Gil Kane’s body of work is as large as it is amazing. Highly influential, Gil Kanes’ impact will continue to grow. Sadly passed, one might think that there’s nothing new under the sun for Gil Kane fans.
There are uncollected Gil Kane gems out there that I hope will one day be published. I personally feel Marvels in total neglect having not released Kane’s Gulliver Jones (from Creatures on the Loose) work and his Savage Sword of Conan backup stories in a collection.
How about a collection of Gil’s syndicated Tarzan work? Maybe one day.
There is something rarer than those. English-speaking fans are in for a surprise. As a fan of Gil Kane, I discovered that Gil had a comic published in the highly influential French comic anthology, Tintin, by the name of Jason Drum.
If you already know about Jason Drum, keep reading, there’s more to the story! If you are new to Jason Drum, there is a reason why Jason Drum is elusive to English speakers!
As a comic book reporter, I always wanted to spotlight Jason Drum. Enter Jonas Vesterlund. While I had a number of articles I hoped to get published on Jason Drum, none came to fruition. Jonas approached the whole Jason Drum situation down another path. He contacted the likely publisher who might publish a translated Jason Drum: Fantagraphics.
In addition to being a great and impactful comic company, Fantagraphics has translated comics before. They also published Gil’s amazingly important Blackmark and His Name is Savage.
There’s another reason why Fantagraphics is the likely publisher for Jason Drum! Let’s find out below and discover what Jonas did and how YOU can help this worthwhile cause.
To even know about Jason Drum, you must be a big Gil Kane fan. How did you discover Gil Kane and who is Gil Kane to you?
Well, to be honest, I actually learned his name with Jason Drum, believe it or not. I knew of his art from Swedish language DC books, and Marvel covers, especially the Daredevil comics, but I was about 8 or nine at this time and did not know his name, but I knew his art.
You read Jason Drum first in Swedish. How did you come across Jason Drum and what publication did you read Jason Drum in?
One of the most popular comic books in Sweden was, and still is Lee Falk’s The Phantom. Back then it was a 68-page bi-weekly book in black and white. It always featured a 32-page Phantom story and 1-3 backup stories. These back-ups consisted of “the usual suspects” i.e. Flash Gordon and Mandrake, but also some other stuff including reprints of French-Belgian titles such as Lt. Blueberry, Bruce J. Hawker, and Bernard Prince. There would also be one-offs, and Jason Drum was such a one-off.
In the Swedish release, do you recall if the magazine promoted Jason Drum as a comic originally released in Tintin and or from Gil Kane?
Well, the issue featured a 2-page long article about Gil Kane, and that is how I learned the name of this guy who did the great Daredevil covers. They might have had an in-house ad in the previous issue, that was kind of the standard, but I cannot remember.
My main memory is finding this specific issue at my grandmother’s house one morning. It was actually my youngest aunt’s comic, and the art blew me away, and the story felt so different from the usual superhero stuff I was reading.
What are your top 5 Gil Kane memorable moments in comics for you?
In no particular order:
1.) The Daredevil covers – mainly because of nostalgia
2.) Blackmark Graphic Novel – I have the reprint from 20 years ago. So ahead of its time.
3.) The two-issue Green Lantern / Atom story in Legends of the DC Universe #28–29
4.) A Superman story I am embarrassed to say I do not know the name of. Earth is attacked by aliens and there are no superheroes, but the Man from Krypton “springs” out of the mind of two children.
5.) His Name is Savage
Fantagraphics is a great publisher for a lot of different reasons. Aside from being one of America’s most important comic publishers, what was the reason you went to Fantagraphics with your Jason Drum request?
I had read that Gil Kane’s friend Gary Groth of publisher at Fantagraphics discovered the full finished Jason Drum project, 44 pencils, and linked pages with dialogue. So I figured it could be a good idea to reach out to Fantagraphics, and at least let them know that there was one guy out there interested in reading the whole story.
What was Fantagraphic’s response?
They said they were actually considering it, and asked me to circle back in the summer. This was back in February or March, so in June, I will send them an email.
Why is this important to pursue and why should it be for Gil Kane fans?
I really would like to read the whole thing, and especially as Kane had envisioned. The published European version wraps up REALLY fast and is only 28 pages, and the last few pages are by Belgian artist Franz, who is doing his best Gil Kane impersonation, and he also indeed a few other pages, so from what I understand, the pages that Fantagraphics has is 100%, Gil Kane. (Joe Stanton did some un-credited work too, not sure if that comes into this at all).
As for other Gil Kane fans, well here is 44 pages that most of you have never read, and if you have read it (like me) we read a version that was not what he initially envisioned. This is the “Gil Kane Cut” so to speak.
If Fantagraphics comes through and makes Jason Drum a reality, this lends to an interesting question. Reading a possible English translation of a French comic that you read in Swedish should be interesting. Do you think on the basis of language and translation, there will be notable differences?
This is a huge question since there are nuances in language that can be close to impossible to translate, or “local” words, slang, and colloquialisms that can be hard to translate properly. I have lived in London. I also have spent most (but not all) of my time in the US in a small rural southern town. There are so many words that define a geographical area.
I assume the artwork Fantagraphics has is in English since Gil Kane wrote it, and while I assume he was bilingual, or possibly tri-lingual, I do not think he spoke French (maybe he did?), this will if anything be “clearer” if that makes any sense?
It’s already cool that you took the step to contact Fantagraphics. You also decided to take things a step further, hoping others will contact Fantagraphics. What can readers do to help make an English version of Jason Drum a reality?
Contact Fantagraphics and tell them you would buy a copy!
Being optimistic, I’m reserving a place in my Gil Kane collection for Jason Drum!
I applaud Jonas for trying to create a difference in comics. As it turns out this isn’t his first time. You helped the very talented and sorely missed Paul Ryan with a special project. One that shares a common synergy with Jason Drum. Talk about that.
This is back in the late ’90s, and I was on some comic book forum and Paul popped up and somehow I realized he was a Phantom fan. I told him about how popular Lee Falk’s creation is in Sweden. I had done an internship at the publisher about 6 years prior to this discussion, so I gave Paul the contact info and some pointers (make the Phantom himself look as close to Sy Berry’s version as you can, etc). He got a script rather fast, and the book still has what they call “Team Phantom” a team of writers and artists who take turns doing a few issues each every year. Paul did this for about 5 years. In 2015 he returned to the book to illustrate a “secondary timeline” where the current Phantom has disappeared and his children, the now-adult twins take over the costume. Sadly he only did the first issue before he passed away, way too early.
Thank you, Jonas. Your efforts with both Paul and with Jason Drum show how fans can help mold the industry. Props to Fantagraphics for responding back to Jonas. Many other publishers might not have, but should.
We are in this industry together. Fans, professionals, individuals, creative teams, companies, retail, wholesale.
Together the industry will move forward.
YOU CAN CONTACT FANTAGRAPHICS A NUMBER OF WAYS:
Lake City Way NE
Seattle, WA 98115
1 (800) 657 1100
END NOTES by Joeseph Simon
Various notes and ideas from my prior articles and research into Gil Kane’s Jason Drum
Gil Kane was being the classic fantasy story BlackMark and the fantasy-oriented Sword of the Atom for DC Comics. Roy Thomas’ and Gil Kane’s on Adapting “The Ring of the Nibelung” was amazing! Gil even co-wrote a paperback on Excalibur with John Jakes. He also illustrated Marvel’s John Carter of Mars and created DC’s Talos of the Wilderness Sea one-shot. Not to mention his work on Conan, Kull, Ka-zar, and his work on the Tarzan Sunday newspaper comic.
Gil had a fondness for the fantasy genre! As exciting as the above-listed titles are, there’s one missing: Jason Drum.
Originally published in the 1970s in the highly influential comics magazine TinTin, Jason Drum has been the subject of rumor and conjecture.
According to French comic creator Jean Depelley, Gil Kane met Belgium artist Greg (Michel Régnier) and then editor of the prestigious Franco-Belgium TinTin comic magazine. That meeting encouraged Kane to present his work to TinTin. Jason Drum was the result.
Jean’s researched Jason Drum for an article in Comic Book Artist #11 (Twomorrow’s Publishing). During Jean’s research, Jean indicates that Jason Drum is a creator-owned project. Furthermore, a project that has 44 pages of a complete story with full pencils, inks, and dialogue. In fact, the 44 pages of the complete story that Jean mentions were discovered at Fantagraphics during a request Jean made in researching his article. (Bravo to Jean!)
Various non-English editions have been printed in the ’70s and ’80s. Some in black and white and some in color.
Gil Kane sadly passed years ago. His creative works limited by his time on Earth and Jason Drum is part of the vibrant and exciting history that is Gil Kane. I hope Fantagraphics decides to publish this vital missing piece of Gil Kane’s creativity!
English-speaking audiences will then be able to finally read this missing classic story from the master comic creator Gil Kane! The rumor and conjecture surrounding Jason Drum can come to an end and the spot that I have reserved for Jason Drum can be filled!
Readers, if you count yourself a fan of Gil Kane and/ or the fantasy and sci-fi fantasy stories contact Fantagraphics and let them know you are behind their efforts to publishing Jason Drum as well.