness, there is one very important step I left out. Indulge me for a bit, but it's a crucial key in the progression of events, and I kicked myself time and again when I realized that I'd left it out. Y'see, after my first encounter with Superman's imperfect double, Bizarro, but before I went out and actually bought a DC Comic on my own, my school chum Chucky showed me a copy of SUPERMAN#145 which featured the infamous "The Night of March 31st". Also known as the Great Boo Boo Contest, this short story was just that-the reader who spotted the most intentional mistakes contained therein won some sort of prize. Full of goofy visual non sequiturs, it was silly and surrealistic at the same time, and appealed to my skewed sensibilities. Upon hearing that Bizarro had earned his own series, as depicted in my cartoonography, I was then moved to seek out my own Superman family comics, but I never would've gotten to that point without that wacky April Fool's story (the story begins with Clark falling asleep on the night of March 31st, and eventually the rest of the story is revealed to be a dream, a dream occurring in the wee hours of the morning of, yup, April 1st!! They don't make 'em like editor Mort Weisinger anymore...). There. I had to get that off my chest. Thanks for humoring me.
After that you'll find three two pagers, the first concerning my life long love of the art of Steve Ditko and how I briefly brought one of his scenarios to the stage. Next you'll find a tribute to my beloved grandmother and how her well meaning attempts to improve my mind with Classics Illustrated comics instead just wound up scaring me. Lastly, we look at the comic that almost split up a friendship: SWING WITH SCOOTER!?!
I enjoyed putting these little vignettes together tremendously, but right now, I have no new episodes planned. Due to their fact-based nature, they require more effort in attempting to make the reality of the situation as entertaining as if it were fiction. Still, I've got me plenty of self-indulgent tales left to tell, so I'm not ruling out a return to the magical land known as Yaphank sometime in the future. In the meantime, make of these what you will.

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