Bungleton Green and The Mystic Commandos by Jay Jackson, intro by Jeet Heer / ISBN 9781681376653 / 184-page paperback from NYRC Comics, published December 2022
"Featuring page after page of non-stop action and pulpy melodrama imbued with Jackson’s perspective as a Black American in the 1940s, this is a work of immense historical value that’s also very fun to read." -- Library Journal starred review
In 1942, almost a year after America entered the Second World War, Jay Jackson—a former railroad worker and sign painter, now working as a cartoonist and illustrator for the legendary Black newspaper the Chicago Defender—did something unexpected.
He took the Defender’s stale and long-running gag strip Bungleton Green and remade it into a gripping, anti-racist science-fiction adventure comic. He teamed the bumbling Green with a crew of Black teens called the Mystic Commandos, and together they battled the enemies of America and racial equality in the past, present, and future. Nazis, segregationist senators, Benedict Arnold, fifth columnists, eighteenth- century American slave traders, evil scientists, and a nation of racist Green Men all faced off against the Mystic Commandos and Green, who in the strip’s run would be transformed by Jackson into the first-ever Black superhero.
Never before collected or republished, Jackson’s stories are packed with jaw-dropping twists and breathtaking action, and present a radical vision of a brighter American future.
Jay Jackson (1905–1954) was a prolific artist and cartoonist whose work appeared for many years in the Black newspaper The Chicago Defender, among numerous other publications. Before he began his cartooning career, he hammered spikes for a railroad, labored in a steel mill, started a short-lived sign-painting business, and even had a brief career as an amateur boxer. In the late 1940s, Jackson moved with his family from Chicago to Los Angeles, where he resided for the remainder of his life.