among his many other claims to fame,
almost became a comic strip–named “JEAN SHEPHERD.”
He and the comic strip’s creator, John J. Roman,
had a syndicate’s contract in hand but it never happened.
Through my incomplete records of the early 2000s (the syndication attempt was dated early 1979), John had been listening to the audios of some Shep’ short commentaries for CBS radio and recording them. He drew some strips based on them and Shep agreed to the idea of a strip based on his monologs. John drew a couple of dozen strips and sent them to many strip syndicates, at least one of which sent a contract.
My remembrance of what John told me is that the syndicate wanted the right to alter some of Shepherd’s words in the strips–as one can imagine, Shep would not allow it–and the connection was terminated.
I asked John if I could reproduce a couple of the strips in my then-forthcoming book manuscript of my miscellaneous essays on Shep-subjects and he gave me permission. The book never happened, but I’m cannibalizing parts of the manuscript for my Shep blog. I recently tried contacting John with no success, but with his earlier permission, I feel it’s okay to reproduce the couple here.
In the proposal letter to syndicates,
one paragraph follows:
While this submission serves only as a basic sample to the strip, it truly demonstrates the applicability of Mr. Shepherd’s humor to a comic strip format. Considering the volume of material Jean Shepherd has produced in the past years, and having reviewed its applicability to this feature, we’ve concluded that years of material lie in wait for utilization for this strip. And in comparison to other strips on the market, we feel that none offer toe one to one bond between character and reader as Mr. Shepherd has proven so successful on his television shows, and as we have skillfully; adapted to this cartoon conception. Also, Shepherd has cast aside the nonsense gag that so many cartoonist rely on in favor of something to say…his commentaries on life today…and his nostalgic tours of yesterday.
(Click on image to enlarge)
SO CLOSE HE CAME!
He coulda been a contender!
Right up there with Pogo and Peanuts.
[Artwork copyright John Roman, used with permission.
Should John Roman encounter this, please contact me.]