This week I finished an enormous undertaking. I digitized every comic and comic-related sketch that my brother, Clint, and I made when we were kids. We ran our own little comic company called Splat Corporation, featuring funny, sci-fi, and classic super-hero stories. Clinton Dechand (1963-1992) was a very talented visual artist with a pleasantly goofy sense of humor. Five years older than me, this was his brainchild, but he kindly took me along for the ride. Splat comics feature about the same amount of material form both of us, but I strongly recommend you look to Clint's for your first impression. He was clearly gifted, inspired, and original.
Look to Mother Earth for Clint's innocent but clever wit and misadventures with the mischievous black hole. Then read stories of the Super Heroes of America in Cosmic Comics (and later Splat Spectacular) to see Clint's natural illustration and composition style, and abundant ideas.
To be fair, I did learn a thing or two from him, and I put a lot of time in as well. My most prominent characters were Peanut Man and Marvel Man. Marvel Man was typical Superman-Shazam stuff, as was a lot of my early copy-cat work. I imitated my big brother for the most part, especially with Crazy Land (not unlike like Kingdom of Honker Du) and Father Time (reminds me of Mother Earth -- just a little). When I came up with my own ideas, they were pretty off-beat, like Peanut Man, or the Edsel of the comics world, The Lava Squad.
I am grateful for my brother's patience and inclusion. He was clearly more talented as an artist, but kept me under his wing, as I gradually learned the skills. No doubt this built a solid foundation for my future endeavors as a composer: the ability to imagine something from nothing, then take the time to shape it into a real finished product. He never said an idea was too stupid or weird, but instead provided a solid foundation of encouragement and support. Creative teamwork was important too. Sometimes I'd write stories that he would then expertly draw. In later years, he'd have me ink his pencil drawings. In the next issue, my own drawings grew so that they had (relatively) more flow to them, and so on.
My dad helped us both by making copies at work of our comics to distribute to our friends. That added a real air of legitimacy, as well as an impetus to produce more. Eventually, Clint got a gig with our hometown paper, The Bloomfield Zip, to publish a monthly comic. Even though my participation had since waned, he still used my character Peanut Man. Peanut Man became very popular for his peculiar, non-linear thoughts and actions. His title eventually became The Unpredictable Peanut Man (a la Spectacular Spider Man). If anyone our there ever stumbles across these comics from that long-forgotten newspaper, please send them my way.The quality varies a lot, so I have chosen some favorites. The archives include outtakes, rough drafts, and sketches that reveal the creative process. We worked long and steady on these for something like four years (1977-1981), so there's plenty to explore.