Friday, December 28, 2012


Sci-Friday starring Adam Chase -- an Introduction

Way back in 2008, I wrote an Obscurity of the Day post about a very unusual strip. It was called Adam Chase, and it was a weekly color science fiction strip that appeared in the Eugene (OR) Register-Guard. The combination of local, color and science fiction is pretty much a trifecta of 100-1 shots in the world of newspaper strips, so I was very interested in contacting the creator, Russ Morgan, to find out more about his unique creation.

Occasionally when I publish a post asking a creator to come forward I get lucky. But that wasn't the case with Russ Morgan. Although I had what I believed to be a correct email address, the creator of Adam Chase remained stubbornly private. That is, he did until just a month or so ago.

Much to my delight, Russ Morgan finally stumbled across that old blog post (he'd never gotten my email) and sent me a gracious and friendly message offering any information I might want about the strip. Never one not to take a mile when an inch is offered, I found out that Russ had archived a set of his strips (which actually ran two years, not the one year I thought), and with very little arm-twisting I convinced him to loan them to me for scanning.

It turned out that the strip I had termed 'a wacky sci-fi romp' based on a few isolated sample strips was actually not a campy fantasy at all, but relatively serious science fiction. In other words, think Star Trek, not Lost in Space. But you don't have to take my word for it. Because starting today, every Friday on the Stripper's Guide blog are now Sci-Fridays, in which we can all enjoy an episode of Russ Morgan's Adam Chase!

Asked to provide some background on himself, Russ provided this succinct bio:
I started teaching myself to draw in high school and developed an interest in comic strips and science fiction.  In 1966, as a staff artist at his local newspaper, I offered the idea of Adam Chase to the editors and they bought it.  It ran for two years in color as a feature page in the Sunday newspaper's magazine, Emerald Empire.  After completing the strip, I opened my own graphics and advertising company, which I operated for 25 years.  Most recently, I returned to being a staff artist at a daily newspaper, the Bend Bulletin in Oregon and retired in 2010.  I play lots of golf, travel and restore classic Ford cars.
About Adam Chase, he had this to say:
Adam Chase ran for two years in a medium-sized Oregon daily newspaper with a circulation of about 35,000 at the time. I was a staff artist at the R-G doing ad art, maps, story illustrations, cartoons etc., but I also had an interest in sci-fi, rockets, space, etc.  I came up with the idea of the strip and pitched it to the editor.  He wanted to see an outline and some examples of my "comic strip" work.  I told him I'd do four or five panels and give him a two year story line.  When I presented it to all the editors, they bought it immediately and I was off to the races. They commented at the time that the R-G would probably be the only newspaper in the US with a strip of this kind all their own.   I did the comic strip on my own time and was paid separately from my regular job. It was part of the Sunday magazine and ran in color. It was printed thru the old technology of zinc engravings, mats and lead plates, which explains some of the poor quality and registration.  Some weeks, the printing plant might omit the red or blue plate.  I illustrated mainly with brush but used pen and ink for some detail.  Color overlays were produced on acetate, using zip-a-tone and black ink for color tints in C-M-Y.  I both wrote and illustrated the strip. I quit the strip because I left the Register Guard to go into business for myself, besides, it paid virtually nothing.  It was a labor of love.  I guess you could say that I was influenced by my imagination and passion to create something that would capture peoples' interest.  
Hopefully, as Sci-Fridays unfold Russ will find time to comment further upon his experiences doing a local science fiction strip in Oregon. But for now, let's get Sci-Fridays started with Adam Chase strip #1, originally published June 5 1966!

Copyright renewed (c) 2012 Russ Morgan. All rights reserved.


This promises to be great fun.
Hi Alan! I just came across your Adam Chase strips and was very happy to do so. I live in Eugene Or, and actually met Russ about 20 years or so ago. Wonderful to finally see more than a small sampling of these strips. I do think you should attempt to print as many of year 2 of the strip as you can, or they'll likely be lost to posterity.
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