30 November 2008

Mike Nomad

My old pal Marcus hooked me up with a noir treasure: daily and Sunday strips of the Steve Roper and Mike Nomad comic. The first set is from 1957, just after the introduction of the Mike Nomad character. The bulk of the material is from 1971-1973, when I was a youngster and happily addicted to the series. The storytelling (by Allen Saunders and later his son John) was full of dangerous he-man adventures, but the characters were sympathetic and well-developed. Mike and Steve were pretty dated by the 1970s, belonging more to pre-Sixties America, but they still seemed like real men. Mike was the tough, blue-collar counterpart to the urbane, well-educated Steve, but both were capable of getting into scrapes with mobsters, spies, femme fatales, and garden-variety crooks. The comics were often on the last page of the SF Chronicle Sporting Green when I was a kid, back when they actually printed it on green paper! William Overgard's exceptional artwork is vivid and powerful, Nomad being particularly iconic with his square jaw, blond crew-cut, chiseled features and ubiquitous cigarette hanging from his lips. Matt Cadd owes his existence to Mike Nomad. Just as an example, Matt has a Chinese landlady--Mrs. Chan--inspired by Mike Nomad's Ma Jong! Alas, the strip is no longer in existence, and I've never seen collections of the Nomad-era stuff. Blackthorne Publishing put out reprints of the "Chief Wahoo & Steve Roper" 1940s strips about twenty years ago. (Roper first appeared in the Elmer Woggon--Allen Saunders creation Big Chief Wahoo.) I don't believe anything else of the Roper-Nomad era is in print. Mike Nomad, action hero of my youth, is consigned to history's dustbin. That makes my collection of newspaper cut-outs a treasure indeed! Thanks, pal.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was googling Mike Nomad and found this blog. I am always amazed to find others who were hip to Nomad. (I'm always sounding off about Mike Nomad to anyone who will listen. I bet any mention of Nomad on the internet somehow originated by me!) I actually lived in Toledo as a child, where the Roper strip was aritten and visited John Saunders in his office a couple times (always leaving with a gift of original Nomad strips). My own comics-related dream is a complete reprinting of the Overgard era of the strip (1954-1984). Years ago, I won an ebay bid for the complete run of 1956 with the debut of Mike Nomad and finally got to see his introduction. There really needs to be a nice reprint of the strip.
Timothy Markin