Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Keenest Kaptain

In my last post, I mentioned a comic book I created, "Kaptain Keen & Kompany". Since I can be sure that nobody reading this ever saw this comic book, I thought I'd tell you about it.

Kaptain Keen was a character I made up in art school. He was a pretty typically goofy superhero. Not very inspired (Hey! I was eighteen). For his teenage sidekick, I paired him up with Mooseboy. I got to like to drawing these characters, and my friends seemed to enjoy them, especially Mooseboy. After art school graduation, I sort of forgot about The Kaptain and Mooseboy, as I was busy starting out on my "career". As some of you may recall from my previous posts, my "career" at the time consisted of drawing caricatures of tourists in a retail setting. 

Then, in the mid-eighties, 2 guys self published a black & white comic book called "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles". Maybe you've heard of it?
It was somewhat successful. Suddenly a whole bunch of small publishers became interested in publishing black & white comics, and the doors were flung wide open for a bunch of  would-be cartoonists to get their work published.  One day my good pal and fellow cartoonist Gary Fields called and asked if I wanted to collaborate on a comic book together and shop it around to publishers. He  already had a superhero character, "Super Swine", so we thought that pairing him up with Kaptain Keen would be a good idea, with each of us drawing half the book with our own characters. (I don't recall who came up with the title, but I think it was Gary, so if he got tired of drawing the same character all the time he could create a new one and we wouldn't have to change the title. Of course, this meant I was stuck drawing KK forever.) We made up
a proposal and sent it out to a bunch of publishers. Actually, Gary did most of the leg work, but I supported him all the way!

We were thrilled some time later when we heard from a publisher who was interested in publishing our comic book! We went right to work and a few months later, "Kaptain Keen & Kompany" #1 appeared in comic shops! We were so delighted. I was convinced we had "made it" and that the sky was the limit for my characters. I could just see them on their own TV show or movie, and their likeness on everything from toys to Happy Meal boxes. I was even more excited when a TV production company optioned the characters. I excitedly waited for the money truck to start pulling up on a regular basis.

My hopes were dashed when, after 5 issues, our book was cancelled. It seems there were too many publishers putting out books, hoping to cash in on the TMNT craze. There was a glut in the market and our poor little comic got lost in the shuffle. Oh, yeah, the TV producers decided not to make a show out of the book either.

We were disappointed, to say the least. I do have to say, however, that doing the book was one of the best times in my life, and the whole experience was a blast. I still find myself doodling the Kaptain & Mooseboy, but their time is past, and I'm afraid we'll never see them in print again.

If this exciting tale makes you wish you hadn't missed out on the fun, never fear. Dozens of online sellers have issues available for  purchase that, in a tribute to the book's popularity, are selling for a fraction of what they sold for twenty years ago!

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Blogger Steve Dooner said...


I am reading this and I have seen Captain Keen Comics. They were fantastic. Say, what was the name of the evil twin of Captain Keen again?

May 28, 2009 at 10:24 PM  
Blogger Bill White said...

Major Meen. Man, was I clever!

May 28, 2009 at 11:17 PM  
Blogger Pepper Potts said...

I think now is the time to resurrect your characters and shop them around again. I've seen the crap on Adultswim, and your stuff is way better! Never say never!

May 29, 2009 at 4:45 PM  
Blogger P.L. Frederick said...

I agree. If it's a character you enjoy drawing—especially with your skill and experience, you know what works by now—then you've got a winner. Do what you love and the money will follow. Eventually. Kindle, iPhone... it's a whole new world, baybee.

P.L. Frederick (Small & Big)

May 29, 2009 at 5:20 PM  
Blogger P.L. Frederick said...

Mooseboy kinda looks like Morning Me.

P.L. Frederick (Small & Big)

May 29, 2009 at 5:20 PM  
Blogger eeTeeD said...

"...Since I can be sure that nobody reading this ever saw this comic book..."

i both remember and bought the comic.

i enjoyed it very much, and i'm sorry that it did not bring you great success.

i had similar experiences back in the day. all you can do is move forward.

May 30, 2009 at 3:43 PM  
Blogger P.L. Frederick said...

Hi, Bill! I posted about you today. It's at Me, By Bill White.

P.L. Frederick (Small & Big)

June 2, 2009 at 8:57 PM  

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