April 22, 2024 - Visit for Previous Episodes by Clicking on Most Recent Comic Strip above.

Monday, March 25, 2024

"New" THRILL SEEKER COMICS character is actually an "Old" character I created over 20 years ago...

The new character, Gapefmouf’ Dudley, co-starring in the new THRILL SEEKER COMICS series featuring MS. TITTENHURST: FINDER OF LOST THINGS is actually an “old” character that I created twenty years ago for an unpublished THRILL SEEKER COMICS story focusing on the origin of YELLOW JACKET: MAN OF MYSTERY entitled “Nobody Loves You When You’re Down and Out”. He’s been rattling around in my head these past few decades and I finally found another story to place him in that made sense and works. I’m really enjoying the chance to showcase the character.

I do have plans to tell this tale with Gapemouf’ Dudley in an upcoming THRILL SEEKER COMICS ANTHOLOGY about the first time that George Clark put on the yellow fedora, mask and striped trenchcoat. He comes to the aid of our Mystery Man who is launching his vigilante career and gives him some well-needed advice. I digress. A story for another day.

Gapemouf’ Dudley is a fictional character that is an old Mississippi bluesman that plays a blues harp (aka harmonica) – which I haven’t shown him playing yet – again I digress. Forget that he is missing his two front teeth and is blind in one eye, he still wears a toupee when he is out and about underneath his Trilby short-brimmed fedora. 

The inspiration to Gapemouf’ Dudley actually comes from something in my real life. My Granddaddy McCullar was from Batesville, Mississippi and lived in various towns in the area including Pope, Mississippi and Clarksdale, Mississippi where my Daddy was born.

Back in the early 1980’s when I was a boy living in Illinois, my parents sent me to stay with my grandparents in Memphis for a few weeks one summer. It was probably one of the best experiences of my life now looking back in retrospect getting to know my family a little better. On my mother’s side, I stayed a few days with my Aunt Eyvette and got to learn about snapping green beans. Thankfully, between chores and being forced to eat my vegetables, my cousin Robert let me play with his vintage G.I. Joe collection – which was AWESOME! Again, I’m digressing…

But on that trip, one day, my Granddaddy put me in his pick up truck and said to me that we were going down to Mississippi to see his old stomping grounds. He wanted to show me where he grew up and where my “kin” were from. I remember going down and spending a little time fishing at Sardis Dam near Bateville as he sipped on his beer in a paper bag. A little later that day, he was driving around and wanted to show me near his old home. If memory serves me correctly, he was telling about his own father who had a sawmill. I had heard a tale once that my great-grandfather had accidentally cut his finger off at the sawmill – but I never knew what to believe as he died before I was born.

As were driving around out in the country, he pulled off into the backwoods on a dirt road. Where they heck were we going?!?!

He then drove towards an old tar shack deep in the woods that looked abandoned. Haunted. He told me that this shack belonged to an old black man and his wife that worked for his father at the sawmill. He told me that when he was a boy, the man’s wife was pregnant and was going into labor. My grandfather saw what was happening and went to fetch his father and a doctor. My memory is a little hazy, but that is the story that I remember from my childhood. Granddaddy pointed at the window of the beat up tar shack and said that he went up to the window to peek in and saw the baby being born.

I don’t think he expected to happen what happened next… but maybe he did.

He started to walk around the house just a bit and the door opened to the tar shack. Then an old black man appeared that to my eyes looked about 100 years old. He looked like he just woke up. He was wearing what we now hear called a “wife beater” t-shirt – but to me – it what I grew up calling “a Granddaddy” t-shirt that was a white cotton ribbed tank top t-shirt. Just like my own granddaddy wore and what I would wear for a few years in my youth.

My granddaddy put on a big old grin, slapped his knee, and went over to embrace the old man who was also smiling. I remember he didn’t have his two front teeth.

Granddaddy said jokingly, “Sir, I’m the sheriff and this here is my deputy.”

They laughed and reminisced a bit. It went above my head. But I knew that they hadn’t seen each other in possibly decades. What struck me at that young age was seeing my old white Southern grandfather visiting an old friend who was an old black man. You learn of the stereotypes of the Old South with racism, segregation, and hatred. But I never once in my entire life ever heard my Granddaddy say anything racist or bad about African-Americans – and here he demonstrated that he was one of the better angels and above that. I’m proud that he showed me by example.

I remember him then saying, “Scott, I want you to meet my old friend, Mr. Dudley.”

I shook his hand and he smiled at me with his toothless grin. I was quiet and a little intimidated of someone so old to my young eyes. 

“Hello, sir.”

They laughed and talked some more. Then said goodbye.

We got in the pick up truck and drove away as the old man named Dudley went back inside his tar shack. I never saw him again.

But that one moment. That memory. It stayed with me. I never knew much else but meeting that older gentleman that was friendly with my granddaddy stuck with me and gave inspiration for me to create the fictional character Gapemouf’ Dudley that you’re reading here now in THRILL SEEKER COMICS webstrip as a supporting character that I’ve also morphed with other legendary forgotten bluesman from history.

I thought this would be an interesting tidbit to share into the creation of this new "old" character...

No comments: