An adventure strip which is historically accurate takes a lot of work, according to Writer Lloyd Wendt and Artist Dick Fletcher of “Jed Cooper, American Scout,” Chicago Tribune–New York News Sunday comic.
Months of research were needed before Jed Cooper could return from an Indian campaign to his home town, Philadelphia. Months more will be required before Jed goes to Colonial New York and Boston, they say. The collaborators, co-workers at the Chicago Tribune, chose the early American scene for their strip to accent the inspiration in stories of American beginnings.
But both are qualified to produce the four-color comic about a rugged young scout and his French-Canadian friend, Jacques Pierrot. Mr. Wendt did his MS thesis on Colonial history while at Northwestern. Mr. Fletcher, a canoeist and judo expert, has a hobby of collecting Indian lore.
But even so, the pair had to delve deep for the strip prospectus and the creation of characters. Mr. Fletcher, who was once assistant to Carl Ed on “Harold Teen,” made sketches in various museums and pored over old drawings. He now has acquired a number of Colonial etchings and drawings. Mr. Wendt says he has read a small library of diaries, manuscripts, and rare books relating to Indians and early settlers. In addition he’s done a lot of travelling—over country scouted by the strip hero. Another tool they use is some rare maps of Colonial America. As a result, they claim authenticity of clothing, weapons, household utensils, homes and even villages and cities in the strip.
“We hope the cartoon story will be welcomed in the schools because of its authenticity,” says Mr. Fletcher. “However we consider our first job is to create an interesting story. Jed Cooper’s exploits happen against a background of real history. We don’t make a point of the history, but it’s there, and the kids seem to get a kick out of it.”
In the interests of the strip, Mr. Fletcher is busy studying Delaware Indian villages, and Mr. Wendt is trying to learn Leni-lenap, the language of the Delawares.
The strip started in the Tribune Nov. 13, goes into third-page size April 30.