This and That


EVER LOSE A whole day? Tons of work to do but it’s just not happening?

That was my day today. The scribbling was work work work with no flow state to be had. When you achieve flow you’re a time traveler; look up from the work thinking an hour has passed and you’re pleasantly surprised to learn that three or four hours have slipped by.

Wasn’t gonna happen for me today. So instead of powering through I went motorcycle riding instead. Rode both the bikes, the piglet and the iron piggy, for a combined 50 or 60 miles. It was brisk at 75mph on the highway. The temp was  30-something and the wind wicked. Which is good. It  blows the sand off the road.


Here’s what the Ghost Who Walks is up to in the Sunday papers. He’s spiriting a hard case out of Boomsby Prison, the old colonial citadel. When they lock you up and throw away the key in Bangalla, Africa, you’re in Boomsby, Moe. Abandon all hope.

The Phantom knows a secret way in and out of the prison. In this story Jeff Weigel and I are showing the readers exactly how he does it.

First you go upstairs, which is counter-intuitive; up to the old death house where even the guards are too spooked to go. The old-time gallows is up there, and a few decommissioned electric chairs.

I stole that final line of Phantom dialogue. It’s one that the bride’s always using on me.

The Phantom has blindfolded the prisoner (we call him The Rat) because the guy’s coming back to Boomsby after he leads the Phantom to a fugitive whose days of escaping justice are numbered.

That’s our through-line, allegedly; what readers think is going on. They’ll just have to wait and see, I’m writing this one as we go.


In the daily strip, the Phantom has been felled by a concussion grenade atop Walker’s Table, his secret hideaway in the New Mexico desert. The butte stands 1,000 feet above the desert floor. A delusional cult leader who calls himself Savior Z has amassed his youthful followers there to do battle with a race of supermen from space. He tells them the ships are hiding on the dark side of the moon, preparing to land troops on Walker’s Table.

It’s a mind-control story. Plenty of that going around these days.

Mike Manley’s art, as always, is brilliant.

As the Phantom buzzes Walker’s Table on his way to his favorite airfield, he discovers that someone’s up there.

The culties try to knock his vintage DH88 out of the night sky. They’ve got a big ack-ack gun up there, in addition to the usual small arms. It’s a Soviet ZU-23, fires 23mm shells.

The Phantom lands his plane at the airfield and catches a helicopter ride back out to Walker’s Table. To spare the helicopter pilot the same hostile welcome, the Phantom bails out and flies the last four miles via wingsuit.

He whups them good, ’cause that’s his job. He rolls the big gun over the side and disposes of the cult’s rifles, shotguns and pistols. But his night goes awry when he trips a booby trap Savior Z set for any followers who might start thinking for themselves and boogie off into the desert night.

While unconscious, the Phantom thinks he’s in the Himalayan city where his son, the 22nd Phantom-in-waiting, has gone for his secondary education.

The Phantom realizes something’s wrong when he notices the townspeople pay no attention to his getup. A Phantom costume isn’t something you see every day, you know.

Savior Z decrees that his followers should roll the unconscious Phantom over the edge. They need him out of the way because they’re going to have their hands full when the space army lands.

So here they roll him toward the edge and a 1,000-foot drop.

Things take a turn when the Phantom sees locusts buzzing about. That’s a sign that they’ve all got a visitor, a character I created in a story published in 2004. It’s a mysterious Navajo shaman and shape-shifter who styles himself after the creator god of Navajo myth, called, yeah yeah, The Locust!

Then locusts by the millions… swarms that land on the culties like big ocean breakers…

But over the edge they go.

It’s not to be…

The Phantom builds a fire and awaits a human appearance by The Locust. He doesn’t like the guy’s methods.

Can’t tell you the ending tonight. That won’t be published until February 17.


Meanwhile, as we say in the funny papers, I need to make time to do a brake job on the ’49 truck. Here it is on jack stands next door. Our neighbor Steve volunteered the free work space in his driveway. He doesn’t park his car in the garage. That handy-dandy old porch cushion sure beats kneeling on frozen ground.

This was a few days ago. That dusting of snow is gone. More coming on Thursday, according to Accuwildassguess Weather.

Brake parts are supposed to get here Thursday, too.

Tony DePaul, February 5, 2018, Cranston, Rhode Island, USA






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