Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Mystery Strips: Navajo Canyons

I picked up a set of 1972 proof sheets on eBay awhile back for a strip called Navajo Canyons. I received the first two two Sunday strips, which tell traditional Navajo folk tales, and the first week of a daily strip about a Native American named Johnny Navajo who has been educated in a white school and is now returning to his family out west.

There is nothing particularly mysterious about a set of tryout strips that never got published, but there is one aspect of these that piqued my interest. Note that the Sunday strip above includes an NEA copyright slug in the final panel. That would seem to indicate that the strip was, at the least, picked up by the syndicate and marketed to their clients. Is that as far as it got?

Credited creators are Jason Chee and G. Johnson. I find several Jason Chees in a Google search, including a Native American-inspired artist, but no current contact info. If Jason happens to read this, how about telling us what happened to your Navajo Canyons?


Love the art.
I remember talking about this strip with writer Glen Johnson. At the time it was created Johnson was a teacher at the Intermountain Indian School in Brigham City, Utah. (In those days young Navajo children were shipped to Utah and boarded at the school. The practice was dropped and the school was closed sometime in the early seventies.)

Glen, who collected comic books, was working with several creators, Will Eisner among them, to create work books featuring the comic strips. The children would read the strip on one page, and on the facing page would answer questions about what they read.

Glen had written to the NEA Syndicate looking for permission to use an Alley Oop sequence as a workbook, and the Syndicate thought a strip about the Navajos would be interesting. Glen got a friend, Jason Chee, to draw it, but the Syndicate rejected his art. I remember seeing some other versions of the strip done by Creig Flessel. That version didn't sell to newspapers either.

This all happened about 1970. I haven't talked to Johnson in years, but I believe my memories of the events to be substantially correct.
You've got quite the memory, Pappy! Thanks for filling us in about Navajo Canyons.

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