Not Clowning Around
♦ Tripwire’s contributing writer Scott Braden gives us his latest in his series of features on comic stories or series that never happened. This week it’s the turn of Alan Kupperberg’s Evil Clown Comics …
Alan Kupperburg’s Evil Clown Comics
While acclaimed writer Paul Kupperberg was thrilling fans with four-color adventures of DC Comics’ Superboy and Supergirl, as well a whole host of other characters, his late brother Alan was giving a thrill of a different kind to mature readers everywhere with his and Nick Bakay’s “Frenchy the Evil Clown” strips for National Lampoon. Almost three decades after the devil clown’s last appearance in the now defunct mag, the celebrated comics scribe is releasing a collection of once “Lost Tales” within the pages of Alan Kupperberg’s Evil Clown Comics.
What’s the secret origin behind Frenchy the Evil Clown? Is it true that he’s a nastier, earlier version of Marvel Comics’ Obnoxio the Clown?
“Frenchy the Clown’s origins are shrouded in a haze of clown white, talcum powder, and cheap lube,” Paul Kupperberg said, “but his adventures first appeared in the National Lampoon in the classic five-pager, ‘Weekend Rampage’ in in June 1988…which, true to Frenchy’s timing, was well past the magazine’s peak. But it was writer Nick Bakay who translated the clown’s adventures into the stories, all illustrated by Alan Kupperberg.
“Frenchy’s claims and restraining orders to the contrary, Marvel Comics’ Obnoxio the Clown, created by Larry Hama, predates him by several years, having debuted in Crazy Magazine in 1980.”
Frenchy the Evil Clown haunted the pages of National Lampoon during the late-80s and early-90s. What can Kupperberg tell me about his brother’s time with that famous magazine? How did Alan get his start there?
“Frenchy made seven appearances in NatLamp between June 1988 and September 1991,” Kupperberg said, “but Alan had been contributing to the magazine for at least a half dozen years before that. My guess is he had something on one of the editors, but what do I know? Truthfully, we weren’t that close, so my knowledge of the details of Alan’s career is sparse. There was a reason he was so good at creating evil clowns.”
Frenchy was a clown’s clown. Any idea how many women the evil clown bedded during Alan’s run on Evil Clown Comics?
“According to Frenchy,” Kupperberg laughed, “that number would be, ‘All of ‘em!’”
This is one collection that fans have waited for in anticipation for years! What made Kupperberg decide to release it now?
“When Alan died in 2015,” Kupperberg explained, “I was the next-of-kin to receive his worldly possessions, including his original art. There was a lot of unpublished material in that four tall stack of art, including scores of commissioned covers and sketches, cover recreations, pin-ups, and several unpublished stories, done either for publishers that didn’t use them or as private commissions for clients. I’ve been selling the art on eBay and elsewhere, but I made high-rez scans of everything before I sent if off to its new owners. With Mort Todd at Charlton Neo Comics, I published two of those commissioned stories as Super-Gorillas vs. The All-American Victory Legion (MortTodd.com) in full color.
“A few months ago, I realized I actually had enough art to put together a series of black-and-white, DIY comic books, which I’m putting out under the Buffalo Avenue Comics banner. I started out by reprinting the 1970s ‘ground-level comics’ funny animal strip Alan co-created with Howard Chaykin, ‘On the Skids’ from Mike Friedrich’s QUACK! Comics (which included five never-before-published pages edited out of the final story to turn the 10-pager into a seven-pager), and Alan Kupperberg’s All-American Victory Legion and Superhero Coloring Book, making use of the pin-ups and cover commissions.
“And since Frenchy is one of Alan’s most memorable creations, I decided to gather up as much of the material as I could and put it between a couple of covers. Evil Clown Comics features all seven of the original Bakay/Kupperberg National Lampoon appearances, as well as two Frenchy two-pagers, ‘Mister Johnson Comes A Calling’ and ‘Three on a Clown’ that are being printed here for the first time. The comic also includes a series of columns and text pages, ghosted for the nasty clown by Alan, as well as spot illos, ad parodies…and a brand-new cover, penciled by Alan and freshly inked by the talented and lovely Keith Champagne, and colored by Carl Morgans. And, and so I don’t have to listen to him whine about not being mentioned, Robert J. Sodaro’s Freelance Ink is doing the production and design of Buffalo Avenue Comics.”
Was Kupperberg’s brother, Alan, proud of his work on the strip?
“I think he was,” Kupperberg said. “I think it shows in the effort and detail he put into these stories.”
Was Kupperberg able to collect Alan’s complete run with Evil Clown Comics – or are there still stories waiting to be published?
“This is, as far as I know, it.,” Kupperberg revealed.
As one of the comics industry’s most acclaimed writers, what did Paul Kupperberg think his brother’s Evil Clown Comics? Did he feel a sense of pride in Alan’s unorthodox work?
“I don’t know if ‘pride’ is the right word,” Kupperberg said. “But knowing his sense of humour (closer to mine than I feel comfortable admitting . . . blame our father; we inherited his wicked, often sharp sense of humour), he must have had a ball breaking all the rules and creating massively inappropriate comic stories.”
What projects is Kupperberg currently working on – and what forthcoming projects are in his immediate future?
“I plan to put together more Buffalo Avenue Comics,” Kupperberg added, “featuring unpublished or long out of print material by Alan as well as from my own career. Elsewhere, I currently have two online miniseries up on Comixology from Archie Comics, Rogue State and The Golden Pelican, as well as comics from Charlton Neo Comics, like Lost Jungle Tales (the subject of an earlier “Lost Tales” for its previously unpublished Pat Boyette stories), and books from Crazy 8 Press (Crazy8Press.com). I’m also shopping around a memoir and a couple of young adult novels, and, of course, working on new projects.
“Buffalo Avenue Comics doesn’t have a website yet, but to contact me for information or to order copies of Evil Clown Comics, On the Skids, or Alan Kupperberg’s All-American Victory Legion and Superhero Coloring Book, at [email protected]”
Lost Tales©2019 Scott Braden. All Rights Reserved