The Beagle Boys, by Vic Lockman

Vic Lockman was an American cartoonist and a prolific writer for comic books. He worked on funny animal stories with licensed characters for Western Publishing from the 1950s through the 1980s. With thousands of stories to his name, Lockman is among the most productive American comic book scriptwriters of all time, alongside his Western colleague Paul S. Newman, Charlton's Joe Gill and Archie's Frank Doyle. As most of his work was done anonymously, he remained out of the spotlight however. Since his retirement, Lockman has focused on creating children's comics from a Christian point-of-view, as well as several fundamentalist Christian comic tracts.

Victor Earl Lockman was born in 1927 in Chicago, Illinois, as the son of famous magician and escape artist Earl Lockman (1893-1967). His father got him interested in cartooning and by 1951, he got a job with Western Publishing. He started out as a letterer, then worked as an editor (1952-1953), but quickly moved on to become of the most productive scriptwriters for Western's Dell Comics division and the later Gold Key Comics imprint. Lockman remained with the company until it stepped out of the comic book business in 1984. His scripts were illustrated by Western mainstays like Phil De Lara, Pete Alvarado, Tony Strobl, John Carey, Kay Wright, Paul Murry and even Carl Barks, while Lockman was served as an inker on some of these stories. Under editor Chase Craig, he wrote for nearly every comic book which featured funny animal characters originating from animated cartoons. These included properties from Warner Bros ('Bugs Bunny', 'Daffy Duck', 'Porky Pig', 'Road Runner' and other 'Looney Tunes' characters), Walter Lantz (a.o. 'Woody Woodpecker', 'Andy Panda'), DePatie-Freleng ('The Pink Panther'), Hanna-Barbera ('The Flintstones', 'The Jetsons') and MGM ('Droopy', 'Tom and Jerry', 'Barney Bear'). Vic Lockman was furthermore mainly responsible for the Gold Key original 'Wacky Adventures of Cracky' (1972-1975), which starred a mystery-solving parrot and his side-kick Mr. Kaws. His best known work was however with the Disney characters.


All star team-up story from Moby Duck #26 (1977), with pencils by Pete Alvarado and inks by Vic Lockman

Lockman worked with nearly every character from the Disney universe, from 'Donald Duck' and his family, over 'Goofy' and 'Mickey Mouse' to the 'Big Bad Wolf' and 'Br'er Rabbit', as well as 'Winnie the Pooh'. Lockman's stories often mixed up characters from different Disney universes, including such team-ups as Grandma Duck with the Big Bad Wolf and Dumbo, Madam Mim with the Beagle Boys and Goofy with Snow White's Wicked Witch. He wrote the 'Grandma Duck's Farm Friends' (1959-1962) series, which had some of his stories drawn by Carl Barks. Lockman was one of the first to write solo stories with the criminal Beagle Boys, and was most likely also responsible for introducing their similarly malicious nephews, the Beagle Brats, with artist Tony Strobl in 1965. Lockman created the "evil scientist" Emil Eagle (1966), who served as the villain in 'Gyro Gearloose' stories and later also acted as an antagonist for 'Mickey Mouse' and 'Supergoof'. In 1967 Lockman and Strobl introduced whale hunter/fisherman Moby Duck and his crew, who starred in their own comic book from 1967 to 1978. Pete Alvarado and Kay Wright were also prominent artists for this series.

As the core of his production was during the 1960s and 1970s, Lockman has never received much praise for his Disney stories. The general opinion is that the quality of Western's Disney line was in steady decline during this period, especially after the retirement of the legendary Carl Barks in 1967. Lockman was futhermore largely out of the picture when new American authors like Don Rosa and William Van Horn put their personal mark on the Duck characters for other Disney licensees during the 1980s and 1990s. However, the sheer quantity of Lockman's work is impressive - the man once claimed he wrote he wrote one script every weekday, which could run up to a career-spanning total of about 8,000 stories! To discard him as merely a hack writer would do him no justice. Lockman was responsible for introducing new characters to the Disney universe, some of which are still in use today by European licensees. While Moby Duck seems to have sailed off for good in the late 1970s, Emil Eagle and the Beagle Brats are still disturbing presences in present-day Disney comics. But Lockman's most lasting contribution to Disney comics is the backstory of Uncle Scrooge's "Number One Dime". Carl Barks had already introduced it as the first coin the rich duck ever earned, which made it a desired object for the witch Magica De Spell. The 1963 story 'The Invisible Intruder' by Tony Strobl and Vic Lockman first revealed that young Scrooge earned the dime as a shoeshine boy in Glasgow. This origin story was covered more thoroughly by Don Rosa in his 'Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck' series in 1995, and was also part of the 'DuckTales' episode 'Once Upon a Dime' (1987).


Big Spike and Little Tyke, from Tom & Jerry Comics #150

In addition to writing and inking, Lockman pencilled some game pages and filler gag comics himself. He also drew a couple of 'Barney Bear with Fuzzy and Wuzzy', 'Tom and Jerry' and 'Big Spike and Little Tyke' stories for 'Tom & Jerry Comics' in the mid 1950s. He also drew at least one 'Tweety and Sylvester' story for 'Four Color Comics' #524 (1953) and a 'Andy Panda and Charlie Chicken' story for 'Walter Lantz New Funnies' #235 (1956). In the 1970s he pencilled some of his own stories with Disney's 'Scamp', as well as a Chip 'n' Dale cross-over story with Jiminy Cricket. Around the mid 1950s he also worked for Hank Ketcham as an artist for the 'Dennis the Menace' Sunday pages as well as the comic books by Better Publications. He wrote Merrill Blosser's newspaper comic 'Freckles and his Friends' between 1956 and 1963.

Tweety and Sylvester by Vic Lockman
Tweety and Sylvester drawn by Vic Lockman, from Four Color #524

Besides his immense Disney production for Western Publishing, Lockman wrote hundreds of scripts for the Disney Studio's own story production for European licensees from the mid 1960s until the early 1990s. He returned to Disney comics in the period 1994-1997, when Gladstone Publishing launched a new series of 'Donald Duck' comics. Since there was no regular artist for the job, Lockman took on the artwork of these 'Donald Duck' and 'Uncle Scrooge' stories as well. In the second half the 1990s he wrote some gags and one story with the regular 'Archie' characters for Archie Comics, as well as some stories for the company's comic book with Hanna-Barbera's 'The Flintstones'. He spent most of his post-Western period as an cartoonist and illustrator for teaching materials, magazines, and newspapers. In 1989 he drew the comic book 'Sparky's Team' in commission of the National Fire Protection Association, as well as 'Moving with Mr. Mouse', an educational comic aimed at making moving a positive experience for children. Both were written by Scott Deschaine and Mike Benton.

Lockman's later-day career is however mainly characterized by his Christian work, starting with his editorial cartoons for the Christian Beacon in the mid 1960s. He later produced a great many mostly self-published books for children, such as a multi-volume series called 'Catechism For Young Children With Cartoons' (1984), 'Biblical Economics in Comics' (1985), 'God's Law for Modern Man' (1993), 'How Shall We Worship God?' (1996), 'Psalm Singing for Kids' (2003) and 'The Big Book of Cartooning (In Christian Perspective)' (1990). The latter book provided young doodlers with useful tips, but also encouraged them to incorporate God in everything they do, and to gratefully pursue their god-given talent. Like the illustrious Jack T. Chick, Lockman has also released hundreds of mail order comics tracts through his own "tract ministry".

Biblical Economics in ComicsWestminster Shorter Catechism with Cartoons Book 2
From: Biblical Economics in Comics (1985) and Westminster Shorter Catechism with Cartoons Book 2 (1996)

First appearing as early as 1966, the often 12-page booklets showcase the artist's fundamentalist Christian views through a cute and child-friendly drawing style. In 'TULIP', Lockman attempted to prove the five points of Calvinism, while 'A Car Story' allegorized the sin and fall of man and his salvation through anthropomorphic cars. That Lockman's tracts are not without controversy proves his pro-apartheid comic 'Who's Behind the South African Crisis?', which was distributed in June 1985 as a supplement to newsletters published by the far-right organization Canadian League of Rights. His tract 'The AIDS Plague' (1986) warned against promiscuity, dealt with the "Biblical prohibitions against homosexuality" and suggested to quarantine people with AIDS. Lockman also illustrated a number of tracts by Walter H.J. Lang, the executive of the Bible-Science Association (BSA) and a tireless promoter of creation. These included 'Was God an Astronaut?', 'Need We Fear Another Ice Age?' and 'Is the Present the Key to the Past?'.


Who's Behind the South African Crisis?

Vic Lockman continued to sell his tracts and self-published books through his website until his death on 1 June 2017 at the age of 89. It wasn't until months after his passing that comic book and TV writer Mark Evanier wrote an obituary about the man, whose long and extensive career was spent mostly in anonymous and niche markets. Evanier mentioned that he had once asked Lockman if he would accept the annual "Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing" if he would be awarded with it, but the man stated that he was against "the whole concept of celebrating comic books that do not celebrate God's covenants."

viclockman.com
INDUCKS entry
Mark Evanier's obituary

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