Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Z is for Zaza the Mystic

I'm closing out A to Z April with a character who I love the idea of, but whose series left a lot to be desired in its execution.

Zaza the Mystic graced the pages of two issues of her self-titled series, starring in six short stories between them. She was a type of character who is the villain in hundreds of pulp fiction and comic book stories--a gypsy con artist tricking people into believing she has the ability to foretell the future. Zaza, however, uses her  highly honed powers of observation, deductive reasoning skills, and talents in delivering cold readings in pursuit of stopping crime rather than committing it. Together with her police detective boyfriend, she stops jewel heists, stock swindles, murders, and more.

The image that introduced Zaza the Mystic. Artist Unknown
The series was written by the great Jerry Seigel and illustrated by a rotating roster of interchangeable artists with bland, mid-1950s romance comics art style. It's a shame publisher Charlton didn't have more unique talent on the strip, as I think the concept deserved a far better presentation than it got.

I also wish the strip had a bit more of an edge to it. However, in 1954, Zaza the Mystic #10 and #11 were among the first publications to sport the Comics Code Authority logo, so you can bet every eggshell was left intact as these stories unfolded. Zaza was a completely "domesticated" gypsy, living in a completely white world where even the bad guys had good manners. As much as I like the concept of the character, I couldn't help but think of Dick Briefer's fantastic Bronze Terror strip (the best of which I compiled in Real American #1). Here was a character who was a modern-day Native American, whose ethnicity was part of who the character was and how the stories unfolded. Racism and bigotry came up several times in the course of the Bronze Terror series... because, well, racists exist and they made great villains even in the 1940s. But, with the self-censorship brought on by the Comics Code. even if Siegel had considered including bigotry against Zaza because of her heritage, it probably wouldn't have passed muster. (And what about the lesson it would teach kids--reminding them that the blondhaired, blue-eyed police officer was dating outside his race?)

We planning to put out a collection of the four best Zaza stories, along with the usual game material in support of it. When exactly we'll do that remains to be seen... there are soooo many great characters that we think need to be brought to the public again, and that we want to play with and create new material for--however meager some of our creations end up being. We hope some of you will want to get to know.these characters and that you'll choose to pick up some of our comics/rpg hybrid e-books.

And with that plug and bit of hopeful thinking. A to Z April comes to a close. I hope some of you out there had as much fun with as I did.

See you in a funny pages!

(PS: Due to foolishness on my part.. R (Rex the Seeing Eye Dog) and W (White Princess of the Jungle) well through the cracks. Look fo rthem soon!)


  1. Congratulations on successfully finishing this challenge! New follower here. I'm stopping by from the "A to Z", and I look forward to visiting again.


  2. I enjoy old comics. I'm visiting from the A to Z challenge list.

  3. Thanks for stopping by! I hope the month went well for you... and without the sort of bone-headed errors I made!