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What Might Have Been – Bruce Lee, Peanuts, X-9

 

Almost ten years after the death of Bruce Lee the Los Angeles Times Syndicate tried distributing The Legend of Bruce Lee comic strip. (Comic strip syndicates have never been renowned for quickly latching onto pop culture phenomena.) The strip was written by Sharman DiVono and drawn by Fran Matera and Dick Kulpa, and lasted a bit more than a year (1982 – 83).

But in 1977 famed comic strip creators Milton Caniff and Noel Sickles teamed to produce a Bruce Lee strip under their old pseudonym Paul Arthur.

Word is that Milton Caniff soon gave up on the project because, instead of letting Milton do his magic, the syndicate insisted on continually tinkering with it.

 

 

Also about that mid 1970s time Charles Schulz and United Feature Syndicate were negotiating a new contract. At a time when the newish Universal Press Syndicate was giving cartoonists the rights to their creations Schulz was seeking a bit of that same consideration. The head of the syndicate, however, was not willing to sign away any part of the Peanuts goldmine. In fact the UFS President hired another cartoonist to work up a few weeks of Peanuts strip, either as a negotiating tool or to actually replace Schulz no one is sure.

Al Plastino a comic strip (and comic book) artist and writer, who had drawn everything from Superman and Batman to Ferd’nand and Nancy, was hired to do the replacement strips. Fortunately UFS and Schulz were able to work it out and the Peanuts comic strip remained forever as a Charles Schulz, and only Charles Schulz, creation. Almost all the Plastino strips were destroyed but a few remain. Jean Schulz shows a few more dailies at a page where the whole story is told.

 

 

I have made no secret that I think Eduardo Barreto has been the best realistic comic strip artist of this (still young) century. His Judge Parker and The Phantom work was exceptional.

 

In 2011 he died far too early.

He had plans for other comic strips.

A western (you may have to scroll past some cheescake there)

 

and a revival of Secret Agent X-9!

What might have been!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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