Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Obscurity of the Day: Jon Jason

When Elmer Wexler got back from the war, he seems to have been rarin' to start up a new comic strip to replace the one he left behind, Vic Jordan. Wexler had gotten in barely five months on the feature, which appeared primarily in Newspaper PM, before he entered the Service for World War II.

On his return, Wexler pretty much took up where he left off. Vic Jordan, his old strip, had been cancelled in 1945 after going through a number of creative hands, but Wexler's new strip, Jon Jason, basically read as if Vic Jordan had come back from the war and was now hunting Nazis more as a hobby.

The series only lasted one year, from February 4 1946 to February 8 of the following year. It was daily-only, as were most Newspaper PM strips, and had about as much success as other strips from that newspaper in syndication -- that is, darn little.

As to the content of the strip, well, I'm perhaps not the best informed source.  Although I have a substantial number of strips from the series (about 50), they are from scattered dates. From what I can gather, Jon is a Marine pilot back from the war, and his day job is portrait painter and illustrator for the magazine International Woman. Somehow he seems to continually stumble on hidden Nazis and run off to exotic adventures tracking them down. Late in the series he hooks up with a gorgeous lady reporter, who gets him started on his adventures in a more plausible manner. However, according to Ron Goulart in The Funnies, Jason was a private detective, and of that plot device I see no evidence. But that doesn't mean Goulart has it wrong. See, the thing is, the strip's major failing is that there never seems to be any attempt to recap or bring readers up to speed on the story. Woe to the reader who misses seeing the strip for a few days, or the new reader who would like to jump in. I can well believe that Jason was a private dick in addition to a 'cover' job as an illustrator and I just haven't read any episode in which that comes up.

I have a run clipped from a Google News Search paper, that is so bad, that I haven't dared run it. But you are welcome to it, if you want to read more. Wexler is interesting to me, because he was a major force at Johnstone and Cushing, but I have veru little to determine his style on - and the adwork he did was almost always unsigned (I have one signed piece).
Hi Ger --
I don't have any overwhelming desire to read the entire continuity of the strip, but I sure would like to see the first week or two. I can't imagine Goulart got it wrong about the premise of the strip, and I'd like confirmation that Jason was indeed set up as a detective of some sort.

Thanks, Allan
My samples are later and I see from your recent post that you have found the Google Search paper where I got mine.... so I am guessing if they are there you will have found them?
Alex Jay discovered those on Google News Archive, not me. That interface is so infuriating that I avoid it as much as possible. Case in point -- search for Jon Jason and you find him on a selection of dates in the Daily Times. Great. Now limit the search to the dates you're interested in -- no results. Try dates that JUST showed up in the search -- no results. Aaargh!!

You are lucky to even have the search function. They killed that in Europe. I have to go through papers day by day and sometimes the day before that when a paper that supposedly isn't there is placed with the paper before that! But I did find a sweet set of George Tuska Scorchy Smith strips that I had never seen anywhere, not even here! I'll send you some Jon Jason if I come across it.
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