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







About Tony

The occasional scribblings of Tony DePaul, 63, father, grandfather, husband, freelance writer in many forms, ex-journalist, long-distance motorcycle rider, motorcycle wrecker, motorcycle rebuilder, collector of surgical hardware, blue routes wanderer, outdoorsman, topo map bushwhacker, handy with a wrench, hammer, chainsaw, rifle, former photographer, printer, logger, truck driver, truck mechanic, jet fueler… blah blah...
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14 Responses to This and That

  1. Peter says:

    I enjoyed the recap of the current daily story, and thanks for confirming the identity of Crazy Z’s ack ack gun. I guess you must tell Manley what sort of man-made objects you want in the story and maybe even send him a visual reference. Identifying guns, vehicles etc gives the people who comment something to do with their time. The Phantom strip’s strength is the believable physical world he inhabits and an artist who can draw it must be invaluable. The outlandish aspects of the strip all come from the characters and plot which is your department. I really liked General Alarm, the proprietor of the diner who I thought must have spent too much time out in the sun……..until I met Savior Z. I now realize that the General is merely an endearing eccentric. One of your most memorable incidental characters and the screen-time you allowed him was well worth it. It was a shame though about the little teen in the skirt and boots. Just when we were all getting interested in her. All is not lost however. We haven’t seen any corpses yet and there’s still time for another plot twist.

    • Tony says:

      “General Alarm!” Haha! I like that, Peter. Yeah, the supporting characters are fun to write. One of these days I’ll get around to filling in Derwood “Buzz” Apple’s history, how he stayed in Africa after serving with the USAF in Djibouti. I think Buzz Apple probably knows The Driver, the helicopter pilot who gave the Phantom a lift out to Walker’s Table. They’re probably pals. ‘Cause it’s a small world, as you know. Similar military history, except The Driver went home. Why didn’t Buzz go home to Texas…? I’ll have to noodle on that.

      • Peter says:

        You’re already halfway there with Derwood. Hope you’re writing down all that great back story on an index card! It would be great if you can give him a role in a future story. The readers I know seem to like him and enjoyed his attempt to be friendly with the Bandar messengers. Stony indifference does not begin to describe the reaction of Babudan and his band.
        Lets see now, Buzz couldn’t go home because his girlfriend and his wife found out about each other? Nah, too on the nose. I’m sure you will think of something better.

  2. Laura says:

    You seem to be flowing just fine with the writing, Dad. Interesting read. Happy to see a new post.

    • Tony says:

      Thanks, my Laur. What I was stumped on yesterday was a TV series pitch on the GlideGirl script. Jenna can tell you about that. Will give it another whirl today.

  3. Jon Brush says:

    As usual, El Fantom is great. As for the brake job, now I know why the Ford has no fenders. Makes getting at the undercarriage that much easier. Lol

    • Tony says:

      Very true, Jon, it’s a snap to work on. The only bad wheel is the left rear, the shoes are pretty juicy, but while the truck is up in the air with the wheels off, drums off, it makes sense to go through it, new shoes & wheel cylinders all around, new fluid, good to go.

  4. helzapoppn says:

    In the 12/20 strip, I’ve speculated your spaceships were inspired by the Shivans from the classic PC games “Freespace” and “Freespace 2.”

    Do I get a No-Prize?

    • Tony says:

      Hmm, I don’t know the answer to that. I’ll see if Mike Manley wants to comment.

      My script described the panel this way: “an armada of sinister alien ships in space, behind the moon. Put Phantom motifs on the ships if you like, either as emblems, or maybe even incorporate them into the ships’ design.”


      Okay, got an answer for you from Mike. No video game inspiration involved. “No the ships were just scribbled out and then I drew some skull shapes on them to make them fit with Savior Z’s crazy ideas.”

  5. DeRol says:

    But you may also consider another option just about 20 miles south in the Navajo town of Kayenta, Arizona, Navajo Nation. There are several hotel and restaurant options in Kayenta and there is also one other very unique and powerful attraction at the local Burger King and it isn’t the Whopper; It is the Navajo Code Talkers Display. Somewhat hidden within the restaurant is this powerful display that portrays the enormous value of the courageous Navajo men who helped America win the war in the Pacific. In just one famous battle, The Battle of Iwo Jima six Navajo code talkers worked around the clock sending and receiving over 800 messages.

    • Tony says:

      Thanks for the heads-up on that. I’ve been through Kayenta on the motorcycle, never knew about the tribute to the Code Talkers. Next time I’ll definitely stop and see it. The role they played in the Pacific is an incredible story. There was a movie about it some years ago. One thing I remember from it is that the Navajo soldiers were really speaking a code within a code, that when talking about Japanese tanks they would use the Navajo word for turtle.

  6. Thomas Askjellerud says:

    It`s a lot of confused Phantom readers on Locust story. Why did Locust tricked Savior Z into Walker`s Table in the beginning? Hadn`t he done that he had not become a cult leader. So what was the hole point? And why was he far away in the desert? A fugitive? Just having som fun making a sequel from your 1997 Egmont-story?

    • Tony says:

      Hello, Thomas. Did the Locust appear in the Semic/Egmont books? That’s stretching the old brain cells… All I can recall offhand is writing him for the newspapers in 2004. Yes, well it’s an old saw that prophets and madmen wander the desert at some point in their careers, so that’s what Savior Z was doing out there. The Locust merely intended to do a good turn and lead Savior Z to water, he never intended for Savior Z to climb into the lift and claim Walker’s Table as his own. Typical megalomaniac, give him an inch and he’ll take a mile.

  7. Thomas Askjellerud says:

    Yeah, and it was Bonnier back then.

    Anyway, this story will be more discussed when published. Long live The Phantom!

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